Christian's responsibility to the law of God

Pastor Jeff Struecker

We’re going to try to answer a controversial question. It’s about Christianity and the rules of the Bible. Specifically, this number 613 rules? Just in the first five books of the Bible alone. If you were to put the rest of the books of the Bible in there, you’re talking about thousands of rules, and over the centuries. Christians have asked the question, “do I have to follow all of those rules or to follow some of the rules?” A tough question to answer.



To prepare your heart for hearing from the Bible, Romans chapter 13 and then answer out loud. I got a short video. This video was made by the Gospel Project. Mad props to the guys at the Gospel project because they’re making really solid material to help teach the Bible to people that are kind of new to the faith or teach the Bible in such a way that people who have heard the faith can understand it a little bit better. While the guys at the Gospel project have created a five-minute video to describe what we mean by the law. These guys will also tell you how the Law relates to Jesus and a little bit about how Christians are supposed to respond to the law. Check out the video and then we’re going to talk about what it says at the end in Romans 13 verse eight.


You’re most likely familiar with the 10 commandments in the Bible. Stuff we generally take as good advice, don’t murder, don’t steal honor your parents. The list goes on and those are just the 1st 10. There are actually a total of 613 commands, all given to ancient Israel. They are found in the first five books of the Bible, which in Hebrew are called the Torah.



The word Torah is translated in English as the law because it has all of these laws in it. And as you read through them, you wonder “am I supposed to obey some or all of these?” “I mean, what’s the purpose of the law?”


That translation is confusing because while the Torah has laws in it. The book itself is fundamentally a story about how God is creating new kinds of people who are fully able to love God and love others. And when Jesus taught about the Torah, he said that he was bringing that story to its fulfillment. So walk me through the story and how it’s fulfilled.


The story begins with God creating humanity who rebels, and God chooses Abraham to bless all of the nations through his family who ends up in slavery down in Egypt. And God rescues them. Then at Mount Sinai God makes a covenant with Israel like an agreement and all of the laws that Moses gives to Israel are the terms of that agreement, like a constitution. Some of the laws there are about rituals and customs that set Israel apart from the nations, other laws are about social justice or morality. By following these, Israel would show the other nations what God is like. The rest of the Torah is just the complete list of laws that Moses gives. Israel.


The rest of the Torah just continues the story and the 613 commands are only a selection from that original constitution and even these have been broken up in place.


Moses gives the first laws to Israel don’t worship other gods, don’t make idols. Right after that, there’s a story of Israel breaking those very laws, they worship the golden calf. So Moses gives more laws and then you get more stories of rebellion, some more laws, rebellion. Again, some more laws more rebellion. No matter how many laws, they’re just going to continue to rebel.


After the story, Moses gives this final speech to Israel as they prepare to go into their new home and he tells them, “I know that you’re not going to follow all of God’s laws. You’ve proven to me that you’re incapable” and Moses says, the problem is that their hearts are hard and that they’re going to need newly transformed hearts if they’re ever going to truly follow God’s law and he was right.


The story goes on to recount Israel’s total failure. They go into the land. They break all the laws right now. The next section of books in the Jewish tradition are the 15 books of the profits, and they reflect on the story.


For example, Ezekiel said that if Israel was ever going to obey the law, God’s spirit would have to transform their hard hearts into soft hearts. And Jeremiah said, that’s when obedience to God’s commands wouldn’t feel like a duty, but they would be written deep in their hearts and Isaiah, he promised a future leader, Israel’s Messiah, who will lead all of the people in obedience to the law.


In Jewish tradition, all of these books together are called the prophets, even the history books, because they’re continuing the story told from the perspective of the profits.


We have the law and the prophets and they’re telling one connected story about God’s desire to bless the whole world through people, Israel, who it turns out needs a new heart.


Jesus saw himself as continuing that story. He agreed with the law and the prophets when he taught that it’s out of the human heart that comes the ugliest parts of human nature. It’s like the default setting of our hearts as opposed to God’s law. But Jesus also said that he came to solve that problem and in his words, to fulfill the law.


What does he mean there to fulfill the law? First, he said that the demand of all of the laws in the Torah could be fulfilled by what he called the great command that we are to love God and to love others. Seems pretty easy but Jesus showed how love is far more demanding than we realize.


He quotes the law, do not murder, and he says, yes, not killing someone, it’s a very loving thing to do. But then he also says that when you treat someone with disrespect or when you nurse resentment against them, you’re also violating God’s moral ideal, because you’re not treating that person with love.


Jesus said, true love, ought to extend even to your enemies. Though this command seems very simple, Jesus showed how our hearts are not currently equipped to fulfill even this basic command of God to love others. But where Israel failed, Jesus brought this story to its fulfillment as Israel’s Messiah. He fully loved God and others, and He showed all of the nations what God is truly like. He did this through His acts of compassion and mercy, and ultimately by loving his enemies even unto death. And after His resurrection, He told His followers that He would send God’s spirit to transform their hearts so that they could follow Him and fulfill the purpose of the law, to love God and to love their neighbor.


This fulfills the story of the law and the prophets or in the words of the Apostle Paul. “The one who loves fulfills the law.” That video just introduced you to a small section of the law, the Torah, the 613 rules from just the first five books. And the reason why Jesus showed up on earth is that you could never possibly follow all of those rules perfectly.


Jesus came and he demonstrated what it looks like to follow the law of God perfectly. At the end of that video, it gave us a scripture reference from Romans chapter 13 verse eight.

Memory Verse

Would you make it a priority to memorize this verse? If you have a family, would you gather around at the dinner table this week, and would you practice reciting this verse from memory Romans 13 verse eight. Now, at the beginning of this verse, it sounds like the Bible is talking about money and your bank account. But actually, it’s talking about the way that human beings are supposed to relate to one another.

 

It says, don’t get into the kind of circumstance where you owe somebody an apology, where you owe somebody to make up for a mistake that you’ve done. Where you owe somebody forgiveness, or they owe you forgiveness. Owe nothing to anybody is how the verse starts. Except there’s one thing that you really do owe to your neighbor and that is to love your neighbor.

 

Another way of putting it is Jesus when he was asked the crazy amount of laws in the old testament which one of those laws is most important. And the Bible scholars who posed this question were convinced that they had just tricked him because any law that he gives next, there’s a different law that somebody else will argue is more important.

 

Jesus said, “that’s an easy question. I’ll tell you the answer to that question. The most important law is to love the Lord, your God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. This is the most important commandment.” But Jesus didn’t stop there. He said the second most important commandment. It doesn’t show up in this language anywhere in those first five books of the Bible.

 

The second most important commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Romans 13 is challenging us to don’t owe our neighbor anything. Don’t owe him an apology. Don’t owe her response to something that you did wrong. The only thing you should owe your neighbor is to love them. And by loving God and loving your neighbor, you’ve just accomplished or fulfilled the whole law of God.

A Challenge

Now I got a challenge for you. And this question is supposed to be hard to answer. Here is my question for you. I want you to wrestle with this for a second.

Do Christians still have to obey specifically the 10 commandments from the Old Testament based on what you just heard from that video?

Based on what you’ve just heard from Romans chapter 13 verse eight. Do you believe that we still have to obey the 10 commandments in Exodus Chapter 20?