Q. I’m struggling with the idea that Jesus came to fulfill the law. What does this really mean? In terms of the Levitical law, how do we know what to follow and not follow? From what I understand, the law wasn’t abolished. As I’ve attempted to make sense of Jesus fulfilling the law, it has occurred to me that perhaps the Holy Spirit guides us in what to do concerning the law? Finally, it seems that as a people, we have arbitrarily picked which areas of Levitical law to follow? Thanks for your answer.
A. Right before Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law, He said He did not come to abolish it (Matt. 5:17). Technically, the Levitical laws are still in place. We’re just not being held liable for breaking them because Jesus assumed that liability on our behalf and paid for all our violations with His life.
Some teach that at the Council of Jerusalem gentiles were exempted from everything but eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality (Acts 15:28-29). Others teach that every one in the world is accountable to the so-called Noachide laws. The Jews believed that these laws sprang from Genesis 9 and God’s covenant with Noah, predating the 10 commandments. According to this view they are the standard by which Gentiles should live just as the 10 Commandments are for the Jews.
Simply put, the Noachide laws say 1) Believe in the One God, 2) Respect and Praise Him, 3) Respect Human Life, 4) Respect the Family, 5) Respect Others’ Rights and Property, 6) Respect all Creatures, 7) Pursue Justice.
We are saved by grace, so our salvation no longer depends upon Keeping the Law. Living in a manner that’s pleasing to God is a way of honoring Him and expressing our gratitude to Him for saving us. The way we do this is explained throughout Paul’s letters.