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Out with the Old, In with the New From the “Ears to Hear” series.

2.17.2023

 

Editors note: From time to time we will tackle, difficult, thought provoking, and even controversial subjects within Christian culture. At times we will go against the popular conceptions and teachings of today, but ALL these writings will be based on Scripture that is rightly divided.

 

Have you ever noticed there is much disagreement in the Christian world about those ‘other laws.’ I am not talking about the Ten Commandments, I am talking about the laws dealing with what we eat and what we wear, those more obscure laws found deep in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Many will be surprised to find there are over six hundred laws that Israel had to follow- ALL OF THEM;

 

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. James 2:10

 

So, what is it that causes so many today to feel as though we can ignore some of the laws but not others? Here are a few popular examples. Hardly anyone would have an issue with the fact I ate bacon this morning, but if I said I used the money I should have given the church (my tithe) to buy that bacon they would go ballistic. No one would say anything about my shirt which is made from different materials (yes there was a law against that) but would blow a fuse if I took off my shirt to expose tattoos on my back shoulders (yes, they are innocent and tasteful). Is it right to pick and choose? I would say no, in fact, we don’t have to follow any of the Laws. Hold on! This is where you need ‘ears to hear.’

 

Jesus loved to speak in parables. He did so because He wanted people to come seek the truth. He wanted people to thirst and hunger and not just want things handed to them. One of the parables alluded to what His purpose was in coming. It makes it clear that something was going to give. Something new was coming and something had to happen to the old;

 

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matthew 13:51-52

 

Jesus asked His followers if they understood the previous parables which spoke about hidden treasures and valuable pearls. Jesus also spoke of people being separated at the end by those who were righteous and those who were evil. Jesus was speaking of the valuable new covenant- one worth giving up everything for- including the old Law. He was making it clear that a decision would have to be made, it would be ONE OR THE OTHER. It would have to be the way He was providing or sticking to the Law.  Then He asked His Disciples if they were getting it. They say yes and He follows it up by making a profound statement. It is profound because He is clearly telling them a point was coming when they would have to bring out the new with the old. Here is the interesting thing… the word He used for ‘old’ has very negative connotations. He was telling them when they weighed the decision to choose the new or old, they wanted to choose the new. Jesus was telling them they would want to ‘sell off the old’ like the parable of the man who found the treasure in the ground and sold all he had. Like the man who found the valuable pearl and sold all he had and bought it. A separation would take place in the end, and it would come down to who gets it. The Law was not the answer- not any part of the Law!

 

What do we have to get? Here is what we must get. The Old Covenant (Law) was based on what people had to do. The pressure was on us. It was impossible, but we had to try. That is whey we cannot hold on to any part of it because Jesus came to bring something totally new. John made sure this was understood at the beginning of his Gospel;

 

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

 

John is making a clear distinction- the same distinction Jesus made, the same distinction Paul made;

 

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Rom 6:14

 

While the Old Covenant was based on what we did, the important thing WE MUST understand with the New Covenant is that Jesus did the work for us. That is so critical. Yet, many hold on to the Law (our effort) as though they think Jesus didn’t do enough. The writer of Hebrews was addressing this to the Jews who were holding on to the Law;

 

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. Heb 7:18-19

 

In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. Heb 8:13

 

The writer states the Law has been annulled because of its weakness and unprofitableness, the New Covenant has made the first (Law) obsolete. There is no ambiguity here and that is why we must place our faith in Him and what He did in fulfilling the Law for us. It as though He snuck into our SAT test in High School and got a perfect score for us when we would have bombed it because we were hung over from a night of binge drinking. He did something for us that we could not possibly do for ourselves. When we go back to the Law we demonstrate a lack of understanding, faith, and appreciation. It would be like stumbling into the end of the SAT test session when Jesus is almost done getting a perfect test score and moving Him out of the way and going back and changing His answers. It just doesn’t make sense.

 

Now, back to the Law and what it means not to have to follow any of it. People just can’t fathom the idea we don’t have to follow the Law. It is as though we must have something we have to adhere to or else we will mess up and sin. Hmm… I am pretty sure people sinned without any trouble before God gave the Law, just ask Cain. The Law has nothing to do with preventing sin, it only helped us understand what sin is;

 

 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” Rom 7:7

 

So, what causes us not to sin if it isn’t the Law? Love! Jesus actually said there were only two laws that mattered;

 

So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Luke 10:27

 

When we allow the love of God through Christ to penetrate our lives through the grace of salvation it causes us to naturally love God and those around us as well. Jesus was saying that when you really think about it, the Law was all about love and the only way to truly love is to have Christ in us. This is what John said. He tells us that when we have Christ in us, we naturally love God which means we follow His word and proves we are His;

 

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 1 John 2:5

 

When we are saved by His grace His love overwhelms us and our heart’s desire becomes set on following His word- which is all about loving Him and others. We don’t need the Law when the writer of the Law lives in us! This is why we don’t need to follow the Law;

 

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Gal 5:16

 

How wonderful and amazing! The Law is not for us who are in Christ, we have something far greater- grace. Grace propels us to follow the Spirit and the Spirit will never lead us astray!

 

Prayer focus: for those who can’t seem to break free from the chains of the Law

 

 

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