Monday, June 15, 2009

Law Matters

“Don’t assume that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:24)

Does the Old Testament law have any relevance to Christians today? The answer probably depends on how “relevance” is defined, but the short answer is yes and no.

No, the law has never had relevance in terms of creating righteousness in our hearts before God. It has never been able to “make us right with God.” Observing laws has never been able to save anyone. That never was its purpose. The law’s purpose was to serve as a guardian or teacher appointed by the Father to care for, guide, and instruct the children of God in the right way to live. Children do not understand and need to be trained. But once children grow into adulthood they then know how to live rightly. They then live on the basis of a trust relationship, living out what they have learned. Faith takes over.

The coming of Christ and all he did served to complete or fulfill the law and its purposes, so that now faith is the standard that guides us through life. The grace of God is what saves us, through faith, and that faith creates a “standing” of righteousness in our hearts before God. Faith, in fact, is the union of our hearts with the heart of God.

Yes, the law does have relevance to Christians today. Since its purpose was never to save but to guide and instruct, it still helps us to have a set of guidelines for knowing the kind of life that honors God. As Jesus did, we summarize the law in saying that we are to love God, love one another, and love the world as God loves it.

Lord, We thank You for the law that expresses Your heart. Help us to live it as an expression of our relationship with You. Amen.

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