What About Old Testament Law?

Now more than ever, it is crucial that professing Christians be grounded in their faith. More than that, believers in Jesus need to be able to articulate what they believe, and why they believe it pertaining to the Gospel. The key to evangelising the lost and to reaching others for Christ is and always has been Gospel proclamation. It is not enough to just live your Christianity in hopes that others will see Jesus. Beginning with Abraham and the prophets all the way through the resurrection of Christ and the apostles preaching, the bold proclamation of God’s Word has always been God’s means of saving lost sinners. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Romans 10:14. 

However, it is impossible to preach about a savior that you do not know yourself. It does no good to profess to be a follower of Jesus when the extent of your own relationship with Him consists of only Sunday morning and Wednesday evening prayer meeting.

Preaching Christ should always begin with absolute truth. As was stated in the previous blog, our world must believe in absolute truth. That means that the Word of God is not up for interpretation. It must be interpreted by taking the in the scriptures as a whole and not by ripping verses out of context. Imagine that you went to the movie theaters to see the movie Rocky for the first time. You were late the movie and you walked in right at the part where Rocky was walking down the street with his black leather jacket on bouncing a rubber ball. You decided after that scene that you did not want to finish the movie, so you left the theater. On the way home, a friend calls you to ask what the movie was about. And based on the very little you saw, you say that it was about a bum bouncing a rubber ball. You would have been totally wrong! You would have drawn conclusions about the movie as a whole based on only seeing one tiny portion!

This is exactly what is happening in our society today. Especially in light of the recent Supreme Court legalization of same-sex marriage. For those that are in favor of the ruling, many have succumbed to choosing only parts of the Bible and misusing scripture in order to justify their cause.  One of the most prevalent misuses of the Bible comes about from a misunderstanding of the Old Testament. More specifically, a misunderstanding of the law.

Those seeking to justify practicing lifestyles of sin will ask the question, “What about the many old testament laws?”

Gay rights activist will constantly point to the Old Testament and book such as Leviticus, making the argument that there are many Old Testament laws we do not adhere to in our present day and age. Therefore, they conclude their point by saying, “So why do Christians cry out against homosexuality and not other laws such as dietary restrictions or not cutting hair?” Unfortunately, there are many professing Christians that have no idea how to combat this argument. They are faithful in their religious duties, but have no understanding of the scriptures as a whole.

The laws given in the Old Testament were a diagnostic of our sin. They were not given to be the cure. The law was given as a mirror to show us the sickness of our sin nature. Imagine that you go to the doctor and he tells you that you have chicken pocks. You shake your head in disbelief saying to him, “That can’t be true, I am perfectly healthy!” Then the doctor holds up a mirror in which you then see innumerable little red pock marks all over your body.

We are the same way when it comes to realizing our total depravity before our Holy God.  In our flesh, we tend to think that we are good people, ignoring the smallest of our sins and focusing on the sickness of others. All the while, we think we are one of the good guys. God’s people back in the days of Moses had the same problem as we do. They couldn’t see the sickness of their own sins. They were like a man with chicken pocks walking around thinking that they were in perfect health. But God gave Moses the law. When Moses brought down the Ten Commandments from atop of Mount Sinai, for the first time, the people saw through the statutes of the law how wicked and sick they truly were before God.

The law did not bring salvation or become a means to justification before God, but rather it brought into light the knowledge and realization of our sins.

“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20.

The law was given so that the weight of our transgressions against the Lord might be felt by us, and that our great need for the grace of God would be made clear.

“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” Romans 5:20.

The law became our teacher, not our savior, showing us the depravity of our own souls. The law took our eyes off of our own works in trying to earn our salvation by showing us we can’t, therefore pointing us to look for a way to be saved from our disease. The law points us to Jesus.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24.

Again, an understanding of the reality of absolute truth is vital in understanding the concept of the law. God is perfectly Holy in every aspect. There are no flaws in Him. And He makes no mistakes. Therefore, His standards are much higher than ours. God’s standards for His children are not merely to be mostly good. His standards are spotless perfection.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48.

The absolute truth is that God expects and demands total perfection from His creation. God does not and cannot tolerate any sin. Our problem is not just that we have sinned. Our problem is that we have never done anything but sin. Through the giving of the law in the Old Testament, God held a mirror before sinful man and exposed us for the criminals that we truly are in the sight of God. And no matter how hard we try, even the most religious of men due to their sin nature cannot uphold the laws of God perfectly. The Scribes and Pharisees in the New Testament did their best to uphold all of God’s laws. In fact, they most likely did it better than anyone. They knew the scriptures and were students of the Torah. They were known as the most righteous of men in their culture. But even they fell short of God’s standards. Even they could not uphold the weight of God’s perfect law.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20.

