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Do Christians need to obey Old Testament laws?

by Paulraj P  
4/04/2018 / Christian Living

Every verse in the Bible is important. If we don’t understand a passage or verse, we must try to learn why the verse is written in the Bible and what its significance is. We must not only read the Bible, but also must know how to study and understand Bible, which is why learning theology is very important. Most Christians skip certain verses without trying to know why such verses are in the Bible.  Here is an example.

Matthew 5: 29 and 30 says, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.   And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. "

If you do not apply reasoning and God given wisdom here and insist on obeying this implicitly, the best way to identify Christians in public places will be looking for people who don't have eyes and right hands.  The Church will be full of people without eyes and right hands. While studying the scriptures, before interpreting a verse, we must give due consideration to the context, cultural habits, historic and social background during Biblical times. Examples:  Slavery is never condemned in the Old and New Testaments. I will be jailed if I keep a slave now. I can go on giving examples. Exodus 23:13 says,  "Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips” Are we not allowed to say names like Ashtaroth and Baal which are repeatedly mentioned in the Bible? Are we not allowed to call people with Greek deities’ names Apollo and Diana? We don’t have to take the above commandment literally. This simply means that we should steer clear of idolatry. The apostles did not change the name of the first gentile convert Cornelius or that of the first European convert Lydia.

Bible has examples of praying by kneeling down, hands lifted up and praying in closed rooms. It has no reference to  closing of eyes during praying. But we close our eyes for concentration and to avoid distractions, thus we use God given wisdom. At times, we try to prove our points on controversial issues by quoting suitable scattered verses from the Scriptures. No, always look for what the Bible as a whole talk on that issue, by studying different Bible Versions.

Apply common sense and use your knowledge of language and grammar to differentiate between literal and figurative statements in the Scripture.

Now, while reading Old Testament laws, do you feel guilty that you are not obeying them?

The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law

 Romans 10:4” For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Galatians 3:23–25 ”Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian”

Ephesians 2:15 ”Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”

In place of the Old Testament law, Christians are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. Christ fulfilled all of it.

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). The Ten Commandments were essentially a summary of the entire Old Testament law. Nine of the Ten Commandments are clearly repeated in the New Testament (all except the command to observe the Sabbath day). Obviously, if we are loving God, we will not be worshipping false gods or bowing down before idols. If we are loving our neighbors, we will not be murdering them, lying to them, committing adultery against them, or coveting what belongs to them. The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.

I am a rebel, saved by God's Grace through Jesus Christ. Married. Live in India.
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