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 How the Old Testament Applies Today

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PostSubject: How the Old Testament Applies Today   Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:24 am

Many Christians are not sure about how the Old Testament applies to us today. I have heard some say that the Old Testament (OT) is not relevant. They say that it is not relevant on three fronts: 1) Jesus Christ is the end of the law; therefore we no longer need the OT; 2) The New Testament (NT) is about faith; the Old Testament is about the law; 3) The OT is an ancient Zeitgeist. It simply does not apply today because the world is different today. It applies to Israel’s ancient times, and not to us.

I would like summarize why and how the OT applies to us today and dispel these notions of its irrelevance. I will also explain the purpose of the law, which will help solidify everyone’s understanding of the OT.

During the Apostle Paul’s day, Paul also had to deal with this issue. He says in Romans 3:31, “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

Paul, you want us to uphold the law? Do you know what you are saying? If you do, how much of the law do we uphold? Surely you don’t mean for us to uphold all of the law. Paul, let me show you something about this OT law that you want us to continue: Deuteronomy 22:22 says, “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.” So Paul, do you want us to kill the person who is guilty of adultery? We just don’t do that today.

Let me show you some more about the OT: Deuteronomy 13:6 reads, “If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”….You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD you God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Here is the ultimate one Paul…in Deuteronomy 21:18 it reads, “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.” Paul, you want us to kill our own children if they simply disobey us?

And then there are OT scriptures that just don’t seem to have retained meaning today, such as, Leviticus 19:27, “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.” Leviticus 19:19 reads, “Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.”

Lastly, Numbers 15:32-36 tells of a man who was stoned to death according to the Law for gathering wood on the Sabbath day. And not to even mention all of the ordinances and rituals that the law tells us to keep observing. (And note Leviticus 19:37 commands that we are to keep ALL of His decrees and laws.)

With these verses in mind, it is easy to see why some Christians assume that we are to no longer concern ourselves with the OT. But I submit to you that all of God’s laws and commands from the OT are still in effect today. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “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.” Jesus says that the OT law is not abolished, but rather fulfilled. This means that the law is still in effect; it’s just been fulfilled. When it comes to a command that gives the consequence of death, Jesus fulfilled that punishment for us. Therefore if a child disobeys his or her parents today, we no longer need to take them to the elders and have them stoned because Jesus took their place on the cross and fulfilled that punishment requirement. That requirement still stands: someone must die. It is just that Jesus became that person for us and died in the guilty person’s place. Is it a sin to cut our facial hair, or to wear clothing woven of two different kinds of material? Yes, but the consequence of the sin has fallen on Jesus. In fact, it is a sin to not follow everything written in the law; therefore we are all guilty of negligence all the time. The OT is still a great text and has many commands that we need to continue to follow. It is not irrelevant.

The OT is not an outdated book. The bible says that God is an unchanging God. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Some even look at some parts of the NT as outdated. Take a look at 1 Timothy 2:11, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” This is one passage that many today disagree with, and pass off as “culturally outdated.” I just want to point out Paul’s reference for saying what he said. He appeals to Adam and Eve in verses 13-14, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” Clearly, Paul did not think that God was any different between yesterday and today, especially if he goes way back to the first generation of mankind to make his case. We therefore, cannot label the OT or NT as “outdated” because what happened back in Adam and Eve’s day, still applies to us today.

Finally, what exactly is the purpose of the law? The bible gives several reasons for the law. Deuteronomy 6:25 says, “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” I like the way the bible is particular with its words. This verse says that if we obey ALL the law, then that will be our righteousness. As we know, and as James 2:10 tells us, no one is able to obey all the law. Therefore, this seems to be a paradox to obtain righteousness. It seems futile to even give them the law at all. But the law was never given for man to obey it all. And the law was never given to make us righteous. The law cannot make mankind righteous.

Romans 5:12-14, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.”
The above passage tells us that sin is not taken into account without the law, but death reigns over those who sin regardless of whether or not they have the law. Romans 5:20 says, “The law was added so that sin might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” This verse simply means that the law revealed to us what God deems as sin, hence increasing sin. The law increased our sin because it points out what sin is so that we can know what displeases God. The law is like a speed limit sign. How will I know how fast to drive without the sign telling me what the law is? The 35 mile per hour speed limit sign increases sin in me because I now know that I am driving 5 miles per hour too fast. Whether or not I see the speed limit sign is irrelevant. I am still breaking the law going 40. Paul states it another way in Romans 3:20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

For the sake of condensing this, I won’t go over it, but I ask that you read Romans 7:7-13.

Hebrews gives more insight into the meaning of the law. Hebrews 9:13 reads, “The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.” The commandment of the sacrifices of animals were only to make the people outwardly clean, but did nothing to purifying their inner-selves. Hebrews 10:3 reads, “But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Hebrews also says that we no longer need a priest because Jesus is our Most High Priest.

