102

“The Old Testament does not apply to Christians.”

221

This sad perception has prompted me to give a response. The power of the Old Testament Law has lost its power to condemn to death, those who live in Jesus Christ. However, the Law has not lost its merit or worth. It is alive and active just as much today as it was before Christ’s grace was revealed. The Word, the whole Word, is the living breathing revelation of our Creator God.

Specific regulations have been superseded by the New Covenant. Our hearts are now circumcised, instead of our bodies, and the fruits of the earth have been opened to us. This is not a change in the Law of Sin and Atonement, but a release from bondage of the strictures that made God’s people different from their neighbors. It is now the grace of Christ living in us that makes us different.

Woe to us for ignoring the commands that make us more Christ-like. Unless the scriptures of the New Testament specifically release us from those of the Old, it is to our blessing and benefit to live by them. We make no more blood sacrifices because Jesus paid it all. We cast no stones at sinners because all deserve the chance to repent and live under the same Grace we have received. But, we still honor our Mother and Father. We still refrain from murder, adultery, and thievery. Those who say the Old Testament is fruitless ignore Christ who said in

Matthew 5:17-19

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Ten Commandments are not part of the dietary restrictions that God exonerated us from when he told Peter to eat on that roof top long ago.  They are the most important 10 guidelines that God passed down to us. Enough so that they were engraved in stone, twice. Jesus said he did not come to abolish that Law, but to fulfill it. We say, “but He said the most important commands were to Love Him, and love our neighbors.” yes, and then he said “If you love me you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15) Speaking as the Son of God, as God in flesh, we cannot believe that he only meant those words He physically spoke 2000 years ago.

So should we become Pharisees with a list of do’s and don’ts a mile long? By no means! The Grace of Christ provides us with freedom from a check-list religious system that only changes our external actions. Even in the Old Testament David Says our hearts are what matters most to God:

Psalms 51:16-17 (NIV)

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

But this does not give us free reign to flout God’s commands and offer half-hearted prayers of sorrow in return.  Jesus says:

John 8:31-32 (NIV)

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” and:

John 8:36 (NIV)

36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

There is FREEDOM in obeying Christ and His Law. As a slave to sin we are doomed by the law because we can never hope to keep all the commands. But as a slave to Christ, we have the Spirit in us that enables us to obey, and offers even more Grace when we fall.

Jesus is called the Living Word, so we should be careful to obey his written Word. As my Pastor David said, “Not to make Him love us, because He already loves us.”

12 thoughts on ““The Old Testament does not apply to Christians.”

  1. This article rocks!!!! Keep writing! I shared your blog with my husband, I am finding myself following it too! The scripture that came to me while reading was 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I’m glad that you found this helpful and/or interesting. The rest of the contributors here are great at what they do. It’s a fun forum.

    2. 3 verses back it says women should be quiet and 1 verse back, all women are evil. Have just found the site so will have a read over the coming week… see what other nuggets I can find :)

  2. Great post, James, that affirms the authority of ALL Scripture. Far too often we still suffer from Marcionite tendencies that dismisses the OT. We will never understand the Second Testament until we understand the First.

  3. I think the historic reformed theologians had a great understanding of how the Old Covenant and the Law, specifically, applies to Christ’s followers. They spoke of the 3 uses of the Law. I was never taught this in my pre-reformed days. It’s useful, faithful to the entire scope of Scripture which points relentlessly to Christ. I wish the reformed view was more widely known and regarded. I think we can thank the modernist trend of ignoring history and establishing our own authority for that neglect.

    Thanks for your post. The Old Testament does apply to Christians, and in 3 wonderful ways.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree that modernist approaches to historical theology that go earlier than the last few centuries are sadly lacking.

  4. christians take their religion as a matter of child play.they take portions of the bible that suits their personal desires or twist its injunctions to cicumvent its commands.that is why christians are most morally bankrupt. in nigeria they have the highest number of hiv infections due to prostitutions and other sex abuses.they have the highest drunkards. they are the highest murderers. above all they are the highest looters of public treasurey where jonathan looted more than $200bs from oil monies and shared it with christian leaders, yet christians say the culprits are covered by blood of jesus according to pauline law of grace

    1. Hello Ibrahim,
      This was exactly the intention of this post, to correct an abuse. There are practitioners of every thought pattern and religious system in the world who do it wrong, who do it selfishly or flippantly. Just the same, there are those who are devout, who mean what they say, and who want to be better at their belief system. This post is aimed at recognizing a failing point, and challenging those who care to correct it.

  5. First, allow me to point out that your quote from Matthew is now invalid since Jesus did accomplish all that he had been sent to do. Did Jesus say it’s only halfway done at the end? The Old Testament has been fulfilled and replaced by the New Testament.

    I’ll tell you two things Jesus saw was problematic about the Old Testament.

    First, the Old Testament was insufficient. It did not cover everything that needed to be covered. There are huge gaping wholes in the Old Testament. From example, it’s perfectly fine within the law of the Old Testament for a man to violently rape an unmarried or unengaged woman. In fact, an entire book in the Old Testament is devoted to this problem.

    Second, the minutia of the Old Testament law was causing more problems than solutions. The Old Testament law was being used as hammer against the poor and weak as it is still being used today. You can see this when the Pharisees tell Jesus to stop healing the sick based off of the “Ten Commandments”.

    The Old Testament needed to be replaced and that is what Jesus did.

    This understanding is borne out by the writings of those in the early church. When Paul wrote the 6th and 7th chapters of Leviticus, did he start quoting passages from Leviticus? Well, did he? As a Pharisee, he very likely knew them by heart. Instead, read his explanations. Try to understand how a follower of the New Testament thinks and understands right from wrong!

  6. I can see where you are coming from, but I honestly see it as incomplete. Looking at Romans 7 and 8 Paul says:
    Romans 7:11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
    13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful….
    8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Jesus came to fulfill the Law so that we who cannot live up to it will receive His grace, and so live. He did not fulfill it to throw it away. The Law is Good, and holy because it points out what sin is to those who cannot fully comprehend what God desires. When we are aware of sin, we can respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and accept the forgiveness of Christ who kept the law and yet took my penalty for disobedience. The miracle of His Resurrection saves me from the grave I deserve, not because it invalidates the Law, rather because He maintained the law and suffered the consequences for those who cannot keep it.

    What we are set free from is not the validity of the Law; we are free from the affects of disobeying that Law. The Old Testament is not a checklist we need to maintain to earn the approval of Jesus, or to start our process of salvation. It is an instruction in who God is and what he values and despises. It is full of characters who did it wrong, and a few who sought God, even though they did so imperfectly. And as Paul tells Timothy, we absolutely need to know that in order to live a saved life that reflects the entire character of God as displayed in the entire work of Scripture:

    2 Timothy 3:14: But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s