Old Testament Growing in Knowing God

Some people think that the commandments of the Old Testament don’t apply to the Christian life in New Testament times. I reply to those people that they are both right and wrong. What does the Old Testament have to do with Christians?

First, Christians who don’t think the Old Testament commandments apply to them are right because the “Thou shalt nots” of the commandments are Israel’s national form of the law, which Jesus abolished to replace it with the positive, international form of God’s will for the church. The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians in chapter two that Jesus nailed the letter of the law to his cross. 

We can relate to national laws in negative form when we learn the rules of the road to be “don’t go over the speed limit,” “don’t run a red light,” and “don’t parallel park more than a foot from the curb.” However, even the largely-negative Ten Commandments begin with God’s reminder about his deliverance of the nation from Egyptian slavery. As a result, the commands were God’s guidelines for Israel’s gratitude in response to that rescue.     

Moses wields his staff between the walls of Red Sea water with what looks like the two tablets of God's laws.

God’s many miracles in Egypt and his parting of the Red Sea should have resulted in Israel’s faith and thankful obedience to God’s commandments, but they disobeyed and rebelled over and over in the desert.  

Second, Christians are wrong about the unimportance of the laws because the principles or main ideas of the Old Testament rules continue into the New Testament era. For example, the laws about clean and unclean foods show the need for us to overcome the spiritual uncleanness in our lives, though we don’t need to follow the external rules about eating hoofed and unhoofed animals, finned and unfinned fish, and pigs versus cows. 

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