Which Old Testament Laws Apply to Christians Today? - Introduction
When Christians read the Old Testament, they are often puzzled. They find many laws that seem to be part of Christianity, and yet they also find many laws that no one obeys. Laws of sacrifice, rituals and civil laws are all mixed in together with laws that tell people how to get along with others.
How can a Christian know which laws to keep? Does the Bible tell us? This Bible study course explores this topic in detail. You will need to look up each of the scriptures you find listed, because we have not taken the space to quote them. But it is worth the time to learn about how we ought to obey our Creator and Savior. We'll begin with some general principles so that we lay a good foundation for discussing specific laws later in this study.
First, we will establish from Scripture that Christians are expected to obey God. Then we will look at God's laws — starting in the time before Moses, then a closer look at the covenant made at Mt. Sinai. We will see how Jesus, Paul and the early church deal with the difference between old and new, then explore that difference with a few examples of laws that almost all Christians agree are obsolete. We then apply those principles to the seven annual Sabbaths, dietary laws, and the weekly Sabbath. We close by noting some of the commands the New Testament gives us, and end by emphasizing that, although Christians should obey God, our salvation is received on the basis of faith, not on the basis of our obedience.
Letter From the Executive Editor
We have published dozens of booklets and hundreds of articles about the weekly Sabbath, the annual festivals and dietary laws. Unfortunately, most of the literature we published did not adequately take into account the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant.
We were eager to keep God's law, but we did not clearly understand which laws were given to Christians and which were not. We struggled with sabbatical years, hybrid animals, hybrid seeds, mixed fabrics and other peripheral issues. We struggled to determine whether certain laws were ceremonial, civil, moral, economic or health. We struggled to understand and explain various New Testament verses that seemed to contradict our conclusions. As the years went by, we discovered that some of our explanations were not adequate.
Through it all, we rarely attempted to deal with the concept of covenants, even though this is the framework in which God gave his laws to ancient Israel. Often, we acted as if we were still under the old covenant. Later, we acknowledged that the old covenant had ended and that Christians should live by the principles of the new covenant, but we still did not clarify how to tell which old covenant laws are also in the new covenant.
Of course, we are not the only Christians who have struggled with such concerns. Many Bible-believing people have found it difficult to reconcile biblical laws with Christian practice. They struggle with the tension between Old Testament law and the New Testament emphasis on grace. They struggle with the interpretation of certain verses.
This Bible study course is published with the hope and prayer that it will help all who want to understand this subject better. It is written in a style and format that is familiar to many of our members. It deals with subjects that are familiar to many members.
But the course may help many other Christians understand this subject better, too. We believe that our struggles with this subject have helped us ask the right questions, to examine the foundation and the framework of God's laws. We believe that this approach will help many Christians understand which Old Testament laws apply to Christians today regardless of whether they have ever kept any of these laws.
Equally sincere Christians can come to different conclusions on these matters. Thankfully, our salvation does not depend on us having a perfect understanding of these laws. We should not condemn those who understand them differently. But for ourselves, it is helpful for us to understand how conclusions are drawn from the biblical revelation. The series of studies in this Bible study course will help Christians not only in their relationship with God but also with one another as we all strive to respond with love to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be all praise and allegiance.