Lesson 1 – The Requirements of the Law

 The Requirements of the Law

Lesson Aim: To show that Christians have been freed from the Law God gave to Israel to fulfill the requirements of that Law.

Scripture: Matthew 5:17-20.


Jesus had not spoken very long until He felt it necessary to reassure His Jewish audience that He did not intend to abolish the law or the prophets. Why did He feel a need to reassure them? His teachings were very different from the teachers of the law (Matt. 7:29). You would not tell a person he or she was the “light and salt” of the world who lived under the Ten Commandments. However, being salt and light is the function of a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say they were to keep the law. He used the words fulfill and accomplish.

Let us consider another phrase used in Romans 8:4. Paul said the “requirements of the law should be fulfilled in those of us who walk according to the Spirit.” The prophecies of the prophets had to be fulfilled as well as the law (Luke 24:44). Most of the prophecies have been fulfilled. The righteousness of the law has been fulfilled in each generation since the first century, personally, by Christians.

Those of us who fulfill the requirements of the law shall be “called great in the kingdom of heaven.” What are the requirements of the law? We will study in detail the answers Jesus gave to this question in the following lessons. In short, to love and glorify God as the Almighty Creator and get along with our fellow man in peace and love are the main requirements. Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:40. The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, explained what Jesus meant (I Cor. 2:12, 13).

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are all summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV)  Rom. 13:8-10

In the remainder of Matthew chapter five following our text, Jesus taught the law of life principles to show how those of us who develop the attitudes taught by Jesus will fulfill the law. Starting in verse 21, Jesus shows how a change of attitude from anger to forgiveness would accomplish the requirement of the law in regard to murder. Several other points of law are dealt with in the remainder of this chapter. They involve adultery, divorce, truth, pride and love.

A further study of God’s word in Paul’s letters to the churches will reveal how Jesus freed us from the Law of Moses at the cross so that we can fulfill the law. By reading from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 5, verse 20, we learn that law was one of the problems of the people in Adam in the world realm. Other problems were sin, death and the wrath of God (Rom. 5:12-21).

Paul explained, “that law entered that the offense might abound.“ The mature people “in Adam” in the world were dead in sin but they did not fully realize their condition (Rom. 3:19; 5:20). The worst kind of problem a person can have is one they do not realize they have. The Law made people aware. Again Paul said:

I had not known sin, but by the law, for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shall not covet.’

But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (forbidden desires). For without the law sin is dead. (KJV)  Romans 7:7, 8

According to Romans 7:1-3, it takes a death to free one from the marriage law. The writer uses this illustration to show how it takes a death to free Christians from the law God gave to Moses. Jesus died for us. Christians have died with Jesus in baptism. At that time we were freed from all of the problems in Adam in the world as ruling forces. Law was one of those problems (Romans 7:4).

A question: Why the law? “It was added because of transgressions” is the answer Paul gave to the Galatians in chapter three, verse nineteen. It was added to the covenant God had already made with Abraham; however, it did not nullify the promises made to him (Rom. 4:14-18; Gal. 3:9-18). This study can go in many directions; however, our interest in this lesson is how Christians are in a position to fulfill the requirement of the Law of Moses.

Wherefore, the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:24-26

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. (KJV) Romans 7:6

Those of us who have been born again are now alive to God “in Christ.” God rules us through Jesus Christ, our king. We are sons of God. We are citizens of God’s kingdom. We are the church of Christ, that is, we are the “called out.” The gospel of Jesus Christ called us out of the world of darkness and “translated us into the kingdom of His dear son.” Col. 1:13.

In Christ we have freedom from the law, so that we can fulfill the requirements of the law. Why should we be expected to fulfill the law when those who lived under it could not do so? We have all of God’s spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. One blessing is the purging of our conscience by the blood of Jesus; therefore, God gave us the fellowship of His own Holy Spirit. We have God’s righteousness as a gift when we live by faith. We have Jesus as our king, teacher, priest, brother, sin offering, and the hope of the resurrection of our “self.” The last, and perhaps the most important reason to grasp, is that the law of the new covenant does not impute sin (Rom. 5:13). Jesus Christ’s Priesthood was on the order of the Melchizedek Priesthood and so was the law (Heb. 6:20; 7:12).

In this environment, we can develop a healthy personality and strong character. Freedom from law like the Law of Moses is a very important blessing. The key for understanding why Christians can fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses is the understanding of the difference in the nature of the law of the old covenant and the law of the new covenant. Jesus will help us understand this difference in the text of our next four lessons. He will show us how Christians, by changing our attitudes, will fulfill the law God gave to Israel through Moses.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why did Jesus want to make sure His Jewish audience understood He did not come to abolish or do away with the Law and the Prophets?
  2. What was the purpose of the law God gave Moses?
  3. Why was the law a problem to the mature man “in Adam” in the world?
  4. How did Christians become free from the law God gave to Moses?
  5. List some of the blessings Christians enjoy so that we can fulfill the requirements of the law.
  6. What are some of the requirements of the law?
  7. Why should we, “in Christ,” be expected to fulfill the law when those who lived under it could not do so?
  8. How could a Jew get free from the Law of Moses?

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