Monday, July 29, 2013

Old Testament Law And Modern Christians, Part 3

Last time we looked at when and why the Old Testament law became obsolete, and its purpose and application both before and after the ministry of Christ. As we finish up today we'll clarify our current relationship to Old Testament law and determine where it is we should look for instruction and inspiration for loving God and others today.


(Romans 6:14) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 7:1-6) Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 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. 5 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. 6 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.

The better command is to "walk by the spirit"(Galatians 5:16-23) and obey "the law of Christ".


The question left hanging is, "What is our standard for living if the Old Testament Law is obsolete?" The answer is to "walk by the Spirit", as scripture describes it. We are to obey "the law of Christ", including his teaching and the teaching of those who directly represented him.

(Galatians 5:13-14) 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

(Galatians 5:16-23) 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident:sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law.

(1 Corinthians 9:21) To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

(Galatians 6:2) Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

There is strong indication that we are now meant to use the teaching of Christ and his direct representatives as our standard for living. In other words, we're to obey the moral instruction of the New Testament. There is still discernment to be done when applying New Testament instruction in order to avoid misinterpretation or faulty application, but the New Testament describes the will of Christ and the intended work of the Holy Spirit through our lives.

When I first realized this, part of me was a little bummed. The Ten Commandments are so concisely packaged and nicely organized. A short checklist that's easy to scan and feel good about myself for obeying. But as mentioned before, embracing the Ten Commandments means embracing ALL of Old Testament law, none of which is binding today. So either way we have to abandon the idea of an easy checklist. Instead we're better off committing ourselves to knowing this book of ours better in general, coming back to it again and again for a better understanding of what it looks like to love God and love each other.

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