In a previous post we discussed that as New Testament believers, none of the Old Testament laws are binding on us today—even the Ten Commandments! Now, before you burn me at the stake, let me continue. Just because none of the laws are binding does not mean there is no profitability or application from the Law for us. In fact, 2 Tim 3:16 makes it clear that the Old Testament is profitable and useful to us as believers. So, how can we apply the Old Testament laws to our lives?
In order to answer this question, last time we talked about the function and nature of the Law. The most important point from that post is that the Law was a specific application of creation principles for Israel. The Ten Commandments are foundational to this purpose because they form the basis from which the other commandments drive into even more specific application. It looks like this:
Genesis 1–3 ———> Ten Commandments ———> Specific Commandments
If this general argument is true (which will be supported when we talk specifically about each of the Ten Commandments), then we can apply the laws of the Old Testament as we understand how they reflect the creation principles. Let us examine an example.
When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the Lord your God will surely require it of you. However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have promised (Deut 23:21–23).
If we analyze the structure of Deuteronomy, we see that Deut 23:15–24:7 gives specific application for commandment eight (Deut 5:19), “You shall not steal.” Stealing is essentially taking (or keeping back) what belongs to another. It is depriving someone of their right to either tangible (or intangible) property. This principle is instilled into creation and is evidenced by God commanding man to stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:17). The tree was not in man’s jurisdiction and he had no right to it. Yet, he took it.