Too many Christians function with half a Bible – they tend to ignore the Old Testament or see it is antiquated stories that may contain good morals.

But the Old Testament is important for our understanding of the New Testament. Christians are not “New Testament” believers – they are “full Bible” believers!

Yet we must ask ourselves what role of the Old Testament Law has in our lives and what did Jesus do with it?

In this expositional sermon, Nathan Johnson examines Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:15-16 and discusses the concept that Jesus not only fulfilled the Law but “abolished” it in order to create something entirely new.

And this new “Law” is going to require our need for Jesus.

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Key Passage: Ephesians 2:14-16

Ephesians 2:14-16 – “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

A Simple Bible Study Resource

The Great Hostility

William Barclay – The Jews had an immense contempt for the Gentiles. They said that the Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell, and that God loved only Israel of all the nations that he had made. . . .

Why such hatred? » The Law

  • Peter Thomas O’Brien – Certainly, the oral law was understood in Judaism as a fence around the law (Mishnah Abot 1:1), but even the law itself provided a fence around Israel.
  • William Barclay – The Jews believed that only by keeping the Jewish law was an individual considered good and able to achieve the friendship and fellowship of God. That law had been worked out into thousands and thousands of commandments and decrees. Hands had to be washed in a certain way; dishes had to be cleaned in a certain way; there was page after page about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath day; sacrifices had to be offered in connection with every occasion in life.
  • The Law created antagonism, hostility, pride, superiority, and hatred between the two groups.
  • Andrew T. Lincoln – The laws which forbade eating or intermarrying with Gentiles often led Jews to have a contempt for Gentiles which could regard Gentiles as less than human. In response, Gentiles would often regard Jews with great suspicion, considering them inhospitable and hateful to non-Jews, and indulge in anti-Jewish prejudice …

3 Kinds of Law Given

  1. Ceremonial – ceremonies and ways to worship
  2. Civil – assisted in daily living (ie: borrowing, lending, owning slaves, how to plow a field, etc)
  3. Moral – direct commands of God to His people (ie: Ten Commandments)

The Law is Not Bad

  • Galatians 3:24 – Therefore the law was our tutor [schoolmaster, guardian] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
  • Romans 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”
  • The Moral Law reveals God’s nature
  • The Law reveals our need for Jesus
  • The law does not produce life … it only threatens us with punishment and death

The Law Has Been Fulfilled in Christ

  • Matthew 5:17 – Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
    • Fulfill: to fill up, to fulfill, to complete or finish, to give the true meaning to
  • Matthew 11:13 – [Jesus speaking] For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
    • Until: something was in place until something else replaced it – pointing to Jesus
  • Idea: first grade being swallowed up by high school
  • Idea: ABCs being fulfilled in reading
  • Luke 24:27 – And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
  • the Law (Ceremonial, Civil, and Moral) has been sucked up into Jesus

A Higher Law

  • Ephesians 2:14-15 – For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace …
  • Colossians 1:22 – … he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death …
  • Colossians 2:13b–14 – … having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
  • Romans 6:14 – For sin will [shall] have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
  • Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
  • Romans 7:1–6 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
  • Romans 10:4 – For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
  • Galatians 2:19 – For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
  • Galatians 3:24–25 – So then, the law was our guardian [tutor] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [tutor] …
  • » Jesus is a higher, more rigorous, and stricter standard of living than the Law

Sermon on the Mount Example (Matthew 5)

  • OLD Law to NEW
    • Murder » Hate
    • Adultery» Lust
    • Certificate of Divorce » No divorce except sexual immorality
    • Don’t swear falsely » Don’t swear but let “yes” be “yes” and “no” be “no”
    • Eye for eye/tooth for tooth » Turn cheek, go extra mile, give away all you have
    • Love neighbor/hate enemy » Love enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you

The Law of Christ (The Law of Grace / The Law of Love)

  • Single Rule: Jesus! … Love
  • Romans 13:8–10 – Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
  • **But if Jesus is my Law then anything that is not of Him is sin and must be dealt with
    • Goes beyond mere commands and rules – nature stuff
    • Anything I replace Jesus with in my life is a spiritual problem
  • Amy Carmichael: A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring. (by John Tavler)
  • Life Not Legalism
    • Jesus continually presses me into a higher way of living
  • Ephesians 2:15 – He has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances
    • The moment I establish a Law or Rule for you to live by, I’ve created a barrier which hinders reconciliation and relationship.
    • The only way I’ll ever become “one new man” with you is if I allow Jesus to remove the barriers and walls between us – which includes the laws and rules I’ve established for you to live by

Two Questions

  1. Is Jesus the rule and standard by which you live?
  2. What law and rules have you placed in others lives that has only created division rather than reconciliation, peace, and oneness.
    • Oneness demands intimacy and “tightness”
    • Am I more concerned about a person’s behavior or actions OR am I moved to tears because of the person themselves – love within me for the individual?
    • The moment I am more concerned about your behavior and actions than YOU then I am more content with you faking it and going to hell than the actual state of your soul.

In Our Next Study Together …

I invite you to join me on this journey from the book of Ephesians to discover God’s eternal purpose, His plan for your life, and learn how to practically live out an abundant and fruitful Christian life. 

  • The focus of our next study: Ephesians 2:17
  • We will examine how Jesus preached peace to both the Jews and the Gentiles as found in Ephesians 2:17.
  • I encourage you to read through Ephesians a couple of times this week and focus specifically on Ephesians 2:11-22.

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About The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series

The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series in Ephesians is a Christ-centered practical in-depth verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) as he expositionally preaches from this incredible book – which will help you grow in your faith, gain greater intimacy with Jesus, and understand how to study God’s Word.

Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. Deeper Christian equips Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.

About NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson)

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians discover and experience a passionate love for God and His Word so that they can grow in their faith, live victorious lives, share the Gospel boldly, grow in their intimacy with Jesus, and transform the world through the indwelling life of Christ.
Read more about him here.

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