Recently I was asked what is the place of the Old Testament in the life of a believer?
When we read the Old Testament we will soon come upon the importance of the Mosaic laws, all 613 of them and how we must keep them perfectly if we are to live under that covenant.
“‘Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:26 RSVA)
But we who are of the New Covenant are IN Christ by faith and are not under that curse.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:11-14 KJ2000)
So how did God deal with the filling up of the just requirements of the law that we might live by faith in Christ alone? Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 KJ2000)
And just before He died on the cross He cried out, “It is finished!” Jesus came and filled up the just requirements of the law in one perfect sacrifice for all. In so doing he did away with the first covenant and introduced the New Covenant. Jesus came to establish a New Covenant for the Jews broke the first one and did not keep it for the law was week because of their flesh (See Romans 8:3).
But now has he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. (Hebrews 8:6-9 KJ2000)
Then what good is the Old Testament to we who walk by faith? It is there to point us to Christ!
And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 RSVA)
So what is the nature of this entirely NEW Covenant? Is it more rule keeping as it seems to be in many of today’s churches that make a law book out of the New Testament and mix in with it the Old? Is it one in which Jesus has the power to save us from our sins, but it is up to us to keep ourselves saved like many churches teach? NO! This covenant is ALL about the power of God to save and to keep us.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12 KJ2000)
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 RSVA)
Here we read God saying eight times how HE will and not a single “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not!” It is all about the power of God to come into us and give us a new heart and put His Spirit in us.
What is this law written upon our hearts in this NEW Covenant. Is it the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant? Not at all. In Hebrews we read,
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest [Jesus] to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:11-12 RSVA)
What is this NEW Law? Jesus told us what it is saying,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 RSVA)
As for the old law and where are we with that as we walk by faith? Paul wrote,
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.. (Romans 8:2-4 RSVA)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 RSVA)
Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 KJ2000)
So, as long as we read the Old Testament and look for how it points us to Christ and the vast difference between the Old Covenant based in the weakness of the flesh and the NEW Covenant based on the power of the Spirit of Christ in us, it is good. But if we read it as a pointer putting us back under the law of the first covenant, we are totally missing the point.
For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 RSVA)
Let us not be as foolish as some who worship the shadow and have missed the ONE who is casting that shadow.
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1 RSVA)
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 RSVA)
May God bless each one of you with a new heart and His spirit within you as you walk by faith in Christ alone.
(Note: All bold and italic type in scripture verse was added by me for emphasis – mdc)