Today I would like to expand a bit on how a christian should relate to the old testament law. In my last blogpost on the issue I argued that the purpose with the law is to show us the reality that we are sinners in God’s sight and to reveal for us in that way our need for grace, but how should you actually relate to it as a Christian who has put your trust in Christ and who now is justified or made righteous?
In the seventh chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome Paul presents a metaphor to help us understand this. He says that the law is like our husband given to us in marriage. Now the law is obviously very good, and in itself it’s perfect, without any flaw. That might sound like the perfect husband if it weren’t for the fact that he is constantly demanding the same perfection from you. And he’s not a good helper, he is just expecting perfection without giving any help and worse he is impotent, not able to help you bear fruit, so the law constantly makes you feel condemned. One day you see Jesus and you see that he is equally perfect, but the difference is that he is helping people and lifting them up rather than condemning them. You think to yourself that what if I could marry Jesus instead. The only problem is that the covenant of marriage is only broken when one party dies, and the law will never die. So there you are with this condemning husband who will never die and you’re stuck.
But, says Paul, what has actually happened through your faith in Christ is that you have died, so you are now released from your bondage to the law and from its authority over you. And the great thing is that God has not only left you there in a spiritual single life, but he has then raised you to a new life where you have been united with Christ. There you now live with Christ as your husband, as it were, and bear fruit for God and serve him in the new way of the spirit.
Terry Virgo gives us this excellent illustration, to help us understand this, of a man who has been in the military service. One day his serving time has come to an end and he collects his civilian clothes back and give his military uniform and equipment back. Then as he walks across the courtyard area he hears an officer whose voice he recognises well: “Attention”. At first his back is straightened out of sheer routine until suddenly he realises, I’m not in the army anymore, I’m a civilian, the officer can shout as much as he wants to but it doesn’t carry any authority over me.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Rom 8:1-2
As a christian, I am in the same position as the former soldier. There simply is no condemnation on me any more. The law doesn’t carry any authority to condemn me anymore because there is no condemnation on those who are in Christ. It simply doesn’t exist any longer because we are released from the law and we now live in the grace of God. And when the condemnation come and the oughts and the musts and the do’s and the dont’s we are so easily proned to straighten our back and say, allright this time I will do better, this time I will try harder, this time I will please you and we try to please God by working harder at all those things that we are released from and we never really get to experience his acceptance and favour cause we are constantly living under the condemnation that we could do better.
Let me suggest to you that we don’t please Jesus, our new husband, by cheating on him with our former husband. We honour Jesus by living in the grace he has given us, loving him and enjoying his presence.