“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”(Matthew 5:17).
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!”(Romans 6:14,15).
What is the Law? What is the Gospel? Law is a term to distinguish the Law of God from the law of earth; it means the Law in the Bible, The Ten Commandments. Gospel is a ‘fortune word’ in Korean. It means as written in the Chinese letters ‘fortunate words,’ ‘good news’, it tells us that human beings will be saved by the redemption of Jesus.
First, let’s think of the law. Why do we need the law? Today we see many traffic accidents on the news everyday. Why do they happen so often? Well, because we don’t keep the traffic rules. We need the rules to drive and walk safely.
Not only traffic rules but also all other rules are needed for us to live happily, therefore there is no nation without laws and rules. Without it, nations can’t be ruled properly. God also gave us the Law so that we can live happily and comfortably by following His word.
Since laws always refer to the mind of the legislators, earthly laws show the minds of the politicians, the Law of God shows the mind of God.
The Laws that are made by human beings can be corrected or abolished because they may have some contradictions and faults. But the Law of God can’t be changed, because we can’t find any fault in it. It is the Law that must be accomplished, the Law of love.
God taught our forefathers this Law of love in the beginning and they have taught their descendants, age after age. By this way this Law has been a common law in the people’s hearts. But people started to break it and sin, so it was necessary to write this Law in physical letters so that humanity would not forget it.
Therefore God recorded this Law on the stone Himself and gave it to Moses to proclaim it in front of the people of Israel so they wouldn’t forget it.
Then what are the Ten Commandments, the everlasting law of His love, that God wrote by his own hand in stone?
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall mot make for yourself an idol in the form of anything..
You shall not bow down to them or worship them.
3. You shall mot misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
5. Honor your father and your mother
6. You shall no murder.
7. You shall no commit adultery]
8. You shall no steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.(From Exodus 20:3-17)
We can divide it into 2 parts. The first four deal with the relationship between God and man. The last six deal with the relationship among men.
One day, a Jewish rabbi tried to test Jesus. He asked pretending to be gentle. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hand on these two commandments”(Matthew 22:37-40). This definitely shows the basis of the commandments is love. It tells us how to love the Lord our God and how to love other people. The First four commandments tell us how to love God and the others, how to love our neighbors.
Some Christians think Salvation comes not by keeping the Law but by believing in Jesus. The Law is abolished. So we need only believe. Why do we have to keep the difficult Law? Is the Law really abolished and done away with? Is it true that Jesus came to this world to abolish the Divine Law?
Okay, let’s think of what Jesus said; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least of the stroke of a pen, will by ay means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”(Matthew 5:17, 18).
If the Law could be changed or abolished, He wouldn’t have had to come to this humble world and be crucified. But because it couldn’t be changed, He came in the form of a man and He fulfilled the Law completely. He died for us who broke the Law. This fact tells us that the death of Jesus is the biggest evidence to prove the unchangeability of the Law.
It is hard to understand the people who insist that this important Law is useless. They needed the Law two thousand years ago, why don’t we need the Law today? Our sin is not changed. It’s even worse than before. We can see a lot of crimes getting more cruel and increased. The worse this world becomes, the more we need the Law. If all human beings had obeyed the Law of God, what would the world be like now? It is an interesting thought. There would be no crime that destroys our happiness. There would be no war or anything like that. We must make the Law the standard of our lives now more than ever.
The relationship between the Law of God and humanity is the same with the one of a railroad and a train. A train can run safely only on its tracks. If it runs off the railroad, it can cause a big accident. In the same way, we as believers have to base our lives on the God’s Commandments. The apostle Paul said “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone who loves the Father loves his children as well. This is how we know that we love God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God to obey His commands. And his commands are not burdensome”(1 John 5:1-3).
In other words, those who believe Jesus, the Son of God and experience the rebirth can’t think keeping the Law is burdensome. But there is a phrase that seems to be opposed to this; so many people misunderstand God’s commandments. In Galatians Paul says, “Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law. Because by observing the law no one will be justified. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law. Christ died for nothing”(Galatians 2:16, 21).
When reading this we may think that there is no need to obey God’s command if we believe in Jesus. Is this true? Otherwise, do we have to obey them according to word of John? First, we have to solve this problem.
The people who say that we don’t have to keep the Law take this phrase from the Bible, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast”(Ephesians 2:8-9).
If this is true, being saved from our sin is not by keeping the Law or by doing right. It is definitely a gift from God. But it doesn’t mean that we can break the Law. Paul who wrote the book of Ephesians said in Romans, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but grace? By no means!”(Romans 6:14-15).
‘Under Law’ doesn’t mean that we are under duty of keeping the Law but that we are under the judgement of the Law. ‘Under grace’ means that the blood of our Savior, Jesus, washes us as sinners. Therefore that phrase means that we are saved by the death of Jesus and we are baptized after realizing His grace so the Law does not judge us. Does it tell us that we don’t have to keep the Law any more? Paul said, “By no means!”
Let’s assume that a criminal is captured by the police. He is under the law of the country now. He is sentenced and goes to prison. After a few years, he is released under special amnesty. Now he is not under the law, he is under the grace of the country. Then what? Can he commit another crime again because he was set free?
If he commits another crime, he will go to prison again. His freedom will be taken away. He can be under grace only while he is keeping the law. His committing another crime is betraying the grace that made him free.
The life of Jesus is the same thing. It isn’t a guarantee that we won’t sin again. However we can be free forever under His grace by living with obedience. Therefore the Gospel is not opposed to the Law, they stand together. In other words, the Law is a mirror that makes sinners become aware of their sins and leads them to salvation. The Gospel makes the sinners be free by their faith and it also gives them the strength to keep the Law and do the right thing. So the Gospel does not abolish the Law, on the contrary, it completes and establishes it. Paul said, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law”(Romans 3:31).
Therefore Gospel and the Law must be together. They cannot be separated.
In addition, the abolished law that people usually misunderstand is not the Ten Commandments; it is the ceremonial law that symbolized the redemption of Jesus. The symbol was abolished when Jesus came. When Jesus was crucified, the curtain of the temple was torn in two: it meant the abolishment of meaningless worship.