HOW DID JESUS CHRIST FULFILL THE LAW?
The Law and the Ten Commandments have not been done away with. I feel that many misunderstand just what it means that Jesus “fulfilled” the Law. The Law has not changed, it has come to “spiritual” fulfillment in Christ. What has changed is how one obeys these commandments and laws, instead of obeying physical laws in the flesh, we now obey them spiritually in Christ.
I have tried to convey this many times and in many ways and still I feel I have failed to make this clear. Therefore, I would like to present a study that does justice to what I have been unable to do. I hope this will clear up any concern that I am throwing out the Law or the Ten Commandments, or that I am teaching others to do so.
We have freedom from condemnation for not being able to keep the Old Testament laws because now if we are in Christ we are able to keep them spiritually as He lives in us, and we have His Spirit via the Holy Spirit. We are not free to just do any old thing, and not free to sin and be morally corrupt, heaven forbid!
The Law came to a spiritual fullness in that it is no longer about just a physical obedience, but about obeying with our hearts and minds. What was once thou shall not commit murder is now thou shall not even think about committing murder, nor harbor hatred in our hearts.
The Law and How it is
Fulfilled in Christ
-by Tony Warren
One of the questions frequently asked is, “Doesn’t Christianity do away with a lot of the laws of the Old Testament?” How did Christ fulfill the law? For example observing the Old Testament Sabbath (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) which is part of the 10 commandments, and laws such as eating Kosher meats. The question is, “why has Christianity abandoned these laws, despite the fact that Jesus said that He had not come to destroy or abolish the law?” How did Christ fulfill the law?
This is indeed a good question. If Christ said He came not to destroy the law, why don’t we still observe the Old Testament laws? The answer is, we do! We continue to observe those laws in Christ who fulfilled (completed) them. When we consider all of scripture, in context, it is clear that Jesus spoke of his death as insuring that the law was satisfied and has no more condemnation over us.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
It is true that Christ did not come to destroy or abolish the law and Prophets. Every jot and tittle (or last letter) of the law is still in effect, but Jesus makes it very clear that what He came to do, was to FULFILL or satisfy them for us.
Fulfill: ful.fil’, v.i.-fulfilled, fulfilling. [a compound of full and fill; O.E. fullfyllan.]
(1) To accomplish or to carry into effect, as a Prophecy or a Promise; (2) to satisfy or meet the requirements; (3) to bring to a finish or completion; (4) to bring the conditions of a law to realization; (5)to bring to a consummation.
-ful.fil.er, n.–ful.fill.ment, ful.fil.ment, An act of fulfilling; condition of being accomplished.
By fulfilling the law Christ satisfied all its requirements in our stead. In other words, the ‘required’ obedience to such laws are accomplished in Him. Therefore, “in Christ” do we keep all the law faithfully, and cannot be accused. In this way, we can no longer be judged by any of the everlasting laws, because those laws having been satisfied, we are now under the Grace of God. So that in the Spirit of Christ, the law does not condemn us.
1st Corinthians 15:56
“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”
How did Christ fulfill the law? Except Christ had atoned for our sins, satisfying the law, we would stand guilty before God of the whole. But because He has in our stead satisfied all the law, there is now no condemnation.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The law stands, but it cannot condemn the saints because we are made free from the law in Christ Jesus, in whose righteousness we now stand. We are dead to the law only in the sense that Christ died redeeming us from the consequences of it, not Because there is no law left for the unsaved. For that would mean no one was guilty by law of anything before God. And so clearly New Testament Christianity doesn’t do away with the Old Testament laws, they stand in the revelation that the Messiah came to fulfill or satisfy what was required, that those laws will not now condemn us. He brought the law to completion, having stood as a substitute for us, that the strength of sin (the law) would not condemn us.
An example would be the Old Testament seventh day Sabbath, which was a type or shadow that looked forward to our true “Rest” in the Messiah, wherein we cease from our own works. That everlasting law to keep that Sabbath of Rest is fulfilled or satisfied in Christ. It is through His works that we have and will enter into rest, and cease from the requirement of our works. Without the good works, we would have been condemned by the law, but because of Christ Jesus and His good works, we rest from the requirement of works in Him. The Old Testament rest of the Sabbath looked forward to this saving Grace, wherein we cease from works. Therefore, it being fulfilled or completed, we would no more rest on the seventh day Sabbath as we would sacrifice a Lamb on an altar, or put blood on our door posts. And for the exact same reasons. Namely, those everlasting laws have not be abrogated, they are fulfilled in the sacrifice of Christ and His shed blood. Those ceremonial laws were shadows of Christ, who has now come fulfilling them. We can’t arbitrarily take one law of sacrificing a Lamb and say we must keep this one, while discarding all the other Old Testament laws which God clearly said were also everlasting laws. We have to keep the whole law, or else keep none. With men this is impossible, but with God it is.
