Are Christians Under Law Today?

The Old Testament law for the Jews is called the law of Moses in many cases in the scriptures. And the New Testament is also called a law in a few cases, and it only takes one case/verse to make something true, right? I Cor 9:21 specifically says we are “NOT without law to God, but under the law to Christ.” So that should settle our question – God has a law today He expects us to obey.

Besides calling the New Testament a law, what would we gather from passages like I John 5:3a (“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments”)? Don’t we get the idea that even though we are under a different dispensation, God still wants us to keep his commandments? That’s exactly what we mean when we say we under law.

James even applies the general principle, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” to the New Testament in James 2:10,12. If we offend the New Testament law in even one point, we are guilty of the whole thing. That shows the mega importance of being careful to try to keep every single law of Christ, does it not?

I suggest to you the “church at Birmingham” type philosophy runs counter to that. They think we are putting too much importance on obeying each and every particular detail of the law of Christ, and not enough emphasis on loving God. But actually the more we love and respect God, the more we will respect his law (his New Testament instructions). Am I correct on that? – doesn’t paying less attention to God’s law show disrespect for him? That’s the way it worked with not paying attention to our parents’ rules, didn’t it?

Some point out the New Testament deals more with the heart. I agree and that makes it even more important that we study God’s word very carefully to learn how to please him, not less important. In the six “ye have heard it said by them of old time, but I say unto you” cases of Matt 5:21-48, one of Jesus’ underlying points is that the New Testament deals more with the heart than the Old Testament. But Jesus doesn’t conclude therefore that we don’t have to be as particular about the outside – not at all. Jesus’ point is that we need to get the inside and outside right, not just the outside. And not just the inside either.

Some say only the big laws are really important, that only a Pharisee would be concerned with the small details. But when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees along that line, he did not say don’t get hung up on the little (the trees) so you can see the big (the forest). Instead he told them in Matt 23:23 to get the big and the little right.

It is a false dichotomy to say we should love God instead of being so diligent/careful about studying to obey his commandments. Why not do both? Really one should lead to the other – “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Conclusion:  We must obey God’s law today to be saved (John 14:21,23, I Pet 1:22a).

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