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Saturday, December 20 2014 @ 07:34 AM CST

Is the Christian subject to the Old Testament, the New Testament or both?

Bible Study MaterialsJake Taft answers the question "Should the Christian try to keep both the Old and the New Testament laws? If not, which one should we strive to follow?"

The Christian is under the authority of the New Testament. The Old Testament was God's law for the Jews and even they are no longer subject to it, as we'll see further down. Christ did away with the old law when he was crucified. Ephesians 2:15-16 says, "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby". We can see this also in Colossians 2:14, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. The book of Hebrews explains this subject very well. Let's look at what it has to say. Hebrews 8:6-7 says that Christ had "obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant (testament), which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant (testament) had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second". I won't quote them here, but further down in the same chapter in verses 8-12, the Hebrew writer quotes from Jeremiah 31:31-34. The prophet says that the time will come when God will make a new covenant with his people, this is the New Testament. If you would like a lot more proof that the old law has been done away, read Hebrews chapters 8-10. These show in great detail that we are no longer under the old law, but the new.

Some people say that the old law was indeed "nailed to the cross", but then they will turn around and say that we are still under the ten commandments. They claim that the ten commandments is the law of God and the rest of the old law is the law of Moses. This isn't true. Where did Moses get the law? He got it from God. Nehemiah 8:1-2 reads, "And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month." Here we see Ezra reading to the people from the law of Moses (which God had given him, thereby making it God's law). Now let's move down to verse 8 of the same chapter. Here we read a summary of the first 7 verses of chapter 8. The verse says, "So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading". Here it says that Ezra read from the law of God, but in verse 1 it says the law of Moses. These two terms are used simultaneously proving that the law of God and the law of Moses are the same thing. So is it ok for us to kill or steal or lie now? Of course not. Some laws in the old testament have been restated in the new because they are morally good. All of the ten commandments except for one are restated in the New Testament. Most of them can be found in Romans 13:9-10 and the rest of them can be found in Ephesians 6:1-3 and Matthew 19:3-9. The only one not mentioned is the keeping of the sabbath day (which is a topic of discussion unto itself).

So then, you may be asking yourself, why do we have a record of the old law? The Old Testament was given to us to show us many things. It shows us how we got here and what our purpose is while we're here. It shows us that God is a loving and merciful God and that he will keep his promises. It also shows us that he can and does punish those who disobey him, but if they repent and do his will he will forgive them. It tells us of the promised messiah (Christ) who would come and set up a kingdom (the Church) that will never be destroyed. Romans 15:4 tells us that "whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope". In addition to giving us hope, it was to prepare us for Christ, as can be seen in Galatians 3:23-25, "But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster".

In conclusion, the Christian is not subject to the old law, only the new. We have the Old Testament to build our faith in God and his promises. I'll leave you with the message that Paul gave Timothy before he died in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth".