Is the law still relevant to believers in Jesus?

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Romans 6:15 says Christians are not under law but under grace. Galatians 3:23-25 says after faith has come, we are no longer under the law as a tutor. Is the law still relevant to believers in Jesus? If so, in what ways?

 

According to Christ and the apostles, the law of God remains relevant under the new covenant that came with the shedding of Jesus’ blood. The role of the law has been clarified and even adjusted in New Testament writings, but the law’s importance did not come to an end at the cross. 

To defend this answer, we need only turn and read the Christian Scriptures that uphold and support God’s law: Matthew 5:17-19; 19:16-19; 22:36-40; John 14:15; 15:10; Romans 3:31; 7:7, 12; 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 7:19; Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16, 17; James 2:10-12; 1 John 2:4; 3:22-24; 5:2, 3; and Revelation 12:17; 14:12. 

With these forty-plus verses from ten New Testament books by five authors in support of God’s law, it must be true that a role remains for the commands and laws of God in the gospel age of the church. (We also gladly affirm that Apostle Paul, especially, wrote much to teach us that, due to human sin and weakness, no salvation can be had through the law. See Romans 3-8, all of Galatians, and Philippians 3:7-9. Paul’s gospel tells us that forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life come to us only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.)

Seeing, then, that God’s eternal law remains relevant in some sense to believers in Jesus, let’s list a few of the ways it serves His plan in this gospel age:

  • God’s law still serves to show people their sins (Romans 3:20b; 7:7b). In this sense, God’s law writes our need for a Savior in bold face. Without the law of God, we have no need for His grace. 
  • God’s law points us and leads us to Christ for salvation so we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:23-25). 
  • God’s law is a valid part of Christian instruction (Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Corinthians 9:8, 9). 
  • God’s law serves as a necessary corrective and deterrent to the world’s evil — if only to a limited extent. 

As Christians, we believe in the God who partially revealed Himself in a law so perfect and plain, so broad and deep, so true and righteous that it exposes the depth and breadth of our sin and shows our need of a Savior: the Lord Jesus Christ. 

And we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ — so full of grace and truth that He not only forgives us of all sins and remembers them against us no more, but also teaches us obedience by writing God’s moral law in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. 

While the law has never been God’s method for salvation, it continues to be His standard for human lives. His law standard states expectations for conduct, sets targets for behavior — a high bar for words and actions. As we compare our lives with what’s written in the law, we can know if we’ve met God’s expectation, hit His target, or cleared His bar. God’s Word, His holy law, remains as one piece of the target we aim for. His perfect, holy law still upholds His high standard. 

And faith in the perfect atonement of Christ is still His only remedy for all the sins His law points out. 

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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Calvin Burrell

Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.

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Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.