In the beginning, God created man to freely and willingly choose to love and obey Him as His grateful, thankful children. He really preferred the whole thing by grace and faith to begin with and there were very few rules, very few laws, everything was to be done voluntarily out of love.--That was His original plan.
But as man became more and more disobedient and wicked, God had to give him more and more laws and rules and regulations. These laws were not made for the righteous, because the righteous doesn't harm or do wrong to his neighbour, the righteous one loves. But they were made for the wrong-doers, the evil people, the wicked.
The laws were given for the people who do not have love, who do evil, unloving, harmful things. The Bible says that "the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers." (1 Timothy 1:9)
What do you have to do with a wild animaL, a ravenous beast that might bite you or destroy you?--You have to either put him in a cage or kill him! Well, wicked evil man is like a wild animal! Look at the atrocities and cruelties that some of those guerrillas and terrorists and oppressive governments are committing in some places.--Even wild animals would hardly do things like that!
So because man didn't follow grace and faith and love, God had to crack down with the rules, the cage of the law for the transgressors. But the rules couldn't save man, they only showed him where he was wrong. "For by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God's sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:20) In fact, it is impossible for anyone to be good according to the Law of Moses. The Mosaic Law makes every one of us a sinner, because not one of us can keep it!
The Law was only our teacher, our instructor or "schoolmaster" to show us that we're sinners, to bring us to God for mercy, and to show us His absolute perfection and perfect righteousness which was impossible for us to attain: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Galatians 3:24)
The Scripture says that "The lord loveth a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7) He far prefers that we willingly and cheerfully obey Him and do what He asks with the right loving motivation, because we want to do what's right and because we love Him and others, rather than just because we're forced to obey or have to obey because it's the law or because of fear of punishment or fear of judgement, etc.
In fact, God would have preferred to have trusted His people, His children, with more freedom--total freedom--if they had been more humble and honest and had more love and consideration and unselfishness and thoughtfulness and real concern for others--not wanting to hurt anybody and just wanting to help everybody. "For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty!" (2 Corinthians 3:17) But usually He hasn't been able to because most people just aren't that unselfish or loving or thoughtful.
Freedom and liberty are God's ideal, His ultimate, His plan from the beginning! And it's almost like He's been trying to bring His people step-by-step out of bondage towards this goal through the Ages. He brought the Jews out of their slavery in Egypt, but then they were in bondage to the harsh and rigid rules of Moses--the Law.
Then along came Jesus with His grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and truth--our salvation: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) He came and showed us that salvation and true righteousness was not by works, but by grace!--That "the Lord is also Lord of the Sabbath, and that it was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27,28)
Thus the early Christians were liberated spiritually, they found spiritual freedom, but they were still somewhat in bondage to some of the old customs, traditions and laws which were hangovers from their Jewish past and background that they couldn't quite shake. Remember, the first Christian Church was just coming out of the Jewish church and they almost had to make a compromise, because some of them were still under the bondage of the old Law and weren't able to break completely free.
But Jesus himself never gave them any laws, except the Law of Love! When the self-righteous, hypocritical, religious leaders questioned Him, "Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?", He replied, "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." (Matthew 22:37-39)
He then shocked them by continuing to say, "on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:40) They had thousands of religious laws but Jesus told them that they now only needed two: Love God and love others!--That's all! He said, "In this is the whole Book!" He threw the Book at them, all the Law and all the Prophets, the works!
Jesus said that this one simple law, love, is all the law as well as all the prophets!--That's pretty broad coverage! That takes in the entire Old Testament, "the Law and the Prophets"! Jesus said that's the whole works, the whole Bible, that's all the Law--Love! In other words, if you love God and you love others, what do you need with any other laws?--You're not going to hurt anybody, you're not going to be selfish, you're not going to do anything that will hurt anybody else!
Therefore Jesus' Law of Love frees us from the old law and is all-encompassing, all-absorbing, all-fulfilling and completely above and beyond any other law!--God's only Law is Love, and as long as something is done in love with real, unselfish, even sacrificial love, God's Love, then it is absolutely lawful in God's eyes.--No matter whether it seems a sin in the eyes of the church or immoral in the eyes of man, it is still absolutely innocent in the eyes of God if it's according to Love!
The Bible says, "The fruit of the Spirit is love; and against such (love) there is no law." (Galatians 5:22,23)--Against pure love, the Love of God, the unselfish sacrificial Love of God and your fellow man, there is no law of God!
Jesus said, "I am not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil!" (Matthew 5:17) And by fulfilling it, He ended it, therefore we are no longer required to keep the Laws of Moses of the Old Testament! "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Romans 10:4)
By the old Law, God showed man that he couldn't make it on his own. By His new Law of Love, God showed that He was even more righteous than the old Law, He had even more love and more mercy, and that now you must have more love, more goodness, more righteousness--more than justice, you must have mercy.
