Truth is the knowledge of God’s law or God’s word as revealed in the Bible. Jesus is called the Word because he perfectly embodies God’s law. Jesus in essence is the full meaning or symbolism of God, the perfect fulfillment of the law, embodying a spiritual relation to God and not a written code. He is the living Word; it is the relation to God that gives one true meaning in image of God and this relation was manifest in Christ’s fulfillment of the law. Each moment of his life revealed his relation to God, manifest in his every action and word. As Paul says, “The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor 3:6); that is, the written code of the law cannot in and of itself give life. Only a living relation to God gives life.
The law, given by God to Moses as the Ten Commandments, encompassing all the laws pertaining to one’s life and conduct as a Jewish citizen, had to be given so that people might know what God’s law was in the first place and in the first place to know what God Himself is. The law was not innate human nature. Sin had brought us so far away from God and His law that we accepted our sinful nature as our real nature. We lived according to the “passions of the flesh” (Gal 5:24) and not according to the spirit. When natural urges and needs are symbolized, they become passions. Because they are symbolized, their gratification gives us meaning. In order for these now symbolic needs to be gratified then, they need to be gratified to the fullest extent possible given social constraints and the specific makeup of a person’s character. Trying to gratify symbolic needs through food, sex, drugs and the like clearly manifests itself in greed, gluttony, lust, covetousness, and all kinds of destructive passions that need to be curbed; they require laws to rein them in or set boundaries. If unchecked and on a big enough scale, such passions can bring down entire societies, the whole disintegrating into an “every person for himself” mentality with no bonds between its members to mitigate self-preservationist instincts. Existing in sin, attempting to gratify sinful desires, we are lawless; we require laws to exist harmoniously with one another in society. If our codes of conduct are dictated by our more primal needs, the law – God’s law or indeed any law if it isn’t imprinted within us as conscience – has to be made known to us from an outside source because we have no inner intuition of any requirement apart from gratifying biological urges. Thus the Old Covenant with Israel was based on abstract legal requirements and as such was broken repeatedly by people who, because of the weakness (symbolism) of the flesh, found it impossible to fulfill the law. Indeed it is impossible. Sinful flesh cannot fulfill the prerogatives of a spiritual law. Paul puts forth this assertion very clearly in Romans 5-8. “Sinful flesh”, of course, is not the flesh per se but the symbolism of it. Sin is of the spirit; it is the spirit, the self, of a human being who imparts to his flesh spiritual meaning. Who among us truly does not see his body as himself, to whatever extent? Sinful flesh is a spiritual relation to dust, to our physical bodies. This symbolic relation is one in which a self exists in the image of an object and experiences itself as an object through its investment of physical/biological urges. If a person’s physical body is his “self”, the only self he knows, how can he fulfill a spiritual law? How can obeying spiritual commands give him meaning in life when doing so would involve denying himself physical/ symbolic gratification? He can’t comprehend a self that isn’t based to some extent on his object-ive experience, his experience of himself as an object, a body, his physical experience. Everything he knows comes out of that experience.
Adam sinned. Paul says, “Law came in, to increase the trespass . . . ” (Rom 5:20). What is Paul talking about? How can a spiritual law increase one’s sin? When the law is presented to you in the form of a specific command, when an abstract, general law is directed to you personally and to your sin – let’s say, “You shall not covet” – your covetousness for all sorts of things is more sharply defined and more deeply felt if now you feel compelled to deny it; coveting and obtaining the objects of your desire give you self-meaning. The prohibition is no longer just one in a number of Commandments directed in general to all Christians everywhere; no, now it’s the voice of the Lord saying to you yourself, “You shall not covet.” Yet the more you try not to covet, the more you covet and the more that sin is revealed in you as covetousness. Because you symbolize your flesh and its desires, you covet the things of the flesh, you can’t help it, and this covetousness reveals itself in you as sin in the face of the commandment that says, “You shall not”. If the commandment says instead, “You shall not kill”, you may think to yourself, “I don’t kill; therefore I don’t sin.” But Jesus revealed the true nature of the commandment in Matthew 5:21-22: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” So he continues with the law against adultery and so it is with all the commandments. They don’t speak just to broad and blatant acts of murder and adultery; they speak to the minutest aspects of a self’s relatedness to others and to its environment, to the manifestation of symbolism in each and every motion a self makes. They speak to the human heart. So it’s impossible for sin to be overcome by the self who sins because sin is rooted in his very nature from conception and yet “the self who sins shall die.” The self who doesn’t fulfill the law as his own nature so that it’s manifest in each and every motion of his life as relation to God has no spiritual life because the life of the spirit is its relation to God; this relation fulfills God’s law. Thus it’s imperative that you and I fulfill the law. How are we to do this if we don’t exist in relation to God but to other things? Again, it’s impossible; we can’t. An unspiritual person can’t fulfill a spiritual law; his actions in life manifest his real symbolic relations. We need a Redeemer, someone who redeems us from “the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). Christ Jesus is this Redeemer, God’s own Spirit manifest in human flesh. Christ has taken on our sins as his own in his body of flesh and died to them through his Spirit. Because he was raised from the dead, he is able to impart his Spirit to the believer so that we can have life in him through his Spirit, a right relation to God that fulfills the law. This leads us into the next section concerning the Covenants of God.