Jesus told His disciples that if they were to have any hope of inheriting eternal life, their righteous must only match that of the scribes and Pharisees, but that it must exceed it! Jesus was saying in order to inherit eternal life, you must uphold the laws of God better than the most religious of men walking the earth today! And again, not just uphold God’s laws, but be able to uphold and keep every one of them perfectly. In short, Jesus was telling them the only way to be viewed as righteous in the sight of God was to be sinless.

This magnifies our problem. Even the sins that we view as tiny in our fallen eyes sentence us to eternal death when viewed through the laws of God. Take the sin of lying for example. We may think nothing of the sin of lying. A little white lie may seem innocent and harmless to us. But consider the consequences for lying as the authority by which we transgress against becomes greater.

If you lie to a stranger, there is little to no harm.

If you lie to your spouse, it could create marital problems.

If you lie to a police officer, it could land you in jail.

If you lie to the Government, that is considered treason and could warrant a physical death sentence.

And if you tell a lie before the God of the universe, the consequences are of an eternal nature.

God cannot simply just forgive and forget our sins. To do this would make Him unjust. If a murder had killed your whole family, and the judge decided to just let him go free because he had done some good deeds, you would have to say that just was extremely unjust. A crime such as murder cannot merely be dismissed. In order to uphold justice, there must be a punishment for the crime.

God is a righteous and just God. Therefore even the smallest of our sins is a major transgression before the Holy God of all. So how does a righteous God save sinners like us for Himself without dismissing our sin? We are all lawbreakers. We all stand condemned before God due to the law of Moses. We cannot live up to even one of those laws. So how can a law-breaker be seen as righteous? How do we escape our own condemnation before God?

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4.

When someone uses the argument of modern-day humanity not obeying all of God’s law, they are correct! We can’t! But praise God the Father sent His son Jesus to live the perfect life that we could not live, and to take the condemnation and punishment that we all deserved. Jesus became the fulfillment of the law for us and He imputed His righteous track record to His children and took upon Himself their sins! Therefore, when God the Father looks down on upon a true follower of Jesus, He sees not his many sins, but the righteous blood of His Son Jesus!!

There is an old hymn that asks the question, “What did God see in me that He saved my soul?” The answer is that God saw nothing of any merit or worth in us! For those that are saved, God sees the merit, work, and worth of His Son Jesus upon the redeemed sinner!

We are no longer under the laws of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ has set us free from the laws of Moses, otherwise known as the laws of sin and death. We are no longer bound to the law of Moses, but because Jesus paid our fine, we our bound to Christ!

“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:4-6.

We could have never been good enough. Humanity has no hope of salvation by works nor by good deeds. For if we could inherit eternal life by trying to uphold God’s law on our own, then there would have been no need for Jesus to come and die for us! We are saved by nothing we do, but by the grace of God alone!

“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:21.

Now many may argue, “If Christ absorbed the wrath incurred by the law, then we are free to take advantage of God’s grace and continue on in our sins!” But this is not true. Paul addressed this very issue.

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:1-4.

Baptism is a symbol of the internal, supernatural change that Christ has wrought inside of our sinful hearts! Not only does Jesus save His children from their sins, but He places in them a new heart. Not a sinless heart, but rather a heart that now despises sin and desires to walk in righteousness.

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27.

The Christian can and will fall into sin, but due to the new nature dwelling within them, they cannot and will not fall into an habitual practice or lifestyle of sin.

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9.

The many Old Testament laws were given to show us our desperate need for a savior. We have died to the old laws that we now may live for Christ, not walking in deliberate practices of sin!

“For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19.

We are not saved by our adherence to the law, but by our new nature in Christ. Again, the law was given not to show us how we can save ourselves, but rather to show us that we are totally incapable of saving ourselves without someone to become our substitute. We had no hope of salvation or being seen as righteous in the sight of God without the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Christians do not pick and choose the laws of the Old Testament. The truth is we can’t, because even the smallest law broken condemns us in the sight of God. But due to Jesus becoming and fulfilling the law that we could not and imputing His righteousness upon the children of God, we are no longer bound to the law of sin and death, but rather we are bound to the one who redeemed us from the law, our savior Christ Jesus! And in our salvation from the old law, we are given by the grace of God a heart of flesh to replace the old heart of stone, no longer able to continually walk in sin, but rather, now striving to please our redeemer and the one who granted us freedom from sin! Why would anyone not want to live for this savior!!

Humanity does not determine morality, and we do not hold the keys to absolute truth. God does. Instead of railing against God for our inability to live up to His standards, perhaps we should see ourselves in light of the absolute truth of God’s Word. That we were rightly condemned by our sin nature. God would have been right and just to damn the lot of us, for there is nothing good in us. But because of His great love, God sent His only Son to take the wrath that we deserved so that we would be saved from ourselves. A right view of mankind produces a right view of God. And a right view of God can only result in a heart of praise and gratitude. Praise God for the diagnostic of the law. But rejoice in worship that Jesus became our cure!

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