Recently, The Chosen posted an image of the actor who plays Christ with a line from season 3 that is supposedly a “mic drop” moment for the show’s producers. It shows the character responding to one of the Pharisees by saying, “I am the Law of Moses.” While many flocked to the post in support of the “mic drop,” many others expressed how flatly unbiblical this is. They rightly said that Jesus is not the Law, but that the Law instead reveals the righteous standard of our thrice holy Lord. Likewise, they were right to say that Jesus came to fulfill the Law in His perfect, active obedience to it all His earthly life.
Contrary to the expression of infamous pastors like Steven Furtick, the active obedience of Christ means that He in no way “violated the Law” out of love. More importantly, the active obedience of Christ is a vicarious obedience. We think of the vicarious substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, meaning that He died in our place as our Substitute, and paid the wrath that we deserved. In the vicarious obedience of Christ, Jesus lived in perfect obedience, likewise, on our behalf. He fulfilled what we could not do: Jesus obeyed the Law, and due to His active obedience, and His passive obedience on the cross, we actually gain the benefit of being counted righteous before God. This is the doctrine of imputed righteousness, which is an alien righteousness—a righteousness not of our own, but Christ’s. This is important, so hang with me.
As we come back to the “mic drop” moment of season 3 in The Chosen, this becomes all the more nefarious. In fact, nowhere in Scripture does Jesus say to anyone, “I am the Law of Moses.” In the book of Mormon, however, you will find such a statement in 3 Nephi 15:9, “Behold, I am the Law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.” That alone should give people enough pause on the show, owing to the fact that Mormonism is a false religion that teaches a contrary gospel to the gospel of our Lord. In short, Mormon doctrine holds that it is your active obedience that will please God in the end, and earn your salvation.
2 Nephi 25:23 states, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (emphasis mine). Often this verse from 2 Nephi is used in conjunction with Moroni 10:32 to give clearer meaning, which says, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (emphasis mine). It is quite important to notice the all-important temporal modifiers to these Mormon scriptures, because they explicitly teach that grace is a commodity earned only after one has exhausted their own spiritual muster.
The LDS Bible Dictionary puts it like this:
“This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23)” (p. 697).
But what does the Bible say of all of this? It is bupkis. Rubbish. Ultimately, it is damnable doctrine. Romans 3:10-20 lays out the plight of mankind so incredibly clearly that it leaves anyone without a source of comfort in their own ability to earn grace. Likewise, Ephesians 2:1-10 displays not only the hopelessness of those born under the dominating power of sin—but it lifts up the reality that we are saved “by grace through faith…and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). The good works which we walk in were prepared beforehand for us by the Father (Eph. 2:10), meaning that even our good works are a production of this grace in us. In other words: even our active obedience to Christ is a display of the riches of God’s grace. They are not what produces salvation, but a production of salvation.
The lynchpin of my argument today though is not the tie The Chosen has to Mormonism, which is without dispute at this point. That should be enough—but for many, it is not. What I want to do then is simply take this “mic drop” moment from The Chosen and show just how flatly unbiblical, and truly sad it actually is. The reason for this is quite simple: Not only does Scripture simply never say in any one of the great “I AM” passages that Jesus Christ is the Law of Moses, Jesus is far better than the Law. Here’s why.
The apostle Paul begins in Romans 7 by describing the plight of mankind before the Law of God because of the dominating power of sin. The problem is not the Law. The Law, as Paul says, is “holy, righteous, and good” (Rom. 7:12). The problem is us. The Law is spiritual, but we are not; we are sold as slaves to sin, bound under obedience to the Law, but unable to keep the Law in perfection as it demands—and the result is that the Law produces death in us. Ultimately, we are caught up between the power of sin and death—we are bound by the flesh, and it is so bad that Paul tells us four results of being bound by the flesh, according to Romans 8:5-8:
The mind set on the flesh is death.
The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.
