Is The Old Testament Law Still Applicable?

Does the Old Testament law still apply to Christians today? That’s the question that we want to consider here for just a few moments. On the heels of a message that I shared this past Sunday. I hope you had a chance to watch it where we looked at the Sermon on the Mount, where the people in the crowd there who are listening to Jesus preach in Matthew chapter five, are probably wondering where Jesus new teaching is coming from and where he got the authority to teach about the things he was saying. And it sounded like he was wanting to get rid of the Old Testament Law and the prophecies and all those scriptures.

And Jesus understood that, and so he said, no, I have not come to abolish the Old Testament law and the prophets, all of those 600 plus laws that you and I can read about in the Old Testament law, the first five books of the Old Testament, jesus said, I didn’t come to abolish those, but to fulfill them. And so then we hear that and we say, okay, so if Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law and there’s so many different applications to that, does it still apply to us then today? What do we do today with the Old Testament Law? And I want to share a passage in the book of Jeremiah where God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah, looking ahead to the day when Jesus comes. And this helps gives us perhaps a way to think about an answer to this question.

Does the Old Testament law still apply in Jeremiah chapter 31? Starting in verse 31, it says, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor or say to one another, know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord, for I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. So what’s happening here is at no point did we read that God saying that in this new covenant that when Jesus comes, that God will establish. At no point does it say that he will do away with the Old Testament Law and all of those laws that he gave to the people of Israel. What’s going to happen is that the law, the role of the law in God’s people changes no longer is it this kind of thing where it is a written code that we then try to obey as best as we can.

But what it’s saying is that God is going to put his law in his people’s minds and he’s going to write his law on his people’s hearts. And there’s going to be this connection and this closeness and this relationship where it’s no longer reading the law to get to know God, but that we can know God in other ways too. So it’s not like he’s throwing out the Old Testament Law, but he’s saying he’s going to do something new and it’s going to be an expression of relationship where God is saying, I’m going to be their God and they will be my people. And what God is going to do is he’s going to take His Old Testament laws and all the things that God wants us to do and to follow today? Is he’s going to embed those things in the hearts and the minds and in the lives of his people?

And it’s going to be this motivation that is no longer a Drudgery that says I have to do this, but as God’s people in this new covenant that Jesus came to establish, it’s going to be more of an I want to do this as an expression of my love to God and of God’s love for me. And the reason why that’s going to come about is because God in this new covenant is going to capture the hearts of his people and he’s going to renovate our hearts. So at no point again does that mean that God throws out the Old Testament Law. But what it does is reminds us that while we are not under the law, the Old Testament Law anymore in terms of a way of, okay, I’ve got to measure up by my moral performance. Galatians, chapter six, verse two, tells us that we are as Christ followers today under the law of Christ.

And the law of Christ is that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our mind, and to love our neighbor as ourself. And Jesus said in Matthew chapter 22 that all of the law, all of the commands in the Old Testament and all the things that God wants us to do hang on those two commands loving the Lord our God and loving our neighbor as ourself. And so we think about all of the different things that God wants us to do. And when we do those things, they fall under the category of loving God and loving others. When we love God, we will not have other gods before us.

We will not worship other idols when we love our neighbor as herself, we won’t commit adultery against them. We won’t lie against them. We won’t murder them. We won’t covet what belongs to them because we are under the law of Christ and loving God and loving others the way that he wants. So in summary, what do we do with the Old Testament Law?

We don’t throw it out, but what the Old Testament Law does is it shows us God’s holy character. It definitely shows us his faithfulness and patience to his people through centuries and centuries of God working, and then people disobeying. God working and people disobeying, and yet God remains faithful. And so the Old Testament law reminds us of that. The Old Testament Law gives us practical examples of what it looks like to love God and to love our neighbor.

But ultimately, what the Old Testament Law does is it makes us grateful that Jesus came to fulfill the law because we are convicted of our utter inability to follow through and to carry out the demands of the law on our own. But Jesus fulfilled the law for us, and that is such good news. Well, I hope that that encourages you. We thank you so much for your questions. If you have further questions about Sunday’s message, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

We’ll see you next time.