The Old Testament Law… FULFILLED

People who claim that the Old Testament law still applies to believers, can be divided into several groups:

1)    Those who believe that all the Old Testament laws still apply.

2)    Those who believe that believers will not be judged according to the Old Testament law, but that it still serves as a moral compass that will help them to avoid falling into sin.

3)    Those who believe that the law can be split up into two different sections, namely moral laws and ceremonial laws, and that the ceremonial laws have passed away, but that the moral laws still need to be obeyed.

Group 1

For those who fall into the first group, the Bible unfortunately bears disappointing news:

For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jam 2:10 MKJV)

The punishment for sin is extremely severe, namely death (Romans 5:12 & 1 Corinthians15:56). The Bible also tells us that no man is ever able to obtain right standing with God through their level of obedience to the law:

God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin. (Rom 3:20 CEV)

But the apostle Paul then continues and shows us how to stand forgiven and justified before God:

Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. (Rom 3:21-22 CEV, emphasis added)

The law provided a physical standard to measure a person’s level of holiness by. It was a contract which God had sealed in blood with the nation of Israel – only with them. How do we know this? Because we see in numerous instances how God acted in favor of Israel against other nations (the Moabites, Philistines, Syrians, etc).

In today’s world, when the terms of a contract between two parties have been fulfilled, the contract is finished. The contract isn’t abolished or destroyed, it is fulfilled. This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said:

Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matt 5:17 MKJV)

And since Christ fulfilled the law and ended that contract which God had made with Israel, the consequences for failing to observe the clauses of that contract (the laws) are now irrelevant. God does not judge people by their ability to uphold the requirements of a contract which has already been fulfilled.


Group 2

The law is not a tool to assist us with moral direction. It cannot and has never helped anybody to stop sinning because it was never intended for this purpose. The purpose of the law was to make mankind aware of their inner sin problem (their sinful nature) so that when they realize they’d never be able to obtain eternal life through their own level of holiness, it would point them to Jesus for salvation. This sinful nature would then be circumcised (cut) out of them spiritually (Colossians 2:11) and be replaced by a brand new born again spirit which is 100% perfect, righteous and holy. The law was only a signpost that pointed to Jesus – it’s pretty silly to set up camp next to a signpost, isn’t it?

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. (Rom 5:20a MSG)

What is the use of the Law? It was given later to show that we sin. (Gal 3:19a CEV)

The practice of trying to obey the demands of that ancient Jewish rule keeping system in order to overcome fleshly habits and lusts, is powerless and useless against the onslaughts of sin. Trying to overcome sin through adhering to the law will only have the effect of showing us how far we fall short of its decrees. The only way to overcome sinful habits is to be established in the revelation of how much God loves us and that He sees us as completely righteous. His grace took care of all our sins and He promised never to remember them ever again (Hebrews 10:17). When we know how much grace God has extended towards us, it will empower us to overcome any sin:

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14 MKJV)


Group 3

Nobody in this group (those who claim that the “ceremonial laws” have fallen away) has actually gone to the effort of drawing up a list to show exactly which of the laws have remained. The truth is that God Himself also never made this kind of distinction between any of the laws when He handed them down. On the contrary, He said:

“Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don’t add any, and don’t take any away.” (Deut 12:32 CEV)

Yet we find all sorts of religions that are based on Judaism jumping up nowadays, with non Jewish people trying to go back to their supposed “Jewish roots”.

Israel never welcomed intimacy with God (which is really all that God wants from us), because they always sent Moses to talk to God on their behalf (Exodus 20:19). Similarly, it appears that when people can’t find any fulfilment in their relationship with God, they make up all sorts of theories to try and earn His approval through some kind of rule keeping system. The peculiar thing about this trend is that since the entire Old Testament law is far too wearisome and laborious to keep, they formulate their own version of it and decide by themselves which laws they want to keep and which ones they can discard.

From Exodus 20 up to the end of Deuteronomy there were a total of 614 laws passed down to the nation of Israel. Just as the law was very specific about what to do and what not to do, it also contained very specific instructions about how to avoid being punished when a law was transgressed. Dodging retribution was mainly achieved in the form of sacrifices and offerings. Most of the modern day variations of Judaism (including those groups who insist calling God and Jesus by their Hebrew names, but whose lives are void of the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit) have opted not to include these sacrifices as part of their man-made belief systems, yet they vigorously claim to be living according to God’s laws. Who’s fooling who here?

