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Consequences Of Keeping The Old law

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"If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain"

Many religious groups today teach that one must still keep certain aspects of the Old Testament Law. For instance, Sabbatarians teach that we must continue to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8). In order to help us understand why it is that we are not responsible for keeping any part of the old law we will look at some consequences that would result from the practice.

1) Makes the death of Christ vain. In Acts 15 and Galatians 2 we read of some Jewish Christians who were trying to bind circumcision (one element of the old law). When the apostle Paul learned of it he went to Jerusalem (where this was taking place) to help straighten things out. He said in Galatians 2:21, “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” As a result, he rebuked them sharply (Titus 1:10- 13) so the truth of the gospel could continue (Gal. 2:5).

2) Makes one a debtor to do the whole law. If one chooses to keep any part of the law of Moses (e.g., Sabbath keeping, circumcision, religious feasts) he/she must keep all the law. James said, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10). In Galatians 5:3 Paul tells us that if we keep even one aspect of the old law we become a “debtor to do the whole law.”

3) Causes one to fall from grace. Paul said to those same Jewish Christians that were binding circumcision, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Since the grace of God brings salvation (Titus 2:11) anything that would cause one to fall from that grace would be disastrous! Don’t become “estranged from Christ” (Gal. 5:4) by holding on to parts of the old law!

Even though we are not under the old testament law it can still be profitable to us. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime (i.e., OT) were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Paul also tells us concerning the Old Testament that “all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). Let us be content to simply use the Old Testament in the way God intended for us to use it.

Craig Thomas

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