Galatians 6:2. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
The law of Christ? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Didn’t Christ come to free us from the law? Isn’t this whole letter of Galatians an imploring to not return to law keeping as our source of righteousness? Hasn’t Paul taught us that the law stirs up sin in the flesh? Didn’t he literally just write these words:
Galatians 5:18. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Yes, he did.
But the law of Christ is vastly different from the law of Moses. The law of Moses commanded our love. Love God, love neighbor. But it could never empower that love. Why? Because the law from Mount Sinai was not rooted in grace and unconditional love. It was an “obey or be cursed” demand. Nor was it empowered by the supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit. The law written on stone was applied to stony hearts. The law itself was perfect and good, but it was also powerless. It could not change the hearts of Israel. It could not produce righteousness or life, only condemnation and death.
That is until Jesus came, represented Israel, and kept the law perfectly. The law’s demands were satisfied by Christ. Now, in him, every requirement of the law, including the requirement to love, has been fulfilled in us. There is now no condemnation. And, even better, not only are we free from the guilt of the law, we are actually able to keep the law. We are able to love as the law demands. How? Because we have the fruit of the Spirit in us – Love!
Now the law of Moses is replaced by the law of Christ as our imperative. Our ethic. Our standard. And Christ’s standard of love is even higher than Moses’ standard. It is a standard that requires us to love as Christ does. To give ourselves for others. To sacrifice our lives. Even for our enemies.
But unlike the law of Moses, the law of Christ is not just a lifeless decree. The law of Christ IS Christ’s life in us. It’s a living law. It’s an empowering law. It’s a law that is written on our hearts. A law we desire, by the Spirit, to obey. The law of Christ is never a checklist to perform. It is a way of life. It is love born from love. It is an instinct. It is faith.
What does the law of Christ look like in a real church? Galatians 6:1-2 gives us an example:
Galatians 6:1-2. Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…bear one another’s burdens.
This is a dire situation. Paul is describing a Christian who is being dominated by sin. They are caught in sin’s trap and cannot get themselves free. What will the law of Christ produce in our hearts and lives? A gentle restoration and a bearing of the burden alongside that brother or sister.
Restoration and burden bearing is Christ. It is what he did on the cross for us. He carried the weight of sin that we could never carry. He restored our souls, freeing us from the bear trap of sin. And now we are being asked to fulfill this ministry in the lives of each other. Galatians 6:1-2 is truly Jesus’ life being lived out by us, together, as a community.
Hopefully you can see that it is only in community, only in the local church, Christ’s body, that we can live out the law of Christ as the life of Christ. We are called to live in community in such a deep way so as to know the burdens of each other and know how to best bear those burdens for each other. It is in these acts of mutual serving that we will keep in step with the Spirit, and crucify the flesh (see yesterday’s reading).
“To live is Christ” is to fulfill the law of Christ – love. It is to be loved and to love others by bearing their burdens alongside them. Restoring them. Fighting for reconciliation. Pointing them to the grace of God in Jesus.
Do you see the law of Christ as an inner dynamic in your life, or as an outside standard to live up to?
You in Christ
How can the gospel’s truth make it an inner dynamic for you today?
Christ in you
Are you living in community in a deep enough way so as to be bearing burdens and restoring others gently?
Playlist: The Law of Christ.
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