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Particulars of Christianity:
305 Liberty in Christ

Origin of the Law of Liberty

Liberty in Christ: Extended Introduction
Liberty in Christ: Introduction

Definitions and New Testament Survey
Synonyms for Liberty in Christ
Liberty and Death
Liberty, the Law, and the 10 Commandments
Origin of the Law of Liberty
Liberty and Yet Prohibition
Incorporating Pagan Practices in the Old Testament
"Christianizing" Pagan Practices
What is Observing Times?
Liberty, Bondage, and Righteousness
Liberty and Meat Sacrificed to Idols
Liberty and 1 Corinthians 8
Liberty, 1 Corinthians 10, and Idolatry
Liberty, 1 Corinthians 10, and Your Neighbor
Summary and Practical Applications
Addendum: Romans 14, the Conscience, and Morality

Earlier we established that Christian liberty was synonymous with the phrases "royal law" (James), "law of liberty" (James), "law of the Spirit" (Paul), and "Law of Christ" (Paul.) We also established that James and Paul both associated "loving our neighbors as ourselves" as the fulfillment of this law.

Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty [1657] for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

In fact, as we also demonstrated, Paul stated that it was only by walking in this new law that we were made free from the old law, the Law of Moses.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free [eleutheroo - 1659] from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

And James and Paul are not the only New Testament authors who wrote about this "law," which is fulfilled by "loving our neighbor." In his epistles, John writes extensively about this topic.

In 1 John 2:7, John writes "I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning." John goes on in verse 10 to state, "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him." And John says the same thing in 1 John 3:11.

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

When John says this command was around from "the beginning," he is using a phrase that the apostles used to refer to the beginning of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry.

Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

Here in Acts 1, we see Peter instructing the others that they needed to select a man to replace Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus. Peter tells the others that they must select a man who has been with them "all the time that the Lord Jesus" was teaching and living among them. And Peter gets even more specific saying that this duration of time started "beginning from the baptism of John." Therefore, in the context of 1 John 3, the phrase "the beginning" refers to the entire duration of time, which Jesus spent teaching the apostles.

John goes on to say even more about this command to love one another that they have had since the time of Jesus' earthly ministry.

1 John 3:23 "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."

1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

John also speaks about the commandment to "love our neighbor" in 1 John 5:2,3, and 18. From John's first epistle we learn two important things about the Law of Christ. First, it originated during "the beginning," the period of time during Jesus' earthly life when he lived among and taught the apostles. And second, as we see here in 1 John 4, John links the concept of "loving our brother" with the concept of "loving" God.

If the Law of Christ (which is also known as our "liberty in Christ," "the Law of Liberty," "the royal Law," and "the Law of the Spirit") originated during Jesus' earthly ministry, then we should be able to find an account of it somewhere in the Gospels. And just as we would expect, Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, and Luke 10:27 do, in fact, record the origin of the Law of Christ.

Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Luke 10:26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Here we see in all three accounts that when asked "what is written in the law?" Jesus answered that "all the law and the prophets" hang on two commands: 1) Love the Lord thy God with all thy being, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. And sure enough, both of these commands originate in the Law of Moses. Exodus 20:1-6 records the first of the two as the first of the 10 Commandments.

Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

In particular, we should notice that this command to love God first above all else is inseparably connected with the prohibition of idolatry. And we should also note the phrase "for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God." This phrase will become quite significant later on in our study.

And the second of these two "great commandments" can be found in Leviticus 19.

Leviticus 19:34 " But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

So, here we see that the Law of Christ was not only rooted in the Old Testament books of Exodus and Leviticus, but that according Jesus Christ himself, the entire Law of Moses was summed up in these two commands: 1) Love God first and with all your being and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.

And Paul also taught this very same thing.

Romans 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

We began this section by asking the following question. Since the Law of Moses had been replaced by the New Covenant and Christians were no longer under bondage to it, why were Christians still obligated to obey 9 out of the original 10 Commandments of Moses? The answer is that Christians still had to obey the 10 Commandments (minus 1) because Jesus had replaced the Law of Moses with a Law that by its very nature contained and fulfilled those 10 Commandments. So, even though the Law of Moses was no longer in effect, the 10 Commandments were because they were contained and summed up in the Law of Christ.

We should also note one more thing from our review of the Law of Christ. Jesus said our love of God is the "first and greatest commandment." The command to "love our neighbor" comes second to that "first and greatest commandment." And while as John attests in his epistle, it is not possible to love God if we do not love our neighbor as ourselves, we must recognize that it is possible to love ourselves or our neighbors more than we love God. And if we do that, we break the Law of Christ, for the Law of Christ places our love of God as the first priority. If we do not love God with our whole being, then loving our neighbor is irrelevant with regard to our keeping the Law of Christ.