Click for "PART ONE". Now if we fast forward to the new testament we have Jesus. He is the atonement and sacrifice for all sin. But in regards to the law it seems we find opposing things. 1) that Jesus has fulfilled the law and 2) that Jesus has abolished the law. First lets take a look at what was going on with the law before the death of Jesus.
The first thing to note is that there were about 400 years between the old testament and the new testament. By the time we get to the new testament the keepers of the law, the Pharisees and Sadducees had become very legalistic. That is to say the law and regulations had become a way of judging others commitment to God. They would also add to the law their own made-made rules as a way of exclusion. Their way of pushing away the people they thought were not worthy of God. The Pharisees and Sadducees had begun to worship the law instead of God. They had turned the loving, protecting rules of God into control and exclusion of the people. That was never what God had intended the law to be.
So in this respect Jesus did most certainly abolish the law! He became the sin offering once and for all. He did this that we might have life in the Spirit and eternal life here after. Remember on the cross he says "it is finished". I believe He was in some part talking about the law. How the law had been up until that point was now done. Moreover Jesus was now for all people both individually and globally; not just to those who had been set apart as a nation to receive the law and bring the seed of Jesus to past.
Now Jesus also just as importantly fulfilled the law. See through Jesus there is now grace for our sins. But we must be careful not to use grace as a freedom from the law per say. Grace is the freedom from the consequence of breaking the law which was ultimately death either spiritually or physically. But for the most part the actual rules of the old testament still apply. It is the application that is different. There is now a higher calling through the Spirit in Christ Jesus. We no longer follow the law for law sake; we are new creatures that follow the law via the Spirit. You see everything we now do is as worship and expressing intimacy with God through Jesus. In doing this we automatically fulfill the law that was given in the old testament.
We must be careful to acknowledge both the abolishing and fulfilling of the law by Jesus. Jesus' death for us is not a free ticket to ride. We don't get to live in sin because by grace we now get to go heaven. Paul addressed this many times in the letters he wrote to the first Christians. He was very clear about not being legalistic. For example not to get caught up with clean and unclean foods, to drink or not to drink. See some of the rules of the old testament were only to carry out a short term purpose. Remember protecting the seed of Jesus. Think of it like you not having to wear diapers anymore because now you know how to use the potty. (sorry we are potty training my 3 year old right now...that the first example that came to mind ;D) There were things that the law had commanded that now were left to us to use our better judgement. Always checking with the Spirit and the principles of God as a guide.
Now Paul was also VERY clear that that some rules were not to be negotiated. Grace does not mean that we can participate in sexual immorality or idolatry or any of the other BIG no-no sins as I call them. There is a huge difference between now being able to eat pork and being apart of an orgy at the local temple. Agree? So Jesus did both abolish and fulfill the law, not one or the other but both. Paul sums it up like this to know then how we should live. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with it's passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Gal. 5:22-25 Not convinced it's that easy? Pick any law from the old testament and it should fall under one of the fruits of the Spirit. Whether pertaining to you personally, to others relationally or to God's intimacy. Also keep in mind that temple that was only available to a few was now opened up by Jesus so that ALL peoples could be included.
A few final things to keep in mind....click to continue in PART THREE.