Do you feel that Christians must follow the Law as well as our consciences?
Many well-meaning Christians quote Paul’s statement found in Galatians 5:13-15 as a support for the view that we should completely dispense with the entire Sinaitic Law.
For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another. - Galatians 5:13-15 HCSB
However, it must be noted that the historical context of this passage included Judaizers trying to get the Galatians to circumcise FOR SALVATION, not day-to-day practical holiness (sanctification). Obviously, since Christ fulfilled that particular part of the Law, anything in the Sinaitic Law that deals with salvation of the soul is not required. Thus, we no longer are required to sacrifice animals since the Perfect Sacrifice has occurred once for all (Hebrews ; , 28; , 12, 14).
Many people like to quote broad statements like “Love God; love your neighbor” but do not delve into what that means practically speaking. What does it MEAN to love your neighbor? Well the Law explains that it means you’re not allowed to sleep with his wife. It also means that if you borrow his tool and it gets broken or stolen while in your care, you are responsible to replace it.
What does it mean to love God? The Law explains it in practical terms and that’s the rub. Many don’t want a practical explanation. They don’t want the Bible to get into specifics because that would mean they have to actually modify their behavior. As long as they stick to the broad generalizations, they feel safe.
The Sinaitic Law involved an awful lot more than atonement sacrifices. My difficulty with modern Christianity is that many who claim Christ fail to understand His teaching when He said,
"Don't assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Fool!' will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, 'You moron!' will be subject to hellfire. - Matthew 5:17-22 HCSB
Not only did He explicitly teach that the Law was not abolished, but He went on to raise the standard even higher! Before, the illicit sexual act was adultery; now, the thought counts. Before, rage acted upon was murder; now, arrogantly despising someone counts.
It is precisely because the majority of Christians have effectively excised two-thirds of their Bibles under the guise of “grace” that we are in such dire moral straits. We have Christians who claim to pursue the holiness of God, directly contradicting God’s Law (both Old and New) that baldly states homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 18:2; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10-11)!
The divorce rate among Christians is no different from the unregenerate. The adultery rate is exactly the same. How is the world supposed to believe us when we say that Christ’s Spirit empowers us to overcome sin?
The early church apparently already struggled with this issue for Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) found it necessary to teach:
"Everything is permissible for me," but not everything is helpful. "Everything is permissible for me," but I will not be brought under the control of anything. - 1 Corinthians HCSB
"Everything is permissible," but not everything is helpful. "Everything is permissible," but not everything builds up. - 1 Corinthians HCSB
Because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him. For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! - Romans 6:9-15 HCSB
Being no longer saved through the works of the Law but by the gracious death Christ does not give us a free pass to ignore morals, ethics or the elements of the Sinaitic Law that spell what “Love God; Love your neighbor” looks like in real life.
There are whole sections of the Law that still apply. We still should not murder. We should still not generally lie. We still should be respectful of our parents. To throw out all the Law because it has been summarized for us as love would be like teaching your children etiquette and then having them throw those rules out the window when they leave the home because “now they understand the point!”
Granted, there are many parts of the Law that no longer apply. Broadly they would include:
God loves justice. God loves ethical behavior. God loves practical holiness (Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 24:10-12; Isaiah 1:16-18; 58:6-12; Micah 6:8; James 1:27). Too many Christians have allowed their liberty to become an excuse to do whatever they like. That is not freedom. That is anarchy.