I need a clarification regarding the “law”. I have included Galatians 5 and 1 John 3 to illustrate my question. I put the entire chapters in to try to avoid taking anything out of context.

Galatians, chapter 5

1: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2: Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3: For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4: Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5: For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
6: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
7: Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
8: This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.
9: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.
10: I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.
11: And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
12: I would they were even cut off which trouble you.
13: For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14: For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  
15: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18: But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
19: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20: Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21: Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
26: Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.


1 John, chapter 3

1: Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3: And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
4: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
5: And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
6: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
7: Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
8: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
11: For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
12: Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
13: Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
14: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
15: Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
16: Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17: But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
18: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19: And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20: For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21: Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22: And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23: And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.



It is my understanding that when Christ died for our sins and we were under a new covenant and that the old law was no longer applicable. Are we in fact still under a part of the old law? Free of the sacrificial portions but ruled by those regarding morality, personal conduct, etc. as those mentioned in Galatians 5:19-26? Is the New Testament actually rewriting the law for us as in the above verses?


At first I thought about appealing to things other people have written on the matter, but then I thought that the question you posed required a fresh approach for the sake of those who have read other remarks on the matter and remain unsettled. Perhaps I can by the way I come at the thing make some things clear in a way others have not.


            One of the first points I want to make regarding your question is that this is a prime example of what I have taught for many years. That is we must understand Scripture in the context within which it appears and also within the body of all that is taught in the Scripture on the subject. Your willingness to present the entire passages represents a grasp of the principle of context, and I commend you for it so that others can pick up on this and learn it as well.

            What shall we say about the law? We must affirm from the Scripture that the law does not fade away. The Lord Jesus Christ affirmed this when He said;

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.[1]

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all will be fulfilled.

Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5: 17-19

We have some confusion added to the matter by preachers who attack the law confusing it with legalism. They need to take care because the Lord was not kidding when He warned about consequences for what we teach.

            From this single statement we know one thing for sure and that is the law is still with us. But we also know that it is a law that has been fulfilled somewhat in the Person of Christ. I might also point out that in His time on earth He was criticized by the experts in the law (scribes and Pharisees) for how He obeyed it. Since, by His own declaration, He is the I am that gave the law to Moses, that is surely evidence that men have had a problem over the years with not only keeping the law but even understanding it.

            One point I want to make about the life of our Lord. That is fulfilling the law is not the same thing as negating it. In fact, the Lord endorsed the Law in how He treated it. If the law found in the commandments were negated, then there would be no penalty for future false teaching, which the Lord describes.

            I think it would be worthwhile to take a minute and define what is meant by the Law. First of all you have the Books of the Law or Torah. These are the first five books of the Bible, the books of Moses.[2] There are some groups to this day who only accept those books as scripture. Of course they are not Christians, but some of these are considered a sect of Judaism. Within the Torah or Pentateuch as it is sometimes called by the church,[3] you have the Ten Commandments. You can find these in Exodus chapter 20. Simply stated the Ten Commandments are these:

1.      Thou shalt have NO OTHER GODS besides Me.

2.      Thou shalt not worship any GRAVEN IMAGE.

3.      Thou shalt not take the NAME of the Lord thy God in vain.

4.      Remember the SABBATH DAY, to keep it holy.

5.      HONOUR thy Father and thy Mother.

6.      Thou shalt Not Kill.

7.      Thou shalt Not Commit Adultery.

8.      Thou shalt Not Steal.

9.      Thou shalt Not bear False Witness.

10.  Thou shalt Not Covet anything that is thy neighbors.

These commandments were described as written with the very finger of God. That sounds to me as if they are something God is serious about.

            Before I finish talking about what is meant by the Law, I need to point out some things about the Ten Commandments. The first four of the Ten Commandments have been described as man's duty to God and the next six as man's duty to man. Some have distinguished commandments nine and ten as man's duty to himself. There is some validity and benefit in recognizing these divisions. But we must place a certain notation on the approach and this comes from the mouth of our Lord when He said, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) From the Lord Jesus' words we may say that Sabbath observance would then be part of man's duty to himself in a relationship of his duty to God. The Lord Jesus Christ said of the Sabbath that He was Lord of it (Mark 2:28) so the transition from Sabbath keeping to Sunday Observance commemorating His resurrection on the first day of the week is perfectly logical. There is a consistency in this as well, for Sabbath Observance is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament.

            I must hasten to add, concerning the passages that you quote in your inquiry, that there is not one word contradictory to the Ten Commandments in what is said in these Scripture. On the contrary they affirm the importance of the Ten Commandments to the Christian church. The Galatians 5 passage makes it plain that depending on the works of the law instead of depending solely the redemption offered in love on the cross is folly. If a person tries to justify themselves on the merit of their own righteous works instead of depending on Christ's righteousness they are responsible to keep it all perfectly. To fail in the least point is to become guilty of all. And in relation to this I might add that you cannot break just one of the Ten Commandments. This fact alone is the evidence for what the Scripture teaches about depending on works instead of grace in the New Testament.

            Now let me continue a bit to discuss what the Law is. Following the Ten Commandments you have the Book of the Covenant which is Exodus chapters 21 through 24. This is really the first installment of laws pertaining to the Hebrew nation. This covenant to obey was sealed with blood of oxen. (Exodus 24: 4-8) It is here that the Christian Church makes its separation from the Old Covenant for the New Covenant. While this portion is useful for what it teaches us about the righteousness of God, it is  not the bond that holds us. Our covenant is sealed with the blood, not of bullocks, but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

            The very words New Testament are saying we have a new covenant. In the Hebrew tongue it is even plainer for these Scriptures are called the Brit Hadasha by the confessing Jewish believer. In the Hebrew Law there are many sacrifices conditioned by the issue. In Christianity there is only one issue. All unrighteousness is sin and the issue is sin. In the Hebrew faith sin is covered only, but in Christianity sin is atoned for utterly by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that cleanses away sin utterly so that it is remembered no more.  


[1] This statement affirms to us the continuing importance of two parts of the Old Testament we know as the law and the prophets.  Since the third part, the writings, also contain prophecy. We know that the Old Testament continues in importance. Some who attack the law also attack any reliance on the Old Testament. This fact requires I make this observation .


[2] The first five books of the Bible includes many things, such as early history of human beings, the record of the Great Flood and God's deliverance from Egypt. I believe these things are literal history including the oft disputed first twelve chapters of Genesis.

[3] Penta meaning five and teuch meaning book, or five books.


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