Monday, August 11, 2008

Christians and “The Law” (of Moses)

Saturday, a store manager told me that an item I had always found there was no longer stocked but she encouraged me to “keep checking because everything old is new again.” I was amused since my first thought was, “That means me!” Many old things (and people!) are still good and don’t need to be replaced just because something newer, flashier or more technologically up to date comes along. My grandmother’s cheese grater still grates and my late twentieth century phones can still connect me to any other phone in the world—without all the fancy features and up-charges.

However, bringing some old things forward is not only inappropriate but can be harmful, as when Christians try to put other Christians “under the Law”. Of course, I’m referring to the Law of Moses, given to Moses by God for the Jews. Even a rabbi told me that Jewish people are the only ones who God expects to follow the Law. But for all who follow Jesus, the Law was fulfilled by his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead! (Romans 10:4) and we are “not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) Yet, Christians often still insist on requiring each other (sometimes even themselves) to be “under the Law” in various forms. Some insist on the Ten Commandments, others on tithing and still others that God punishes sins “to the third and fourth generations”.

The apostle Paul severely chastised the Galatians for following teachings that put them under the Law. He called it, “deserting the one who called you” (Gal.1: 6) “turning to a different gospel, which is no gospel at all”. (Gal. 1:7-9) Paul quoted the Law itself in saying that anyone who relied on the Law was under a curse for not keeping the entire Law—all 613 parts! (Gal. 3:10) Strong words! But they’re not mine. They’re the Word of God. God is very serious about grace—it cost Jesus a lot.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)

I’ll be writing more detail on this subject in weeks to come, and don’t worry, I’ll address as well the overdose of grace that leads to license.

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