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.
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.
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.
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.”
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,
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