“The Old Testament does not apply to Christians.”
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Specific regulations have been superseded by the New Covenant.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
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.”