We have been saying that the law is fulfilled by two aspects of our relationship with God—us in Christ and Christ in us. Yet these manifest differently, and have different appearances, outwardly speaking. This contributes to our collective confusion about the place of the law in Christianity. Broadly speaking, all those laws whose observance seems to have ceased fall under the ceremonial/ritual category. Because they are fulfilled in Christ, they are fulfilled outside of any observable realm. Alternatively, the moral laws are fulfilled as Christ lives in us. The fulfillment of these laws takes place in our bodies and in the visible world. It appears that the moral laws continue and remain binding while the ceremonial/ritual laws do not. But this is a trick of the light, so to speak. For example, we no longer have to bring sacrifices because in Christ we are covered by the blood He offered to the Father (Eph. 1:7). By the same token, if Christ lives in us, we no longer have to keep the moral commands such as “You shall not murder,” for Christ will keep them in us just as He kept them while living His earthly life. The moral law ceases every bit as much as the ceremonial/ritual law. We are responsible if we break a command because it is we, and not Christ, who sin when we live according to the sinful nature inherited from Adam. But we are not responsible to obey the moral law because God has put His Son in us for that purpose.
Christ in us is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts’” (Jer. 31:33). Consequently, keeping the moral law should never be a matter of determination, will power, or rededicating ourselves to God. Keeping the law is entirely about trusting in Jesus. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Paul said this in reference to the law (Gal. 2:15-21). His death with Christ freed him from any obligation to the law. Instead, he lived by faith in the Son of God who lived in place of him, who also gave Himself for his sins. We too must trust Jesus to keep the law in us just as we must trust that our sins are covered in Him.
But while it is true that Jesus is able to keep the law in us just as He kept it while on earth, we are still missing something if we think that the point is to keep the moral law, whether by Christ or by our own effort. For as was said earlier, Jesus was the fulfillment of the law because it was Him the Father always had in mind, Him that the Father took great pains to depict in the temple furniture, the Year of Jubilee, the stoning of blasphemers, and the command to not covet. Jesus fulfills the law, not because He keeps any command (though He keeps them all), but because He is the Son of His Father’s love (Col. 1:13). In the end, the moral law is fulfilled in us simply because the Son is in us. He is what the Father has always wanted. In Him, the Father is well pleased (Matt. 3:17).
To be continued…
Excerpted from my booklet, “Wonderful Things in Your Law“