The mind set on the flesh does not subject itself to the Law of God because it is not even able to do so.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
This is the fundamental problem of the Law. As holy, righteous, and good as it is, it cannot free man from this body of death we bear under the weight and power of sin. The Law was never designed to do this. Even if one takes into account the threefold use of the Law—all should recognize that the Law was never designed to be a means by which sinners are freed from the power of sin and death—but Jesus is powerful enough to deliver us from sin and death. This is why is it so heinous that The Chosen depicts Jesus Christ saying, “I am the Law of Moses.” It equates Christ with the Law, rather than with Him being the second person of the Trinity, who is far greater than the Law.
The Law could not set you and I free from sin and death—but Jesus did. The Law was powerless to free one from the condemnation they deserve—but Jesus is not. This is why so many find comfort in Paul’s argument in Romans 8:1-4:
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
What rendered death in us before and bound us all under the power of sin—is no longer binding us. We’ve been freed, not only from the power of sin and death, but from the judgment to come, and this is particularly why the gospel is such good news. The hopelessness of being bound by the flesh in death, hostility toward God, our inability to subject ourselves to God’s Law, and our utter inability to please God, has been replaced by a renewed hope under the law of the Spirit. The Spirit dwells within us (Rom. 8:9), gives us life (Rom. 8:10-11), enables us to put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:12-13), allows us to be called “Sons of God” (Rom. 8:14-15), and testifies that we are His children (Rom. 8:16) and heirs to the promises of God (Rom. 8:17). The Law does none of these things.
Perhaps greatest of all though is that the Law was powerless to cleanse us from the stain of sin, but Christ’s sacrifice was not. Hebrews 10 speaks of this wonderful reality, showing that the Law was merely a shadow of the glorious things to come through Christ. It could never, by the same sacrifices offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near to God in worship (Heb. 10:2). But Jesus can. Instead of a continual reminder of the power of sin and death, we have a perfect sacrifice found in Jesus Christ, who satisfied the wrath of God and rendered us pure and blameless before the Father. In other words, we are truly counted righteous.
And this is where the vicarious obedience of Christ comes full circle—because it is only through the active obedience of Jesus Christ that we have come to be counted righteous (Rom. 5:19). It is only because the Son lived in perfect obedience to the Law that He could offer up His life in our place, and truly satisfy the wrath of God. To tie that all together: Christ proved that He was not only greater than the Law by this, but showed He was greater than the power of sin and death. Sin might take advantage of the commandment and produce death in us (Rom. 7:8), but it could not in Christ.
Did the producers of The Chosen intend to knock against all of this? Perhaps not. It is difficult to say, simply owing to how steeped in Mormon doctrine the show is—but I am inclined to not give them the benefit of the doubt as so many wish to do. This is their “gotcha” moment. This is their proverbial “mic drop.” But this isn’t quite the mic drop they believe it to be. Rather than showing people a genuinely biblical portrayal of Christ and His power over sin and death, they display an impotent Jesus, who is powerless to actually save people from their sins. Instead, they show a Jesus who is mastered by the dominating power of sin. That’s what truly gets communicated in one little line, because that’s what the Scriptures say about the Law. When you equate Jesus with the Law of Moses, that’s what you get.
Unfortunately, many don’t see this, but have fawned over the mic drop and been reduced to tears. They have, in other words, been profoundly impacted by the show—but in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons. The sad reality is that until professing Christians start to pick up their Bibles and critically examine shows like these, those of us who do so will continue to be labeled curmudgeons, and “fun-ripper-outers.” In part, I’ll take that because I am sardonically asking along with Maximus Decimus Meridus to the blood-thirsty crowd who watched him dispatch of another in the gladiatorial arena, “Are you not entertained?” Things should not be this way, but they are.
What the show relies on is an ignorance of what the Scriptures actually teach, which is to say precisely why it is so popular. It offers much of the same style of Christianity pervading the Evangelical world currently, where the inch-deep, mile-wide preaching of the Word, the “At the Movies” canned sermon series, and the vapid emotionalism brought on by manipulative “worship” music laden with sentimental musical prompts, are commonplace. Indeed, it brings people to see Jesus—just not the biblical Jesus; but it is highly entertaining, is it not? The problem is that we keep asking the wrong question. The question isn’t if it is entertaining, but why so many are entertained at the expense of biblical truth.