One of the most popular questions on our interactive Bible site, eBible.com, is if Christians have to obey the Old Testament Law. This is a highly contested topic, even amongst different denominations that have similar core beliefs. In this particular case, the question isn’t just referring to the 10 commandments, but rather the whole of the law that was given to the Israelites throughout the Torah.
As you can expect, the answers vary widely, some yes, some no, some attacking the question from a different angle completely. I’ve summarized two of the top answers below, but you can click here for the original question and get the full discussion with dozens of comments.
Should Christians Obey OT Law? NO.
Michael S. Houden argues that none of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. He goes on to say, “The key to understanding the relationship between the Christian and the Law is knowing that the Old Testament law was given to the nation of Israel, not to Christians. Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on Christians today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).
“In place of the Old Testament law, Christians are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it.”
Should Christians Obey OT Law? YES.
Jason Dalrymple has some different thoughts on this topic. He starts out quoting John 14:15, “If you love me keep my commandments.” In other words, we do not keep the law to be saved, we keep the law because we are saved!
Jason further explains, “The law is at the very foundation of heaven, happiness, and God’s government. However we could not fulfill the requirements of this law because our human nature weakened by sin, nor could we make atonement for our past sins, this is why Jesus came to not only pay our past debt but to through His blood “equip us with everything good that we may do His will” Heb 13:21 We cannot in and of ourselves keep the law, but if we “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body (sin) we will live” Rom 8:13 This is how God can be just, and the justifier (pardoner) of those who believe in Jesus.
“God is just (thank You Lord), and He does not change. The requirement for happy peaceful living is still the same as it always has been. He did not lower the standard for dwelling with Him, but rather gave us the power to reach the standard! We are saved by grace! This does not however negate the law. In fact the very language of the new covenant states that He will “put my laws on there hearts, and write them on their minds” Heb 10:16.
“If the law is indeed done away with, then how do we know what right and wrong are? God has given us the definition of right and wrong. How do we know what pleases God? ‘For this IS the love of God, (love for God) that we keep His commandments’ 1 Jn 5:3.”