And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 21, Number
In this issue:
The gospel of Christ makes no fleshly distinctions when identifying the chosen people of God. Romans 2:28-29 is very clear: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
The gospel of Christ does not identify a Jew by outward circumcision, but by the inward circumcision of the heart. In Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). God’s “chosen generation” today is His church that is composed of Christians, whether Jew or Gentile in the flesh, it makes no difference to God (1 Peter 2:9; Acts 15:9). Scripture says, “nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham” (Romans 9:7). Any doctrine that elevates one race above another has distorted the gospel of Christ and the salvation it extends to all (whether Jew or a Gentile, Romans 1:16-17).
Fleshly Israel was told to “circumcise the foreskin of your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:16). In Christ, it is the circumcision of Christ – the cutting away of “the body of the sins of the flesh” (which occurs in baptism) – that identifies a person as a child of God (Colossians 2:11-13).
And so, God’s people are not identified by their flesh, but by their faith. Now, let us apply what we have learned. Because the physical nation of Israel is no longer the chosen people of God, any religious doctrine that elevates the nation of Israel to “chosen” or “promised” status is necessarily false. For example, a widely held view is that Christ will return to earth and give the nation of Israel its promised land (even though God fulfilled that promise long ago, Joshua 21:43). Scripture says we will meet the Lord in the air, not on the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Another doctrine teaches that every nation will be judged by God based on how it treats the nation of Israel. The judgment of the last great day will be individual, not national (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).
False doctrines concerning Israel deceive many souls. Today, it is one of the nations of the world, but the word of God gives it no superior standing among the nations. Every nation is under the rule of Jesus Christ, and every person who rejects Him as Messiah is lost in sin (1 Timothy 6:15; John 8:23-24). The truth is, “In every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35).
(Adapted from Sword Tips, #1599 and #1600)
Some are confused when it comes to defining the law of Christ. It ought not be so. Some question whether we are even under law in this age of grace. To them, the “the law of grace in the love of God” keeps Christians in “a pleasing relationship with God” (“What does it mean that Christians are not under the law?”, gotquestions.org) even as they continue to sin. They say you cannot so sin as to lose salvation once you are saved by grace. Others say in a very general way that God’s law is a law of love. (Love is certainly a central aspect of God’s law, Matt. 22:36-40; Jno. 13:34-35.) Others focus on the liberty we have in Christ to minimize the binding authority of Bible patterns while maximizing unity in diversity. So, what does the Scripture say about the law of Christ?
A law is a rule of action prescribed by legitimate authority upon those under that authority. A law has binding authority or power to regulate one’s actions and to hold one accountable for those actions (Rom. 7:1-3). A body or collection of laws may be referred to simply as “the law,” an example of which would be the Law of Moses (the entire system of law, Matt. 5:17; Lk. 2:22-24).
It is evident that we are under divine law, otherwise there would be no sin, “for where there is no law there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). This principle is then applied, “sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Rom. 5:13).
All of us are under God’s law, and that law belongs to Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:21 says we are not “without law toward God,” but “under law toward Christ” (NKJV, “under the law of Christ,” ESV, NASB). Without equivocation, the apostle Paul said we are subject to (under) God’s law (rule), and the law to which we are subject belongs to Christ. This gives practical application to Christ’s declaration, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Christ exercises His authority by His law. When we submit to it we walk according to the Spirit, but when we refuse to submit to it we walk according to the flesh (Rom. 8:1, 6-8).
The law of Christ has been revealed. It is the gospel that Christ’s apostles preached to the world (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15; Acts 1:8). The law of Christ is the body of truth revealed to the world through Christ (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:1-3).
The law of Christ is the new covenant. A covenant is the disposition of God’s will, a testament that dispenses an eternal inheritance according to His will (Heb. 9:15). The new covenant (new testament) of Christ consists of God’s “laws” and is written on hearts and in minds when the gospel is believed and obeyed (Heb. 8:10; 10:16; Lk. 8:15; Col. 3:16). It contains commands we must obey, including commands (laws) regarding love, worship, service, moral living, etc. – “every good work” in which we are to walk (Eph. 2:10). The law of Christ is the New Testament.
