We are confused by something fundamental to our faith—Law and Love. When we talk about God’s Law, the Ten Commandments, the Law of Moses, the covenant of law, a new commandment, and the covenant of love—we often lump each of these separate entities into one big law versus love debate! We don’t take the time to define or separate the differences between these very different subjects! Then, we wonder why we disagree, or why we don’t understand each other’s perspectives. The result? We live with a plate full of scrambled eggs!
As the author of The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow, I am naturally concerned about thousands of posts, tweets, blogs, and comments that encourage a law versus love mindset. The Net is an organizational vision based on both Law and Love—not Law versus Love!
In a nutshell, I suppose that’s what concerns me most. The Christian faith must be based on a healthy balance of law and love. Yet, so many Christians recoil in horror when someone suggests that God’s Law is important and necessary to Christianity. We cannot live by love alone! Jesus never suggested that we could!
Moreover, I’m saddened that some of the most confusing comments about God’s Law come from well-educated Christian leaders! If leaders of the faith are confused, it’s no wonder that Christians, in general, are confused. The problem is one of language, definition of terms, misunderstanding of Scripture, and false teachings that have been handed down from generation to generation without question.
In an effort to create a simplistic way to discuss the subject, let’s consider the following separations:
- The Old Covenant of Law = God’s Law, The Ten Commandments, and the Law of Moses
- The Law of Moses = the 600+ laws added to the Ten Commandments (largely contained to the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy)
- The New Covenant of Love = God’s Law, The Ten Commandments, and the two summations of the commandments: Love the Lord your God, Deuteronomy 6:5, and Love Neighbor as Self, Leviticus 19:18.
Notice that God’s Law, or the Ten Commandments, are at the core of both old and new covenants. Yet many people think that all laws were made obsolete by a new covenant of love. Is this true? No! This is where we must parse and separate our terminology in order to get to the truth regarding the difference between the old and new covenants.
The First Clarification
One clarification, essential to our understanding, involves the word, “covenant.” The new covenant made an old covenant obsolete. This is true! But God’s Law, itself, was not made obsolete . . . just the covenant. Therefore, the Ten Commandments remain at the core of both old and new covenants!
Here’s why . . .
The new covenant, “Love God, Love Neighbor,” sums up all Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 6:5 is a summation of the first five commandments. Leviticus 19:18 is a summation of the second five commandments. “Love God, Love Neighbor” provides a rightful spirit by which all Ten Commandments should ideally be upheld. These two laws of love form the new commandment that Jesus gave his followers. But, again, the two laws create a rightful spirit by which the Ten Commandments are to be honored. Jesus never abolished or discarded the Ten Commandments. Therefore, God’s Law, is integral to both covenants.
A Second Clarification
That being said, the second clarification that is essential to our understanding involves the Law of Moses. The old covenant was made obsolete because the old covenant included the Law of Moses. The new covenant called the Law of Moses into question because of its legalistic spirit. The Law of Moses challenged, tested, and pushed the boundaries of the Ten Commandments, rendering them nearly impossible to follow or honor. Hence, the only laws that didn’t transfer completely from old to new covenant were the 600+ laws of Moses. However, Jesus did pick up two of the 600+ laws—Love God and Love Neighbor—as a summation of all Ten Commandments. And these two laws formed the new commandment.
To Summarize . . .
The two laws of love taken from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 became a new commandment.
God’s Law, or the Ten Commandments, form the core of both old and new covenants.
Only the Law of Moses became outdated by the new covenant.
Most importantly, the foundation of the Christian faith must be built upon a healthy balance between Law and Love, not a contest between Law and Love!
For more insight see, The Net – An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow
Thoughts along the way,
Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow