by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (ESV)
All of mankind is made up of lawbreakers. We rebel against God's law. We find it intrusive to our selfish desires. So, when Paul tells us in our verse today that Jesus abolished the law of commandments does that mean we are off the hook? Have we found a loophole to God's Law that accommodates our rebellious heart? Not exactly. Dr. John MacArthur puts it this way:
"Through his death, Christ abolished Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices, which uniquely separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Rom. 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects his own holy nature."
- Dr. John MacArthur, Study Bible Notes
Because of Christ's once and for all sacrifice for our sins, we no longer live according to a code of animal sacrifices, celebrations of holy feasts, and other ceremonies. We are free. But that freedom is not an invitation to lawlessness. Rather, by the empowering of the Holy Spirit, we are free to obey God's moral law which has never changed. The important factor to bear in mind is that God's standard of holiness has never changed and never will.
There seems to be a notion that some people have that in the Old Testament God is mean and scary, but in the New Testament God is gentle and loving. The fact is that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He hates sin just as much in the New Testament as he hates sin in the Old Testament. And he shows grace and mercy to whom he chooses in the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. How we are required to respond to him changes because of Christ. Because Jesus did away with the ceremonies and rituals, we are set free to come boldly before him as his children. True children obey out of love.
How do you approach God? Do you avoid him, fearing his wrath? Because of Christ, you can come to him, confess your sins and receive his grace. Are you trying to appease him, keeping rituals that you think he demands? Instead, why not freely follow his leading. Find the joy in simply being his child and doing what you know he desires.