How does the law of the Old Testament apply to the New Testament believer?  Obviously, this is a loaded statement-I recently spent several weeks of lengthy research examining this very question.  May I just give you a few thoughts of conclusion that have forever elevated my appreciation of the God who gave BOTH the law and grace to enhance our relationship with Him.

Three times in II Corinthians 3:6-13 it is declared that the Mosaic system is done away with or abolished (7, 11, 13).  The participle used in each of these three verses is from the verb katargeo, which means to abrogate, to cancel, to bring to an end.[1]  No stronger term could be used to describe the abolition of the law.  It is the very word used to describe the destruction of the Antichrist in II Thessalonians 2:8.  In commentating on II Corinthians 3, L.S. Chafer observes:

It is the law as crystallized in the ten commandments which is in view; for that law alone was ‘written and engraved in stones.’  In the midst of the strongest possible contrast between the reign of the teaching of the law and the teaching of grace, it is declared that these commandments were ‘done away’ and ‘abolished.’  It should be recognized that the old was abolished to make place for the new, which far excels in glory.  The passing of the law is not, therefore, as loss, it is rather an inestimable gain.[2]

When it is said that the Old Testament system was abrogated in the new, it is of epic importance to observe that the new replaces the old, not by destruction but by fulfillment.  Christ declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17).  Aldrich surmises:

The conclusion, then, to which we are led is, that the whole Old Testament system, in all its parts, was taken up into the process of fulfillment and that all its elements of permanent value and validity have been made part and parcel of the gospel.  To the old system as such we have no need to go back, because the gospel is its completion, and we have no occasion to supplement Christianity by additions from Judaism.  But the Old Testament has not thereby been destroyed, but fulfilled.  The fulfillment is, by its very nature, a conserving process; it rejects nothing which it can use, but embodies it in its perfect result.[3]

May I encourage those who have discarded either the law or grace, to understand that BOTH are a part of the revelation God has preserved for the New Testament believer.  Remember that “all scripture is profitable” (I Timothy 3:16).  Don’t miss the heart of God in what is not only of revelatory value but also relationship value.

I Corinthians 9:21 describe us as “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.”  Literally translated, the New Testament reveals a relationship of not being “under” the law but “inlawed to Christ.”[4]  As with any biblical doctrine, the heart of God on the matter is embodied in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.  C.H Spurgeon summarizes how Christ changes our view of all things including the law:

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus, but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold on Jesus.”  All of these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.”  Remember, therefore, it is not your hold on Christ that saves you-it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you-it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be an instrument-it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you are grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.[5]

It is not where one is under condemnation or duty, but who one is in relation to Jesus Christ that defines our standing in God’s law and God’s grace. The heart of God’s law is only discovered and internalized through the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ and the profitable and complete canon of His revelation.

Coming soon-An evaluation of how the Ten Commandments are restated or referred to in the New Testament!

How does this post enhance your appreciation of the grace and law of God?  What else would you add to this heart-level discussion?


[1] James Strong, The New Strongs: Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 893.

[2] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Sytematic Theology IV (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1976), 242.

[3] Roy L. Aldrich,  “Has the Mosaic Law Been Abolished?” Bibliotheca Sacra (1959), 331.

[4] J. Dwight Pentecost, “The Purpose of the Law.” Bibliotheca Sacra (1971), 233.

[5] C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon, reading for the morning of June 28.  Accessed at a Web site prepared by HEARTLIGHT Magazine, produced by Heartlight, Inc.: