There may be some who read KinglingTruth who wonder why I would write things about the laws of the kingdom of heaven. As Christians, aren’t we free from law? Aren’t we under grace instead?
We are free from law and under grace. Even so, there is also a kind of law that is given by grace.
There are two kinds of law. There is law of bondage and law of liberty.
Here is a scriptural example from Galatians Chapter 4.
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
You might be familiar with the story of Abraham’s two sons. Abraham was promised a son, and when this promise seemed to be unfulfilled, Abraham went to his wife Sarah’s handmaid and conceived. This child was called Ishmael. Abraham later had a child with his wife, who was the child of the promise. This child was named Isaac.
One child was born after the flesh and one was born of the promise. One was born out of doubt and man’s attempt to force the promise of God, and one was born by the power of God alone.
This is an allegory for the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
Comparing the Old Covenant with the New Covenant
The Old Covenant is according to man’s ability to force the favor of God through outward adherence to law. God gave laws that would set His people apart in obedience and in righteousness. However, because of the nature of man, we cannot adhere to true obedience and righteousness.
The New Covenant is according to God’s ability, not man’s. Rather than trying to uphold law to obtain God’s favor, God granted us grace which is “unmerited favor” so that we could receive something better. By grace, we are given a new law. This is a law that is written “on the fleshly tables of the heart,” by which we can live after obedience and righteousness in truth.
Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant Contain Commandments
The commandments of the Old Covenant pertain to the outer man. They had to dress a certain way, refrain from eating certain foods, adhere to the Sabbath in a very particular way, and even atone for sin outwardly by making sacrifices.
The commandments of the New Covenant pertain to the inner man. We are to dress with humility and modestly, exercise self control in all things, rest in the Sabbath of Jesus Christ, and we have forgiveness and remission of sin by the power of the blood of the Lamb of God.
Do you see the difference?
These are basic examples, but we can easily go into great depths here. As Christians, we are to be under the New Covenant. This covenant is brought to us by grace rather than by our ability. This covenant seeks to change the inner man instead of the outer man.
There are MANY laws of the New Covenant. These are the very laws of the kingdom of heaven.
Take a look at the Sermon on the Mount (The Gospel According to Matthew Chapters 5-7).
This is the basis for the commandments of the New Covenant. You can see clearly some of the distinctions set out by Jesus between the Old Covenant mindset and the New Covenant mindset. The Old goes by the letter of the law, makes way for loopholes and hypocrisy, and can even lead to exaltation of the rich and powerful while oppressing the poor and meek.
The mindset of the New Covenant makes no room for the unrighteousness of man. It is stricter than the Old Covenant laws. Being that the laws of the New Covenant are much broader, how is this liberty?
This goes back to the fact that the New Covenant law is by faith through grace—meaning, it is something that is given to us based on unmerited favor instead of our own righteousness. It is the work of the Spirit inside of us, healing us at the very source, teaching us what sin is and how to live uprightly and giving us the power to walk according to perfect obedience and righteousness.
Old Covenant and New Covenant Sacrifice for sin
When people of the Old Covenant would sin, they had to make animal sacrifices to God. This did not actually wash away their sins, but it was meant to be a sign of repentance and seeking God for mercy. This became ritualistic and people began to make light of sin and their sacrifices were not made in the right spirit.
Jesus came and made a spotless sacrifice for sin as the Lamb of God. Those who are under the New Covenant are covered in the blood of the lamb and the sins for which we repent are forgiven and remembered no more.
However, as Christians, we still have sacrifices to make. We are to “offer ourselves as a living sacrifice” meaning we no longer live for ourselves, but for the Lord. We sacrifice the pleasures of sin and selfish desires for the good of others.
How the Old Covenant and New Covenant Relate to the Gospel of the Kingdom
The people of God have always been given a promise of entrance into the “promised land.” Both are the kingdom of God.
The Old Covenant promised land was an actual place. It was the physical nation of Israel.
The New Covenant promised land is spiritual Israel and the promise of the coming kingdom.
