(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version).
The Bible contains two divisions basically- the old and the new testaments. The old testament contains the history of creation, the fall of mankind, the destruction of the antediluvian world, mankind’s second beginning with Noah, the call of Abraham and God’s covenant and dealings with Israel, Jehovah’s chosen nation. The old testament ends with the first advent of Christ, with his death and resurrection establishing a new covenant with mankind that was sealed with his blood which was shed at Calvary. Some portion of the old covenant with Israel made their way into the new covenant, while the rest of the Mosaic covenant was repudiated by Christ’s death. How do we determine the portions of the old covenant that are contained in the new, and that are still relevant for observance? How do we know the portions of the Mosaic covenant that are still in force? This article seeks to answer these questions through a careful examination of the scriptures.
A covenant is an agreement sworn on oath between two parties for mutual benefits, and is usually ratified by the shedding of blood. A biblical covenant is a relational agreement between God and men, whereby God agrees to be the God, defender and benefactor of a group of people who willingly submit to his government and rule, and agree to worship and serve him only. The terms of a covenant are usually well spelt out by God, with penalties for violations made very clear, as well as the conditions for blessings. God has made several covenants with mankind, either as a group or individually. In the old testament, God made covenants with mankind through Adam and Noah, then another covenant with Abraham and his descendants, and finally, the Mosaic covenant with the nation of Israel (Abraham’s descendants) on Mount Sinai. It’s that covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai that’s called the old covenant or old testament. It’s that covenant with Israel that was abolished by the death of Christ on Calvary, with a new covenant instituted in its place. In the new covenant that God made with mankind on Calvary (the terms and conditions of which are to be found in the Acts of the Apostles and the Apostolic epistles), certain aspects of the old covenant were absorbed into the new one. It’s like a man revising his will or testament, or a country amending its constitution or adopting a new one. Some portions of the old will or the old constitution will of necessity find their way into the new document. How do we know which parts of the old will/testament or old constitution that made it into the new one? The answer is simple- we must look at the new document to know which parts of the old document were adopted into the new. Even if we discover similarities between the two documents, in law, we must quote the new document, not the old one, for the old document has no validity in law.
Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
Hebrews 8:8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
Hebrews 8:9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
Hebrews 8:11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
Hebrews 8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?
Galatians 4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4:23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise,
Galatians 4:24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—
Galatians 4:25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—
Galatians 4:26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Galatians 4:27 For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren,
You who do not bear!
Break forth and shout,
You who are not in labor!
For the desolate has many more children
Than she who has a husband.”
Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:29 But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.
Galatians 4:30 Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.”
Galatians 4:31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free.
Despite these glaring facts about the obsolete nature of the old testament, some Christians still run to it to make doctrines for God’s people, or to judge other Christians’ conduct and lifestyle, using it as a yardstick for righteousness. We see Christians hastily flipping to the old testament to prove why we must still pay tithes and first-fruits offerings, or why women should not wear garments that pertain to men (or vice versa). Such people willingly place themselves back under the bondage of the expired and now abolished old testament, in their misguided zeal for God and righteousness. Let it be stated here clearly and unambiguously: the old testament is old, obsolete, expired and has been abolished! Christians are no longer under its jurisdiction. The old testament is no longer binding on Christians! We have been delivered from the curse and bondage of the old covenant! Therefore, no Christian should be judged by the terms and conditions of the old testament. Just as no judge will refer to an old version of a country’s constitution to pass judgement in a case, and no lawyer will refer to an older version of a will to administer a dead man’s estate, no one under the new testament should refer to the terms and conditions of the old testament for conduct, order and doctrine! The old testament is no longer legally binding on God’s people, simply because it’s been abolished! Christians are dead to the Mosaic Law and are not under it or subject to it!
Romans 7:1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?
Romans 7:2 For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband.
Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man.
Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
Romans 7:6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Galatians 5:2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.
Galatians 5:3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.
Galatians 5:7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.
Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.
Galatians 5:10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.
Galatians 5:11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.
Galatians 5:12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!
Galatians 5:13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
Galatians 3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
Galatians 3:14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Galatians 3:25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
Thus, to judge a Christian, or to make rules to guide Christian conduct, or to find out God’s mind concerning anything now, we must go to the new testament, not the old one. We must look at the writings of the original Apostles of the Lord, who are the foundation of the Christian faith. Judaism and Christianity share some things in common (including a common God and a common Saviour/Messiah), but the foundation of Christianity is not Moses and his laws, but Christ’s Apostles and their teachings, with Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. The original Apostles received direct revelations from the Lord to write the new testament. The Lord specially taught them the terms and conditions of the new testament which they wrote down for all to take heed and observe strictly, without additions or subtractions. Some things were carried over into the new testament from the old. There’s no doubt about that. However, whatever was carried over must be demonstrated in the new. Anything in the old testament we do not find in the new testament simply did not make it into the new testament. It means such a thing is no longer relevant or binding on God’s people! Whatever is not included in the new testament is something not to be worried about! It’s not important anymore! Thus, we’re not at liberty to pick and choose portions of the old testament we want to keep or not keep. We’re not at liberty to adopt and observe some portions of the old testament and jettison other parts as we wish. It’s only the parts of the old testament the original Apostles of the Lord included in their writings that are the portions of the old testament still to be observed. Those portions of the old testament not included in the Apostolic epistles are to be disregarded, as they no longer constitute law for God’s people. Doing anything that’s not expressly forbidden in the new testament is not a sin, for sin is a transgression of an extant biblical law. Once no new testament injunction is violated, no sin has been committed, even if such an injunction was contained in the old testament. That’s the point we must be clear about as Christians: violating any portion of the old covenant not contained in the new covenant is not a sin for a Christian, for sin now is a transgression of the terms of the new covenant, not those of the old and expired one.
Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.
Matthew 28:17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
The Acts 1:1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
The Acts 1:2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
The Acts 1:3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Ephesians 2:20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
Ephesians 2:22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—
Ephesians 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,
Ephesians 3:3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,
Ephesians 3:4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
Ephesians 3:5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
Ephesians 3:6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,
Ephesians 3:7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.
Ephesians 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Ephesians 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;
Ephesians 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Ephesians 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.
Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
Galatians 1:7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.
Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
Galatians 1:11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.
Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (AKJV).
Romans 4:15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
In conclusion, the old covenant God made with the nation of Israel on Mount Sinai was abolished after the death of Christ. God thereafter made a new covenant with mankind at Calvary, to correct the deficiencies of the old covenant. Believers in Christ are thus no longer under the old covenant which is now obsolete and has been abolished. Though the old covenant has been abolished, some parts of it made their way into the new covenant. To know those parts of the old covenant that were absorbed into the new covenant and are thus still to be observed, we must rely on the Apostolic writings, wherein are contained the terms and conditions of the new covenant. It’s only those portions of the old testament that the original Apostles of the Lord adopted into the new testament that Christians are to observe and uphold. Any portion of the old testament not found in the new is to be considered obsolete and no longer law for God’s people. We are thus not at liberty to pick and choose which portions of the old testament to keep and which portions to discard. We’re not to go to the old testament to make rules for God’s people, or judge people’s conduct and lifestyle by injunctions of the old testament, as Christians are no longer under the Mosaic Law. Violation of any portions of the old testament not contained in the new no longer constitutes sin, for sin is the transgression of an extant law. You cannot violate a law that’s no longer in existence. To go back to the old testament that the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered us from is to return to the bondage and curse of the Law! It’s tantamount to falling from grace! May God deliver us from this widespread corruption of the gospel of grace which the original Apostles of the Lord contended against so earnestly! Amen!
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