The Old Testament Law and the New Testament Church

The ten commandments are an important aspect of the law but they are only ten rules out of the hundreds given to the children of Israel. Because the same God established both the nation of Israel and the church shouldn’t we strive to keep that law detailed in Old Testament? Shouldn’t we at least try to keep the Ten Commandments?

Is the church subject to the law and thus under the Old Covenant? Should the church be required to keep the law? If we are not required to keep the law then are we required to keep the Ten Commandments? Are we supposed to stone adulterers and be careful not to mix different fabrics in our outfits? The Old Testament laws were intended to be the foundation of a new nation, should we insist they be the foundation of our nation as well? Should we insist that every work place be closed on Saturday and every male be circumcised at birth, and everyone participate in the holy feasts and animal sacrifices?

If we are to strive to obey one aspect of the law, such as the Ten Commandments, then don’t we need to embrace the entire law?

If there are certain aspects of the law we can ignore, such as the prohibition on bacon, then who can argue against the entire law being discarded?

There are certain aspects of God’s law, such as the prohibition of certain foods as unclean, that were always meant to be a temporary part of God’s way of making Israel distinct from the nations of the world.

With the coming of Christ, dramatic changes take place in the way God governs His people, because we are no longer a political-ethnic people like the Jews were, but a global people from every tribe and language and ethnicity and race.

The question then becomes how do we know which laws to keep and which to ignore?

In the Old Testament God’s people were justified by faith evidenced by striving to keep the law. In the New Covenant God’s people are justified by faith evidenced by striving to following Jesus. You can have the law or you can have Jesus, but you can’t have both.

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. - Matthew 5:17 ESV

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:19 ESV

Jesus states He has come to fulfill the law but two verses later He teaches that we still need to keep the law. Is the law fulfilled and regulated to the past or is it still in force and we need to keep the law? Perhaps Paul can help clear up the confusion.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. ... For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. - Galatians 5:2-4, 6 ESV

If you chose to follow any aspect of the law, which includes the Ten Commandments, then you must submit to the entire law and cannot accept the forgiveness Jesus achieved for us at the cross. But if you chose to claim Jesus Christ as Lord then you are free from the burden of the law and you can ignore every command and still be counted a child of God granted entrance into heaven. Does this mean that a Christian can murder his neighbor and still get into heaven? Yes it does, but if you are truly a follower of Jesus then the love of God will flow through you and you will not want to harm anyone. The Love of God in you will compel you to love those around you and seek what is best for them.

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:7-8 NLT

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." ... But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. - Galatians 5:13-14, 18 ESV

Christ died to fulfill the law and take our punishment for breaking the law. If we continue to submit to the law we ignore the sacrifice of the cross. But if we submit to the cross and the love of God flows through us we will fulfill the law for the law is made complete in love for God and love for others.