I believe and have so taught for over forty years now, if a person doesn't
know what God has commanded they cannot possibly obey him. Likewise, no one
may know their duty to God without first determining to which law they are answerable.
To my recollection, I have never spoken to anyone claiming to follow the Christian
faith that didn't agree the old (mosaic) law has been abolished and we now live
under the Christian dispensation. Yet, I often hear people quoting
Old Testament scripture as though it was the final authority on many subjects. Numerous denominations mix Old Testament law with the new. Evidently there is confusion and major misconception between the two on some points.
Every covenant God ever made with any individual, group or nation was for them alone. At no time did God demand of anyone they be answerable to two different laws at the same time. This fact is so simple and basic it should be obvious, even after a causal comparison of the two. Nevertheless, people insist on practicing elements from the old law that do not apply to us, or ever did. A failure to rightly divide the word can have devastating results.(II Tim. 2:15)
Perhaps the biggest mistake lies in not seeing the difference between something that is identical and something that is similar. Laws given to different people at different times may be similar but not always interchangeable or even applicable. The old law addressed the physical aspect of sin, the new addresses the underlying cause of it; i.e. Jesus said, "out of the heart came evil." (Matt.15:19) John said, in I Jn.3:15, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer."
I once heard a world famous evangelist (?) state, " If we would just follow the Ten Commandments we could live a perfect life! " This statement is as profoundly ignorant as the man who made it! Doing a very brief analysis of the Ten Commandments compared to the law of Christ will suffice to show the fallacy of this belief.
Remember the Sabbath day…. (4th) No Christian (or gentile) was ever commanded to observe this law. As a matter of fact no Jew or anyone else is to observe this day any more, as it too was done away with along with the rest of the old Law. Yet, we see some denominations advertising, 'sleep in this Sunday, worship with us this Saturday!' As though they had a choice. If that is not confusion over which law they are under…what is?
Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor….(9th) but says nothing about lying in their behalf. Lying to help a friend is just as wrong as lying or giving false testimony against him.
Thou shall not kill….(6th) but under the old law a person could beat another half to death without guilt.
The Ten Commandments did not condemn adulterous thoughts, just the act. It did not address kidnapping, assault and battery, polygamy or slavery, to name a few. These were addressed under civil law.
Further confusion results from not understanding God's 'universal laws.' universal laws are ones that have always been in existence, was true in the past, are true now and will be in the future. For example; murder has always been wrong, (God condemned Cain as a murderer before the giving of the Mosaic Law). God has always hated a liar and a thief. Moral purity and obedience have always been expected regardless of what law man was living under. And because these are mentioned in all three of the laws (patriarchal, mosaic and Christian), it is wrongly assumed other laws may be incorporated from the first two into the new law as one sees fit. It should be kept in mind that the Old law has been done away with and no part of it may be observed today. Tithing, for example. No Christian was ever commanded to tithe. Some people like to use this as a guide, which I have no objection to, but we shouldn't limit ourselves to it. We are to give yes, but not tithe, that was for Jews only and involves far more than just giving ten percent of one's earnings. We understand there are laws similar to the old that are commanded under the new. Perhaps this illustration will clarify the problem.
We in the United States have laws similar to those in Great Britain. For example it is against the law to exceed the speed limit in England as well as in America. Homicide is against the law in both countries. But we do not observe these laws because they are legal in England, but because they are legal here in America. Which makes them American laws not, English! Though the laws are similar, British law has no authority in the United States.
In like manner, we as Christians do not observe laws that were given to the Jews which may be similar, and may not be legitimately cited, but because they are found in the new. Regardless of how great we think these old laws were, we must observe the law we live under now and not try to intermingle the two.
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