Book: Occult Holidays or God’s Holy Days—Which?

Throughout the Bible, there is a contrast between the physical and the spiritual. The apostle Paul wrote that the physical comes first, then the spiritual (I Cor. 15:45-47). The first man, Adam, came from the earth and was physical. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, came from heaven and is spiritual. Likewise, the Old Covenant was physical, and has been superseded by the New Covenant, which is spiritual. God established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel by proclaiming the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai. The event was so terrifying to the people that they pleaded with Moses to no longer have God speak directly to them (Ex. 20:18-19).

Because the children of Israel were fearful of God’s voice and power, Moses stood as mediator between God and the people to bring them God’s spoken words. Moses went to the top of Sinai to meet with God, where he received the statutes, judgments and other laws to deliver to the children of Israel. Moses was considered lawgiver and mediator of the Old Covenant (Ex. 20-24).

Moses’ office as mediator and lawgiver was a physical type of the coming spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ. When the children of Israel were about to enter the Promised Land, God gave this prophecy of the coming Messiah: “And the LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well what they have spoken [that they wanted Moses to speak to them, instead of God]. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, one like you [Moses], and will put My words in His mouth. And He shall speak to them all that I shall command Him. And it shall happen, whatever man will not hearken to My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him’ ” (Deut. 18:17-19).

This prophecy of the coming Messiah reveals that those who reject the words of Christ will be held accountable by God on the day of judgment. During His ministry, Jesus confirmed that He was that Prophet and that His words are the standard by which all will be judged: “But if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has one who judges him; the word which I have spoken, that shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken from Myself; but the Father, Who sent Me, gave Me commandment Himself, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:47-49).

Obviously, the spiritual office of Jesus far overshadows the physical office of Moses. Christ was God manifested in the flesh—the Lord God of the Old Testament Who had established the Old Covenant with the children of Israel. His death ended the Old Covenant with its “administration of death,” and established the New Covenant which offers the gift of eternal life (II Cor. 3:6-11).

Unlike the Old Covenant, which required obedience only to the letter of the law, the New Covenant is based on obedience to the spiritual intent of the law. For this reason, Christ came as the spiritual Lawgiver to amplify and magnify the laws of God: “The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness’ sake; He will [through Jesus] magnify the Law and make it honorable [or glorious]” (Isa. 42:21). The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry reveal that God requires obedience to His commandments not only in the letter of the law, but in the spirit of the law as well. Throughout His ministry, Jesus taught repentance from sin—which is clearly defined as the transgression of the laws of God (I John 3:4).

In spite of Jesus’ clear teachings which magnify the laws and commandments of God, most professing Christians have been taught that Christ came to abolish the laws of God. Jesus, however, emphatically denounced this idea: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-18).

How Did Jesus Fulfill the Law?

To comprehend how Jesus fulfilled the law, we must first understand the meaning of the word fulfill, translated in Matthew 5:17 from the Greek verb pleeroo . Depending on the context, pleeroo is understood as either 1) fulfill (do, carry out); 2) bring to full expression, i.e., show forth the true spiritual meaning; or 3) fill up, as in “to complete” (Arndt and Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament).

As our spiritual Lawgiver, Christ fulfilled the law of God by bringing it to its full expression, thus revealing its complete spiritual meaning and intent. He “filled the law to the full” by teaching obedience in the spirit of the law. That is how He magnified the laws and commandments of God and made them honorable.

To fulfill the Law of God by amplifying its meaning and application is the exact opposite of abolishing the law. If Jesus had come to abolish the laws of God, He would not have magnified and expanded their meaning, making them even more binding.

Jesus taught His disciples the spiritual meaning and application of every one of God’s laws and commandments. For example, He magnified the Sixth Commandment by showing that murder begins in the heart and is rooted in hatred and anger (Matt. 5:21-22). The spiritual amplification of the Sixth Commandment extends far beyond the letter of the law, which judges only physical acts of violence. Under the New Covenant, hatred in one’s heart is judged as murder. This spiritual standard also applies to hatred for an enemy (verses 43-44).

Christ also taught the spiritual meaning and application of the Seventh Commandment. “You have heard that it was said to those in ancient times, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you [as the spiritual Lawgiver], everyone who looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). Jesus made the Seventh Commandment far more binding than did the letter of the law. Thus every individual is held accountable for his or her adulterous thoughts, even if no physical act is committed.

A thorough study of the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew Five through Seven will show that Jesus revealed the full spiritual meaning of all the commandments of God.

Applying the Spirit of the Law Does Not Nullify the Letter

More than thirty years after Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the apostle James wrote an epistle in which he expounded on the spiritual meaning of the commandments of God. In his epistle, James shows that Jesus’ teachings concerning the spirit of the law did not eliminate the need to obey the letter of the law. James explains that Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” requires us to live in obedience to the commandments of God. James specifically refers to the Sixth and Seventh Commandments and makes it very clear that to break any of God’s commandments is sin: “If you are truly keeping the Royal Law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you have respect of persons, you are practicing sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors; for if anyone keeps the whole law, but sins in one aspect, he becomes guilty of all. For He Who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. In this manner speak and in this manner behave: as those who are about to be judged by the law of freedom” (James 2:8-12).

