The Old Testament
God’s Foundation for Truth

by Larry C. Hamner

January 31, 2009

The Old and The New

Many Christians take a belittling approach to the Old Testament, with an emphatic and visceral rejection of it’s five books of law; making it seem as though the New Covenant Church should reject it completely. Those who whole such a view put themselves at odds with much of the New Testament teachings, concerning the usefulness and value of The Law.

“And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”(Luke 4:4KJV)

Should we now reject this notion and live by only some of God’s word? Was Jesus Wrong in his retort to Satan?

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. (Romans 7:12KJV)”

Paul acknowledges the holiness of the law. Shouldn’t the Christian Churches do the same?

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 KJV)

Paul in his second letter to Timothy chapter three verses fourteen thru seventeen encourages Timothy that along with what he has already learned from the scriptures, (Old Testament writings including the five books of law), to continue in the things that he has been taught. Paul then merges the Old Testament teachings with those of the New Testament by stating that through faith in Christ Jesus they will make Timothy wise unto salvation. He then endorses the Old Testament and its teachings as being good for use as church doctrine. Why won’t the Christian Church do the same? Not only that he further states that the scriptures are suitable for instructions in righteousness, in other words how to live right. In summary Paul tells Timothy that the scripture is his “how-to-guide” regarding God’s will for his life and that faith in Christ Jesus is his “power-to-source”. Without controversy Paul preached against the idea that one could earn salvation through legalistic observance of the law. To rely upon the keeping of any law to make one righteous in God’s eyes, instead of faith in Christ, is legalism. However, he never taught against the notion that the law is an important and necessary part of the life of any believer. Paul never preached destruction of the law but rather taught changes to certain portions of the law.

Change not Abrogation

A very great mistake has been made in the Christian Churches about the law. There are many who believe and teach that the law has been utterly abrogated and abolished. They teach that the New Testament Church is not bound to make the moral law the rule of their lives. What is sin to others they count to be no sin in themselves; they labor under the false concept that all Christian sin is covered by the blood of Jesus. What they fail to see and understand is that we are not under the law as the method of salvation, but rather yet, that Christ is and always has been the path to salvation. Consequently the modern Christian faith, because of this grossly misconceived notion of abrogation of the law, the New Testament Church has been relegated to a “pick and choose” religion. Thus sin becomes a subjective and relative concept rather then a violation of God’s moral law.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4KJV)

The Apostle John’s statement reinforces the idea of a perpetual law ever standing as the identifier of sin. So then the law was not destroyed but put under the authority of Christ resulting in a change from Aaron and the Levitical Priesthood.

“For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” (Hebrews 7:12 KJV)

It is evidenced throughout the New Testament that there was a change in the priesthood and not an abrogation. This pattern is also true with other aspects of the law. Look at the following examples.

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV)

Again we see not dissolution of the lamb and the feast but rather a change. Judging by the teachings of the Christian Churches one is lead to believe Paul said there is no longer a Passover and we are not to keep the feast. When in fact he clearly states the opposite. So then the lamb of the law is replaced by Christ and the feast of unleavened bread is kept but not with old leaven. Once again the New Testament expressing changes not abolition.

“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Hebrews 10:5-9KJV)

Hebrews tenth chapter verses five thru nine again reinforces a pattern that repeats it’s self throughout the New Testament. That is to say, wherever changes were made to the old law then a clear establishment of its replacement was stated in the New Testament and witnesses by the teaches of the law and the prophets. Still not convinced? Let’s look at a couple more examples.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”(Romans 2:29KJV)

Once again we see not a destruction of circumcision but a change from that of a physical nature to one of spiritual. This by the way is an expression of God’s true sentiment and intent concerning the law of circumcision.

“Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:” (Deuteronomy 10:15-17 KJV)

“And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6 KJV)

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” (Jeremiah 4:4 KJV)

So here again the law is not abrogated but changed and echoes the true teachings and spirit of the Law of Moses. How about another example of the change rather than abrogation pattern set forth in the New Testament? Take a look.

“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” (Hebrews 13:10-15 KJV)

Although the changes set forth in Hebrews thirteenth chapter verses ten thru fifteen are not as clearly delineated they are nevertheless just as sure. Change number one with some explanation.

“Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.” (Numbers 5:2-3 KJV)

“For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.” (Deuteronomy 23:14 KJV)

“And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.” (Joshua 6:18 KJV)

“Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.” (Numbers 35:34 KJV)

In the wilderness Israel was commanded by God to keep their camps free of all manner of uncleanliness. Thus the laws of purification were enacted. These same rules were to be observed in the Promised Land that God's presence would continually dwell among them. The sanctuary of the New Testament Church was established by Christ outside the camp and the promise land is now the same heavenly city sought by our father Abraham, a city whose builder and maker is God.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:8-16 KJV)

So the New Testament Church has neither camp nor city to keep undefiled making it necessary for a change in the law concerning the purity of the camp. Once again we see a change not an abrogation. Another subtle change that should be noted is the sanctification of the unclean. There's no longer a need for washing and waiting until evening or any other specified time of separation outside the camp. The sanctification process is now through the all purpose cleanser “the blood of Jesus”.

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10 KJV)

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22 KJV)

Make no mistake there is still a need for sanctification, however, the process has changed. Yes we still wash but with pure water, which is baptism in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus who is Christ.

Genesis to Revelation

In summary the pattern throughout the New Testament concerning the law is one of necessary changes not abrogation. So with the changes set forth in the writings of the Apostles we see the words of Jesus being echoed.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 KJV)

Filter the Law of Moses through the changes of the New Testament and what you have left in the words of James is the perfect law of liberty.

“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:12 KJV)

Christ came to magnify the law and render it perfect. Instead of abolishing the law, He clarified the erroneous beliefs of the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders. Who are the initiators and perpetuators of the same flawed theology that many whole today; that the Old Testament law teaches salvation by works when in fact the law and the prophets point to Jesus as Lord and savior and has never espoused salvation through works. Righteousness by faith is and always has been an Old Testament tenant. Unlike the Pharisee Jesus understood the law; consequently He taught that hate and anger are the same as murder and lust as adultery. As does the law Christ taught that sin is not simply what you do, but also what you think and why. Actions, motives, desires and the good you neglected to do are also violations of God’s law. The New Testament under the authority of Christ; unlike the Pharisees teaches that the essence of law is that we should do good not simply avoid bad. The changes to the law as well as the writings of the New Testament both derive their authority from the Old Testament.

“Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”(John 5:39 KJV)

In John five and thirty nine Jesus tells the Jews that the idea of a legalistic approach to salvation is not a valid one but rather the scriptures testifies of salvation through the coming messiah. Salvation by works of the law is not a tenant of the Old Testament. The law as well as the prophets teaches that Jew and Gentile would gain salvation through the messiah.

“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;” (Romans 3:21KJV)

“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:17-21 KJV)

The bible has an unbroken chain of authority that is consistent in its teaching; The Old Testament, then Jesus, then the disciples. Although there are changes to the law brought on by the life, death and resurrection of Christ they all have their foundation in the Old Testament. So then not only is the law a valid source for teaching Christian conduct and ethics it is the foundation for all we believe to be holy and righteous. I close with the words of the great evangelist C. H. Spurgeon in regards to the perpetuity of the law. “It is not to be toned down or adjusted to our fallen condition; but every one of the Lord’s righteous judgments abideth forever.”

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