Some people say the law is dead. They reason that Christ said so in Matthew when He said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×, King James Version).
It sounds very much as if Christ did replace the “old” laws with new ones, doesn’t it? However, Paul tells us his thoughts when he states: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid! But I did not know sin, except through the law. I would not have known coveting if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet’” (Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
American King James Version×, Modern English Version).
We are also told that the law does not change (see Matthew 5:28 Matthew 5:28But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
American King James Version×, Luke 16:17 Luke 16:17And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one pronunciation mark of the law to fail.
American King James Version×). If the law has not changed, then why did Christ say what He did? How can we make sense of it? While I could continue to break it down with many scriptures and long histories, there are a couple of basic things that personally made it clearer for me.
First, we must understand that Jesus wasn’t saying anything new here. He was merely paraphrasing what was already written in the third and fifth books of the Old Testament: Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The “new” commandment was not new at all. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He used the Torah (or “law,” that is, the books of Moses) as His base. He often says, “It is written” before He continues speaking in His teachings.
Secondly, throughout Scripture, we are told to love: Love God, love your neighbor, love your brother, family and even enemy. Keep that in mind as we continue. There is an old Roman saying written in a poem by Virgil that states, “Love conquers all.” I believe that is the key to answering Christ’s statement. We cannot sin when we love enough! It condenses all the other commandments.
Consider the Ten Commandments
1. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Can you worship other gods if you love God the Father?
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Can you create and bow down to idols if you love God?
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Can you dishonor the name of God if you love and honor Him?
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
Can you ignore the holy day God created for you if you love God?
5. “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
Can you disregard your parents if you love them?
6. “You shall not murder.”
Can you kill someone you love?
7. “You shall not commit adultery.”
Can you fool around on your spouse if you are showing him or her love?
8. “You shall not steal.”
Can you steal from someone you love?
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
Can you lie about someone you love?
10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Can you yearn for what is not yours if you are showing love to your neighbor? Remember what happened to King David when he coveted his neighbor’s wife?
True godly love is one that wishes no ill to others. Loving and following God means keeping His commandments, and as 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×states, they “are not burdensome.”