|You are not alone in your search for truth. Tens of thousands of others have asked similar questions and found solid answers in God’s Word. So read on.
Commonly asked questions regarding the law of God
Didn’t Jesus come to do away with the Ten Commandments and establish a new commandment of love? What about Matthew 22:37–40, “ ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, . . . [and] your neighbor as yourself” ’ ”? Isn’t love to God and our neighbors all Jesus requires? These are the new commandments.
It may surprise you to discover the Jesus was summarizing the law as given in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 6:5 declares “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart.’ ” Leviticus 19:18 adds, “ ‘ “Love your neighbor as yourself.” ’ ” The God of the Old Testament is a God of everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). In Matthew 22:40, Jesus declared, “ ‘On these two commandments [love to God and our fellow man] hang all the Law and the Prophets.’ ” The first four commandments reveal how human beings tangibly demonstrate their love to God. The last six commandments show how they demonstrate their love to their fellow man. Jesus did not come to “ ‘destroy the Law . . . but to fulfill’ ” it (Matthew 5:17). He revealed how to lovingly keep the law. He came to magnify the meaning of the law (Isaiah 42:21). Jesus reveals how love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10). He adds, “ ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ ” (John 14:15).
Does Paul teach that Christians saved by faith do not have to keep the law?
Paul teaches that Christians are saved not by faith, but by grace through faith. Faith is the hand that takes the salvation freely offered by Jesus. Faith does not lead to disobedience but to obedience. Paul states in no uncertain terms, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid” (Romans 3:31, KJV). Romans 6:1, 14, 15 adds, “Shall we continue in sin [breaking the law], that grace may abound? . . . God forbid” (KJV).
Is it true that in the Old Testament people were saved by keeping the law, while in the New Testament salvation is by grace?
In both the Old and New Testaments, salvation is by grace through faith. God does not have two methods of salvation. Titus 2:11 affirms, “For the grace of God which bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men” (KJV). In the Old Testament, men and women were saved by the Christ that was to come. Each lamb sacrificed pointed forward to the coming of the Messiah (Genesis 3:21; 22:9–13). In the New Testament, men and women are saved by the Christ who has come. Jesus is the only means of salvation (Acts 4:12).
Since we are under the new covenant, is it really necessary to keep God’s law?
The new covenant is actually older than the old covenant. It was given by God Himself in the Garden of Eden when He promised that the Messiah would come to break the deadly hold of Satan upon the human race. The new covenant contains the promise of redemption from sin through Jesus Christ. He saves us! He writes the principles of the law in our hearts. Love becomes the motivation for obedience. There is a new power in the life (Hebrews 8:10; Ezekiel 36:26; Psalm 40:8). Under the old covenant, Israel promised to obey God’s commandments in their own strength. They declared, “All that God says, we will do” (see Exodus 19:8; 24:3, 7). All attempts at external conformity to God’s law lead to frustrated defeat. The law which we cannot keep in our own strength condemns us (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Under the new covenant, we belong to a new Master—Jesus Christ. We have a new heart and a new standing before God (John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 8:1).
Since Paul declares, “Let no one judge you regarding the Bible Sabbath,” isn’t Sabbath keeping unnecessary (see Colossians 2:16, 17)?
This passage, Colossians 2:16, 17, is one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. One principle of Bible interpretation is that you do not allow what may be somewhat unclear to keep you from doing what you understand. The Bible teaching on the Sabbath is plain. It was given at Creation (Genesis 2:1–3). Jesus observed it (Luke 4:16). Paul observed it (Acts 13:42–44), and it will be observed in heaven (Isaiah 66:22, 23). The Bible mentions two kinds of sabbaths: the seventh-day Sabbath and the yearly sabbaths. The seventh-day Sabbath, instituted at Creation and part of the Ten Commandment law, is a weekly reminder of the loving, all-powerful Creator.
The yearly sabbath relates specifically to the history of Israel. Colossians 2:16, 17 specifically states, “Let no one judge you . . . regarding . . . sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come.” Hebrews 10:1 connects the law of shadows with animal sacrifice. Ezekiel 45:17 uses the exact same expressions in the exact same order as Colossians 2:16, 17, and connects it all with the ceremonial systems of feasts and sacrifices (meat offerings, drink offerings, feasts, new moons, and sabbaths, to make reconciliation for the house of Israel. Leviticus 23:5–32 discusses the ceremonial sabbaths (Passover, verse 5; unleavened bread, verse 6; sheaf of first fruits, verse 10; first fruits, verse 17; trumpets, verse 24; tabernacles, verse 24; and the Day of Atonement, verses 27–32; these are all specifically called sabbaths.)
These annual sabbaths were intimately connected to events foreshadowing Christ’s death and His second coming. They were designed by God to be shadows or pointers to the coming Messiah. Leviticus 23:37 uses the language of Colossians 2:16, 17 to describe these ceremonial sabbaths. Leviticus 23:38 distinguishes the ceremonial sabbaths from the seventh-day Sabbaths by using the expression, “ ‘Beside the sabbaths of the Lord.’ ” Since Christ has come, the shadowy sabbaths of the ceremonial law have found their fulfillment in Him. The seventh-day Sabbath continues to lead us back to the Creator God who made us. God’s people will keep it as a distinguishing sign of their relationship to Him (Revelation 14:12; Ezekiel 20:12, 20).