Do you ever think about the “thou shalt not’s” of the Old Testament?
I didn’t think you did 🙂
There is a great tendency because we live under the New Covenant for us to examine the prophecies, psalms and proverbs of the Old Covenant and miss the laws of God. He delivered them to His people for a reason (many reasons). Romans tells us that the law was given so that we all may be found guilty (Romans 3:19). James tells us that if we have offended the law in one point then we are guilty of offending it in every point (James 2:10). It is because of man’s inability to keep the law that the second or New Covenant is necessary. The law exists in the New Testament because the law is a revelation of the nature, character and holiness of God. Holiness is the greatest attribute of God; it is more important that His love and higher than His name. The holiness of God is what qualifies Him to be God.
God is holy. He is unique and separate from everyone and anything else. There is only one God – He is holy. God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and He does not lie (Hebrews 6:18) – He is holy.
How does this apply to the New Covenant Christian? What is our response to the holiness of God in His character and His law?
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Our response to the holiness of God and the law He has established should mirror that of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“Don’t suppose that I came to do away with the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to do away with them, but to give them their full meaning. Heaven and earth may disappear. But I promise you that not even a period or comma will ever disappear from the Law. Everything written in it must happen. If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. You must obey God’s commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don’t, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
Grace removes the requirement of obeying the law to receive salvation (Ephesians 2:8). However, salvation in Christ does not mean that the law has no value. In fact, justification by faith establishes the law according to its proper purpose and function. Through reconciliation with God and through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit believers become capable of honoring and obeying God’s moral law.
“Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31)
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” (Romans 8:1-14)
So – keep all of this in mind.
- Prior to our regeneration the Holy Spirit uses the law to expose our need of Christ for salvation
- Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the demands of the law have been met for those who accept Christ in faith
- There are no spiritual merit badges to earn by obeying the law or performing good works. You can never be more acceptable to God than you are because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
- The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free to fulfill the spirit of the law.
- When we respond to the Spirit of God by listening to His voice and obeying His Words we reveal our adoption into the family of God
Now that you cannot place me in the category of Judaizers or a salvation by works propagator I want to look at the first of God’s ten commandments.
“You shall have no other gods before Me or besides Me.” (Deuteronomy 5:7; Amplified)
This is the first commandment given by God to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai (I can see Charlton Heston now).
God’s first and most important command issued under the Old Covenant demanded that no one be placed ahead of or beside Him. He has to be first place in our lives; He will accept no other place.
We read the names ascribed to God throughout scripture and they are many and magnificent. His names reveal His character and His attributes; this commandment reveals the place He desires in our lives.
To fulfill this commandment:
- He must be our highest priority
- No human relationship can supersede our relationship with Him
- No possession can hold more value
- No goal or dream that we have can be as important
God has given all of Himself to us in the New Covenant; He poured out His very life to purchase our salvation. He is jealous for you.
“You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, for the Lord your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 6:14-15)
The primary command to believers in both covenants is the same:
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)
Love can fulfill the law of God. Our love for Him can fulfill the first and great commandment. Our greatest challenge is to love Him more than other people and things that also deserve our love. Our love for Christ must eclipse everything else in our lives.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.” Helen H. Lemmel 1922
I challenge you to evaluate your relationships, activities, possessions and priorities. How does your love for them compare to your love for Christ?
Don’t let the busy-ness of life, even church life qualify you to hear this from Jesus:
“But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love].” (Revelation 2:4)
There is only one throne in your life. Make sure it is constantly occupied by the Lord Jesus Christ.