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New Testament overruling teaching from the Old Testament

Question

There are many other examples of the New Testament reversing or overruling teachings from the Old Testament. There are also examples where Jesus taught us the true meaning of some of the teachings from the Old Testament. Is the Old Testament mostly a historical document and should we only follow the teachings from the New Testament? We don't seem to follow a lot of the teachings from the Old Testament, specifically in Exodus and Leviticus.

Answer

I wouldn’t regard the Old Testament as simply a historical document. I even know people who reject the Old Testament, almost as if to say that it teaches different things than the New Testament. When I knew the Bible more superficially, I was inclined to see a big difference between the two testaments myself. But now I’m more struck by the continuity between them, and indeed so many Old Testament verses are quoted in the New Testament, for example by Jesus or Paul. Jesus Himself said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matthew 5:17). In other words, Jesus Himself is the fulfillment of the Old Testament laws and prophecies, and the more you get to know the Bible, the more clearly you see how the Old Testament in fact looks forward to the coming and teaching of Christ in the New Testament. The entire Old Testament can be seen as an introduction to the New Testament.

We don’t follow many of the teachings from the Books of Moses (the first five books of the Bible, also called the Pentateuch), because they have become unnecessary due to the teaching of Jesus. The many laws and teachings in the Old Testament are summarized in the Ten Commandments, which we are to follow, albeit in the more stringent way they are interpreted by Jesus (Matthew 5:17-48). Thus, for instance, it’s not enough not to murder anyone – Jesus says that even if you get angry with someone, you’re breaking that same commandment and are in danger of going to hell (Matthew 5:21-22). Similarly, it’s not enough not to commit adultery – Jesus says that even if you just look at a woman lustfully, you’re already committing adultery with her in your heart and therefore heading for hell (Matthew 5:27-29).

So we see that we can’t even obey the Ten Commandments, let alone all the other laws! No one can! That’s the whole point about the Christian faith: the bad news is that nobody can perfectly obey God’s laws, and therefore in our natural state we are all on the road to eternal death. Any religion that says you must obey certain laws to get to heaven is therefore a false religion, because no one will get to heaven that way. Try it and find out for yourself. But the Christian faith also has good news: that what we can’t do for ourselves, God has already done for us, in His mercy. God came as a Saviour, the man Jesus, who laid down His life to pay for our punishment. We won’t be punished for not keeping laws we cannot keep. We won’t be punished for having a sinful nature which we inherited from our parents and had no say in when we were born. Instead of laws, Jesus Himself becomes our Law! We fulfil all God’s requirements when we submit to that Law – when we submit to Jesus. And when we submit to Jesus in faith, we will find that we have become cleansed of our sins, because the Jesus-centred person has had their sins forgiven and loses their desire to continue sinning. Jesus fulfils the Old Testament law, and when we have faith in Him, we too fulfil the Old Testament law.

Warsaw International Church
Miodowa 21B, 00-246 Warszawa, Poland | +48 601 331 032 | pastor@wic.org.pl
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