Our theme for this month: “Life on this side of the cross”
Our Bible verse for today: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “How can we know which parts of the Old Testament carry over and apply in the New Testament Age?”
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the Apostle Paul gave us a helpful insight into the importance and value of the entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. There he told us that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable …” It all comes to us from God and it all has value for us. But does it all apply to us? All of it has value, in some way, but in terms of life-application and guidance for living does all of it apply to us on this side of the cross?
A fast and simple rule of thumb which can provide us with a basic answer to that question is to consider whether or not the New Testament specifically refers to an Old Testament law, command, instruction, or principle – either positively by reteaching it, or negatively by excluding it. For example, yesterday we learned in Mark 7:18-19 that Jesus specifically did away with the Old Testament dietary restrictions. Likewise, we learn in Hebrews 10:1-18 that since Jesus was the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of the world, the animal sacrifices required in the Old Testament are no longer necessary or required. So those Old Testament requirements no longer apply in the New Testament Age because the New Testament specifically negated them.
On the positive side, there are many places in the New Testament which reteach or in some way affirm an Old Testament command, instruction, or principle. For instance, rather than in any way negating the Ten Commandments, in Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus actually bundled them all together and summarized them in two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Likewise, in some cases Jesus took Old Testament principles and raised them to a new higher standard for life in the New Testament Age. For instance, in Matthew 5:27 He said that in the Old Testament we were taught not to commit adultery. But His standard is that we are not to even entertain lustful thoughts.
So, a general rule of thumb for determining which commands and instructions carry over and which don’t is to see which of them are directly addressed in the New Testament. Some are specifically and intentionally excluded. Others are specifically and intentionally included. For the most part, if the command or instruction is not specifically retaught and affirmed in some way in the New Testament, then it doesn’t apply to us today. That’s a good basic answer, but it’s not a complete answer. What about all the promises God made in the Old Testament, do they apply to us today? Can we claim them as ours? And then, what about all that Old Testament history? What does that mean for us in our day? We’ll think about those things tomorrow.