For me, it is particularly annoying that the church presents the law as “fulfilled” in Jesus Christ, in spite of everything that the Bible says on this subject. They like to reference the two summarizing laws that Jesus gave. ” Love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself. On these two hang all the law and the prophets.” Love speaks for itself. Galatians chapter 5: 22 & 23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.”
Paul has written great discourses on the subject of the law, especially in Romans, chapters 2 through 8. It is not my purpose to repeat any of Paul’s persuasions but only to mention that the law is intended for our carnal bodies, and the law of the Spirit is for our spiritual bodies. Our bodies of flesh are dead to the law and sin but we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. One of his summaries of the law is found in Galatians 3: 24, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.”
Well, what of the law? The great king David had a view of the law expressed in his 19th Psalm, 19: 7 – 11, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned: and in keeping them there is great reward.”
For your consideration, I would like to suggest that David was not referring to the rewards of the afterlife. I think he was saying; keep the agricultural laws and you will reap bountiful crops; keep the dietary and health laws and enjoy excellent health, keep His laws on sexual behaviour and He will bless the fruit of the womb, keep His laws of war and enjoy conquest over all enemies; keep His economic laws and enjoy prosperity. David and Solomon, his son, administered the law faithfully, and led the kingdom to its greatest glory. What an example for our political leaders! 0, that they would find their way back to Christ and His laws!
Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, took the practice of the law to new levels. He was defining ways to keep the law in spirit rather than the letter. We are familiar with these, suggestions regarding lusting after women, the second mile, giving more than asked, love your enemies and many others. But He did say something else. Matthew 5: 17, 18, “Think not that I come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I come not to destroy [the law] but to fulfill [the prophets]. For verily I say unto you, until heaven and earth pass, not one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled….” In my reckoning, this last phrase, “till all be fulfilled”, refers to the time that Jesus has turned over the kingdom to God, that He may be All in All, and the last enemy, death, is destroyed.
Matthew records the visit of the rich young man who came to Jesus asking what he must do that he may have eternal life. Matthew 10: 17 – 19, “And He said unto him, Why callest me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou will enter into life, keep the commandments. And he said unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
Here, Jesus is obviously referring to the ten commandments. But it is argued that the commandments do not matter because we are living under grace, grace being the forgiveness of sins (transgression of the law is sin) through our belief in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. But wait, Peter has cautionary advice! Peter 2: 15 – 18, “For so is the will of God, that with well doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” Ferrar Fenton translates this as, ” As free men, however, though not using your freedom as a pretext for vice, but like servants of God.” If I may express it in today’s language, “Do not use grace as a justification for sin.”
And did Jesus respect the law? Forgive me for such a foolish question. Jesus had given the nation Israel a bill of divorce. According to the law, re-marriage could not occur until the death of the husband; therefore, Christ laid down His life so that He could remarry the redeemed nation, Israel. That is following the law to the letter! And in redeeming the nation on the cross, He fulfilled all the law’s requirements of blood sacrifice for sin once and for all!
Did He fulfill the prophets? I think it is best summed up on the walk to Emmaus with two disciples. Luke 24: 25 – 27, “Then He said unto them, O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and ALL the prophets, He expounded unto them in ALL the scriptures concerning Himself.”
So, there we have it; Jesus met all the requirements of the law and fulfilled all the prophecies contained in the Old Testament. I would like to end this essay with the Scripture which expresses Jesus’ love of the law and His commitment to it before the world was! Psalm 40: 6&7, “Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then, said I, Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God, yea, Thy law is within my heart.”