Are we not under the law or are we to fulfill it?


Not Under the Law or Fulfill the Law

Some find a difficulty to reconcile Paul’s statement that says we “are not under law” (Romans 6:14) with another statement that says “the law might be fulfilled in us” (Romans 8:4). Is Paul contradicting himself? In studying the context, we find that both statements are true and not contradictory.

Fallen man is unable to obey the requirements of the law, which has no power to strengthen him to obey. But God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to atone for sin and also give man the grace and power to fully obey the holy law (Philippians 2:13). Christ’s life and sacrifice has made it possible for man to obey (Philippians 4:13). The purpose of the plan of salvation is to bring man’s life into harmony with the divine will (Ephesians 4:24).

Paul explains, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law“ (Romans 3:31). This verse clearly indicates the continuing place and authority of the law of God in the gospel and the plan of salvation. God did not give His Son in order to change or abolish His law, or to release men from the necessity of perfect obedience (Matthew 5:17,18). The law has always stood as an expression of the unchangeable will and character of God (Psalm 93:5).

The Bible consistently speaks of entire transformation, perfect obedience. Jesus says, “you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect“ (Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12, 13; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 6:1). God requires perfection of His children, and the perfect life of Christ in His humanity is God’s assurance to us that by His power we too may reach for perfection through His enabling grace (Hebrews 13:21).

As for the phrase “you are not under the Law,” Paul clarifies his words in the beginning of that same verse when he says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not” (Romans 6:14,15).

Therefore, “not under the law” simply means that Christians who accepted Christ are not condemned by the Law. But this does not mean that they are free from the obligation to obey it. But rather that the grace of God is fully sufficient to enable them to be obedient and be “more than conquerors through Him“ over sin (Romans 8:37).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Categories Law

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