Applying the Old Testament Law as a Believer

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?

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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.

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The Function of the Old Testament Law

 

Last time we talked about how the entirety of the Old Testament Law is no longer binding upon a Christian. That means we are not under obligation to it. This brings up a variety of questions. how can 2 Timothy 3:16 claim that all Scripture is profitable for us? Further, how can Paul quote Old Testament commands validating his arguments in the New Testament? That brings us to our topic of discussion today—the function of the Law.

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The Believer’s Relationship to the Old Testament Law

Today I want to start a series on the Law. Specifically I would like to talk about the Ten Commandments, but first we need to lay down some groundwork for that discussion. The first thing we need to realize is that there are a variety of opinions when it comes to reading through the Law portions (Exodus-Deuteronomy) of the Old Testament. Today we will discuss the issue of being under the Law, and next time we will discuss the issue of nature and applicability of the Law.

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Jesus’ Hard Words

I am reminded this weekend of a common misconception about Jesus. Many people believe Jesus wants you to believe in Him so that He can fix your life. I have heard preachers tell the congregation that if they want to be better athletes, better doctors, better musicians, then they need to come to Jesus! The truth is, Jesus never promised to make your life better. In fact, He constantly warned that following after Him may make your life here worse.

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