Which laws do we follow out of the Old Testament and why?

Hey, thanks again for sending in your questions regarding our recent sermons. This last week I made reference to the death penalty for blasphemy in the Old Testament. And I said that does not apply to us today as Christians because we do not live in judicial Israel and we don’t need to follow they’re judicial laws. They do not apply to us. But the New Testament is binding for us as Christians.

So one of you asks, what laws do we need to follow out of the Old Testament and why? Which is a fantastic question and once again, a little bit tricky to untie. So first we’ll start with a simple short answer, and then we’ll kind of unpack some theology that’s behind that simple short answer. So the simple short answer is we follow laws, rules out of the Old Testament that are either repeated or increased in the New Testament. If they are repeated or increased in the New Testament, then those are ones that we would follow out of the Old Testament.

I say increase because some things really get harder in the New Testament. Oftentimes we think about when the Old Testament’s over, oh, there’s all these laws that we don’t need to follow anymore. And so it’s like, it’s easier in the New Testament might be our assumption, but really, I mean, Jesus says things like, you’ve heard don’t commit adultery, but even if you’ve lusted after a woman, that’s the same as adultery. Or you’ve heard don’t murder, but everyone who hates his brother is a murderer in his heart. So some things actually increase in the New Testament.

So simple answer if it’s repeated or increased in the New Testament, those are the laws that we follow. Now, the question is why? And a lot of people word this as we follow the moral law out of the Old Testament, but that we don’t follow the judicial or ceremonial law. Dietary laws might be ceremonial.

The moral law from the Old Testament is what became the New Testament code of conduct. And I think that’s a good general summary of Old Testament laws. However, it’s a little bit problematic. You’re going to have some loose ends that you still need to tie up if you make a harsh division between moral law, ceremonial law, judicial law, dietary law. And we’re only going to follow the moral law because all of those are actually mixed together in the Old Testament.

You can find them in the same chapter, sometimes even the same verse. And so to say, oh, this one’s dietary, but this one in the same sentence is moral. It’s not really clean to divide it like that. And even in texts that are presumably fully moral law, like the Ten Commandments, we don’t follow all the Ten Commandments you’re like, of course we follow all the Ten Commandments. Actually, we don’t think about the Sabbath regulation right now.

We still honor the Sabbath in some way, but the law of the Old Testament Sabbath and the Ten Commandments. We don’t follow it that way, right? Jesus comes along and says, man was made for the Sabbath, sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So Jesus changes that. So we have a New Testament understanding of this commandment of one of the Ten Commandments, right?

So we look at even the most stereotypical moral law of the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments. We still look at that in a New Testament way. So we cannot say we just take the moral law out of the Old Testament and apply it directly to our lives in the New Testament. That’s not really how it works. What’s really going on, a more thorough theological explanation is that Jesus fulfilled all of the law of the Old Testament, right?

Jesus says, I didn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. And he had to fulfill it, or he did fulfill it graciously because we failed to fulfill it, right? We did not live up to that law in the Old Testament. So therefore we have fallen short. We’re in need of grace, which we talk about a lot.

We never made our way to God through following the law, right? That’s not how we accomplished righteousness. We failed at accomplishing righteousness or correct moral standing before God by following the Old Testament Law. We failed. We all failed.

Even people in the Old Testament who didn’t have the official Israelite code still failed the law written on their conscience, as it talks about in Romans chapter two. So we’ve all fallen short of that somehow, and we needed a way in order to be righteous that was not tied to following the law, which is what Christ provided, right? This is a righteousness has now been made known that as a righteousness apart from the law becomes through faith in Jesus Christ or Romans chapter ten is christ is the end of the law, right? He has set up a new kind of righteousness, which is through faith in Him. So Jesus fulfills all of the Old Testament law.

He gives us the credit which he earned for fulfilling all of it. So Jesus takes the test for us to oversimplify it and maybe be blasphemous or sacrilegious, but we get the credit for what he did and he takes the blame for what we did, which is what he did on the cross. So all of the Old Testament law is fulfilled for us, and therefore, as Paul says, several places that it’s obsolete or it’s canceled, it no longer applies to us because we’ve done it or we have credit for having done it, so it’s completed. So actually everything in the Old Testament Ten Commandments and everything is fulfilled. So why do we follow things in the New Testament?

Well, what happens when we become believers in Christ is God sends His Holy Spirit to live inside of us and now the law is written on our hearts. Hebrews, chapter ten. And so when the law is written on our hearts, we now work out what it’s like to walk in step with the Spirit who is inside of us. We can’t really drag the Holy Spirit down an unholy path for very long before he kicks us back into line and we come over here. That’s the way that it works.

We are being conformed to the image of Christ right through the Holy Spirit living in us. So as the Holy Spirit conforms us to Christ’s image. Right. The laws written on our hearts, that’s what the laws written on our hearts means. It means that we will conform to really what we see in the New Testament, all of those regulations.

So if we’re not following all those regulations for a long time without any kind of conviction, and we’re know I’m going to run away from God, I know what God says, I’m going to do the opposite. And the Holy Spirit is not dragging us back, and we’ve been able to do that for a long time and have no convictions in us at all, then the conclusion really is that the Holy Spirit is not within us and we’re not really believers. Because if we really were believers, that Holy Spirit in us would conform us to what we see in the New Testament. And again, much of what we see in the New Testament is repeated or increased from the Old Testament. So you’re going back, you’re reading Old Testament laws.

A lot of that you really can apply directly to your life, but the filter you want to put it through is, is it in the New Testament because that is what the Spirit is having me walk in step with. All right, well, again, we hope that was helpful and we hope that we untied it in a way that can make sense of it. Thanks again for sending in your questions. Bye.