I have heard a lot of confusion about why Christians do not follow the laws from the Old Testament A.K.A. Jewish Law. This includes things like not eating shrimp, returning everything major you have purchased every 50 years, not being gay, leaving the city when you are on your period, and stoning adulterers. There are some very crazy, very strict, very clear cut laws. So why do we not follow them? There are Some people claim that we choose to ignore parts of the Bible we don’t like, which isn’t the case. A lot of people say that Jesus abolished the law, which is not true (I promise this is Biblical just keep reading). Some say he fulfilled the law, which is partially true (1/3 to be exact). As an amateur Bible Scholar I am here to clear up this issue. I have learned a whole lot in school but this part I learned from my husband, and to be honest it is my favorite thing that he has taught me. I love to hear it over and over again! So let me explain.
In the Old Testament there are 3 types of Law, each have their own purpose. You can not lump them all together, other than stating that they are all laws. They are all very different from one another. I am going to break them down and discuss them one by one, explaining what they are and how we deal with them today.
1. Civil Law – This type of Law is the one we think the least about. This was God’s rules for His nation. He set Israel Aside as his own. In the beginning they had no king and no ruler. He was to be their King and their Ruler. They would have something called judges to lead them. (These are not your everyday powdered wig, white robed judges). These judges would tell the land what God wanted from them, and kept them in line with the law. The Civil Law were rules to keep the nation running properly, similar to America’s Constitution. These are things like how to deal with property disputes, rape, lying, killing, and things like that. These laws were made for the nation to follow in order to keep it ruining smoothly without a ruler. You see a lot of this type of Law in Deuteronomy.
Why we don’t follow it today: We are no longer one nation. Christians are spread out all over the place, we have other rulers. The Bible is clear in the New Testament that we are to obey whatever government we are under.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except by God, and those that exist are put in place by God. 2 So then, the one who resists authority resists the ordinance which is from God, and those who resist will receive condemnation on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2 NASB
We also see this same idea when Jesus was confronted with the idea of paying taxes. He said, ““Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Meaning that they should pay their taxes. -Mark 12
There is no longer a need for Civil Law because we are not God’s nation, we have a king, we have laws, rules, and regulations. We may call ourselves a nation under God, but we are not God’s Nation. The laws would contradict itself and leave much confusion.
2. Ceremonial Law – These Laws are what kept Jew right with God. These were things they did to show repentance and to be cleansed of their sins. This includes things like how to stay “Clean”, In what ways to sacrifice animals, what animals to sacrifice etc. It talked about the priestly duties, how to purify a house, and even taught Women how to handle their periods. This was all about staying clean and right with God. There are a lot of these laws in Leviticus.
Why we do not follow it today: This is what Jesus did for us! He fulfilled the law!
Jesus Said: “17 ‘Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [a]the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches [b]others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [c]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-20 NASB
He was very clear that the law was not to be annulled. God doesn’t change his mind, but he can change circumstance! He fulfilled the law, He finished it, He completed it! Instead of killing lambs and OX we repent and receive salvation, that is when the law has been fulfilled in our lives. (If you have any questions on this feel free to comment or message me).
*IF none of the law is to be annulled then why do we cut out the civil law? I believe it is because our government fulfills our need for this type of law, it doesn’t annul it (personal opinion, not fact).
3. Moral Law – Finally we end with the last but not least Moral law! This type of law is found all over the Bible and is the most commonly known. It has stood the test of time and is very commonly known. The most famous of them are the 10 Commandments, these are moral rules to guide our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
Why we do not follow it today: We do, or at least we try. We live in a fallen world that is infected with sin, meaning it is in our nature to disobey these, simply because we are not God and fall short of who he is. Today these are the rules that Christians try to follow. Today Christians do our best to hold ourselves to the standards that these laws provide. It is an impossible task, the only way to be blameless in front of the law is to keep all the ceremonial laws. Which is also almost impossible. This is why God sent His Son. He sent him to fulfill the ceremonial law so that we may be forgiven when we do not live up to the standards of the Moral Law. He gives us so much forgiveness from what we have done.
It sounds like such a simple thing, he just forgave us, but we often forget how much he forgave us from. By breaking just one moral law we are unworthy to be his sons and daughters. We have failed the perfection that he attained and made us for! Because we have failed to live up to what we should be we deserve Hell. Hell is God’s wrath, his justice. He is a loving God but he is also just. People tend to forget that he is both. They like the love but ignore the justice. If we refuse to believe that Hell exist, then we can not fully fathom his love. The two contrast each other, like light and dark. You do not understand how bright a light is until you understand the dark that it is saving you from. I encourage you to contemplate Hell for a moment, so that you may understand the forgiveness we have received.
I found the following website to have good information if you are interested in learning more about what laws are considered which category: