Useful Bible Studies > Colossians Commentary > chapter 2

Do Christians have to obey God’s law?

Colossians 2:17

God gave to Israel its laws and customs. Those included the rules about foods and about sacred holidays that Paul has just referred to (2:16). However, some people were following those rules without any real, personal relationship with God. They neither loved nor trusted the God who gave them those rules. For them, it was just a form of religion that seemed to have no purpose. They were just doing what other people in their nation did.

For that reason, the first Christians compared God’s law to a shadow (see also Hebrews 10:1). A person’s shadow is like the real person in many ways. It has the same shape as the person; it moves in the same direction as the person. However, the shadow is not the real person; it can only show us where to find the real person (John 5:39).

In the same way, God’s law teaches us how God wants us to live. So, its purpose is not just to give us rules by which to live. Its purpose is to show us how we can have a real and personal relationship with God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Its purpose, therefore, is to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

We may ask, therefore, whether Christians have to obey God’s law. To answer that, we must think about the different kinds of rules that God’s law contains. So, God’s law has many commands that exist for a moral reason. Those commands show us what God considers to be right or wrong. God’s opinion about these matters does not change, so Christians must obey them.

God also gave other rules, not for a moral reason, but to teach Israel’s people. God only intended that Israel’s people should obey those rules (Acts 15:1-29). However, those rules are still important, even for Christians (Matthew 5:17-18). Even as those rules taught Israel’s people how to serve God, Christians can learn much from those rules today (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Next part: Teachers who taught dangerous lessons about the spirit world (Colossians 2:18)


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