God’s Laws in the Old Testament
God gave Israel in the Old Testament the following laws:
- The great moral code of the Ten Commandments which is the standard of a godly life (Exodus 20: 3-17).
- The civil statutes of the moral code to the Jewish state (Exodus).
- The statutes that were to govern the symbolic ritual of sacrifices and offerings pointing forward to the great sacrifice of Christ (Exodus, Leviticus) .
- The health laws (Genesis 1:29; 2:16; 7:1, 2; Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, etc.).
The Lord had told the Israelites at Sinai that if they would be obedient to all His laws, they would eat the good of the land and be His people forever (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Unfortunately, the Israelites wrongly believed that they were able of themselves to give such obedience (Exodus 19:8). Consequently, they failed. But the Lord wanted them to rely on Him for power in order to keep His law (Deuteronomy 20:4; Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 39:7).
Which Laws Are Still Binding in the New Testament?
- The ceremonial laws ceased for Christ’s sacrifice took the place of animal sacrifices. “Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances;” “having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14-16).
- The civil laws lost their significance for ancient Israel ended as a nation, or state, in 70 AD by the Romans. And spiritual Israel (the world church) took its place, which is ruled by world civil governments.
- The moral law – the Ten Commandments – is still binding today. For Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17,18).
The Ten Commandments are no longer written on two tables of stone but are written in the hearts of men. The believers, who are “justified by faith” (v. 24) in Christ, become new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17), with the law of God written in their minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:10). And thus “the righteousness [or “requirements”] of the law” is “fulfilled” in them (Romans 8:4).
- The health laws remain binding today for the death of Christ did not in any way affect or change them. These health laws are for all people for all time.
God’s Grants Power to Obey His Law
God sent His Son to the world, so that men might be enabled to obey His holy law. To bring man’s life in line with the divine will is the goal of the plan of salvation. God did not give His Son in order to change or abolish His law, or to free men from the necessity of perfect obedience (Romans 3:31). The law has always stood as an expression of the unchangeable will and character of God (Romans 7:12; Psalm 19:7) . But fallen man has not been able to obey the commands, and the law has no power to help him obey (John 15:5). But now Christ has come to enable man to obey His commands (Philippians 4:13).
Some have wrongly understood Paul statements regarding the law and they thought that he freed men from its requirements. So, Paul clarified, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). Paul only “made void” of the Jewish concept of law as a means of attaining righteousness (Acts 15:1; Galatians 2:16–19). But he confirmed the law in its true purpose that is to point sin in the life then lead people to Christ for cleansing (Galatians 3:24).
All the Scriptures confirm the need for entire transformation and perfect obedience (Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 4:12, 13; Colossians 1:28; 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 6:1; 13:21). God requires perfection of His children (Matthew 5:48). And the perfect life of Christ in His humanity is God’s assurance to us that by HIS POWER, we too may attain to perfection of character. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
In His service,
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