There is no question that the apostles in the New Testament taught the full, spiritual meaning of the laws and commandments of God exactly as Jesus did. Never at any time did they write or teach that Jesus Christ came to abolish the laws of God. Again, James wrote that “if anyone keeps the whole law, but sins in [even] one aspect, he becomes guilty of all.” There is nothing in James’ statement that remotely hints that the laws of God were abolished when Jesus died on the cross. In writing these words many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, James confirms that Jesus did not “do away with” the laws of God. Instead, James makes it explicitly clear that Christians are obligated to keep the commandments of God.

The apostle John, who outlived all the other apostles, also taught obedience to the laws and commandments of God. In the last decade of the first century, John wrote his Gospel, three epistles and the book of Revelation. In his first epistle, he wrote most emphatically that obedience to the commandments of God is the standard that separates the true followers of Jesus Christ from those who merely profess His name: “And by this standard we know that we know Him: if we keep His commandments. And the one who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. On the other hand, if anyone is keeping His Word, truly in this one the love of God is being perfected [made complete]. By this means we know that we are in Him. Anyone who claims to dwell in Him is obligating himself also to walk even as He Himself walked” (I John 2:3-6).

John clearly preached that those who truly believe in Jesus Christ will be walking as Jesus walked keeping the commandments of God as Jesus did and taught others to do (John 15:10; Matt. 19:17-19). Anyone who professes to believe in Jesus Christ but does not keep the commandments of God is a liar, according to the New Testament Scriptures. For a minister or teacher to claim that the laws and commandments of God have been abolished is a blatant denial of the true teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles, which are preserved in the New Testament. True Christians need to be on guard against such “workers of lawlessness,” who preach against the laws of God and condemn commandment-keeping.

John also shows, those who keep God’s commandments are not under condemnation, but can approach God with confidence, knowing that He will hear and answer their prayers: “Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, then we have confidence toward God. And whatever we may ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and practice those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:21-22).

The New Testament does not support the widely accepted teaching that commandment-keeping is contrary to faith. Rather, the words of John show that keeping the commandments of God is a sign of true faith and the love that God imparts through the indwelling of His Spirit: “And this is His commandment: that we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and that we love one another [fulfilling the Royal Law by keeping God’s commandments], exactly as He gave commandment to us. And the one who keeps His commandments is dwelling in Him, and He in him; and by this we know that He is dwelling in us: by the Spirit which He has given to us” (verses 23-24).

Mainstream Christianity ignores these God-breathed New Testament Scriptures and teaches that loving God and one another eliminates the need to keep God’s commandments. John exposes the error in this theology when he points out that obedience to God’s commandments is the very standard by which love for God and His children is measured: “By this standard we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3).

The scriptural truth is this: If we love Jesus Christ and God the Father, we will be motivated to keep the commandments of God. We will desire to keep His commandments in the spirit of the law as an outward manifestation of our love for Him. Those who profess to love God, but refuse to keep His commandments, do not understand the love of God. They are being led by their own human emotions and not by the love that God imparts to His children through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Feelings cannot be substituted for keeping the commandments of God. Those who claim to love God, but are practicing lawlessness, are deceiving themselves.

Jesus Christ specifically instructs those who love Him to keep His commandments: “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely, My commandmentsThe one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me; and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to himIf anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. The one who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word that you hear is not Mine, but the Fathers, Who sent Me” (John 14:15, 21-24).

Jesus Christ set the perfect example of true, godly love by keeping all the commandments of God in the full spirit of the law. Before His death, He delivered a new command to His disciples—that they follow His example by practicing the same love that He had manifested during His life with them on earth: “A new commandment I give to you: that you love one another in the same way that I have loved you, that is how you are to love one another. By this shall everyone know that you are My disciples—if you love one another… As the Father has loved Me, I also have loved you; live in My love. If you keep My commandments, you shall live in My love; just as I have kept My Fathers commandments and live in His love. These things I have spoken to you, in order that My joy may dwell in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35; 15:9-12).

Jesus Christ taught His followers to obey all the commandments of God in the full spirit of the law as He did. Jesus magnified the laws of God by revealing their full spiritual meaning. As spiritual Lawgiver, Jesus Christ made the laws and commandments of God far more binding by setting a higher, spiritual standard of obedience for Christians under the New Covenant.

Jesus Brought the Physical Rituals of the Law to Completion

A second meaning of pleeroo—translated “to fulfill” in Matthew 5:17— is “to complete,” or “bring to completion.” Christ came to bring the entire system of animal sacrifices, temple rituals and laws for the Aaronic priesthood to completion. Through His death, Jesus ended the Old Covenant, which had imposed a system of ritual laws on the children of Israel. In its place, He established the New Covenant, replacing the old requirements of the law with a higher spiritual application.

The sacrificial laws were brought to completion through the superior sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Jesus as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” superseded and replaced all the animal sacrifices and other physical rituals and ceremonies that were performed at the temple of God in Jerusalem. The apostle Paul confirms the consummation of the sacrificial and ritual system through the one perfect sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:5-12).

