The debate about modern Christians following Old Testament (OT) Law tends to heat up anytime there is a major disagreement between believers and non-believers on what constitutes sin. Christians begin their defense by quoting the OT passages that define an act as sinful and therefore damning. The opponents then begin quoting passages about being forbidden from wearing multiple patterns and the necessity of offering sacrifices. They point out that the average Christian doesn’t follow those passages, so why should the other ones still hold true? Sometimes, the Christian will try to explain that Jesus changed things and some of the laws no longer apply. This is usually followed by comments about “picking and choosing what you want to believe” and hypocrisy. It’s a very non-productive (often hate-filled) conversation and both sides are often left with a very low opinion of the other.

To understand how we can resolve what seems like a conflict between Jesus’ teachings and the Mosaic Law,we have to look at the purpose for each.  First, the OT Law was given to help the Israelites understand what was expected of them and how to live with each other.  This is the manual for living as an Israelite during the OT times. There were instructions on what constituted a sin, definitions of clean vs. unclean, family issues (marriage, etc.) Secondly, and more importantly, the Law gave instructions for connecting with God. There were detailed instructions on how to celebrate Holy times, offer thanks, ask for forgiveness, and to prepare to enter the various areas of the Tabernacle. These things had to be done correctly or a person could suffer horribly or be put to death. There was also the possibility of polluting other members of the community or the Tabernacle itself.

Once Jesus was crucified and resurrected, things changed. Jesus became the offering for all of the situations listed in the OT Law. He became the connector between the average man and God. God no longer dwelled in the brick and mortar Temple, He took on the form of a living temple that moved among the people. When He died the veil separating men from the Holy of Holies was torn, removing the need for a High Priest to intervene on behalf of the people.

What we need to understand (and better explain to others) is that the fulfillment of the law that Jesus talked about in Matthew 5:17 came about when He became the ultimate high priest, temple, and sacrifice. His complete perfection provided the absolution the laws were designed for. In Luke 10:27 Jesus stated “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This was the fulfillment of the Law. All of the complexities in the OT Law could be boiled down to these two commandments, because Jesus had taken care of the rest of it for us!

We have to separate the idea of the OT Law from our salvation. They are very different issues! Jesus doesn’t require us to observe every aspect of the Mosaic Law to “earn” an eternal home; He provides it for all who seek it. To summarize, we are required to follow the Mosaic Law as fulfilled by Jesus, not as it was originally written to an audience before the crucifixion.

 

Copyright 2014 AngelaJHerrington