Summary: There is much confusion about the role of the law in the life of the believer. This "meaty" sermon unpacks this issue decisively .
The Mosaic Law and the Christian
Series: The Old Testament’s Relation to the New Testament Believer
Preaching PM Service July 1, 2012
TEXT: Colossians 2:12-14 – “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
There is much confusion in the minds of Christians about the New Testament believer’s relationship with the Old Testament. We know that when the New Testament came, it superseded the Old Testament. Yet we know, or have heard, that we should read and study the Old Testament just as we read and study the New Testament.
Here are some questions people ask about the Old Testament:
• What benefit is the Old Testament to the Christian today?
• Is there any sense in which believers are still under the Mosaic law?
• Is the Christian under the Old Testament as a system of justification?
• Should the Christian look to the Old Testament for guidance regarding the work, worship, and organization of the Lord's church?
• To what degree should the Christian see the Old Testament as binding in their personal lives or their personal walk with God?
• If there is little or nothing that is binding upon the New Testament believer from the Old Testament, why even bother with reading and studying the Old Testament?
Before looking at how the Old Testament is to be viewed by the New Testament believer, let’s first deal with the question of the relationship of the Mosaic law in the life of the believer.
Many people are confused about the relationship of the Christian to the Old Testament law (also called the law of Moses, or the Mosaic law, or usually simply, the law) specifically, so let’s deal with this question this week, and next time we meet, we’ll consider how the believer should view the Old Testament overall.
Let me warn you again, as I did when I announced this subject in this morning’s service, that we are going to be feasting on some of the meat of the Word. This is not easy stuff, or information filled with quaint illustrations. It’s going to be pure Bible, and lots of it. But I think you will find it very helpful in answering this question about the Christian’s relation to the Old Testament law that crops up at regular intervals by astute students of the Word.
1. First off, let me point out that GENTILE Christians were NEVER under the law of Moses in the first place. The Mosaic law, usually just referred to as “the law,” was a part of the Old Covenant, a covenant made between the Israelites and God at Mt. Sinai, and no other people groups, ethnic or spiritual. – Deuteronomy 5:1-2 – “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. 2 The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.”
There are many scriptures in both the Old Testament that say essentially the same thing as the text we just read, so we will not belabor this point.
2. Even Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.—that is, those who came before the Israelites—were not under the Old Covenant – Deuteronomy 5:3 – “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”
3. Therefore Gentile Christians were not required to be circumcised or keep any part of the law according to the decision of the Council of Jerusalem, a decision made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in Acts 15.
Acts 15:24, the Jerusalem Council declared, “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment.”
However, out of deference to the sensitivity of the Jews, Gentile believers were asked—though not required—to avoid certain practices that were particularly offensive to Jews. – Acts 15:28 – “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
4. In addition, JEWISH Christians have been delivered from the law of Moses by being made members of the body of Christ – Romans 7:4-6 – “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”