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Christian Under Law?

“If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18). It is plain that if to be under the law were the means of Christian holiness, it would have said, “ye are under the law,” rather than “ye are not under the law.”

But men are blinded. Though they constantly take up the Ten Commandments, repeat them, and teach them, yet they say they are not under the law! How could persons be more under the law than when they adopt the language of the Ten Commandments as the expression of their own relationship before God? The moment you put Christians under the law as that by which they have to walk, you are doing the very evil that the epistle to the Galatians was intended to correct.

May I then break the law? God forbid. The denial that the law is the Christian’s rule of walk is far from impairing holiness. What the Christian has to walk by is the entire Word of God, and so taught as to manifest Christ, the One who is unfolded from cover to cover. The law kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6).

The Holy Ghost brings in a deeper character of holiness than was asked for in the Ten Commandments. When our Lord said, “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees,” He did not mean the righteousness of God which is imputed to us at salvation, but that which is practically true—that which is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian’s soul, founded upon the work of Christ—separation from the world, devotedness to God, obedience to His Word, and love—in accordance with the will of God as it was fully displayed in Christ. His obedience exceeded the law, and we are called to be like Christ.

—Adapted from Lectures on Galatians by W. Kelly