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The NEW Commandment of Christ

       What do the churches and theologians of this world teach about the law of God---about the commandments of God?   They teach that they have been done away!  This is sometimes taught directly, but probably more often taught indirectly---by the teaching that God’s commandments have been replaced by the “New commandment of Christ.”

       So let’s now examine this “New commandment of Christ.”

       Yes, Christ did speak of a “new commandment,” but there’s only one scripture in the entire Bible where He spoke of that.  (There are two other scriptures in the New Testament which speak of a “new commandment,” but these two statements by John are simply referring to the same principle which Christ spoke of.) 

       Notice the one scripture where Christ referred to His new commandment: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this will all men know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13: 34-35).

       Many people read the above passage and then assume that all that is required of a Christian is to “love” one another.  They interpret “love” to mean affection---and somehow assume that we no longer need obey God’s spiritual law!

       What people totally fail to understand is that God’s law is a law OF love!   The Ten Commandments show us the basics of how to express Godly love.  The whole spiritual law can be summed up in the one word “love.”   Then (as Christ explained in Matt. 22:36-40) this “love” can be divided into the two great commandments---love toward God (the first 4 of the Ten Commandments) and love toward fellowman (the last six of the Ten Commandments).

       The divine love of God (imparted to us by the Holy Spirit---Rom. 5:5)  is expressed within the bounds of God’s spiritual law.  Godly love flows down the channel or riverbed of the Ten Commandments. 

       The Ten Commandments are a guide to teach us how to love.  So, if you are engaging in some activity contrary to the Ten Commandments---contrary to God’s spiritual law---then you are not expressing Godly love!

       Many people think that Christ had a sentimental type of love in His heart---but that He did not literally obey God’s commandments.  However, scripture tells us that Christ never sinned (Heb. 4:15); and since “sin” is defined as the transgression of God’s law (I John 3:4), then that means that Christ never transgressed God’s law!   Christ “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).   Christ said, “I have kept My Father’s commandments”!  (John 15:10).

       Very plainly, then, Christ obeyed God’s commandments.  Furthermore, He requires that we do likewise!   Christ said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven…depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”!  (Matt. 7:21-23). 

       Speaking of the end-time judgment, Christ said that those who practice lawlessness will be cast into the furnace of fire (Matt.13: 41-42).

         Yes, Christ was obedient to God’s law, and He set us an example that we should follow His steps (I John 2:6; I Peter 2:21-22).   If you surrender your life to God, then, at baptism, Christ begins to live in you (Acts 2:38; Gal.2:20).   And He will live, in you, the same obedient life that He lived 2,000 years ago.   Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

    

The Law of Christ

       When Paul speaks of “the law of Christ” (Gal.6:2), does Paul mean that Christ came to undermine God’s law with some better law?   No!   Christ said, “Do NOT think that I came to destroy the Law”!  (Matt.5:17).   Rather, Christ came to “magnify the law” (Isa.42:21).   “Magnify” is the direct opposite of diminish!

       Christ said, “if you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments”---and He then showed that He was speaking of the Ten Commandments, by naming some of them (Matt.19: 16-19).   Furthermore, Christ taught that we are to live by every word of God!  (Luke 4:4).

       “Love” is not left to the interpretation of the individual Christian.  Rather, God’s spiritual law along with the Holy Spirit---guides us as to how to express Godly love. 

       Love is the fulfilling of the law, but unless our actions are within the confines of God’s law, then it’s not Godly love that we are expressing.

       Likewise, John said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments”!  (I John 5:3).   And John wrote that scripture about 60 years after the Holy Spirit---after agape love---had become available to the Church.

       The Holy Spirit---and the agape love which It provides (Rom.5:5)---first became available to the Church on the day of Pentecost that occurred just weeks after Christ’s crucifixion.    Now, if it’s true that ever since that time, we no longer need the letter of the law---that we need only the agape love supplied by the Holy Spirit ---then why did the New Testament writers continue to repeatedly endorse God’s law after that time?   Why didn’t they, from that time forward, cease all positive mention of God’s law, and speak only of “love”?

       To hear professing Christians speak, you’d think that at the end of His ministry, Christ had said this:  “Hold on fellas!   What I have just spent my entire ministry teaching you is now DONE AWAY!   From now on the Church and all of you should [only teach a message of believing on My person and just having ‘love.’   Forget about teaching the necessity of striving to keep God’s commandments---something that I Myself have always kept, and have always taught others to keep!]” 1  

 

Christ’s New Commandment

       So let’s now answer the question: “What was NEW about Christ’s ‘New Commandment’?”   Christ said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). 

       But how was this command to love one another “new”?   For, even the ancient Israelites were commanded, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev.19:18). 

       What made Christ’s commandment “new” was the part where He said to “love one another as I have loved you.”     Christ had loved His disciples with agape love ---spiritual love---God’s own love.   And His life’s example of love was that of perfect outgoing concern and selflessness.

       Christ had magnified God’s law, not only by His teaching, but also by His perfect example.  Christ had demonstrated how Godly love actually functions in day-to-day life.

         Also, consider that Christ gave this “new commandment” on the very last night of His physical life on earth, and that only about seven weeks later, beginning on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would be made available to those in the Church. 

       God did not offer His Holy Spirit to Old Testament Israel---only to the prophets and patriarchs.   Therefore, Old Testament Israel could live only by the letter of the law---not by its spirit and intent---not by the magnification of the law that Christ would bring.   Because they did not have access to the Holy Spirit, they did not have agape love---and God’s spiritual law can only be fulfilled through agape love.   In fact, one of the main reasons God raised up the nation Israel was to demonstrate that mankind needs God’s Holy Spirit!   It is only by having the Holy Spirit within you that you can fulfill God’s law---that you have access to God’s agape love, and thereby are enabled to live by the spirit and intent of God’s spiritual law---which is a law OF love!

       It should now be clear why Christ said that this commandment to love one another was a “new” commandment.   It was “new” because His followers would now be required to love with agape love---the very love of Christ and the Father.  Without access to God’s Spirit (and the agape love It provides) we cannot love one another AS Christ loved us!   We cannot live by the spirit and intent of the law. We cannot fulfill God’s spiritual law, as summarized by the Ten Commandments. 

       No, Christ’s “new commandment” in no way diminishes our obligation to strive to obey God’s law.  Instead, this “new commandment” brings the good news that we can now receive the Holy Spirit---we can have Christ live His life in us--- and fulfill God’s law of love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

1.  Now Revealed---Christianity’s Greatest Deception, 1997 booklet by Roderick C. Meredith, p.8