/ / / Do Christians Pick and Choose Which Parts of Scripture We Apply?

Do Christians Pick and Choose Which Parts of Scripture We Apply?

When we read the Law in the Old Testament, it can be difficult and confusing. Do Christians pick and choose which parts of Scripture we apply?  #Biblestudy #Deuteronomy #WomensBibleStudy #GoodMorningGirls

This week’s reading in Deuteronomy 21-25 was not an easy read.   Let me start out by saying – thank goodness the Old Testament laws are no longer binding!

But this is the part where non-Christians tell us we are walking contradictions.  They will say, Christians pick and choose which parts of scripture we hold to and which parts we do not.

So let’s talk about why the Old Testament laws in Deuteronomy are no longer binding, so we can answer this frequently asked question.

First, this week we read some of the laws we no longer follow.  For example, stoning to death rebellious children (21:18-21), putting to death a man and woman who have committed adultery (22:22), forbidding interest on loans (23:19), requiring farmers to leave some food in their fields for the poor  (24:19), and requiring a man to take his brother’s wife when his brother dies (25:5).

Other laws we no longer practice that were not in this week’s reading, include all the laws regarding the sacrificial system, certain foods that are considered unclean and not to be eaten, and the wiping out of other nations.

All of these laws were written under the Old Covenant for God’s people – the Israelites.  

The Old Testament laws seem harsh – but they point to the character of our God. He requires holiness.

Over and over in Deuteronomy we see God saying “purge the evil from your midst.”

The laws were not just there to purge evil but also to protect God’s people. The Israelites lived in a harsh world with wars all around them. God’s laws set them apart from other nations and protected them.  Their laws ensured the survival of God’s people through which the Messiah would come.

The Old Covenant laws no longer apply to us today because we are under a New Covenant.

Jesus said in Luke 22:20:

 This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

In Hebrews 8:13 it says:

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Galatians 3:24 says:

So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

The word guardian here also means schoolmaster or trainer.  The law trained God’s people and pointed them to their need for Jesus.

Now stick with me here – I know this is a lot of scripture to examine but we are headed somewhere with this  – Look at Romans 3:20-24:

20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Romans reveals that the law gives us knowledge of our sin.

The law bears witness to our need for Jesus.

This is the beauty of the law!!!

The law points to Jesus!

3 Changes under the New Covenant

Change of Priesthood

There has been a change of priesthood – no longer do we need the Levites. Jesus is our High Priest.  We have direct access to God through Jesus.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Change of Sacrifices

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid in full the price for our sins. The sacrificial system is no longer necessary.  Jesus was the final sacrifice.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 9:13-14

Change of Covenant

There has been a change of covenant from the Old Covenant to the New.  Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant.

15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Hebrews 9:15

Do Christians pick and choose which parts of scripture we apply?

No, we do not pick and choose.   The Old Testament law was not meant to be a universal law for all time.  Jesus said that the entire law hangs on these two commands:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:37-40

We no longer live under the law but under LOVE.

The old law is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).  We are released from the law (Romans 7:6).  We are free in Christ (Galatians 5:1)!  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Galatians 5:1).

LOVE has set us free and when we learn to LOVE God and LOVE others – we are set free!  You see when we don’t love others – the end result is sin and chaos. We are not truly free.

Do not return to the chains of legalism.  They will enslave you.

Do not return to the chains of sin. They will take you captive.

We are free in Christ!

Thank goodness the Old Testament laws are no longer binding today!

Enjoy your freedom and live a life of love.

Walk with the King,

Courtney

**Chime In**

Have you ever been accused of picking and choosing from scripture?  How did you respond?

What have you learned through the study of Israel’s laws?

Coming Next Wednesday, May 18th – the Summer Study will be announced!

For Further Reading
The GMG Leadership Team is Blogging Through the Bible Too! Visit their blogs here:
Becoming a Godly Wife – Bridget
Misty Leask – Misty
Rosilind Jukic – Rosilind
Worshipful Living – Mandy

23 Comments

  1. Hi Courtney! Thanks for such a thorough explanation about the Old Testament law…it was very helpful. I agree, it was a hard couple of chapters this week and if I had to explain them to a non-believer, it would have been difficult.

    Can’t wait to hear all about the summer study next week!

  2. I have been accussed of picking and choosing scripture. This is a great and awesome explaination of the Old Testament. But the accusation stemed more in regards to the letters to the Corinthians. I know that it was a period issue, but how do you explain why women don’t need to shave their heads and men now shave their beards.

