Jesus kept the law for me so I don't have to... – Jeff Moser
Humbly repeating the truth found in scripture. We are saved by grace through faith; we obey God's instruction (Torah) because we love him. John 14:15, John 7:16
faith, God, Jesus, Yeshua, Torah, Bible, Hebrew, scripture, grace, faith, truth
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Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to…

Have you heard this phrase thrown about in Christian circles? “Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to.” Maybe you’ve probably repeated it yourself. If you have, please consider what the Bible says about the law rather than depending only on your doctrine.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9

But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void. Luke 16:17

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12

Those are just a sampling of the many verses that tell us God’s law is important in the lives of every believer. So why do we think we “don’t have to keep the law?” And why is this thought so prevalent among Christians?

Misunderstanding Paul

Paul’s letters create most of the confusion. When speaking with someone about keeping Torah (the law), they will usually quote verses from Paul. I’ve heard all the arguments. I understand them. The problem is that Paul is so misunderstood today, just like he often was misunderstood when he wrote his letters. Consider these verses in light of what you might believe about Paul (key points emphasized):

“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,” ~ Paul, Acts 24:14

Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” Acts 25:8

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:31

So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:12

These are not the only statements made by Paul that support the law. And there are more by other authors in the New Testament. In light of these statements, you would have to at least agree that Paul seems confusing in how he views the role of the law. If so, you’re in good company:

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 2 Peter 3:15-17 (emphasis mine)

Even Peter, a contemporary and fellow apostle, found Paul’s writings “hard to understand.” He further warned that misunderstanding Paul’s words might lead to “the error of lawless people.” If Peter called attention to the possible confusion in Paul’s words, how much more possible is it for us, 2000 year removed from Paul, to confuse his words? Are you beginning to see a problem with the notion that the law was “nailed to the cross?” (That quote from Colossians 2:14 deserves a post of its own for later.)

Where we can agree

Perhaps some truth exists if I say “Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to.” Here’s the bit of truth from within the lie. I can’t keep the law perfectly throughout my life. While it’s possible for us to keep the entire law most of the time, we’ll fail at some point. That’s a truth proved in scripture.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

To be clear, sin is breaking God’s law. The Bible defines that for us in no uncertain terms.

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4

Only Yeshua is without sin. He’s the only one who has ever led a perfect life. He is the only one who was not under the penalty of the law. The rest of us are, and we deserve the righteous judgment of death because of it. But he took that penalty on himself for us. He paid the price we owe.

But does that excuse us from keeping God’s law? Does that mean we have no duty to obey God? Does that really make any sense?

Let’s get real

Let’s look at an example from modern life and see if it makes any sense. If a police officer pulls you over for speeding through a school zone and writes you a ticket, you must pay a penalty for breaking the law. You must satisfy the debt you owe for breaking the law. Once paid, does that mean you can now speed through a school zone again without consequence? Doesn’t that seem a ridiculous notion? How much more so should this make sense when we’re talking about the instructions God gave us for living a righteous life?

Perhaps another point of confusion is the true purpose of the law. The law was never meant to provide salvation. While that topic also deserves its own post, please just consider that Israel was first saved from their enslavement (they received grace), and then given the law afterward. They made a covenant with God to keep his laws. Although the covenant was broken, the law was perfect. Israel could return to the covenant by turning back to God and keeping his law. This has always been the pattern: unmerited favor (grace) followed by obedience (law).

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; Psalm 19:7

Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to…keep the law?

Perhaps the crux of the matter is in finishing the sentence. Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to…what? What exactly is it that we don’t have to do? The meaning behind this for most modern Christians is that we don’t have to keep the law. To be blunt…that’s absurd and morally reprehensible. Are you free to murder? Can you now commit adultery? How about stealing? Do you see the problem with that thinking?

I can almost hear the gears of compromise turning as someone says something about Yeshua (Jesus) giving us his own set of commandments, and that murder, adultery, etc. are given to us again in the new covenant. Are you sure that’s what happened? Consider this:

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” John 7:16

Who sent Jesus? The Father did. What is the Father’s doctrine? Torah…the instructions…the law. And in that new covenant, what do you think the terms of the covenant are? The writer of Hebrews tells us by quoting from this passage in Jeremiah not just once, but twice (Heb. 8:8, 10:16).

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judahnot according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LordBut this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LordI will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:31-33

What’s the difference in this new covenant? He’s putting his law in our minds and hearts. His law. The covenant is new, but the terms of the covenant still include his law. That hasn’t changed. If God’s Torah (instructions) was already perfect when given through Moses, it’s no less perfect now. The priesthood has changed (see most of Hebrews), but the law is the same.

Jesus kept the law for me so I don’t have to pay the penalty for my sin

The only Biblical way to finish the thought is to acknowledge what we truly don’t have to do because of Yeshua’s sacrificial atonement. He kept the law perfectly. He was the spotless Lamb of God. Had he not been so, he could not have paid the penalty for our sins. So the only proper meaning for this commonly used phrase is this:

Yeshua (Jesus) kept the law for me so I don’t have to pay the penalty of my own sins. I can’t gain salvation any other way but by the unmerited favor (grace) God shows to me. In response to that gift, I will out of obedience and love for him, do what he asks of me.

If you love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15

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