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Posts Tagged ‘apply OT law’

Previously, I mentioned that the Mosaic Law consisted of different types of laws. While the temple and Jewish laws were specifically meant for the Israelite nation during the dispensation of law, some of these laws are extremely relevant to us today. By us, I refer specifically to Gentile believers living during this period of time- the dispensation of grace.

For the sake of convenience, I will refer to these laws as Universal Moral laws, or UM laws.

Before I begin, I would like to remind all that there is no justification through the following of the law, for our righteousness before God is not of our own, but through faith in Christ(Philippians 3:9). Instead, the grace we have received in Christ inspires us into obedience, and the law reveals the holy standard of God to which we conform ourselves to.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 was a prophecy of the time when God’s spirit will be living within us, and it places this truth aptly:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

In fact, the New Testament itself contains more than 1000 laws, outnumbering that of the OT’s of 613. All these commandments should therefore, be approached from a starting point of grace, and obeying them does not justify us any more than Christ already has for us.

Now if you would take a look at some of these UM laws, you would realize that some of them are presented in two parts, the command and the consequence for breaking the command.

 If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die.
Deutoronomy 22:22 

Other examples may be found in Leviticus 19-20.

I believe all will agree that the command part of the law is a standard of God’s holiness, which is unchanging and absolutely morally correct. It is applicable to all people, living at all periods of time.

And finally the question we are really concerned about: Should we be applying the consequence part of the law as well?

When I posed this question to the people I met, one of the most convincing responses was this;

that God’s words will were, are, and always will be perfect. His laws are not based on man, but are an intrinsic standard arising from His holiness. Therefore, all parts of the law should ideally be applied to all people. However, due to the hardness of our hearts, it is not good to apply it wholly as it may cause disagreement or rebellion.

This convinced me for a while, but I realized that I had a few problems with it.

His laws actually were based on man! From two aspects, may I persuade you-

1. The law originated because of the sinfulness of man. They needed a standard to know God’s holiness, and then be enabled to obey Him, through following the command part of the law.

2. As for the consequence, an observation from the OT is that God uses punishment to draw people back to righteousness. The consequences of the law would cause the transgressor to realize their wrong and repent, so that they will be reconciled with God. This I believe, is the higher purpose of the consequences.

3. The consequence part of the law was also God’s response to the hardness of man’s heart. When someone does something wrong against us, we desire fair judgement to be done. This is alright, but some may desire revenge, which comes from the sinful nature. In order to prevent them from exercising their own judgement, which will differ greatly and be inspired by personal motives, God gives a standard of punishment to ensure orderliness. This standard of punishment was only given to the Israelites living during the dispensation of the law. 

Thus, I believe that the consequence part of the UM laws should not be directly applied to Gentiles today;

– Because it was meant to draw people back to righteousness, and not to fulfill any requirement

– Because it depends on the judgement of man, which is variable from culture to culture, generation to generation.

In the next post, I will elaborate more on these two points, and give more substantive biblical references.

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