for through the law i died to the law, so that i might live to God. [galations 2:19]
paul certainly had a reason to boast in his standing in the law – to the philippians he says:
though i myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. if anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, i have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of israel, of the tribe of benjamin, a hebrew of hebrews; as to the law, a pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. [philippians 5:3-5]
Jesus also encounters pharisees like paul who were zealous for the things of the law:
“woe to you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [matthew 23:23]
but Jesus is making something explicitly clear in this verse: there is a way to follow the law–and at the same time, not follow it. Jesus pronounces woes to the scribes and pharisees in matthew 23, and we would do well to read it again and repent of the ways that we seek to check the box in our christian walk.
“through the law, we die to the law” does not mean that the law is void – Jesus said it himself:
“do not think that i have come to abolish the law or the prophets; i have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. for truly, i say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. for i tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [matthew 5:17-20]
the laws and commandments outlined in the Bible show that we cannot meet God’s standard–do you see how Jesus points to the scribes and pharisees as ones who strive, and yet do not achieve merit? do you see the consistency with paul’s statements in philippians 5?
and so what is the solution? we die. we die to the law, and live in Christ. every other religious system of the world says “live to the law! follow all the rules and you will get to god or become like a god or enlightenment or heaven” or some variation of that. only a Christ-centered gospel says:
“for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. [2 corinthians 5:21]
“in this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [1 john 4:10]
“And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation, [revelation 5:9]
we died to the law because we have been reconciled by the blood of the Lamb, and now we have been reconciled to God! we now have Christ living in us! this is how we obey his commandments: joyfully, by his Holy Spirit power!
in this week leading up to resurrection sunday, sit in the truth of the gospel, the beauty of his death and conquering resurrection and victory over death!
he has risen!
~ conor eastman