When Jesus came to this earth, the kingdom of God was also on earth because the kingdom of heaven belongs to Jesus. He is the kingdom. After Jesus died to forgive our sins and rose from the dead to offer the promise of resurrection, the kingdom of heaven became spiritual.
As Christians, the “kingdom of heaven is within you” if the word of the Lord has penetrated our hearts and taken root. By the Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are entering into a great liberty. We are made free from the kingdoms of this world as we live after the kingdom of heaven.
The very act of having the laws of the kingdom of heaven written in our hearts is the very act of salvation. It is the very act of entering into the promised land. It is freedom from living sinfully. It is freedom from all things that would destroy us—even freedom from death.
If we continue in the faith and bring forth “fruits of the kingdom” then when we die in the flesh, we will be raised at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance. Jesus will one day come and establish his kingdom on this earth after he overthrows the false prophet, and we will live and serve the Lord within this kingdom for an eternity.
There is more that could be said about the millennial reign of Jesus and the second rebellion, but I do not want to distract from the main points of this article. You can email me if you are interested in that.
Wrapping This Up
There are some very serious misunderstandings among mainstream Christian teaching regarding law, grace, salvation, and the kingdom of heaven – all of which come together to create a full gospel message. I’ve written much about this in the past, but I will give it another shot.
Man cannot be righteous. Our righteousness is as “filthy rags.” All of mankind will sin. The punishment for sin is death. Jesus, who is God in the flesh, came to this world to take our punishment onto himself. He lived a perfect life that fulfilled every law of the Old Covenant, so he also provided the fulfillment of sin sacrifice.
Jesus then rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to us. This is where the other aspects of the New Covenant come into being for us.
The resurrection of Jesus is our promise of entering into the promised land. The Holy Spirit is the power of the Lord that allows us to enter into the promised land. As it is written, “you cannot take the kingdom by force.” It is given by grace through faith.
Our own ability of righteousness is not enough. We have to adhere to an even stricter law—the very laws of the kingdom of heaven—written in our hearts as we seek Jesus, learn his commandments, and have faith in his promise to free us from sin and lead us on the path of true righteousness by the working of the Holy Spirit within us.
This is not some heavy burden we lay on ourselves. Our legalism does not save us, neither does it cause us to live righteously enough to satisfy the will of God.
This is freedom from all dead things. When we sin, we are killing ourselves and others, which is why the wages for sin is death. We are not supposed to continue in wanton sin. We certainly are not supposed to justify our sins by twisting the message of the gospel into something that has no power in it. We are not supposed to use grace as a cop-out for sin. We are not supposed to say that there is not law to follow. We are not supposed to take the sacrifice of the Son of God for granted and deny what the resurrection means for our present-day lives.
There is no such thing as grace plus faith plus nothing. Salvation is meant to be fruitful. In-fact, if our salvation is not fruitful, then our faith is dead and we are not receiving the grace of the Lord at all. We are deceiving ourselves, or rather, we are being deceived by a delusional form of the gospel.
Even so, as creatures in the flesh, we will make mistakes. That is why the sacrifice of Jesus is so important. We will sin. We will miss the mark of that perfect path of righteousness. However, the way we view sin and the gospel is very important.
Many Christians today are still stuck in an Old Covenant mindset.
How many of us justify our sins using loopholes and hypocrisy? How many of us attempt to please the Lord by doing good to be seen and making other kinds of unacceptable sacrifices? How many of us lay law on ourselves or others regarding matters of dress, food, worship, and service to God while we neglect the inner man, leading us to being those who appear righteous outwardly while inwardly we are still hateful, proud, vain, liars, adulterers, fornicators, gluttonous, and all the like?
How many of us are still trying to take the kingdom by force?
How many of us have even heard the true gospel preached?
Please do not walk away from this angry or confused. Comment below.
NOTE: There is some misunderstanding in how I have used Matthew 11:12 “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” An article to clarify will be written soon (Inserted 10/9/18).
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