Jesus said to the self-righteous hypocritical religious leaders, "Go ye and learn what this meaneth: I will have mercy and not sacrifice!" (Matthew 9:13) In other words, God's idea of righteousness is not the self-righteous, holier-than-thou hypocrite who tries to earn merit with God through dutiful, sacrificial keeping of the Law. God's idea of righteousness is just the opposite!--The pitiful, helpless, lost, humble, loving, sinful sinner who knows he can't make it on his own and knows he needs God and His grace and mercy!
Through God's Law of Love we are freed from the bondage of the old law into total and complete freedom of life and liberty through love!--It's the liberating Law of Love that gives life--not the enslaving "letter of the law that killeth"! (2 Corinthians 3:6) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death!" (Romans 8:1,2)
God's grace through Jesus' Law of Love is the end of the old law! Paul preached sermon after sermon and wrote letter after letter showing that the old Law was finished, it was done with, period!--The Mosaic Law is done away with for the Christian who is living under grace and under the Law of Love! "Now we are delivered from the Law, that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.--Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law!" Now "all things are lawful" to those who are living under God's Law of Love! (Romans 7:6 ; Galatians 3:13 ; 1 Corinthians 6:12)
The Ten Commandments are no more to the followers of JESUS! Hallelujah! God only has one law now: The Law of Jesus, the Law of Love, "to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:36-39) Of course this infuriated the Jews of Jesus' day and their religious leaders, who said of His doctrine, "This is against Moses and against the Law!" (Acts 6:13,14 ; 21:28)
This was the most raging controversy between Jesus and the Jews! It was also the most raging controversy between St. Paul and the legalists, the "concision", the converted Jews who said, "Yes, we now believe in Jesus, but we still have to keep all the old Law, we still have to keep the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Law, the Sabbath, etc." (Philippians 3:2)
And we still have many Christians with us today who are just like those legalistic concision members of the early Church.--They're not completely enlightened, they're still partly in the dark, they don't realise that Jesus is enough, that His light is sufficient, that His Love is all we need. The trouble with them is they're so ingrained with that old "Judeo-Christianity" that they're still preaching the Mosaic Law with one hand while preaching Christ with the other!
But according to Jesus Himself and every book of the New Testament, God's children today are no longer under the laws of Moses! We are under grace and under Love! For us the old Law is gone forever! Thank God! We now only have to keep God's Law of Love, His only Law--Love! For the Laws of Moses are no more to the believer in Jesus! We now only have the Law of Jesus, God's only Law--Love!
"For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself!" (Galatians 5:14) "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets!" (Matthew 7:12) We are to "owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law!" (Romans 13:8) If you have love, you have everything! You are fulfilling all the laws of God!
God's only Law is love! There is now no other law, no Mosaic laws, no church laws!--Those laws don't exist as far as we're concerned! They are only to regulate the ungodly, as He says in 1 Timothy 1:9, and by which the unrighteous who are violating God's Law of Love will be judged.
"God is love" (1 John 4:8), and for those who are filled with His Spirit of love, love is the only rule! "For if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law!" (Galatians 5:18) If you love one another, anything the Lord leads you to do is perfectly lawful in the sight of God. As long as whatever you're doing is in love and not hurting anybody, how can you go wrong? "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well." (James 2:8)
"Whatsoever you do in word or in deed, do all to the glory of God!" (Colossians 3:17 ; 1 Corinthians 10:31)--That's our rule, God's rule. What are the greatest commandments?--"Love God with all your heart, love your neighbour as yourself!" If it lives up to those rules, then it's for the glory of God; and if you love the Lord and you love your neighbour and it's for love and in love and has good loving results, praise God!
Therefore whatsoever you do in the unselfish sacrificial love of Jesus is right and lawful! Whatever you do in love is the law--and that's all, that's it! God's only Law is Love! We are totally, utterly free of the old Mosaic Law! We are delivered from the old Mosaic Law and no longer bound by it--we are free! Now all things are lawful to us in love, praise God! As long as it's done in love, it keeps God's only Law of Love!
Knowing this, realising this and practicing this of course gives us a lot of freedom. But in another way, His Law of Love is the most binding law of all!--Because God's Law of Love not only says you can't steal, can't kill, can't do this, can't do that, etc., but that you've also got to love everybody!--Which is one of the hardest things of all to do!
So in many ways the Law of Love is even more strict than the Mosaic Law. The Ten Commandments said that we were just to do that which was just and righteous, but under Jesus' Law of Love we are to do more then justice and righteousness, we are to have love and mercy.
Love is more than righteousness, and mercy is greater than justice! So the Law of Love is greater, and we are to be more kind and more forgiving. In the Mosaic Law there was virtually no forgiving and it was "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth"! (Exodus 21:24 ; Leviticus 24:20) The Law said that if you knock out my eye or my tooth, I'm allowed to knock out yours!
But Jesus says, "Do unto others what you want them to do to you", (Matthew 7:12)--not just whatever they do to you, but what you want them to do to you.--This is love. Jesus went right down the line in Matthew and said, "In the Law it is written so-and-so, but I say unto you"--and told them something entirely different! He said, "But I say unto you, love your enemies, forgive them!" (Matthew 5:38-44)--That's the Law of Love!--Which shows it's even greater and stricter than the old Mosaic Law! ( Continued in part 2 )