With the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites came to an end as well. Indeed, a physical priesthood was no longer required because Christ is serving as High Priest in heaven, making intercession for the saints before God the Father.

In the same way, the spiritual temple in heaven has superseded the physical temple that was on earth. Under the New Covenant, true believers have direct access through prayer to the heavenly throne of God the Father. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, where He carries out His spiritual work as High Priest (Heb. 10:16-22).

Physical Circumcision Brought to Completion: With the end of the Old Covenant, the requirement for circumcision of the flesh was superseded by spiritual circumcision of the heart. The apostle Paul makes this clear: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is external in the flesh; rather, he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28-29).

Spiritual circumcision brings conversion of the mind and heart, which physical circumcision in the flesh cannot accomplish. To be circumcised in the heart, a person must repent of his or her sins and be baptized by full immersion in water. The act of baptism is a type of circumcision because the sins of the flesh are removed. Then, through the laying on of hands, the believer receives the Holy Spirit, converting the heart and mind. The apostle Paul describes the spiritual circumcision that takes place at baptism: “For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, Who is the Head of all principality and power in Whom you have also been circumcised with the circumcision not made by hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, by which you have also been raised with Him through the inner working of God, Who raised Him from the dead. For you, who were once dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has now made alive with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses” (Col. 2:9-13).

How Did Christ Fulfill the Prophets?

During Jesus’ life in the flesh, all the Old Testament prophecies concerning His first coming were fulfilled. These prophecies included His miraculous conception and birth from the virgin Mary, the flight to Egypt to escape Herod, the return to Galilee and dwelling in Nazareth, the announcing of His ministry by John the Baptist, the healings and mighty works during His ministry, the preaching of the gospel throughout the land of Judea and Galilee, the persecution and suffering that followed, His death by crucifixion, the place of His burial, and the time of the resurrection. Numerous prophecies that were fulfilled deal with His suffering and death on the Passover day.

Although nearly two thousand years have passed since these prophecies were completed, prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments about Christ’s second coming have yet to be fulfilled. To be sure, every prophecy in the Word of God will be fulfilled in its set time as determined by God the Father (Acts 1:7). Jesus did not abolish a single prophecy or even a single word of the Old Testament. Again, Jesus said concerning the Scriptures: “For truly I say to you, until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from the Law until everything has been fulfilled” (Matt. 5:18).

Jesus gave an absolute guarantee that all the prophecies of Scripture would be fulfilled in their time: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branches have already become tender, and it puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. In like manner also, when you see all these things [the events prophesied for the end time taking place], know that it [the return of Christ] is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, this [end-time] generation shall in no wise pass away until all these things have taken place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall never pass away. But concerning that day, and the hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:32-36).

According to the words of Jesus Christ, all prophecies recorded in Scripture will be fulfilled at their proper time as ordained by God. Jesus did not come to abolish the words of the prophets, but to fulfill them. As He came in the flesh to fulfill the prophecies of a Savior, so He will return in glory to fulfill the prophecies of the coming King Who will bring the government of God to earth.

The Spirit and Intent of the Law and the Prophets

The purpose of the Law and the Prophets and all the writings of the Old Testament is to teach people to love, worship and obey God—and Him alone. Christ revealed the spirit and intent of the Law and the Prophets when He was asked by a scribe to name the “greatest” commandment. Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment; and the second one is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:35-40; also see Matt. 7:12).

Under the New Covenant, true worship and love toward God is made possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables the believer to reverence God and obey Him from the heart. Through deep faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the believer learns to obey every command of God in the full spirit and intent of the law, as magnified by Jesus Christ. This is the manner in which every true believer will keep the laws and commandments of God, because he or she loves God the Father and Jesus Christ with all the heart, mind, soul and strength.

The Righteousness of Faith of the True Believer *

When a believer is justified from past sins through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and is baptized by full immersion in water, he or she receives the gift of the Holy Spirit as a begettal from God the Father. Then the Father imputes to the believer the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. The righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is imputed to the believer by God the Father, far exceeds the righteousness required by the letter of the law. Jesus’ spiritual obedience was so perfect, pure and wholehearted that He always did the things that pleased God. This perfect righteousness was accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus received without measure from the Father.

The Scriptures reveal that when the believer is begotten with the Holy Spirit, he or she begins to receive the very mind of Christ. With Christ’s mind, the believer is strengthened to live by every word of God in the full spirit of the law. The apostle Paul describes this spiritual transformation of the mind as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Each believer begins to have the laws and commandments of God written upon his or her mind: “But He, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time, He is waiting until His enemies are placed as a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has obtained eternal perfection for those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after He had previously said, ‘This is the covenant that I will establish with them after those days, says the Lord: I will give My laws into their hearts, and I will inscribe them in their minds; and their sins and lawlessness I will not remember ever again’ ” (Heb. 10:12-17).

Under the New Covenant, the laws and commandments of God are inscribed in the mind of each believer through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which gives the believer the power to bring forth the fruits of righteousness unto eternal life.

* See the section “Justification by Faith—Is the Righteousness of God Without Law?” (Appendix A, p. 262).