Did the Apostles teach that Christians don’t need to follow the law of God? Did they encourage everyone to simply accept Jesus Christ, believe in Him, and do whatever they feel would glorify God? Is the law of God something that has already been abolished after the death of the Messiah? Learn the answer to these questions by reading this post!
We have just discussed how Yahshua or Jesus Christ upheld the law of God. Instead of abolishing it, He magnified the law to include its spiritual intent.
However, some people may insist that after the death of Christ, the Apostles have surely changed the requirements and expectations for us, Christians.
But is that really true?
Let’s find out and see what the Apostles really teach.
The prevalence of the Old Testament in the New Testament
Before we go to the Apostles, let me just briefly discuss how the Old Testament permeates the New Testament.
A lot of people think that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to Christians anymore. There are even Bibles today that only include the New Testament!
However, we must understand that the New Testament is FOUNDED on the Old Testament. It built on it rather than replacing it.
According to scholars, the number of quotations and references in the New Testament to the Old could be as high as more than 4,000! Compare that to the New Testament writers who only quoted each other about four times.
With this in mind, the Old Testament is as relevant as the New Testament. The Bible should be taken as a whole instead of separating them into two categories.
John’s teaching on God’s Commandments
John is known to be “the beloved.” He probably wrote about the topic of love more than the other New Testament writers. Yet, he didn’t say that all we have to do is love one another on our own terms.
We read in His writings:
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).
John was telling us that part of knowing God is to keep His commandments. When we don’t keep God’s commandments and we say we know God, then we are lying.
In I John 3:22, we read:
“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.”
If we keep God’s commandments, there’s a better chance for us to receive blessings from God. Is through keeping His law that we put ourselves in the position of being blessed.
In I John 5:2-3, John added that we love God and others by keeping His commandments:
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are NOT burdensome.”
John even tells us that God’s commandments are not a burden.
He also defined love in II John 1:6 as our willingness to walk according to God’s commandments.
The Apostle Peter’s use of the Old Testament
Peter is considered to be a bold and outspoken Apostle of Yahshua. In his writings, you will see how he repeatedly quoted the Old Testament:
- Peter repeated the need to be holy by quoting Leviticus 11:44 in I Peter 1:15-16.
- Peter quoted Isaiah 40:8 in I Peter 1:25 to remind us that God’s word endures forever.
- Peter tells us that the prophets spoke and wrote under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit (II Peter 1:20-21). He also tells us to be mindful of the words of the prophets (II Peter 3:1-12).
- In II Peter 2:5-6, 15, Peter recounted the examples of Noah, Balaam, Sodom, and Gomorrah to serve as a warning for us today.
Jude and the Old Testament
Jude was the half-brother of Yahshua as we read in Matthew 13:55. This means that Jude knew Christ since childhood.
Jude’s epistles is a short letter with only 25 verses. However, in this short epistle, you will read a lot of references to the Old Testament. Jude mentioned Cain, Enoch, Sodom, Gomorrah, Moses, Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, Korah, and Balaam.
As you can see, Jude recognized the importance of the Old Testament even years after the death and resurrection of Yahshua.
James teachings about the Law of God
In our Bible, James is written as the “James” who wrote the Epistle of James. However, His real name is not James, but Yacob or Jacob.
In actuality, James’ writing is one of the earliest writers of the New Testament. In the Bible, his letter should have been put first before the letters of Paul. However, because of his teaching about grace, faith, and law, it seems the people who compiled the Bible thought that it should be put somewhere at the last part of the Bible to hide its teaching.
So, what did James teach about the law?
First of all, James called the law of God the “Royal Law” and the “Law of Liberty” (James 2:8, 12). In contrary to popular belief, the law of God does not take away our freedom, but rather it liberates us!
What most Christians don’t like about James’ writing was his teaching about the importance of works. For many Christians today, they say that faith is enough and belief in Jesus would save you already.
However, James adamantly explained in James 2:14, 18-20, 26:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?…
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?…
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith WITHOUT works is DEAD also.
As you can see, James is telling us that we must accompany our faith with works. James didn’t say that all we need is love. We must follow the commandments of God to produce the works God is looking for.