  3. Thanks. Very helpful. Still tricky when trying to explain to kids, discuss the 10 commandments etc.
    looking foward to next reading

  4. The 10 commandments still apply. If we are following the Matthew 22:37-40 and we love God and others as we do ourselves, we will 1) not have other gods; 2) we wouldn’t make graven images and bow down to them; 3) we wouldn’t use the Lords name in vain. Don’t do what you know not to do. That is blasphemy;4) we don’t necessarily keep a sabbath day like the Israelites but we have times where we worship and time to study God’s word;5) we would honor our parents; 6) we would not kill;7) we would not committ adultery; 8)we would not steal; 9) we would not bear false witness against others; 10). And we wouldn’t covet other people’s things or spouses. I think the Ten Commandments are still pretty well covered under Matthew 37-40. If we have the love of God and love others then we would not want to do these things to other people and that is how I explain to my children.

  5. Thank you Courtney for explaining this in such a concise and easy to understand way! It seems like this accusation comes up constantly on social media. I will be sharing your article now each time it does 🙂

  6. Unfortunately, yes, we do pick and choose what parts of scripture we want to apply – even from the New Testament. 1 Cor 14 says women are not allowed to speak in church; 1 Tim 2 says women should not be allowed to teach; 1 Cor 11 says it is dishonorable for a man to have his head covered or a woman to have her head uncovered (specifically when praying); the gospels say if you divorce and remarry, you’re committing adultery; Luke 6 says give to EVERYONE who asks you; Matthew 5 says don’t resist an evil person (would you fight back if attacked by an assailant?)…..and there are so many, many more. Yes, we definitely pick and choose.

  7. Great article! I will certainly share this with others. Before we read God’s Word, and even after, especially when we are not clear about what it means, we need to go to the Source, GOD HIMSELF, and ASK for a spirit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and discernment. He will supply what we need.
    Thanks Courtney, this was very informative and will make for a excellent bible study.

  8. People pick and choose what they think is best from the bible. Thus they make themselves gods bc it’s what they think is right. Why would God and His son, Jesus both say that meant not jot or tittle will be removed?! And then go back on their word?! Jesus didn’t come to give a new covenant but to renew the original covenant. We still must follow all that is written in the Old Testament, now we have Grace through Jesus when we fail.

    1. Hi Tiffany,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I encourage you to reread this post above and study the New Testament Scripture that explains this further.

      Jesus said in Luke 22:20: “This cup that is poured out for you is the NEW covenant in my blood.”

      Also, I’m trying to understand how you live out the Old Testament laws in your life? Are you sacrificing lambs to God or do you see Jesus as the final sacrifice? It’s one or the other. If you have confusion on this – I encourage you to study the book of Hebrews as it fully explains how we are no longer under the law and can now rest in the final sacrifice of Jesus.

      You are free of the Old Testament laws – do not return to them – there is no life there…they will be dead works. Only through the blood of Jesus and his righteousness are we saved.

      Trust in Him alone,
      Courtney

  9. I think people think Christians pick and choose from the Bible because a lot of people don’t understand the literary forms used to write the Bible, including figurative language, narrative history, poetry, wisdom literature, prophetic literature, gospel, oratory and epistle. We have to read the scripture and look at the context it is written in and the history and times of the culture also to determine if it was meant to be taken literally. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” and in Luke 22:20 Jesus says “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people-an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.”NLT He came to fulfill the Law with HIS LOVE, by redeeming us with His perfect sacrifice.

  10. Very well put. It saddens me when Christians feel pressured to obey and observe some sort of pseudo- law requirements and are told they are not faithful unless they do so. I pray those people will someday be taught of the transforming power of Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice and of the freedom that comes when we believe that He is enough. Thank you for making that point to your readers.

  11. Hello Courtney,

    You tied the old and new covenant together here so beautifully. After reading through Deuteronomy, I needed those reminders. Thanks for your faithfulness.

  12. Unfortunately, some Christians actually DO pick and choose what they want to apply to their lives. It’s one of the reasons that the church looks so much like the world, and our world has gone down hill so dramatically. Because while the world doesn’t abide by God’s standards, neither does the church. Though I’m not talking about the OT/NT issue, I agree with you there, but there are certainly a lot of things that Christians seem to conveniently ignore.

