What is supersessionism? It is essentially the dilution of God’s Law. It is derived from the idea of replacement theology, which falsely interprets that New Covenant Believers have replaced the Jewish people in God’s plan of worldwide, eternal restoration. Simply put, it means that we change the intended outcome of what God’s Law is meant to accomplish.
The definition of dilute is “to make (something) weaker in force, content, or value by modifying it or adding other elements to it.”
Supersessionism is diluting God’s Law by replacing His theology, rules, or purposes and superseding them with our own. There are many reasons that this happens, and we must learn how to diagnose and redirect our theology when it gets off track.
- How can we learn to recognize when the Law of God has been diluted and we are falling victim to supersessionism or replacement theology?
- How can we realign ourselves with His truth and claim the full inheritance that God desires for us?
Let’s start by looking to our only source of absolute truth, the Bible.
Old Testament Law
The Law can be summed up in the first five books of the Bible, referred to as the Torah. There are hundreds of commands given to the Israelites within those pages. “The Law” literally refers to the compilation of decrees found in those first five books.
Obedience to the law was the nearly impossible obligation of God’s people as they attempted to merit His favor and blessing. After all, Israel was home to His special people, and they were bound together in a solemn covenant with Him. These laws were not meant to be casually observed; they were the laws of the covenant community.
What purpose would it serve for God to give His chosen people a nearly impossible task?
The law was intended to help people love the Lord with all their hearts and minds, staying fully focused on His commandments laid before them for their own good.
There are 3 types of laws given in the Old Testament:
1. Civil Law—The civil law applied to daily living in Israel.
“When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.”—Deuteronomy 24:21
Because modern society and culture are so radically different from that time and setting, all of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct even today.
2. Ceremonial Law—The ceremonial law related specifically to Israel’s worship.
“Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.”—Leviticus 1:4
The primary purpose of the ceremonial law was to point forward to Yeshua Messiah. How else were people going to grasp the enormous cost of their sin? Or be able to recognize the Messiah’s bloodshed that would atone for their sins when time intersected with the cross in the future?
Obviously, these laws were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Though we are no longer bound by the ceremonial law, the principles behind them—worship and obedience to God—still apply.
3. Moral Law—The moral law (such as the Ten Commandments) is the direct command of God, and it requires strict obedience. The moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and it still applies today.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”—Matthew 5:17-18
The moral law is still in place because it is a protective covering over those who obey it. It provides protection from the enemy and covers us with blessings of peace and restoration.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”—1 Corinthians 1:10
New Testament Law
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was holding Believers to a higher level of conduct than simply following the letter of the Law. He wanted them to live the Law—walking it out in thought, action, and deed.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the Old Covenant (following the Law) and the New Covenant (living the law) is best explained in Jeremiah.
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”—Jeremiah 31:33
God has literally written His Law on our hearts and in our minds. We are equipped with His Spirit to help us navigate the truths of His Law.
It is often confusing or inconvenient to accept both Old and New Testament Laws as truth, but they are one and the same. The Old Testament Law foreshadowed Jesus and was real and necessary. It was and is still the requirement for us to be in the presence of a holy and unblemished God.
When we fail to recognize that supersessionism is diluting God’s Law, we fail to destroy the lies that are planted from it. For instance, we may start to believe the lie that because the ceremonial law is fulfilled through Jesus’ sacrifice, we get to disregard all of the other laws that God put before us.
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”—Romans 6:15-18
Apostle Paul clearly addresses this issue in Romans. We are not exempt from any of the Law. When the choice is made to walk outside of the will of God, it is called sin. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness—one brings death and one brings life.
When you say “No” to one part of the law, what else are you saying “No” to? You unknowingly place blessing blockers in your path.
How to Recognize When Supersessionism Is Diluting God’s Law
Again, diluting means to make (something) weaker in force, content, or value by modifying it or adding other elements to it. In terms of science, this would be changing one thing into another by reducing its concentration. If God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and if He does not change, then how could supersessionism be biblical?
It isn’t. And to protect our blessings and make the truth of the One True God known to others, we must understand the deceptive lies poured out by the enemy that say otherwise.
The best way to recognize if supersessionism is diluting God’s Law is to check it against the original intent the Law was meant to carry out.
The intent of civil law was to live in harmony with one another—to love and to serve our neighbor. This law was meant to keep us focused on others before ourselves, thus creating a community truly set apart and consecrated from the world.
“‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”—Mark 12:30-31 (emphasis added)
The intent of the ceremonial law was to help us recognize the frequency of our sin and high cost that was paid for it. This is part of the salvation process, recognizing that we have fallen short of God’s standards and that we need a Savior.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”—Romans 3:20 (emphasis added)
The intent of the Law was to help us live moral lives that would save us from the worldly consequences of sin. This Law does not change over time. It does not adjust to our culture or a common way of thinking.
“For I am the Lord, I do not change…”—Malachi 3:6 (emphasis added)
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”—Isaiah 55:9 (emphasis added)
Though God knew that our human nature would distract us from being able to fully uphold the Law, He never made an allowance for us to surrender our hearts to sin.
Believers must stand vigilant about maintaining His truth in obedience as He intended. We are called to keep His truth unchanged and to do so with love and compassion.
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”—James 2:12-13 (NIV)
The Consequences of Diluting God’s Law
When supersessionism is diluting God’s Law, it also dilutes the blessings that can be received when our hearts are aligned with God’s Law.
“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’”—Jeremiah 7:23
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”—John 14:15
Just as God made a covenant with His promised people of Israel, Jesus has grafted all who follow Him into that very covenant. Christians are co-heirs with Christ in God’s Kingdom and to all the blessings that covenant holds.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”—Ephesians 1:3-5 (NIV)
God’s desire for Christ-followers includes every spiritual blessing that has been promised to His children. Do not dilute your inheritance by allowing supersessionism to dilute God’s Law.
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