James upholds God’s commandments by saying that we can’t cherry-pick which one to keep (James 2:9). Instead, we must strive to keep all of God’s commandments.
Finally, James shows us that we must not simply avoid sin, but we MUST also do good (James 4:17).
Remember, James is also a half-brother of Yahshua. This means that James intimately knew Yahshua’s attitude toward God’s laws and He was reaffirming them through his letter.
Paul’s teachings about the Law of God
Paul is considered by most Christians as the champion of getting rid of God’s law. They believe Paul teaches that we are under grace and therefore, there’s no need to follow the commandments of God.
All too well did Peter warned us about Paul’s writing when he wrote in II Peter 3:15-16:
“And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things HARD to understand, which untaught and unstable people TWIST to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.”
As Peter mentioned, the written letters of Paul is difficult to understand. Without proper wisdom, God’s revelation, and inspiration, it is too easy to misunderstand Paul’s writing.
As this might be the case, there’s one thing that is clear: Paul didn’t teach Christians to ignore the laws of God. On the contrary, Paul has a high regard for God’s law and encourages Christians to follow them!
Read the declaration of Paul in front of his false accusers before the Roman governor Felix:
13 “Nor can they prove the things of which they now accuse me. 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. 15 I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. 16 This being so, I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men” (Acts 24:13-16).
Paul, at this time, had already been a follower of Christ for many years now. It has already been 25-30 years after Christ’s resurrection. Yet, He still declared that He believed the Law and in the Prophets, which basically refer to the entire Old Testament.
Paul wrote to the young Timothy:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When Paul wrote this letter, there’s no “New Testament” yet. Obviously, Paul was referring to the Hebrew Writings!
Paul posed a question in Romans 7:7 and gave us the answer:
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.
Paul concluded in Romans 7:12:
“Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.”
Here’s a shocking revelation as well from Paul for the people who teach that faith is all we need:
“Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).
The Greek word for “establish” here is histemi. It means to establish on a firmer footing and even to make a stand. The Apostle Paul is basically saying that he is not removing or abolishing God’s commandment. Instead, He is upholding the laws of God and even putting it on a firmer footing!
With this, straight from Paul’s lips and writing, there’s no need to doubt how He handles God’s law. It is obvious, without any shadow of a doubt, that Paul promotes the keeping of the Commandment of God.
The Book of Revelation and God’s commandments
Most “professing” Christians will easily dismiss the idea that Christians today need to keep the commandments of God. The primary reason they will tell you is “Law-keeping will not earn your Salvation”.
While this statement is true and I absolutely agree with it, does this free us from keeping the commandments of God?
Let us take a look at the final book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. We read at least three verses, which tell us that keeping the commandments of God is still required of us:
- Revelation 12:17 – And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
- Revelation 14:12 – Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
- Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
With these three verses from the Book of Revelation, it is very clear that one of the signs of God’s people is COMMANDMENT-KEEPING. This does not sound like the commandments of God being nailed to the cross!
Those people who keep on insisting that the commandments are part of the Old Testament should consider these verses. Most certainly, the Book of Revelation is found in the New Testament.
The truth is plain, simple, and VERY OBVIOUS. If you want to be considered a Christian in God’s eyes, you need to keep the commandments. Anyone can call a dog a cat, but that does not change the cat. A cat is always a cat. The same with Christianity; you can call a false belief “Christian,” but it is still false in God’s eyes.
Yes, certainly, no amount of commandment-keeping will earn you salvation. Nevertheless, it is also equally true that commandment-keeping is still required by God.
The New Testament Upholds the Law of God
As you have read, the New Testament upholds the Law of God. We must not believe what most Christians teach.
The New Covenant didn’t abolish God’s law. What happens instead is that the Apostles supported the keeping of the commandments of God and they all believe and understand that it has now been written in our hearts and mind.
It is not enough to believe, but you must couple it with works. You must be obedient to God’s commandments as evidence of your faith. Now, you’re not trying to earn salvation, but you simply show your love to God by keeping His word and doing His will in your life.