What is the purpose of the articles and layout God commanded the OT people to put in the sanctuary? Hebrews 8:5 tells us, “They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” Colossians 2:16-17 says something similar pertaining to the Sabbath and festivals.

The OT has relevance and is pertinent to today. Understanding Jesus’ role in fulfilling what we could not fulfill ourselves brings light to how to read and apply the OT to our lives today.
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PostSubject: Re: How the Old Testament Applies Today   Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:48 pm

I found where I addressed this topic on a different occasion. It says basically the same thing, but I actually like this version better:

Great post, and great questions. There are many things in Leviticus that sound absurd, and that we no longer do. I hope that I can shed some light on the reason for this. I do assert that the book of Leviticus is canon, it is God inspired, it is the Word of God, and it is all infallibly accurate. Its application is what must be explained. That Leviticus is true is proven when Jesus quotes it. Pertaining to something else, Jesus said, "If it were not so I would have told you." So naturally, if Leviticus was not a legit book, Jesus would have told us. Jesus does quote Leviticus. He quoted Leviticus 19:18 in Matthew 19:19. The Old Testament that Jesus and His disciples used was the complete Old Testament that we have today. Jesus did not express a need to modify it for any errors. The Apostle Paul quotes Leviticus 18:5 in Galatians 3:12. So the authenticity of the book was confirmed by Jesus and Paul. Moses historically is charged with writing the book.

In fact the bible affirms that all scripture is God ordained. I'm sure you know these scriptures already, but it fits to quote them here:

2 Peter 2:4-"For prophesy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."

2 Timothy 3:16-"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..."

Psalm 119:138-"The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy.

Psalm 119:160-"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal."
So we now raise the question about the strange verses presented in Leviticus. Here I'll present some strange examples that I found:

Leviticus 19:19-"...Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."

Leviticus 19:27-"Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard."

Leviticus 19:28-"Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."
And it is not just Leviticus that we can pick on, but we can pick on all of the Law books.

Deuteronomy 22:22-"If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel."
How about this one concerning disobedient children:

Deuteronomy 21:18-"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.' Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid."

And unfortunately, God holds His people to obey every single thing He says. Deuteronomy 27:28-"Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out."

This shows how holy God is and how much He cannot live with sin. All of these laws were required for the sole reason to propitiate the wrath of His holiness.

I submit to you that the entire law is not obsolete and is still required by God. Please let me explain.
Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, "Do not think I that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."

All of Moses' commandments are still required. They have just been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. In other words, Jesus is continually doing the Law of God for the Christian. A child does not have to get stoned today, not because that is no longer required by the law, but rather because Jesus now stands in that child's place, and He became the law for that child. Galatians 3:13 says, "Christ redeemed us form the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." That curse is found in Deut 21:23. No one could possibly keep all of God's laws. That is why all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Since one of his laws is to keep them all that means if you are not doing everything in the law, you broke the one that says to keep them all and you broke the one you were negligent for.

Paul gives the purpose of the law: Galatians 3:19-"What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come." How would we know what sin is if there was no law to tell us? How would I know that I'm breaking the speed limit if they did not post the signs on the street? The law was given to show us our sins. Christ keeps the law for us. It was never intended that we keep all the law. God knew the need to send Jesus before the beginning of the world.

Paul says in Romans 5:20 this need for the law: "The law was added so that the trespass might increase..." This simply means that without the law we would not know what sin is. When the law came, man's awareness of his or her sins increased because now they know what is asked of them from God. The verse goes on, "But where sin increased, grace increased all the more." God's grace (the gift of His Son) overcomes our sins so that the law no longer has a hold on us.

I like Galatians 3:23-"Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed." It goes on to say, "So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law."

Galatians 2:15-16-"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' [all non-Jews] know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."

Raises the question: so if Jesus fulfilled the law, how do we know which law to still do today and which is no longer required to do because of Jesus' fulfillment. There are still (what we would consider) good laws, such as: "Thou shalt not murder." "Do not defraud your neighbor or rob him." "Do not pervert justice." "Do not seek revenge." These are all good laws! How do we pick and choose??? Answer: Here is the basic rule: Whenever there is a law requires us to become clean, know that that law has been fulfilled in Jesus. So, God in the Old Testament said certain foods are unclean. In the New Testament, Jesus' death and resurrection made all foods clean, so that law was simply fulfilled through His sacrifice. The disobedient child who disobeyed his or her parents was unclean so he or she had to die by stoning. Jesus made us clean through faith in Him. So Jesus fulfilled the need of punishment. It was required that the people continually sacrifice animals to God to stay clean, but again, Jesus being the True Sacrifice, keeps this law for us too.

The law was only fulfilled. It was not abolished. So wearing tattoos is still a sin. Disobeying parents, of course is sin. But the punishment of those sins fell on Jesus Christ if you believe in Him to be your Savior. We no longer have to die because He died for us. I hope I explained this well. Please ask if you have any further questions.
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