The law of Christ is the law of faith. The gospel is called “the faith,” the system by which sinners are justified (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 1:11, 23; 2:16). Paul explained the law of faith removes boasting as it justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26-28). Furthermore, far from invalidating law as an active element in justifying sinners (even though the law of Moses could not do so), the apostle emphatically said that by the law of faith (the gospel) we “establish law” (Rom. 3:31). The law of faith is active and justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26-27, 28-30).
The law of Christ can be fulfilled. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). We are under obligation to fulfill (satisfy, complete, accomplish) Christ’s law. In this case we do so by bearing mutual burdens (such as restoring a fallen Christian, Gal. 6:1). It is not only possible to keep the law of Christ, we are duty bound to fulfill it. Whether our hearts and our lives have kept the law of Christ will be judged by Christ on the day of judgment (Rom. 2:16; 2 Cor. 5:10).
The law of Christ is the law of liberty. This does not mean we are at liberty under Christ to minimize His authoritative word (His law). For example, it does not mean we are at liberty to choose alternative ways to worship God (Jno. 4:24). It does not mean we are free to choose alternative standards of moral living (2 Tim. 2:22; Tit. 2:11-12). Such conclusions are gross distortions of our liberty in Christ. The liberty we have in Christ is our freedom from sin’s bondage (Gal. 5:1; Jno. 8:32-36). That is how Paul discusses “liberty” in Galatians 5:1 (13). The law of Moses could not give liberty from sin. To bind it upon Christians destroys their freedom from sin, putting them under the law’s yoke of bondage.
The word that saves our souls is the “perfect law of liberty” (Jas. 1:21-25). We must examine ourselves by it and do what it says. That is when God blesses us (Jas. 1:25).
What the Scriptures say about the law of Christ replaces confusion with understanding. The law of Christ is the gospel, the New Testament, the law of faith, the law of liberty. We are under its authority as it justifies us by grace (Gal. 2:16). We are accountable to Christ for our heart and our conduct under it. The question each of us must answer is whether we will believe the law of Christ and fulfill it.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 26:1-9
1. It is
wise to continue to learn, Prov. 1:5.
I. SINNING IS LEARNED BEHAVIOR.
A. Sin is not
Inherited and is not Forced Upon Us, Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 5:12; 1 Jno. 3:4; Psa.
II. GODLINESS IS LEARNED BEHAVIOR, Isa. 1:16-17 (19); Matt. 9:13.
Judgments in the Land Gives Us Opportunities to Learn, Isa. 26:9; Matt.
28:19-20 (11:29); Jno. 6:44-45.
III. WHAT TO DO WITH WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED?
A. Sin Can Be
“Unlearned,” Ezek. 18:27-28, 30-31; Rom. 6:17-18.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Pro-Choice is No Choice
A Gallup poll from May 2018 showed the citizens of the U.S. evenly divided on whether they consider themselves to be pro-choice or pro-life (news.gallup.com). While there have been legal advancements against abortion protecting the lives of the unborn, there have also been setbacks. One just happened in New York state. Since 2014, “an estimated twenty-five to twenty-seven per cent of pregnancies end in abortion” (“How Abortion Law in New York Will Change, and How It Won’t,” Jia Tolentino, newyorker.com). The New York state assembly just passed a law that “makes it legal for doctors and other health care professionals, such as midwives and physician assistants, to perform abortions up until birth for any reason” (“New York passes bill allowing abortion up to birth, for any reason,” Leonardo Blair, christianpost.com).
New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “We’re saying that here in New York, women’s health matters. We’re saying here in New York, women’s lives matter. We’re saying here in New York, women’s decisions matter.” (Ibid.)
They are also saying in New York the unborn child’s health does not matter. They are saying in New York the life of the unborn child does not matter. They are saying in New York the unborn child’s right to live does not matter. They are saying in New York it does not matter the unborn are unique human beings (Psa. 139:15-16; Lk. 1:41). Pro-choice (i.e., abortion) leaves the unborn with no choice.
Legalized abortion continues to be a scourge on our nation and the world. It is nothing short of murder as it renders unborn children valueless. No amount of covering this violence against children with the cloak of “women’s health” and “women’s decisions” changes the obvious fact: Abortion terminates new life. Decisions and choices made by two people result in new life being conceived. If you do not want a child, then decide and choose not to engage in conduct that conceives new life. God gives life, and He strictly charges us not to shed innocent blood (Gen. 8:6).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 01/27/2019
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA