Why Christians are Free from Old Testament Law

Why Christians are Free from Old Testament Law

One of the main overarching themes of the New Testament is the Word, Christ’s instructions, fulfilling and thus superseding all Old Testament laws. There are many Christians who think the opposite due to out of context verses, however this truth is widely accepted by both the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches and every major Protestant denomination. Still, there appears to be a very large amount of laity who are confused on this topic.

When mentioning that Old Testament law is superseded, someone invariably mentions Matthew 5:18, which is usually enough to convince most individuals that the Old Law is still in full effect.

New King Jame’s Version:

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

So as you can see, the verse itself is very clear. Yet if someone posts that verse with no context, they are lying. Here is that verse, with the verse before it included.

>“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Jesus could not be more clear here. He is saying, in plain English, that he is not there to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He then says, probably in the same sentence as well as the grammar and periods were added in relatively modern times, that the law will remain in effect until all is fulfilled. He is there to fulfill the law, and the law will remain in effect until all is fulfilled.

So what he is saying is very straightforward, yet well meaning Christians take his words out of context to make it seem like he is saying the opposite of what he is actually saying. 

The question remains – when was the law fulfilled, if Christ was there to fulfill it?

The vast majority of Christians, myself included, almost without exception, believe this event was when Christ died for our sins. Therefore, the Old Testament laws remained in effect until Jesus Christ died on the cross.

To drive home this truth, here is analysis from the scriptures:

Romans 6:14

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 7

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? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.

For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 

But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 10:4

For Christ is the end of the law, for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Hebrews 10:1

For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.

Galatians 3:19-25

Why then the law? It was added on account of transgressions, until the descendant should come to whom it had been promised, having been ordered through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now the mediator is not for one, but God is one. Therefore is the law opposed to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, certainly righteousness would have been from the law.

But the scripture imprisoned all under sin, in order that the promise could be given by faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe. But before faith came, we were detained under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. So then, the law became our guardian until Christ, in order that we could be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

Galatians 4:4-5

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Galatians 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

As Christ said:

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

And as summed up beautifully by Paul, who I believe might be making a reference to “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Galatians 3:13

Christ 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”—

I am confident that anyone who has read the New Testament already knows this, but as we have to admit a large amount of Christians have not read it, so what seems obvious does need to be covered anyway, and I hope this text is of use to some Christians who were unsure about whether or not they had to follow Old Testament law. As it says in Galatians, Christ really did redeem us from “the curse of the Law” so now that you know this, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to take a violent action, or hate gays, or treat women as property, based on some Old Testament quote they themselves do not even understand the implications of.

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