In my last post, I brought up the question of whether the laws that were given in the Old Testament still apply to us. If some of the laws on food restriction don’t apply, do any of the others? In a sense, no. But, you might argue, does that mean that it’s okay to lie and murder and steal, since we don’t have to obey those laws anymore? Of course not! Just because we are no longer under the old covenant, doesn’t mean there is no covenant at all. To begin with, we are told in Romans 13:1-7 that we must obey whatever authorities are in place; they have been appointed by God.
Then in Romans 13:8-10, the Apostle Paul boils it down for us. In Romans 13:7, he had just instructed his readers to pay their debts, and to give to others what is due them. Now in Romans 13:8, he tells us that once we have paid our debts, we should owe nothing to anyone, except for love. Love is an obligation that though we pay it, it will never cease to be an obligation. We must love, not because we have some highly emotional feeling that attracts us to someone else, and therefore we want to show our affection. The love being discussed in this passage is agape love, the unconditional love that Christ has for us and that He commands us to have for one another. We are to have concern for every other person on this earth because that is what Christ requires of us. We will certainly need the power of the Holy Spirit within us to accomplish this.
Perhaps the Pharisees liked to have rules because it gave them structure and boundaries. Perhaps they found following the rules easier than loving others. They thought that Jesus was flouting their law, their authority and their tradition, but Jesus said, “I did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law.” (Matthew 5:17) He also said that the greatest commandments were to love God, and to love others. (Matthew 22:36-40, John 13:34) We are now under a new covenant with God, based not on law but on His grace. If we follow the guidelines of that covenant—loving each other—we won’t have to worry about breaking Old Testament laws.