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Biblical Law and Christians PDF Print E-mail
Written by Calvin Fox   
Monday, 04 August 2008 15:57

Christians live under the Law of Christ - We are commanded-  …fulfill the law of Christ.  -Gal 6:2

John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. ^35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

James 2:8 If you really keep *the royal law* found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
The Christian [who has been justified by grace apart from Law] lives daily life under the Law of Christ:  the Law of Love.  The Christian is to be grounded in that Law.  But what is the Law of Christ, the Law of Love?

What specifically, practically, is included in loving your neighbor? The context of v.8 is about discrimination against the poor and in favor of the rich.

James 2:1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

To love your poor neighbor, specifically includes not discriminating against him.

James 2:9 continues with- But if you show favoritism, you sin

The New Testament clearly forbids discrimination (favoritism, partiality towards individuals) based on race, gender, ethnicity and social or economic status

Rom 2:11 God does not show favoritism.

Eph 6:9  their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

1 Tim 5:21  I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

Acts 10:34  Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation fear him and do what is right.
Note: while their ethnicity does not disbar or disqualify them, their behavior can-

Acts 10:34  Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show [ethnic] favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation [on the condition that they] fear him and do what is right.  

Col 3:25  Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

James 2 continues-  if you show  favoritism, you sin and are convicted  by the law  as lawbreakers.

Convicted by what Law?  The Law of Christ?  No.  The context of v.8 is the Law of Moses -

10 For whoever keeps the  whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

James 2:12 Christians are to “...act as those who are going to be judged by the [Mosaic] law…”

The Command forbidding favoritism or discrimination is in the Mosaic Law as follows-

Lev 19:15  Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

The poor are not to get preferential treatment.  Poor and rich are both to be treated impartially!. There will always be both groups in society.  There is to be no discrimination towards anyone.  Discrimination against individuals is sin

Deut 16:19  Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Follow justice and justice alone…

What it means to love our neighbors is spelled out by the Mosaic Law (Torah)

Loving your neighbor, the Royal Law, includes not discriminating against him, AND NOT sleeping with his wife or murdering him!  Loving your neighbor  includes respecting his life, respecting him as a person, respecting his marriage.

Without the Law, any random collection of ethics purportedly derived from the “Love Command” or “the example of Jesus” or even “Christian Principles” is a nose of putty which can be, and has been, shaped according to changing cultural times and social values.

Summary: The Decalogue, the Mosaic Law, defines “loving” a neighbor.

Rom 8:8  Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law/. [How are we to love our fellowman?  The law tells us-]/ /9 /The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, /[teach us how to love our neighbor.  They are all]/ summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." ^10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. /[ie- love does not steal or covet his wife or his goods, etc]/ Therefore, love is fulfillment of the law.

Interpreting the Law (Torah) Today

Admittedly, a major difficulty with this use of the Law is determining which laws apply to what people and when.  Laws that are historically conditioned, ie- Laws that apply to the internal affairs of a particular nation at a particular time in its history, may, arguably, not apply to any other.

Clearly, Laws that are universal would pre-date the Nation of Israel, Decalogue and the entire Mosaic Law.  Therefore, Commands or Laws found in Genesis 1-3, given to “Man”, would have universal application.   We start there. Creational Law [Genesisi] is part of the Torah- the Law.

We should next consider the Mosaic Law, especially the Decalogue, as our source of God-given, universal laws. The Law of God commands that parents be honored, there must be fidelity in marriage, children must obey their parents, property not be stolen, witnesses in court must speak the truth, people must be paid wages for their labor and the wages must be fair, no one must be murdered or raped, the land must not be destroyed, animals must not be abused, widows and orphans must be cared for by their extended family.  These Laws are not ceremonial or historically specific civil laws.

Principles of the Law (Torah)

When we teach that Christians must follow the Law of God, as His Directive for our daily lives, we often mean the Principles (values, morals, ethics) derived from the Law.

Two Examples-

1.  Deut 25:4   Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.

This text has its obvious literal meaning and application [take good care of your work animals]; but, in addition, Paul applies this to Apostles / Pastors:  

1 Cor 9:9  it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading the grain."  

Is it about oxen that God is concerned? [yes, originally; but, Paul says-] 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn't He? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?  12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?

Churches are to financially support Apostles / Pastors.  That was not the original intent of the OT Law, but is a principle derived from it.

1 Tim 5:17 Elders who direct the affairs of the church...are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain."

2.  DT 22:10 Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.

 Again, there is the literal meaning and application; but, in addition, Paul applies this to Christians:

 2 Cor 6:14  Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

We affirm that sinners are saved by grace and not by obeying the Law; but- the Law of God, properly interpreted, teaches us how to live,  both  by its original intent  and  by applying the principles involved.


1.   Christians are to obey those Biblical Commands and Principles that have universal and timeless application. Biblical Commands that apply only to a specific time, people or place are not authoritative to Christians today.   eg- the command not to eat of the forbidden fruit in the middle of the Garden of Eden was given only to Adam & Eve and only for when they lived there.  The Biblical commands that apply to marriage, family, property, work, money, care of the poor, care of animals and the environment, criminal justice and government are universal and authoritative today.  The faith that saves is the faith that obeys the Law of God in all such matters.

2.   The principles and their applications must be in honest harmony with the original intent.

3.   Application of Law and Principles must be in harmony with the teaching of Jesus and his Apostles (the New Testament)

4.   Application should be made in light of the Tradition [and Counsel] of the Historic Church  

We are saved by grace in order to live our daily lives according to the universal laws and principles of God, including those in the Torah. Remember the Great Commission: Go… and teach [Believers] to obey all I have commanded you  -Matt 28:19-20


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