by John F. Klem
The subject of Old Testament law and its relationship to us today is a frequent conversation in the progress of our spiritual journey. We wonder what to do with it. Do we use parts of it or ignore all of it? Why did the Lord give so much attention to it in the progress of the revelation? And why are we talking about it in the midst of Advent meditations?
The subject of the Law and Advent are significantly linked with the work of the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we look at the Babe in the manger through the lens of Scripture, we see so many different aspects of His work. Yes, He is the Savior of the world Whose redemptive work directly affected the Law. How?
First, keep in mind that salvation and spiritual growth are faith based, not works oriented. Salvation in every dispensation is received and enjoyed by faith. The Old Testament saints believed God in light of the revelation made available to them. Abram believed God, and it was counted as righteousness to him (Gen. 16:5). In the progress of the revelation, New Testament believers are saved in the same way. We believe the content of the revelation that identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah in Whom we trust. Paul reminds us in Romans 3:25 that the finished work of Christ guarantees our redemption for all who believe. This is a simple, straightforward truth of the Word of God that is without argument. We enter into a relationship with God on the basis of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the same way, our sanctification is by faith. We are set apart and being set apart by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His eternal work. Fighting the fight of faith, learning to say no to sin and unrighteous, along with similar New Testament statements, are disciplines of faith that are energized and enabled by the Spirit of God and informed by the Word of God. Our spiritual journey is frustrated by attempts to be like Christ apart from His Word and His Spirit.
So the Mosaic law was never intended to be a means of salvation for the Old Testament saints. Instead it was their rule of life that addressed the moral, civil, and ceremonial aspects of Israelite life. It was a body of 613 laws, 248 of which were positive and 365 of which were negative. These laws governed how Israel would live in relationship to the Lord God and to one another. During His earthly ministry, Jesus summarized the Law under the commands of loving God and loving one another (Matt. 22:34–40). The New Testament writers describe this law as an indivisible unit. The Old Testament saints were obligated to all of it (Gal. 5:3; James 2:8).
So what did the Babe in the manager, the eternal Son of God, do with the Law? He came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17, 18) by means of His perfect and sinless life. He is the end of it (Rom. 10:4). He brought it to an end by means of His meritorious work on the cross.
Based on this work of Christ, we now live under a rule of life described in Galatians 6:2 as the law of Christ. This rule is also revealed by James as the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), the royal law (James 2:8), and the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2). Believers are dead to the law of Moses by virtue of their relationship with Christ, Who fulfilled the law (Rom. 7:1–6; Gal. 2:19).
The law of Christ shares a foundation with the Mosaic law. All law is based on the eternal character of God that defines right and wrong (Rom. 1:18, 19, 32; 2:14). The heart of the law of Christ consists of the New Testament imperatives and principles that are kept by the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 5:5).
When we sing the hymns and carols of Christmas, let’s remember that Christ, the eternal Son of God, came to bring the Law to its end and so bring us into an intimate relationship with Himself. O come, let us adore Him!
John F. Klem is director of Regular Baptist Press.
Regular Baptist Press is committed to providing educational resources that point people of all ages to Christ not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. RBP offers a wide range of curriculum, VBS programs, Bible studies, books, and training seminars that are Biblically sound, cover the entirety of Scripture, and designed for spiritual growth.
- Read the entire series of Advent meditations.