Christians often wonder what to make of the Old Testament laws in our New Testament era. Old Testament Israel had lots of rules that Christians don’t follow today. So are we being unfaithful? How do we understand the Old Testament Law in the New Testament?
Our first option is to follow the letter of the law. Some Christians say that the moral laws of the Old Testament still apply even if the ceremonial laws do not. But when we try to follow the law this way, our salvation becomes largely a work of earning God’s approval (rather than grace) and we become self-righteous and judgemental.
Our second option is to throw out the law entirely. Some people reason that the Law is an Old Testament reality, that we don’t need to follow since we’re under grace. The problem with this approach is that Jesus tells us it’s not right. Also, this leads us to live unchanged lives still under the corrosive power of sin.
What Jesus shows us is that to fulfill the law, to live the kind of life that the law is directing us towards, is to love our neighbours. Loving our neighbours perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the law. As Christians then, we’re meant to keep the law of love, rather than the letter of the law. This sort of law transforms our hearts into a part of God’s new creation.
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