Should Christians follow the O.T. laws?



Question: “Are Christians required to follow Old Testament laws?”



Bible Answers

Since early Christian times until today, there exists a question of should Christians follow the Mosaic Laws, grace only, or the Holy Spirit?


Some Believe - We must adhere to the Mosaic Law

Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the entire Old Testament is applicable today.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.  Second Timothy is telling us that all of the Old Testament is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness and that we cannot disregard any part of the Bible and be safe.


Psalms 111:7-9 tells us that all the OT commandments are forever and ever.  The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.  They are established forever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.  He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.


Furthermore, God makes it clear that He will never change or abolish His Ten Commandments or His Sabbath day.  I know that, whatever God does, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Clearly we are not to add to or take away from the laws and commandments of God. However, Christ did fulfill for all times, animal sacrifice.  


Some Believe - We are under grace and need not consider the Mosaic Law

Paul strongly resisted the idea that adhering to the Law of Moses was a requirement for salvation. He fought a running battle with those he called "those Judaizers," whom he regarded as false brothers who had integrated into the Gentile churches (Galatians 2:4). He wrote to the Galatian church to counter their teaching, which he called a different gospel (Galatians 1:6).


Paul also stated that the Mosaic covenant had been replaced by a new covenant (Galatians 4:24–26). That Christians now live under the new covenant and need not follow the requirements of the old covenant. Christians are to live through faith in Jesus, and need not perform the additional works of the law.


The extreme of this position is that Christians are under "grace," and therefore all law is abolished. However, this view leads to antinomianism, that the moral law is of no use because faith alone is necessary to salvation (Romans 3:8), which Paul strongly rejected. Paul upheld the law (Romans 3:31), made it clear that being under "grace" was not a license to sin (Romans 6:15–23).  One needs to understand that the law is still in affect, but Christians are under Grace as Christ paid the price for our sins of breaking the law.


What about the New Testament Laws and Commandments

Both sides seem to neglect the fact that the New Testament contains over 1,000 verses of laws and commandments and that most relate to or repeat Mosaic Law.  For example: the 10 Commandments are part of the Mosaic Law.  Should we follow the 10 Commandments of the Old Testament?  In reality, the argument is mute, because all 10 commandments are individually repeated in the New Testament. Excepting the sacrificing of animals, most of the Mosaic Law is also contained in the New Testament.


Legalism versus the Spirit

Attempting to follow the old Mosaic Laws or even a set of NT rules is to become bound by legalism. Christianity then becomes a set of rules and regulations. The problem with legalistically following a set of rules is that it omits the more important matters of spiritual discernment. Legalistic rules can also become a measuring stick by which behavior is judged as acceptable or unacceptable. The problem is that adherence to the rules replaces being lead by Christ.  


Christians need to ask if they want to follow rules and regulations or the Spirit of God as it appears impossible to follow both the law and the Spirit at the same time — it appears to be either one or the other.


We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious (1 Timothy 1:9).


Paul asks, "After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort [following the law]?" (Galatians 3:1–5).


Conclusion

The New Testament repeats most of the Old Testament moral laws and commandments.  We should follow them, but not legalistically as a way to salvation or to please God, but through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  


We do not begin each day by saying, “Today I am going to keep the Ten Commandments.” Rather, we should begin each day by praying, “Lord Jesus, give me the grace that I may walk with you.” If I am walking with Christ, then I will obey the will of God and the law of God.  


Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith” (Galatians 3:11).


The law is from God and demonstrates to the unsaved their hopelessness in being able to follow the law and their need of Christ’s cleansing.  On the other hand, the saved are not accepted by God by their works, but by the works of Christ. By following the Holy Spirit in love, trust, and  obedience, we receive God’s grace.    


The power of the law is sin.  When we walk in sin, we come under the law and its judgment.  When we are walking with God, under God’s grace through repentance of our sins, then we have no sin and do not come under the law.  We then are not under the law, but the law is still a guide as directed by the Holy Spirit.


We fulfill the law when we are guided by the Holy Spirit


But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Gal. 5:18), but under grace (Romans 6:14).  We obey Him because we love Him.


We are obedient to God’s laws and commandments when we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in love. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10).



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