Some readers will not get this; sometimes it’s very hard to untangle the lies of linear thinking and binary logic. It’s a standard feature of American theology, as if human reason was the rule to which all belief must bow the knee. One of the saddest things I confront is how locked in this is for so many people. They are trapped inside an intellectual prison and refuse to see that the door is wide open to walk out.
This is why I make so much of non-Western thinking. The Bible is an Eastern book about an Eastern religion. It arises from Hebrew intellectual traditions, a tradition God built as part of His revelation. Hebrew culture was a part of the wider Ancient Near Eastern civilizations, with a radically different approach to thinking compared to the West. The Bible presumes an organic approach, seeking to understand how things are connected in a whole. It doesn’t try to divide things out into neat little packages that can be carried around fully separated and segregated into chunks that are easily handled by Aristotelian logic.
The revelation of God comes to us in the form of a feudal covenant. Even daring to call it “law” almost guarantees most Americans will lock up the concept in false categories. We were never supposed to think of His Law Covenants in terms of “law” as we experience it in our Western society. We were supposed to see it as a manifestation of the nature of reality. If the Law Covenants reflect reality itself, how could the Law cease to exist?
Most American Christians are hung up on this false English translation of Romans 6:14. It’s not so much a technical error of word rendering, but of very carelessly constructed mental associations. The whole context of Romans 6 is that the concept of covenant is still a covenant; it still holds obligations for those who embrace it. It’s how our Heavenly Father makes us His children. Instead of servants under a code of conduct, we are children under His personal communion. We are expected to grow in “grace,” meaning that we will gain a better understanding of His divine moral character, and gain the power to live it.
Paul elsewhere warns (2 Timothy 2:15) that growing in grace means going back and studying the Old Testament guidance so that we can grasp His divine moral character by the example of His dealings with Israel. There has always been a certain sense in which that written code was just a parable; the ultimate truth of God was always within reach of the heart, but the mind needed conditioning (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). We read the Law Covenants so our minds get used to what the heart demands. The Law Covenants reveal the character of God, and explain what our hearts already know.
In that sense, the Scripture refers to Jesus as the ultimate revelation, the Living Law of God. He is the fullest possible expression of God’s divine moral character (John 1:14). He didn’t change the Law; He was the Law. God’s Creation did not suddenly cease to operate by the divine moral character of God. It did find a better explanation in the Person of Christ.
So when we point out something in the Old Testament as a particular point of obligation, it’s not as if Jesus took all of that away. If we are going to claim Jesus as our covering, it’s a lie if we do not obey His teaching. And by no means did His teaching contradict the teaching in the Law of Moses; it clarified the heart-led meaning behind the words of Moses. To maintain the covering of Jesus, we still need to maintain the moral covering of good Christian leaders. The need for moral covering does not cease, but Jesus takes His place at the top level of that covering. His presence there does not remove all other coverings, but places them firmly under His authority.
It’s an old and tiresome feminist lie to suggest that, since we have Jesus, women can follow Christ and ignore human male authority, godly or otherwise. This lie has destroyed a lot of lives. It’s a lie from Satan that seeks to ignore how the revelation of God declares the nature of our existence and reality itself. Jesus is not a magic wand. Women are still subject to a level of moral deception that does not affect men, and spiritual birth in Christ doesn’t change that. By the same token, men still can’t get a darn thing done without the support of godly women. Nothing has changed in Creation; what was required before is still required today. The difference is that we can see far more clearly those requirements because Jesus is much more than a written rendering of revelation; He is the character of God in human form.
So instead of some law code staking out an approximate path of obedience, we have Jesus walking a path of obedience ahead of us. Jesus is the one who makes the demands once codified in Law Covenants, and His demands are sometimes easier, but sometimes much more strict than those of Moses. This is the point Paul was making in Romans 6. Grace is not different from Law in substance, but it grants us the power to obey. Without the Law, your mind has no idea how to obey Christ.