Nonetheless, to accommodate these people and to try and show to them that they are actually not only disregarding the sacrifices and offerings, but also breaking many of the other (moral) laws contained in the Old Testament, let’s take a look at some of the laws:

Only, you shall not eat these of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: …the swine, though he divides the hoof and is cloven-footed, yet he does not chew the cud; he is unclean to you. (Lev 11: 4, 7 MKJV)

Any form of pork, including bacon and ham, are strictly off limits according to the law. There goes that nice English breakfast or that ham and cheese sandwich out the door!

You must not eat anything that lives in the water and does not have fins and scales. (Lev 11:12 GNB)

No calamari or squid allowed, no sir!

And if any man’s semen goes from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water and be unclean until the evening. And the woman with whom a man shall lie with emission of semen shall both bathe in water and be unclean until the evening. (Lev 15:16, 18 MKJV)

Men and women ought to separate themselves from any other people for an entire day every time after they’ve had sexual intercourse. This would mean quite a lot of sick leave for most people or heaps of broken up marriages because of spouses abstaining from sex with each other.

Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard. (Lev 19:27 MSG)

All men would have to walk around with beards. If anybody who claims to be living according to the law shaves their beard, they are breaking God’s commands!

Don’t even build a cooking fire at home on the Sabbath. (Exo 35:3 CEV)

There will be no BBQ after watching that sports game with our friends on a Saturday, because strictly speaking the Sabbath is supposed to be observed on a Saturday.

Don’t wear clothes woven of two kinds of material. (Lev 19:19b MSG)

This would mean throwing out piles of our clothes, since a vast portion of the clothing found in anybody’s closet today is made from a mixture of cotton and polyester.

See how ridiculous it gets? But praise be to Jesus that He fulfilled all the requirements of that antique law keeping system, setting people free to live a life that is led by the Holy Spirit and not by rules:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5 ESV)

Can Christians Lose Their Salvation? (Pt 2)

[Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?]

These verses are probably the no. 1 misquoted portion of scripture which cause believers to doubt their eternal secure position in Christ. These scriptures have been quoted out of context, abused and exploited to manipulate the body of Christ for centuries. Let us take a closer look at the context.

The book of Hebrews was written to the 12 tribes of Israel, many of whom still held the Old Testament Law system in higher regard than Christ’s sacrifice. Most of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to illustrating the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant over Moses and the Old Covenant rule keeping system with its traditions and rituals. Some examples are:

[Heb 3:3 For this One (Christ) has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house].
[Heb 7:28  The Law of Moses appoints men who are imperfect to be high priests; but God’s promise made with the vow, which came later than the Law, appoints the Son, who has been made perfect forever] (GNB).
[Heb 8:6  But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second] (ESV).

Now in this context, with the Jewish nation still preferring their ritual sacrifices over the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews was showing them the folly of their ways. The “sin” mentioned in Heb 10:26 was referring to the sin of refusing to believe in Christ, just like the Israelites continually doubted God’s goodness when He led them out of Egypt, always suspecting Him of wanting to kill them in the desert  (Heb 3:7-12). Here in Heb 10 the writer was admonishing the Jews for still relying on their own ability to keep the law and perform the ritual sacrifices to make atonement for their sins, rather than accepting God’s free gift of forgiveness which was appropriated by Jesus’ sacrifice. A little further up from our key verses we see the context:

[Heb 10:11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified].

It suddenly becomes very clear what the writer actually meant in Heb 10:26-29. Here is a paraphrased version:

Heb 10:26 If we purposely reject Christ’s sacrifice after He has been clearly shown to us as the only way to Heaven, then there is no other sacrifice which can be offered as an atonement for our sins. 27 There remains only judgment and punishment for God’s enemies. 28 If a person was killed for disobeying the Old Testament Law, 29 of how much worse punishment do you think a person is worthy if they trample Christ’s sacrifice underfoot, despising Jesus’ blood which was shed for the forgiveness of their sins, regarding it as a common thing, and threw God’s gift of Grace back in His face?

Whenever a Bible verse seems to condemn us, we need to remember that there is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ (Rom 8:1). All scripture has to be interpreted through what Christ accomplished at the cross, reconciling us to Himself (2 Cor 5:18) and making peace between us by removing the demands of the law (Eph 2:15). Anything that appears to contradict this, most likely has been taken out of context.