    (I’ve always wondered about 1 Cor. 11, for example. I’ve seen a lot of excuses as to why women no longer follow this edict, but none have made sense except for “picking and choosing”).

    1. Sarah –

      Due to the nature of the controversy of 1 Corinthians 11 – I encourage my readers to study this for themselves and make a decision based on their own conscience. Some believe this is solely cultural while others believe this is a practice women should continue to do today.

      I personally do not believe that Paul was instituting a dress code or law for women of all time. But I respect women who choose to cover their heads as a symbol of their submission to God and find it absolutely beautiful. Many women in my community cover their heads (I live near an Amish and Mennonite community) and I respect them greatly.

      Hope that helps,
      Courtney

      1. Thank you so much, for the insight you bring and the work you do to make the Bible more understandable. I never actually took time to read a chapter through untill I found your blog. I’m sure the Holy Spirit guide every individual in His time( Kairos), we only need to accept and abide. I have also only since living in Germany got in contact with woman who covers their heads in prayer. My first thoughts were..oh no! It is a beautiful gesture, and I think I will start doing. I would like to show my love and respect in the privacy where I draw closer to God, don’t you?
        Luckily we don’t stone our rebellious children to death, then I wouldn’t be here today to give testimony! Much love through Jesus, Elma

        Ps:
        To fit our Conscience or lifestyle ( comment below)

  13. This week I had to read all chapters on one day, because I had so much preparations to do for my child’s birthday party, which we postponed twice due to my raptured eardrum in February and again because I’ve overseen the date the preschoolers would go on an outing to the zoo..It turned out a success and blessed party!

    In everything I do I bring it to God in praise and worship, and ask Him to help me follow His Commandments. Ps 119: 108, only through His grace I’ll become Holy. Ps 119 is a wonderful read on our loving Fathers commandments. We need to take Him serious!
    LOVE comes with responsibility to ourselves and our community. Love needs to set boundaries. Just like parents tries to protectt their children. God our loving Father gives us the light for our path, the Bible . We can’t add and take away from God’s prophetic Word to fit our conscience. Lets ask the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the courage to do what is right, give us a voice to speak up and follow Jesus teachings.

  14. Good article! But, it is my understanding that we are free from the CURSE of the “law”, which was death – meaning that if we break it, we die. Matthew 22:40 is telling us that ALL the “law” & prophets hang on those 2 mentioned in verses 37-39. In other words, all the other “laws”, & keeping them, depends on us following those 2 commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, & mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Our salvation is not dependent upon us keeping the “law”, but it is how we show our Father how much we love Him. He told us what pleases Him. Also, these “laws” are all part of what is known as Torah, which is often defined as “law”, which is misleading. Torah actually means “instruction.” Just as parents are to instruct their children (think Proverbs 1:7-9; 4:1; 8:33), God our Father has instructed us. But the key is in our heart. Why do we follow His commandments? Is it because we feel we have to? Or is it out of love for Him? It only becomes legalism when we do it because we feel we have to. Also, if Jesus is God, then what are the commandments that He is talking about when He tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments? Where are the instructions that tells us HOW to love God with all our heart, soul, & mind? Where are the instructions that tell us HOW to love our neighbors as ourselves? The Old Testament. And, if the instructions of God found in the Old Testament are obsolete, why study them? If the Old Testament is obsolete, why would the New Testament writers, and especially Jesus, quote it so much? Depending on which scholar’s work you examine, the number of quotations and references in the New Testament to the Old may be as high as 4,105 (Roger Nicole, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary , Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1979, Vol. I, p. 617).

    1. These are good questions to ask Lisa. We study the Old Testament because we learn both the story of God’s redemption of his people and we learn about the character of our great God. His power, might, love, wrath, justice, mercy and desire to use ordinary people – just like us. It is all the inspired Word of God written for us.

      I encourage you to study the book of Hebrews where you will find the Old Testament and the sacrificial system were a foreshadowing of Christ and also the context of the Old Covenant being obsolete – Hebrews 8:13. Please read it for yourself because it’s so much more than I can explain here in the comment section. I can’t wait until we all study Hebrews together – it will be wonderful!

      Just a reminder, we are no longer under the Levitical law – we do not have Levitical priests – Jesus is our high priest. It is not possible to keep the Old Testament laws of the sacrificial system.

      Hope that helps,
      Courtney

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