Christians and the Old Testament Law

Posted on February 6, 2013

As we have been working through Galatians, I have received many great questions about a Christian’s relationship with the Old Testament Law.  If that is something you are interested in researching more, here are links to some great resources (along with some key quotes).

The Mosaic Law: Its Function and Purpose in the New Testament
Study By: J. Hampton Keathley, III

(This is an exhaustive study of a Christian’s relationship to the Law through a careful study of the New Testament)

Grace becomes an absolutely inseparable part of the believer’s life in Christ. In the coming of Christ and His death on the cross, the Mosaic Law as a rule of life was terminated. The believer is now to live in the liberty and power of God’s grace by the Spirit, not the rule of law. This new liberty must never be used as an occasion to indulge the flesh or sinful appetites (Gal. 5:13) nor does it mean the Christian has no moral law or imperatives on his life, but simply that he or she is to live righteously by a new source of life as asserted in Romans 8.

How should New Testament Believers relate to the OT Law?

(This is a brief overview of a Christian’s relationship to the Law)

The Law is still good from the standpoint of its main function and purpose as seen above in The Purpose and Function of the Law (I Tim. 1:8-10; James 2:1-10; Gal. 5:1-3; 6:1). This is how James uses the Law, to reveal their sin (James 2:9), and to get them out of self-righteous legalism and move them out in faith.

What does it mean that Jesus fulfilled the law, but did not abolish it?

If…the law of Moses bears the same relationship to men today, in terms of its binding status, then it was not fulfilled, and Jesus failed at what He came to do. On the other hand, if the Lord did accomplish His goal, then the law was fulfilled, and it is not a binding legal institution today.

Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament law?

The purpose of the Old Testament law is to convict people of our inability to keep the law and point us to our need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 7:7-9; Galatians 3:24). The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.