How do we deal with the Old Testament Law today?

The eight chapters of Deuteronomy 19-26 contain over 60 diverse and detailed laws. How do we decide which ones are relevant today? Pastor David gave eight main guidelines.

1. The law was not given as a way of salvation. It was given to the already redeemed people of God. It was not a path to becoming rescued, but how to live as God’s treasured possession. The passage Deuteronomy 26:16-19 was read:

"THIS DAY THE LORD YOUR GOD COMMANDS YOU TO OBEY ALL THESE RULES AND LAWS. BE CAREFUL TO OBEY THEM WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL. TODAY YOU HAVE ANNOUNCED THAT THE LORD IS YOUR GOD. YOU HAVE SAID YOU WOULD LIVE EXACTLY AS HE WANTS YOU TO LIVE. YOU HAVE AGREED TO KEEP HIS RULES, COMMANDS AND LAWS. AND YOU HAVE SAID YOU WOULD LISTEN TO HIM"

Deuteronomy 26:16-17

2. The law revealed what God required at a particular time and in a particular context, to serve a specific role in God’s redemptive purposes. We who live after Jesus need to discover the law in the New Testament.

3. As Jesus Himself said, He did not come to abolish the law. And Paul said that all Scripture was God-breathed, referring to the Old Testament.

4. The law in the New Testament embodies and promotes love in action. Jesus identified the greatest commandments as to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. He then said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commands, therefore they are not to be dismissed.

5. The law pointed ahead to Jesus. After the resurrection, to two disheartened disciples on the road to Emmaus,

"JESUS EXPLAINED … WHAT WAS SAID ABOUT HIMSELF IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES. HE BEGAN WITH MOSES" (the law?)

Luke 24:27

6. The law was fulfilled by Jesus. He said:

“DO NOT THINK THAT I HAVE COME TO ABOLISH THE LAW OR THE PROPHETS; I HAVE NOT COME TO ABOLISH THEM BUT TO FULFIL THEM.” (i.e. to bring them to their intended goal.)

Matthew 5:17

Jesus has fulfilled the law; therefore it is no longer relevant to us in the same way it was relevant to the people of Israel. Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, we are the redeemed people of God. It is not about anything we do; it is simply the grace of God.

7. Therefore, Christians do not live under the law.

"WE ARE RELEASED FROM THE LAW, HAVING DIED TO THAT WHICH HELD US CAPTIVE, SO THAT WE SERVE IN THE NEW WAY OF THE SPIRIT AND NOT IN THE OLD WAY OF THE WRITTEN CODE"

Romans 7:6

Yet the law still provides guidance on how to live. It still has principles to apply and is not totally redundant.

8. The laws in these eight chapters of Deuteronomy provide principles for holiness. In both Old and New Testaments, God’s treasured people are called to live differently from their neighbours, being devoted to God.

For the Israelites this was possible because of God’s saving grace via the exodus. For us, it is possible because of God’s saving grace via Jesus. The law reflected the character of God. Today Christians can read the laws such as those in Deuteronomy 19-26 to discover how we can reflect the holiness of God by our behaviour. We should long to do this because the law has now been written on our hearts (through Jesus’ astonishing love for us). Without Jesus the law will never make sense. But for those who live for Him, every aspect of Scripture, including the law, becomes a guiding light towards our Promised Land.

Christine Thompson

Christine Thompson

I’m Christine and I’ve been at Windsor for 37 years! Now retired, I have taught languages to adults (mainly) and was also an administrator at Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. I love poetry and hiking, especially by the sea.
Christine Thompson
I’m Christine and I’ve been at Windsor for 37 years! Now retired, I have taught languages to adults (mainly) and was also an administrator at Prison Fellowship, a Christian outreach to prisoners and their families. I love poetry and hiking, especially by the sea.