If you love the Ten Commandments and want to keep the law to please God out of a sincere heart, this is a must-read for you.
If we do not know the Spirit of God’s laws, we cannot serve our Lord as He desires and we risk ignorantly violating His desire on a regular basis even when we keep the letter of the law to please Him.
Every law has behind it a reason, the intent, the purpose that the author had for writing the law. In other words, there must be a reason to write the law in the first place. The purpose, intent, and reason the letter of the law was written is called the spirit of the law. It is undeniable that the authors original intent behind the law, the spirit of the law, is the only thing that can truly fulfill the law, truly honor the lawgiver. If we can discover the Spirit of God’s law’s, we can truly honor God’s original intent and purpose. On the other hand, if we remain ignorant to His original intent, we risk violating His intent just like the most sincere law keepers who ever lived did, over and over again. The best law keepers who ever lived were the Pharisee’s. While they could not keep the letter perfectly, kept their sins in the dark as we all do, and were judgmental, most were very sincere about wanting to please God by keeping the letter of the law. The problem was that they were ignorant to God’s original reason, the intent for writing the law. They were totally blind to the Spirit of God’s law. This left them unable to fulfill God’s purpose for writing the law, often doing just the opposite of the God’s intent as they enforced the letter of the law. Their focus on the letter and total ignorance of the Spirit of the law is what led Jesus to be broken hearted over their hardness of heart and angry with them on several occasions. They had used the letter to lead His flock in the opposite direction God wanted them to go.
The good news is that the Bible is extremely clear as to God’s original purpose, intent, the reason for giving us the letter of the law. The Spirit behind the letter.
The following verses and others make it crystal clear that the Spirit of all of Gods laws is love. It is undeniable that the only thing that can fulfill the whole law, God’s purpose behind His written law is “love.”
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal 5:14).
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:8-10).
There is no denying the truth these verses hold. It cannot be ignored if one truly wants to serve the King of kings. Love is the Spirit, the only thing that fulfills all of God’s laws.
Love Casts a Shadow
So, let’s say you wanted people with an inherited fallen Sin nature, bent towards selfishness and rebellion, to love one another and not hurt each other. Do you think to tell them just to love one another would work to protect life? What if you made some rules with no consequences, would they obey the rules? No. So what is the only thing that could be done to enforce “love” on such a selfish group? Give them rules with consequences that a selfish nature, bent on first protecting self, would want to avoid. It is the only answer that I can see and it is what God did. What type of laws would you need to write to honor “love?”
How about to not murder, lie, steal, covet or steal your neighbor’s wife. These would each be a part of the shadow “love” casts. If we love our neighbor, we will do none of these things to them. But with each point, do not steal, for example, we see a shadow of God’s original intent for writing the law but not the full reality. If we simply do not steal, we are doing good, but we are not fulfilling God’s original purpose for writing the law. Every written law is only a shadow cast by God’s original purpose for the law.
For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Heb 10:1 NAS
Shadows have no substance and only exist because the object that casts them exists.
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Col 2:16-17 NAS
It is easy to see that the letter of the law is only a shadow of the reality, it can never fulfill the authors original intent for writing the law. God desires that love will prevail among His creation. Love is much more than not hurting one another. Love goes out of its way to help one another. Jesus death for us while we were still enemies of God, is the reality of God’s love for us. Jesus came and walked by the Spirit of the law as a living testament to God’s nature and heart for us.
Walking by the Spirit of the law usually keeps the letter of the law by default. But the Spirit, God’s original intent, is always primary over the shadow, the letter of the law. Therefore, to man when it appeared that Jesus violated God’s letter of the law by healing on the Sabbath, saving the woman caught in adultery (the letter of the law demanded to be stoned), and in teaching love your enemies and the Good Samaritan story. These were all examples of Jesus walking and teaching by the Spirit of the law that fulfills God’s original purpose for the written law.
Let's take an example of man's law that we deal with daily and review when the letter is broken to keep the spirit. The spirit of a speed limit law is to protect life, not to give out tickets. That's why the police departments motto is to protect and to serve. Protection of life is the purpose, the reason the speed limit law was written in the first place. To be effective, the law must be straight forward and clear, and have consequences if broken, or no one would heed the law. But the spirit of the speed limit law, protection of life, is a higher standard than the letter of the law itself. The letter is only a shadow of the true purpose. This is why a person will get a speeding police escort, and not a ticket, for a life and death situation, like a heart attack victim or a woman who is ready to give birth.
Here is God’s definition of love that clearly shows us the letter of the law is only a shadow of God’s original purpose.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Cor 13: 4-8a NIV
On the other hand, we know that the shadow we see in the letter of the law can achieve the desired effects of protecting life, but a shadow is not perfect. The letter of the law is not always patient, not always kind, can lead us to be boastful and proud, can be self-seeking and easily angered. The letter does keep a record of wrongs and does not always protect. The letter of the law can often fail too. So we see in the letter the imperfection and limited scope of a shadow.
While the Spirit of the law casts a shadow leaning towards life, the letter of the law casts a shadow of its own. The shadow of condemnation and death.
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 2 Cor 3:7-9 NAS
In Christ, we have moved beyond the letter of the law and are called to walk in the reality of the Spirit of the law. This is why God has commanded us to walk by the spirit and not the letter. He has not qualified Christians to minister the letter of the law that brings condemnation and death. He has qualified us to minister the Spirit of the law that brings life. The word minister/servant here means a waiter. We are commanded and qualified to serve up life, not death.
who also made us adequate (qualified) as servants (minister) of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Cor 3:6 NAS
The Spirit of the law is much higher and is the calling of every Christian. We are called to abide by and enforce the Spirit over the letter every time, even those times we need to break the letter to do so.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
So the next time you are headed to church for service and you see someone broke down and desperate on the side of the road, missing church to stop and help them is walking by the Spirit and not the letter.
What will you walk by, the letter or the Spirit? Will you serve up life by the Spirit as God commands or death by the letter as Satan would have us do?
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Cor 13:1-3 NAS
More studies that apply:Letter Kills, Spirit Gives LifeChristians Are Not Qualified to be Ministers of the Letter of the LawChristians Are Not Under the Law of Moses, Our Standard is Much Higher10 Commandments Are Not Gods Highest StandardWalking by the Spirit is Gods Will for Your Life, Guaranteed
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20