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
In other words, if we’re going to keep old testament laws, then we better make sure we keep all of them, including all implied laws of adultery by thought and murder by hate. Which of course is impossible, except in Christ. What christian do you know today who claims to follow the Old Testament law is going to Jerusalem three times a year? Because that is the law of God. What christian follows the law of splashing blood on the door posts? That also is the law of God. But you see, there are some groups who want to pick and choose (depending upon their traditions) what Old Testament laws they want to keep, and which ones they exclude themselves from. But the law isn’t a salad bar where we take what we want, and leave the rest. If we are indebted to one law, we’re indebted to all the laws. Thank God Christ fulfilled “all” the law, and that includes the law of God’s Sabbath rest. This is illustrated for us in passages like Hebrews 4:1-11. That true rest is of the Kingdom of God. We keep the everlasting Sabbath by being in Christ, our true Sabbath of Rest. Our completion (7) of the sojourn, is in Him. The seventh day Sabbath was a shadow looking forward to Him. And with the coming of Christ (the True), the shadow preceding this Real is passed away. The requirement of the Old Testament law is then satisfied. ie., Christ came not to do away with the law, but to satisfy it. He came to bring the conditions of the law into completion. ..to fulfill it!
Likewise, the laws concerning unclean meats which were an illustration that nothing unclean was to come unto the children of Israel, was completed in Christ. With the New Testament, that veil of mystery concerning it has been lifted for us. “The Old Testament concealed is the New Testament revealed!” If one does not accept the authority of the New Testament, then the Old Testament is still concealed to them. The fact is, the Gentiles “were” seen as heathen Dogs and Swine, the animals deemed unclean. Those Old Testament laws illustrated that the Children of God were not to mingle themselves with them. Jesus himself used that very same idioms for Gentiles in the book of Mark:
“But Jesus said unto her, Let the Children first be filled, for it is not meet to take the Children’s bread, and cast it unto dogs.”
God told the Children of Israel that the Heathen nations that they possessed were “unclean” and they were not to mingle with them. The Gentiles were generally unsaved, and God was using the unclean animals as a “type” whereof the Children of Israel were not to partake of their doctrines and traditions, but separate themselves from them. They were not to partake of these people’s meats. This is why the unclean meats were let down unto Peter three times (3, signifying God’s Purpose) to signify that the Gentiles were now cleaned to be included as Children of God. It is explained in Acts 10:28.
“And He said unto them, ye know that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation, But God Hath Showed Me that I should not call any man common or Unclean!”
Of course, if one is not born of God from above and doesn’t accept the revelation of the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, then these words of God ring hollow. But the Truth is, the Gentiles were “generally” the unsaved, and as such were pictured by God as the unclean Dogs and Swine. But God hath cleansed them also, and they were no longer to be considered unclean. Again, this is seen when Jesus talks about the unsaved and unrepentant in passages such as Matthew chapter six:
“Give not that which is Holy unto the Dogs. Neither cast ye your pearls before Swine, lest they trample them under foot, and turn again and rend you.”
These are types of unsaved people, and they are spoken of as these unclean animals. God knows what he is doing and saying, even when we do not. This isn’t incidental or coincidental language. It’s God breathed and divinely significant. The law of unclean animals is not done away with, it is “still” kept in Christ, because it pertained to the separation of God’s people from the heathen. The difference now is that Christ has made the unclean gentiles, Clean. And those cleansed by Christ cannot be called common, as they now come into the Covenant Olive Tree as branches of the Israel of God. We see this again in verses such as Acts 11:6-9 where Peter sees a basket of unclean meats, and will not eat, but God corrects him saying, what He has Cleansed, don’t call it common or unclean. Then it is explained that this illustrated that salvation was not only to the physical nation of Israel, but was to go to the Gentile people as well. This is not speculative teachings about unclean meats, it is what God has written there. It’s not what goes into the mouth that makes one unclean, it’s what comes out of it. Out of the Gentiles came the unclean meats or doctrines. But now they are as the unclean meats, made clean by God. The Gentiles would now also come with the word of God. And what God has now cleansed, call that not unclean.
