26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
In reading through the Westminster Confession of Faith again, I was struck by how much this verse says when it comes to the Law of God. The above verse is a description of the new covenant, which we are now under with Christ. The new covenant was and is at the center of Christ’s ministry and His people. Remember that when He instituted the signs of the new covenant, especially the LORD’s supper, He declared that the wine is the new covenant in My blood. This is not some minor doctrine of the faith.
What I want us to see is that focus of the new covenant: it’s the Law. What has God promised do under the new covenant? First, He has promised to put His Spirit within us. This shows us that the new covenant is far better than the old covenant under Moses. Not that we ignore the old covenant, there is a lot to learn from the old covenant and it helps us understand the grace we have been given under the new covenant.
But also note what God has promised with the giving of the Spirit. He will cause you to walk in My statutes. This is where many people get tripped up. They believe that since the law will be written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), that we no longer need to know the Law, or strive to keep the Law. Yet, given what is written here, the Law is at the center of the new covenant. Keeping the Law will be a joy and a delight to the believer under the new covenant because the believer understands and knows that the Law is a reflection of our Heavenly Father’s character. The Law is how we know what is pleasing to Him. It is how we know what it means to be holy, therefore, it should be a delight to us.
We are truly blessed under the new covenant, in that we no longer have to keep aspects of the Law, such as the ceremonial or the judicial portions. But the moral Law, the Ten Commandments along with The Greatest Commandments, are at the center of His statutes. We don’t keep the Commandments out of slavish fear, knowing that our justification is by faith alone, in Christ alone. Again, we keep them because it is what is pleasing to Him. We keep them because we love Him and He has given us His Law out of a love for us, to guide us, and mature us in Him.
One must never come to the conclusion that in Christ, we somehow can distance ourselves from the Law of God. We cannot. That is to be antinomian, an anarchist. Christ did not die on the cross so that we could become laws unto ourselves (known as autonomous). He died on the cross and gave us His Spirit to enable us to live unto His Law.
We also trust in Him in giving us the Law. Even when we don’t understand why He may have given us the Law, such as the Fourth Commandment that is so widely transgressed today, we still trust that what He has given us to do is just and right.
Some might charge that I am being a legalist. I am not. Legalism is adding to the Law by saying we are to do or not do things the Law does not mention. A manifestation of this today is coming from some circles saying that we must be social-justice warriors if we truly want to honor Christ. That is legalism.
Keeping the Ten Commandments is not legalism because that is the Law that Christ gave us to keep, and enabled us to do so by giving us His Spirit. Yes, we will fail in keeping the Law, and that drives us back to the cross. But the goal is still to do what is honoring to Christ. That is the purpose of the new covenant.