Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Are Old Testament Laws Still Valid Today?

My husband and I are reading through the Bible this year. This is something I've never done before. I've read plenty of the Scriptures; I've probably read most of them. But, like many, I have my favorite books. Psalms. Proverbs. Matthew. John. Isaiah. James. And then there are some where I have to pray to get through. Like Leviticus, which is where I am now.

After reading about the temple and the sacrifices and the laws concerning leprosy, I made it to chapter nineteen. Here is what God says in the beginning of this chapter:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev. 19:1).

He calls us to be holy. To be holy means morally (what I'm focusing on here) or ceremonially sacred. If we follow the word back to its Hebrew root, it means to be clean. To consecrate. To hallow. To keep holy. To purify. To sanctify. (I love discovering roots.)

So, in verse one, God is calling us to be set apart as sacred unto Him. To be as He is. Despite our sinful nature.

Next, God goes on to tell us how to do this. He gives specific details, which we consider to be either the Ten Commandments or the laws of the Old Testament. One would question whether or not these hold relevant to today's world. Especially since Jesus' death on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins has occurred. Does that leave us free from the chains of the law? Not necessarily.

Matthew 5:17-20 says the following: 
 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

This is Jesus speaking. He did not come to destroy the law. Let's look at destroy. In the Greek, the definition of destroy is to loosen down or disintegrate. To demolish. To halt for the night. To dissolve. To come to nought. To overthrow or throw down. If we trace it back another step to the root, it also means to break up. To unloose. To melt. Or to put off.

Jesus did not come to dissolve the law. He didn't come to overthrow it. He didn't come to put the law off. We are still called to follow the law. Including the Ten Commandments.

Jesus came to fulfill the law. In the Greek this means to make replete (fully or abundantly filled). To level up. To furnish (to imbue: to permeate or influence as if by dyeing) (to influence). To satisfy. To execute (an office). To finish a period or task. To verify. To accomplish. To be complete. To fulfill. To make full. To fully preach. To perfect. To supply.

Here is what I see in this verse: 
Jesus didn't come to destroy the law or make it null and void. We still need to honor God's commands and consider the rest of the Old Testament laws. However, we should not forget the importance of justice and mercy and faith (see Matthew 23:23).

Jesus came to fulfill the law. He came to complete it. He came to be a living example of righteousness and holiness for us to follow. He came to set us free from the sinful nature that ensnares us, and by His death on the cross, we are set free from that curse. Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice, so we no longer need to offer bulls and goats and turtledoves on an altar. 

Does that mean that we should run out and do whatever we please because we are covered by the blood of Jesus, that we no longer need to obey the laws of God? I don't think so. I think the laws are just as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago:
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensomeFor whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:1-4).

My final thought on the law is this: The laws were given so that people would know that they were sinners. The law became a daily reminder that the people needed God to redeem them from their sins. Hence, the sacrifices. To me, the law is a constant reminder that I am merely a sinful human being. Personally, I have a difficult time keeping all of them every day. It's not possible. Heck, there are even presumptuous sins: "Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression" (Psalm 19:13). Sins I don't even realize I'm committing.

What I do know and put all of my faith in is that God loves me so much that He sent Jesus to save me from myself and my sinful nature. With Jesus standing between me and God the Father, I am clean. I am righteous. I am holy. I am set apart as a child of God who will spend eternity with my Father in heaven because His Son became the ultimate sacrifice for my sins. I am forgiven every time I break one of God's laws. But I will also do my best to honor my Father and obey His commands. Down to the last jot and tittle.

For the next few weeks, I'll be taking a look at some of the laws mentioned in Leviticus 19. I'd love it if you'd join me. And please, if you'd like to discuss something particular, feel free to leave a comment. I love to discover God's word. I'd love to do so together. (However, let me also add that I do not wish for this to become a huge debate where people get ugly. Let's remember holiness as we discuss the things of the Lord.) Thank you!


  1. Very good Alycia. I think that we need to recognize that the OT was a lot of outward workings, whereas Christ and the New Covenant deal directly with our hearts. The OT said not to commit adultery, Jesus said - if we look at someone and lust, we've committed adultery. It's an even higher standard in many ways. I'll be around to read.

    1. Hi Anita!

      Thanks for sticking around. :) I'm always encouraged by your comments.

      One of my favorite verses all-time is Isaiah 55:8-9.

      “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
      Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
      “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
      So are My ways higher than your ways,
      And My thoughts than your thoughts."

      It reminds me that as much as I think I know, there's so very much more I won't until the day I meet Jesus face-to-face. On that day, all of my questions will be completely answered. (Until then, I'll keep studying.)

  2. I think the example Jesus set at times contradicts with the Old Testament. I think the New Testament "corrects" some of the Old Testament as well as completing parts. It is my belief that when the New Testament "contradicts" (or seems to contradict) the Old Testament, the New is to be followed. Jesus was sent to correct the course of those who believe in God. That's how I see it (right or wrong). Jesus is about love and forgiveness, not so much about punishment and condemnation. Not only did Jesus die for our sins, but as you noted, he provided us an example of how to live a moral life. There are stories about how Jesus goes to just those people whom the Old Testament condemns and shares his message. He doesn't go to punish them or separate himself from them, but to include them as worthy human beings.

    1. Hello Anonymous. Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Your response reminds me of this Scripture: "Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited (those Scribes and Pharisees, among others) were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests." (See Matthew 22) Those who were invited refused to come to the wedding. They refused the Messiah. Their religious ceremonies and traditions were more important than God's plan of salvation. So God went looking for another people - the Gentiles - to invite. Note it says they were good and bad. Because only those who are sick need to be made well. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. We were grafted into the body of Christ through Jesus. What an awesome God we serve!

      I don't believe that the New Testament contradicts the Old Testament as much as it completes it. More likely, I believe that there's a lot of misinterpretation that can occur, especially when we pull out one verse or section without looking at the Bible as a whole. That's why I feel it's important to consider and know both Testaments. I consider myself a full gospel Christian.

      I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts! I hope you'll stick around for further posts. :)

  3. If your god is all-knowing and all-loving how come his son has to correct OT, wasn't it already created by perfect all-knowing father? Didn't he know everything in advance? Sure there's so much love in OT, all that children killing, women raping sure shows how loving he is, or wait, i forgot it doesn't apply to god, only to us silly humans. And if OT is still valid does it mean we can punish by death cheating wifes, stone to death disobidient children and those who work on Sundays. BTW you as woman are not allowed to teach (coz that's what you're doing here).
    And your Jesus is not that loving either, he didn't help everybody who asked him for help, he turned down a woman that was asking him to save her daughter, and why, just because she was not from his site. But i'm pretty sure you have excuses for all of this anyway, surprisingly your all-knowing god didn't realize that his books are not that perfect, what a primitive man-made god


Thanks for sharing your thoughts here at My Thoughtful Spot! I love hearing them!