How did Christ fulfill the law? He has satisfied it in that we keep this Kosher laws, not in the Old Testament ceremonial rejecting of some meats, but in the New Testament fulfillment of realized significations. The law of clean and unclean meats is fulfilled (kept) by Christ making clean what was unclean. What literal meat we eat does not defile us, it is what spiritual meats we eat that defile us.
“not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man, but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.”
Eating swine does not defile a Christian, eating, and repeating the doctrines of carnality does. Just as Jesus said, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:11-12). He was not talking about “bad bread” that they may have baked, He was talking about their doctrines. Unless we understand these Spiritual truths, we miss the whole point of eating clean and unclean things. The law is intact, but the unclean has been made clean by Christ so that there is no transgression of the law concerning it.
So once again we see that Christianity does not teach that the law is done away with, it teaches that the law is fulfilled in Christ. The coming of Jesus makes it lawful to eat the meats that the Old Testament law forbade, because that law’s requirements are satisfied in the cleansing of Christ. We are not transgressing the law because God has cleansed what was before unclean. And we cannot now call the meat God has cleansed, common or unclean. For we know it’s not about meats for the belly, it’s about unclean men and their doctrines. Just as we know it’s not about slaughtered lambs (clean animals) and their blood on a door post, it’s about Christ and his shed blood on our building. The very same principle of “types” applies. As the Old Testament law of sacrifice clearly talked about animals, but applied to Christ. So the Old Testament laws of unclean meats applied to people. Just as the Old Testament law saying we had to go to Jerusalem three times a year referred to going to literal Jerusalem, but applied to the purpose (3) of our communion with Christ, our true Holy City. As the law where we couldn’t plant two different kinds of seed in a field, or the law of circumcision, and so on and so forth. They are all not done away with, but fulfilled in Christ who they shadowed. They all looked forward to the Coming of Christ. Circumcision is still required, but it is those who are circumcised in Heart by Christ, the fulfillment of that Old Testament everlasting law. These are the true Children of God, not those circumcised in the flesh. So why would we want to put ourselves back under the “BONDAGE” of the law, when Christ has fulfilled or satisfied it, that it does not condemn us? For it is self evident that those who rely on observing the Old Testament law are still under the curse, for it is written:
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them”
Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Not their own, but the faith of Christ in satisfying the law. For any law based on man’s feeble faith, is based on man’s works of obedience. And by the works of the law, shall no one on earth ever be saved. Except in the faith of Christ, in His completed work.
“knowing that a man is not justified by the Works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be Saved!”
By the finished or completed work of Christ we are saved, not the works of our obeying the law. In Him, we have our rest from our works. If we could keep the Old Testament law ourselves, we wouldn’t need Christ. But no man could. And so Christ went to the cross and redeemed us from the curse of the law. He became a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who hangeth on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
If we are truly saved, we are not condemned by the laws that God gave to Israel. Jesus took care of that–it was the whole point of His life, death and resurrection. If His atonement was sufficient (and it was) then the Old Testament law holds no condemnation for us. Jesus Himself told us very clearly in Matthew chapter 22:
“..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, thy shalt Love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.
If you Love God with all your heart and mind, that Love will manifest itself in your faithfulness to His Holy Word, and the surrender of your will to his will. Thus you will love your neighbor and you will work toward His salvation, your desire being that he experience that same Salvation that you have. This is the Christian charity, the agape love of God and neighbor.
Upon these commandments hang all the law. The love in the faith of Christ, wherein He first loved us. The Love wherein the law has been fulfilled, satisfied and accomplished in Him.
May the Lord who is rich in mercy, give us all the understanding of His most Holy word.
Let me just repeat this one simple statement to sum up what I most want to convey, that Mr. Warren did so well.
” By fulfilling the law Christ satisfied all its requirements in our stead. In other words, the ‘required’ obedience to such laws are accomplished in Him. Therefore, “in Christ” do we keep all the law faithfully, and cannot be accused. In this way, we can no longer be judged by any of the everlasting laws, because those laws having been satisfied, we are now under the Grace of God. So that in the Spirit of Christ, the law does not condemn us.”
We are not free from the Law in Christ,we are free from condemnation. If we are truly His we will keep the Law as He fulfilled it.
JESUS IS ALL AND EVERYTHING!!