This Law and That Law (Old Testament vs New Testament)

Some believers respond to issues in today's society and relate to the bible saying, "that was Old Testament law. We're living under the New Covenant now".

This Law and That Law (Old Testament vs New Testament)

Whenever confronted with a challenge concerning a viewpoint held by the Bible concerning today’s issues, I’ve heard a particular statement more than once. Some believers respond along the lines of “that was the Old Testament. We’re living under the New Covenant now“. Usually, the issues will have to do with something controversial, and the viewpoint held by the Bible will feel rather harsh (by man’s standards anyway). So this response is to excuse such a seemingly harsh Biblical stance, and so also as to dismiss the viewpoints of the Old Testament law and how it stands with certain issues in our “modern” times. I mean, it makes sense right, we are living under the grace of Christ now, after all. Why shouldn’t we brush Old Testament, outdated viewpoints under the rug?

The problem is, if you truly believe the above phrase is an acceptable one for issues, Satan’s already got you.

You’ve divided the Bible into “New” and “Outdated/Obsolete” portions. And he knows that within your mind, a “kingdom divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:24 NIV). If you dismiss one portion of the Word, you’ve started a domino effect in your mind that will eventually have a hard time standing up for any of it when under pressure.

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While it is true and undeniable that through Jesus, we are now under a New Covenant of Grace, statements like “that’s the old law, we don’t follow it anymore” serve to confuse unbelievers and water down the true faith. How can anyone follow a manual that its users can just cut and toss out entire sections of it at will? Worse than that, such statements are actually Biblically false. Whether they know it or not, believers are all getting this “no old laws” notion from one same central section of the Bible:

Galatians 5:

4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 6 The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. 18 …you are not under the Law.

Not an insignificant amount of the church has taken this out of context. Through poor teachings from the pulpit and self-focused logic without any course correction from reading your own Bible, people may believe that they are not under any law.  They may come to believe that the only law is love. But the problem is, when Paul wrote Galatians 5, he primarily referred to the practice of circumcision. To its relevancy towards being a follower of Christ.

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This was a ritualistic practice, an argument about an outward sign akin to today’s version of going to church dressed up or in shorts and flip flops, singing hymns or heavy metal, praying the Our Father, or praying in a prayer language, etc. Paul was stating these arguments about outward appearances have nothing to do with serving Jesus. Now under Jesus, you can be Billy Graham in a suit and tie or Todd White in dreads and flops and be equal brothers in Christ, serving Him effectively regardless of your outward appearance.

Paul was NOT talking about dismissing the core doctrines of sin and lawlessness and doing whatever you please.

We know this because these verses are literally side-by-side in the same chapter of Galatians 5:

13 …do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. 16-17 Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

It does not sound to me like Paul was throwing the entire Old Testament out the window. To me, he wasn’t saying, “all you need is love, man.”

Paul’s getting at is that if you truly give yourself over to the Spirit and are being led by it, you won’t need the law. You will already be accomplishing all the facets of the law and so much more. And if this wasn’t enough, Jesus Himself states, “I have not come to abolish the [old testament] law, but to fulfill it.” (Matthew 5:17 NIV)

So following the law is actually critical to being a Christ-follower if you do, in fact, align yourself with Jesus and His words (you can’t self-justify yourself through it). But, luckily, it isn’t all under your effort. He gives us the Spirit to help us immensely.

The next time you feel the desire to write off Biblical commandments and laws in the face of pressure in a “modern” world, remember Jesus said in John 14:15:

“If you love me, you will keep my commands.”

The root word for “keep” can be equally and additionally known as “to protect or guard.” To please Jesus, our job as believers is to actually uphold the law as truth.  Uphold it when it starts coming under fire. Do not try and brush it under the rug. Doing so is to relieve the world of its only compass when it’s lost.

Question from Jesse Hunter, the author.

What is your big takeaway from this post? Share it below!

Written by Jesse Hunter

Blessed to be married for five years to the most wonderful wife Jenna and father of two rambunctious toddlers. Passioniate about helping build stronger marriages, exposing false doctrine lovingly through study, and empowering the body of believers to be victorious throughout their walk in life.

6 thoughts on “This Law and That Law (Old Testament vs New Testament)

  1. we magnify the law or glorify or extol the law meaning to enlarge the law we are to heap praises on the law or rave about it or look up and praise God for it .

  2. We receive a new nature when we are born again. No law keeping will ever make us born again, but thru the redemption of Christ Jesus, we have been justified, for He justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4:5. Now, being born again gives us a new nature, a nature empowered by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Acts 2:33-34. If we rely on the Holy Spirit, we will bear the fruit of and from the Holy Spirit; it is called “being LED by the Spirit.” In Rom.7 Paul explains what it was like to try and obey the law without the Spirit. He called himself “wretched” and expressed how miserable he felt in his failed efforts; this state he was in was called “walking in the flesh.” (trying to obey God in his own efforts.) As Christians we have been born of “incorruptible seed,” it is this seed in us that CAUSES us NOT to remain in sin as spoken in 1 John 4. So to say we should be doing this and doing that as outlined by Peter, Paul, James and John is true, but we must realize it is the Spirit who gives life to us thru this new birth. And a set of rules by itself never brought life to anyone, rather the letter kills, (the Spirit gives life) . So in summary, do your best daily to practice goodness, but thank God daily for the new nature in you that is working in you both to WILL and TO DO of His good pleasure. And remember, Jesus in His death took away your sins, past, present and future and in His resurrection justified you and seated you in heavenly places for all time. But if you stop believing this doctrine of justification thru the death and resurrection of Jesus on your behalf, then you will be judged as a sinner, because you no longer have a mediator between you and God. You do not want to reject the Christ Jesus as the Lamb slain on your behalf who saves you from your lawlessness and makes you right with God for all time. For we are justified by faith in our Saviour, and no law keeping in itself will ever make you right with God.

  3. I am really trying to understand the OT vs NT. So we are still under the law. Yet I hear people saying there is no reference to the OT in the NT. I need more references to truly understand.

  4. Pingback: What You Need to Know About Paul and His Letter to The Galatians
  5. This is an important point to make as many are quick to dismiss the Old Testament because parts are hard to understand. Those who would say that we are no longer under the Law need to be reminded of the importance to study the Old Testament, since Jesus referenced it constantly. We only have a one-sided view of our salvation if we don’t understand it!

  6. You bring up a super important point here… The new testament without the old testament honestly doesn’t work. We live by grace, but the foundation is the law!

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