So, you want to be under the law?

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Paul told the Galatian Christians who wanted to put themselves back under the law of Moses again, “Every man who lets himself be circumcised ... is required to obey the whole law” (Galatians 5:2).

It is not possible to be partially under the law; it’s all or nothing. You are required to obey every one of the 600+ laws in the Old Testament, including bringing your tithes to Jerusalem and needing animal sacrifices for your sins. (If anyone tells you that the law of Moses still applies to Christians except for the sacrificial parts, ask them to show you anywhere it says that in the Bible. If they are not going by the Bible, then what is their authority?)

What’s more, you can’t even sin once. Being perfect in every way, but failing at just one point, means that you are guilty of breaking the law – the whole law (see James 2:10-11). No doubt you have sinned at least once in your life, so you have already failed to keep the law. And once you have broken the law, it’s all over. You cannot pass a test requiring 100% once you get a question wrong, no matter how many perfect answers you give on the rest of the test.

Everyone who tries to keep the law is under a curse: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10). No one can continue to do absolutely everything the law says, and so they are all cursed. And it is a horrific curse – spelled out in detail in Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

The very reason Jesus came was to take that curse away from us (Galatians 3:13) – to suffer God’s wrath in our place, so we could have his favour and blessing as a free gift of his grace. Why would anybody go back under the law and put themselves under a curse again?

Christians are under a New Covenant which completely replaces the Old Covenant. After quoting the terms of the New Covenant – “I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more” – Hebrews 8:13 explains, “By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete”. Jesus has set aside the first covenant to establish the second (Hebrews 10:9).

There is no other way to understand the statement that we are “not under law” (Rom 6:14) than that we are not, as such, as it were, any longer in any sense whatsoever – under the law.

For reflection:

The price God paid for our freedom and salvation is beyond comprehension. If there was any other possible way, he would have taken it. Imagine the pain in God’s heart when his own Son asked him, “Father, if there is any other way, then please let this cup pass from me” (see Luke 22:42). Ignoring God’s grace and going under the law is to spurn the awesome price God paid for us:

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21)

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