Are Believers Under the Law?
Summary: The Old Covenant Law was given only to Israel (Romans 9:4) and was ended with Jesus Christ ushering in the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). The Law was righteousness gained by one's own works (Romans 9:31,32); no one was ever declared righteous by following the Law (Romans 3:20). New Covenant grace is righteousness received when Christ comes to live in your born again heart (Romans 3:22). Placing yourself under the Old Covenant Law, or any law, hinders your faith because it is shutting out the indwelling life of Christ.
Any talk of not being under the Law causes many to automatically assume that you are promoting lawlessness. God's standard is, and always has been, perfect righteousness. The Old Covenant Law was given to a people who did not have the Spirit of God living in them. It was made for the flesh and was based on human effort and performance. Trying to follow the Law today means that you are attempting to establish your own righteousness before God. Those who think they are being righteous are really being self-righteous (Romans 10:3,4; Luke 18:9).
The Gift of Righteousness
God offers the gift of righteousness - true righteousness - to all who trust in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior (Romans 5:17b). New Covenant grace is based on the finished works of Jesus Christ and His indwelling life, resulting in victory over sin and death. Following in faith Christ's indwelling life offers the first ever opportunity to actually live righteously.
The Law was Given Only to Israel
Since the time of Christ, no person has ever been under the Old Covenant Law. The children of Israel were the only people who were ever under the Law; God gave it to them and them alone.
Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, (Also Romans 2:14; Romans 3:21; Hebrews 8:13; Hebrews 10:9b)
This verse is critical in understanding that the Law was going to end with the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus and His Apostles and the prophets all declared that God would transition from the Law to New Covenant grace (1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 8:8; Jeremiah 31:31).
The Law was righteousness earned by one's own works; grace is righteousness received through faith in Christ's already completed works. Which would you rather stand on, your own righteousness or Christ's righteousness? Since humans do not have the capacity to be righteous by their own works, God ended the Law with the coming of Christ (Romans 10:4).
Grace is God's Internal Standard of Righteousness
By understanding what the Bible really teaches, grace no longer needs to be feared as a cause of unrighteousness. Under the Law, the Jews had an external standard of righteousness based on their own efforts. Grace is an internal standard of God's righteousness written on the hearts of those who believe in Christ as Savior (Hebrews 10:16).
Jeremiah 31:33b ... I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God ...
The New Covenant is superior to the Law because both righteous living and doing the works of God are lived out by the power of Christ within, not by your own human power. Being born again means that you now have God's own life living inside of you. Upon trusting Christ as Savior, God removes your old sinful spirit and replaces it with a brand new heart (Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 6:6). A clean vessel for the first time, God now has a place within you where He can live. He comes to live in you and joins His righteous life to you in your new born again spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16). You also possess eternal life because Jesus alone possesses Eternal Life (1 John 1:2; 5:11).
The life of a believer is not one of trying to please God or keeping God from punishing you. Rather, the life of the believer is living as a member of the Body of Christ by the power of His indwelling life (1 John 4:9).
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Why God Ended the Law
There are many additional reasons why God ended the Law:
1. The Law was, and is, the opposite of faith (Galatians 3:12). The Law was made for the flesh; faith is relying on Christ to live out His righteous life through you.
Misconceptions About Grace
Many fear grace because they don't understand it, and are reluctant to give up the Law. Two of the reasons are:
1. The most common objection to grace is that it gives one "a license to sin." This argument fails because it presumes that the Law will keep people from sinning. On the contrary, as noted in the Scripture verses above, the Law causes people to sin more, not less. Jesus defeated sin by His Cross and He conquered death by His resurrection. The Christian life is all about righteous living and doing the works of God by the power of the indwelling Christ, not obsessing about sin or trying to live righteously by one's own human strength.
2. There are a few Bible verses are used as "proof" that the Law is still in effect today. One of them is ...
Matthew 5:17-18 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (KJV)
The sinless life that Jesus lived, along with His death and resurrection, did fulfill every "jot and tittle" of the Law. This is how Jesus redeemed Israel from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13; 4:5).
The New Covenant is Righteous Lived by Faith Through Christ in Us
Scripture is very clear that there was a transition from Old Covenant Law to New Covenant grace. Gentiles were not "saved" under the Law. Only when God ended the Law, making way for New Covenant grace, were Gentiles included. Grace is the reason that God can save individuals and bring them into His family. And, it is the foundation for the life of every believer today, living by the power of Christ within. This is what faith is all about.
Verses Showing that the Hebrew Law is No Longer in Effect
These verses clearly teach that the Law is no longer in effect. (Remember, the Law was based on human works while grace stands on Christ's works.)
Hebrews 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
Hebrews 9:15a For this reason He (Jesus) is the mediator of a new covenant, ...
Hebrews 10:1 For the Law, since it is was only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.
Hebrews 10:9b ... He takes away the first (Old Covenant Law) in order to establish the second (New Covenant grace).
Hebrews 8:6b-10 ... He (Jesus) is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.  For finding fault with them, He says, "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah;  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; ...  for this is the Covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.