Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Christ's Active Righteousness (2)

In a previous post I was trying to dig into the question of Christ’s Active Righteousness and its relationship to the Mosaic Law. In other words, did Christ have to perfectly obey the Mosaic Law in order to save us?

There were a couple of things that we all seemed to agree upon. First, that the Mosaic Law could not save anyone. In the words of one comment, the law was given to define righteousness not create it. Second, Christ did not have to obey the law to become righteous. He lived a righteous life because He was righteous. And third, Christ had to be sinless or righteous in order to save us for if He had sinned He could not have been our savior. And I think we all agreed that because of all this Christ had to be actively righteous in order to save us. This follows from the fact that Jesus being inactively righteous and saving us seems to make no sense, so He must have had to be actively righteous.

But the area that there seemed to be a bit of disagreement was if it was necessary for Christ to keep the Mosaic Law (moral, judicial, and ceremonial) or did he only fulfill the moral aspect?

As I have been thinking about it I have become more convinced that Christ had to fulfill the Mosaic Law in order to be our Savior. But just to be clear I am not saying that Jesus had to fulfill the law to become righteous, but that He had to fulfill the law to stay righteous. But why do I say the Mosaic Law? I will try to answer it with a few questions.

First, if a man were to violate any aspect of the moral law in the time of Jesus, would it be a sin? The answer to this question seems to be an obvious yes because Christ had not yet died to initiate the new covenant. Which leads us to our second question, if Jesus would have violated the Mosaic Law, would it have been a sin for Him? To me the answer seems to be yes also. In order to give the answer “no” there would need to be an explanation as to how Christ could have violated the Mosaic Law at this point in History and still have been righteous. At this point I don’t have that answer, but maybe there is one.

This leads me to my conclusion which is, in order for Christ to save us He had to keep the Mosaic Law perfectly. In other words, His active righteousness to the Mosaic Law was required in order to save us. Not that it made Him righteous, but that it expressed His righteousness. Much like the definition of the Mosaic Law which was given earlier, it defines His righteousness.

Any thoughts?



At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 11:13:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Good article! But Doug, are you implying that the New Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant are parallel realities? This seems to be the logical conclusion to your thoughts thus far--and yet Hebrews clearly makes the argument that the New Covenant established in the shedding of Christ's blood, and based upon a wholly different priesthood (i.e. Melchezidekean sp.)from a different tribe (e.g. Judah) is the framework that provides foundation for eternal salvation. The Mosaic Covenant seems to be "instrumental"--but not foundational to Christ's righteousness.

It seems that what you're saying, leaves the door open for the continuation and forcefulness of the Mosaic Covenant into our present experience of salvation. When Rom. 10:4 makes clear that Christ is the "telos" (END--termination) of the Law.

Do you see this tension in what you're saying--and if you do, how do you resolve it?

I obviously believe Christ fulfilled the Law, but in what sense--positive or negative primarily? It seems to me that what He did was become the "curse" of the Law (Gal 3)meeting the conditions of the ethnocentric Law--thus making it obselete and establishing a "New Covenant" that universalized Yahweh's salvation beyond the political ethnic parameters implicit to the Mosaic Covenant (i.e. fulfilling the trajectory of the Abrahamic Covenant--the universal focus).

As far as I can see the "moral" aspect of the Law (which all of the Mosaic Covenant is "moral") transcends the socio/political/cultural components particular to the Mosaic Covenant . . . does this make sense, Doug?

At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 11:36:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Good questions. I'll have to think deeper about some of them, but here are some of my preliminary thoughts before I heavy eyes close on me and I go to bed.

First, I'm not sure what I have said does what you think it does, that is makes the the old and new parallel realities. At this point all I am saying is that Jesus had to follow the Mosaic law because at Christ's point in History it was still in effect. How would you answer the question regarding if Jesus had broken the Mosaic Law, would it had been a sin for him?

You seem to have jumped further than I have gone at this point. Remember I am still trying to work it out myself :-).

I'll be thinking,


At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 11:49:00 PM, Anonymous bobby grow said...

Doug asked:

". . . How would you answer the question regarding if Jesus had broken the Mosaic Law, would it had been a sin for him?"

With out a doubt! Yes please forgive some of my zeal, sometimes my fingers type faster than I want them to ;-). Let me think further on the implications of your question though . . .

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:15:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Hebrews 4:15 tells us Jesus was tempted in all points as we were yet without sin.

James 2:10 states that anyone who breaks one point of the law is guilty of all of it.

So no, I do not believe Jesus broke the law. If He had, it surely would have been sin as He would have broken the whole body of it.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:19:00 AM, Blogger Jada's Gigi said...

Christ came before the law...He WAS the Law before the law was and He was perfect in that before it existed. The Law came forth from Him as an expression of Him...not as a complete picture but a shadow of God and His plan. Christ finished it, completed the picture, which overrides the shadow completely. He was/is the substance of that which the shadow came from ...He is above all yet remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself.
What about the breaches of the law in the eyes of the religious leaders of His day...He ate with the unclean, touched dead bodies, allowed his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath, He healed on the Sabbath...He did things that made Him, in the their eyes, worthy of death (I'm sure they would say He broke the law)....Yet He was Perfect in completing the task His Father had laid before Him. It is finished.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 10:28:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I really like your first paragraph. It is really well stated, in fact it may help me work out my next step in understanding this issue, but since I'm not sure what that next step is exactly I'll have to thing more deeply about it.

As far as breaking the law goes, I think He only broke it in their eyes. They had added a lot of tradition to the Mosaic law that was not intended in it. I don't think Christ broke it as it really was even if the leaders thought He broke it.

Thanks for your thoughts,


At Monday, June 26, 2006 10:52:00 PM, Blogger Kris said...

This discussion may have gone cold, but I just came upon this string today. I've been doing some wrestling with this topic, having finished O. Palmer Robertson's "Christ of the Covenants." In this book, Robertson contends that the Mosaic covenant should not be regarded as a means to salvation (perfect obedience to the law was not meant to afford salvation). Rather, it was a covenant given to man in an already sinful state. Obedience to the law's stipulations and commands provided the basis for Israel to receive the covenant blessings (not salvation itself). This train of thought would suggest that Christ did not necessarily have to obey all aspects of the law in order to attain salvation on behalf of all believers.

However, I find myself more in agreement with your thoughts Doug. In the parable of the Rich Young Ruler, the man asks Christ what must I "do to inherit eternal life." Mt. 19:16. To which Christ replied, "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." Christ received baptism in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Mt. 3:15.

Having a "righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" must mean, as the Paul says, that through Christ, "the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us." Rom. 8:4.

I wanted to share these verses because I believe they shed light to this discussion and have helped me focus on the crux of this whole debate. Christ's active righteousness is the believer's basis of hope of God's acceptance. We are considered holy and righteous before God, not just because Christ has borne every sin, but because Christ has covered us with all of his God-pleasing, law-fulfilling righteousness.

I'm still working this out, but I believe that the Mosaic covenant did not exist in a vacuum. That it was not merely a "tutor" to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24), but it was also necessary for the mediator to fulfill all of the law in order to attain righteousness for all believers so that "the righteous requirements of the law would be fully met in us."

At Wednesday, June 28, 2006 9:50:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

Thanks for your thoughts Kris. And great insight too. I have a post on here a day or two later that gets into this more fully.

God Bless,



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