There is no rule in my marriage that I have to kiss my wife. No law that says “Thou shalt kiss thy wife every night before going to sleep, and not just a peck, but a full blown French kiss.” A “kissing rule” would be quickly become burdensome. No, I kiss my wife because I enjoy kissing her.
Our marriage is a relationship, not a list of rules. Legalism in marriage would take all the fun out of our relationship. In the same way, Christianity is about having a relationship with Jesus, not about keeping a list of do’s and don’ts.
Life in Christ Jesus does not force us to live holy lives; rather it inspires us to live holy lives. Doing right is a delight, not a duty. I don’t have to kiss my wife, I like kissing my wife. In the same way, “…His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Jesus replaced the Ten Commandments with two commandments. He said, “…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). Matthew 22:40 adds, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).
All Ten Commandments fall under these two commandments. Did Jesus do away with the Ten Commandments? No, He gave two better commandments that are even stronger. Why? Because now the commandments are not written on stone. God promised, “I will engrave them on your heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Instead of giving us an external list of rules that are impossible to keep, God promised, “I will put the love of God inside of you.”
Under the new covenant, you do not walk by legalism, you walk by an even higher standard than before. Is the Law passed away? Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. He said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10). We are not lawless, we are under a higher law, the law of love—the law that fulfills all the other laws.
James calls this new law a “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25). He also calls it “the royal law.” “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8).
The more love we have, the less law is needed; the less there is of love, the more law is required. Listen to what Paul says, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he 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 bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).