Under the Old Covenant God had given mankind a law to follow. He wrote this law in stone and placed it before the people. However, Christ came to bring us a New Covenant, so does the Covenant of Christ come with a law also? Well according to Galatians chapter 6, verse 2, it does. However this law is not written in stone, so where then is it written?
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” – Jeremiah 31:31-33
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” – Ezekiel 36:26-27
In these two Old Testament prophecies of the coming New Covenant, we can plainly see that there is a law that comes with this New Covenant. However, it is not a law written on stone tablets but in the heart of the believer who by faith receives a new transformed heart and a new Spirit, God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit! Through the blood of Jesus cleansing us and giving us a new heart and the power of His Holy Spirit within us being made manifest through us (which is grace), we are then changed into a new creature in Christ! One who is not only able to fulfill the old law (through a new and lasting sacrifice) but also to walk in the holiness of the new law of Christ!
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 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. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” – Romans 8:9-14
So what is the law of Christ? You see, Christ actually raised the bar on the law but at the same time empowered us to attain it. For where sin abounds, grace (or God’s favor, power, and divine influence, which can be summed up as the power of the Holy Spirit of God) abounds all the more to overcome that sin.
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” – Romans 8:37
Let us take, for example, when Jesus said in Matthew 5, “it is written, thou shall not commit adultery, but I say if you even look in lust, you sin. It is written also, thou shall not murder, but I say if you even hate your brother you are guilty of the sin of murder.” In this, Jesus was trying to show them that in the Old Covenant, that law was “written” on physical stone therefore they identified and judged physical sins. However, under the New Covenant the law would be written on their heart and would identify and judge heart sins before they became physical actions.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” – Acts 17:30-31
Yes, the standard of righteousness is definitely raised under the New Covenant, because that we now have God’s Holy Spirit within us and His grace moving through us to empower us to produce these good fruits, which was not available to those of the old covenant. However, Christ makes it even simpler for us. He sums up all of the laws of both the Old Covenant and the New and shows us the one dividing factor between the two.
When asked in Mathew 22:36, what the greatest commandment in the Old Covenant was, He said, in short “To love God first and far most, and to love others as much as you love yourself“. It states that if you would do this you would automatically fulfill all the laws and words of the Prophets. However, when Christ spoke of the New Covenant, knowing it would be backed up by the power of the Holy Spirit, He gave this new all encompassing commandment that would, in like manner, cause you to fulfill all of the law now written on the heart of the believer (if they truly believe Him). That is this, “to love God first and far most, and to love others “as He loved them“. This is indeed a “New Commandment” for the New Covenant. No longer was it sufficient to simply love others as much as you love yourself, but now you are required to love others more then yourself, like Christ did. To be willing to esteem others better then self, to suffer and sacrifice for others, to love one and other, to pray for one and other, to bare one and others burdens, this is the Law of Christ. If you will in all things choose to love others more then yourself, then you will always do what is right in God’s eyes. In this is the Saint perfected, that he walk in perfect love.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” – John 13:34-35
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” – Matthew 5:46-48
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” – 1 John 4:16-17
“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;” – 2 Timothy 1:6-8