When Did the Old Testament End? (Pt 2)

A testament or a will only comes into power whenever somebody dies. In essence an heir cannot inherit if the testator (person who wrote the testament) is still alive. [Heb 9:16 In the case of a will it is necessary to prove that the person who made it has died, 17 for a will means nothing while the person who made it is alive; it goes into effect only after his death] (GNB). Now consider this: During the 30 years or so that Jesus lived on the earth and the 3 years that He ministered before He died, under which Testament did He live? Under the OLD of course! He was still alive and we just saw in the previous 2 verses that a testament does not come into effect whilst the person who wrote it is still alive. [Gal 4:4 But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law] (GNB). So if someone claims that they still have to obey the Old Covenant Law because Jesus did it, well Jesus had to obey it because He was born under the Old Testament and had to fulfill it!
The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ is described in Matt 27, Mark 15, Luk 23 and John 19. If we take for example the book of Matthew and we see that chapter 27 was where the New Testament came into effect (because this is where Jesus died), this implies that everything before Matt 27 was Old Testament because the New Testament hadn’t been established yet! Therefore according to its legal validity the New Testament actually only begins in Matt 27 (and Mark 15, Luk 23 and John 19). Everything before these chapters is OLD TESTAMENT.

During His time on the earth we never see Jesus preaching the gospel of the Kingdom to anybody other than the Jews, because He was still living under the Old Testament and He wasn’t allowed to share any of Israel’s inheritance with non Jewish people. One time we see Jesus venturing to a geographical area outside of Galilee and was met by a Canaanite woman, who wasn’t a Jew:

[Matt 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” 23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” 27 And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour]. In essence the woman was saying: “Lord if there is any surplus left of God’s blessings, please help me!” And by faith this woman was grafted into the New Covenant even before it was time for the Gentiles to become partakers! We also see a few other similar examples in the Bible like Rahab the prostitute who hid the spies in Jericho, Ruth the Moabite, Naaman the Syrian who was cleansed of leprosy after washing himself seven times in the Jordan at the instruction of Elijah, etc. By faith they transcended time and received their inheritance long before it was actually due to be theirs.

So if the New Testament began at Golgotha with the death of Jesus Christ (remember Heb 9:16-17 above), it must mean that the Old Testament had to have been cancelled somewhere before that. We find a prophecy pertaining to this made by the prophet Zachariah at about 520BC. We’ll share the story quickly interwoven with the scriptures:

God was the shepherd of the flock of Israel under the Old Covenant, caring for them with His staff that He called “Favour” (and another one called “Union”). [Zec 11:7 Those who bought and sold the sheep hired me, and I became the shepherd of the sheep that were going to be butchered. I took two sticks: one I called “Favor” and the other “Unity.” And I took care of the flock] (GNB). The staff called “Favour” symbolised the covenant He had made with the nation of Israel. The problem with this flock of sheep was that they were continually running after idols and persisted in rebelling against their Shepherd. Now the Shepherd had just about had enough and told them that He was going to quit. [Zec 11:9 Then I said to the flock, “I will not be your shepherd any longer. Let those die who are to die. Let those be destroyed who are to be destroyed. Those who are left will destroy one another”] (GNB).
He also requested that they pay Him for the services He had rendered, but if they didn’t want to pay Him that they could just leave it. [Zec 11:12 I said to them, “If you are willing, give me my wages. But if not, keep them.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver as my wages] (GNB). And on the day that Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver by Judas Iscariot, God broke His staff and ended the covenant He had made with Israel. [Zec 11:10 Then I took the stick called “Favor” and broke it, to cancel the covenant which the LORD had made with all the nations] (GNB).
If we look at the context of Zech 11 we will see “all the nations” only refer to Israel & Judah. [Zec 11:14 Then I broke the second stick, the one called “Unity,” and the unity of Judah and Israel was shattered] (GNB).

Now here’s a real gem: Over 500 years before Christ was betrayed, the prophet Zachariah spoke these words: [Zech 11:13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter].

30 Pieces of silver was the commonly agreed price owed to an owner if his slave was injured whilst working for someone else and also the price that Jesus was betrayed for by Judas Iscariot. Therefore we see God sarcastically say they paid a “princely price” for Him. The Son of God was betrayed for the price of an injured slave! And then we see the following scripture in Matt 27 (note the part about the “potter”):

[Matt 27:3 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” 5 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in]. See Zech 11:13 above again – the prophesy even described the potter’s field!

We see therefore that the Old Testament came to an end when Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and in the spiritual realm broke His staff that symbolised His covenant with Israel. But praise be to God that only several hours later He wrote a New Covenant with His own blood, a Testament that included all the nations of the earth and allowed us to become His children through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

In Grace
Andre van der Merwe

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