"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
The Relationship Between Christ and the Law
From the foundations of the nation of Israel entering the Promised Land to the online classrooms of the 21st century, people have debated how God’s laws of the Bible applies to them. Both the new and old Covenants of the Bible have much to say regarding the law of God and its role in our lives. While this debate may continue on until the second advent of Christ, I will attempt to tackle the task in this work. This study will be an effort on my behalf to examine these laws by discussing the hermeneutical challenges, the role of the Mosaic Covenant in Israel, and the different positions held regarding the law.
There are many hermeneutical challenges for today’s Christians to consider when incorporating the understanding of the law into their observance of Scripture. The first question we find ourselves asking is, How does the law apply to me? We may also find ourselves wondering, What did Jesus have to say regarding these laws? The Scripture is helpful in answering our questions, but we need to keep in mind the intended meaning behind the chosen words of the Lord. Romans 3:21 points out that we are now made “righteous” by faith in Christ, which was once only accomplished through the close adherence of the Law. Matthew 5:17 reminds us that Jesus did not “come to destroy the law” rather to “fulfill” it. Romans 7:12 reminds us that we should not discount the law, but remember the “law is holy”.
While Chirstians debate many extremes of the views regarding the law itself, I encourage a balanced approach to its application. Mr Daniel Hays gives five steps to help us apply the law to our faith by using a method he refers to as “principlism.” These five steps include: “Identify what the particular law meant to the initial audience, determine the differences between the initial audience and believers today, develop universal principles from the text, correlate the principle with New Testament teaching, and apply the modified universal principle to life today.” Our course lecture one had a few things to say regarding the law application to the New Testament texts including, “If they are not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament or if they are explicitly said to no longer be binding in the New Testament, then Christians are not expected to uphold them.” Regardless of how we feel regarding the laws of the Old Testament, Jesus held many of them to not only be applicable, but necessary in the life of a Christians such as love (John 13:34), humility (Colossians 3:12), sharing the Gospel (Acts 1:8), and giving (Matthew 5:42). Perhaps the best explanation for the application of the law is explained by saying, “For it is only when people find the law of liberty that they become free. For this reason the OT asserts that the law has been given for our good, to bring us to a hitherto unrealized fullness of life (Deut. 4:1; 5:33; 8:1).”
The Role of the Mosaic Covenant in Israel:
The Mosaic Covenant dates back to the Exodus of the Hebrew people from the land of Egypt. After God had delivered them from the hands of the Pharoah, God spoke to Moses on behalf of the people, providing for them a means of justification, righteousness, redemption, grace, and salvation. This means and method was the Mosaic Law/Covenant. Lasor mentions in his text that, “A covenant is a means of establishing a relationship (not naturally existing), which is sanctioned by an oath sworn in a ceremony of ratification.” While Christians today have a much more efficient and complete method of salvation via Christ, the Old Testament Jews were not so fortunate in this matter. The process to become perfect through the law was found to be impossible for man due to his sin nature, requiring the blood atonement of Christ as the final sacrifice to completely “fulfill the law” as mentioned in Matthew 5:17. While the Israelites prepared to enter the land they were promised God had to establish a written covenant with them. Our lecture mentions, “The law was given in the context and under the umbrella of a treaty between God and the Israelites.” We must however, not make the mistake of assumptions regarding what we have heard regarding the law for the Jews. Our lecture points out that, “It is often assumed, thanks to heavy law/grace dichotomies proposed by Luther that the Israelite religion in antiquity was a works-based religion while Christianity is a grace-based religion. However, one is had pressed to find any text that suggests Israel earns its salvation through doing good deeds.” Mr. Daniel Hays had this to say regarding the importance of the Mosaic Law, “Obviously commands in the Mosaic Law are important, for they make us a substantial portion of God’s written revelation.” This points out how central the law was to the everyday life of an Israelite. Their law was their covenant with God, land deed, way of life, not to mention path to salvation. Life itself seemed to depend upon the obedience to the law.
There is a variety of theological beliefs within the Christian faith regarding the law. According to my personal observations, I have observed three major positions on the law which are: a completely null and void law, a more balanced approach, and a law dependent faith. The first position holds to the fact that the New Testament covenant supercedes the first, rendering the Old Testament laws null and void. These believers do not believe that any part of the law applies in any way and essentially disregard much of the Old Testament. Hays points out such hypocrisy by saying, “Furthermore, while believers tend to ignore many Old Testament laws, they embrace others, especially the Ten Commandments, as moral underpinnings of Christian behavior.”
On the other hand, we have those who place most of their trust in the law of the Old Testament. While this is rare, it is surely dangerous to live according to the Law as our Scripture tell us in Romans 6:14 and 2:12 that we will be judged according to what we put our faith in. If it is the law, we shall be judged accordingly.
The best and most balanced approach to the law is one that finds proper application of the Old Testament laws and commandments. Many believe this is by simply making a “distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial laws,” but I would raise caution against this habit. As Hays points out “the distinctions are arbitrary” and cause us to categorize laws and commandments that Jesus raised awareness to be discounted. As I mentioned earlier in this work, the application of the five steps are the best tool to a well-balanced look into the scales of grace, mercy, and law.
I pray that these conclusions may help you as the reader develop a balanced approach to the application of God’s Old Testament law to your life, while helping to bridge the gap of Jesus relationship to the law. I believe to keep the law in perspective, we must remember that nature of God never changes. As it is mentioned, “For the purpose of God remains the same, the obedience of his people, and it remains true that those who thus walk in the light find that the blood of Jesus Christ keeps cleansing them from all their sin.” The hermeneutical challenges, role of the Mosaic Covenant in Israel, and different positions help to highlight some of the positives and negatives we see in the interpretation of the laws. As mentioned, we must remain fair and balanced in the application of these laws to our walk with God. If we keep these strategies in mind, we won’t forget that the same God who gave us the law, gave us the saving grace and mercy through way of the Cross.
 J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today,” Bibliotheca Sacra, (January-March 2001): 31-32. Accessed May 12th, 2017, https://lc-grad3.gcu.edu/learningPlatform/externalLinks/externalLinks.html?operation=redirectToExternalLink&externalLink=https%3A%2F%2Flopes.idm.oclc.org%2Flogin%3Furl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebscohost.com%2Flogin.aspx%3Fdirect%3Dtrue%26db%3Drfh%26AN%3DATLA0001281236%26site%3Dehost-live%26scope%3Dsite
 J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today. 31-32
 Grand Canyon University, “Old Testament Exegesis: Exegeting the Law” (lecture 1, Biblical Hermeneutics, Grand Canyon University, February 16th, 2017).
 Walter A. Elwell. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Baptism of the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.) 675.
 William Sanford Lasor, David Allan Hubbard, Frederick William Bush, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 73.
 Grand Canyon University, “Old Testament Exegesis: Exegeting the Law”
 Ibid. 21
 Ibid. 21.
 Ibid. 22.
 Ibid. 22.
 Walter A. Elwell. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 676.