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How (Not) to Apply the Old Testament Law

June 6, 2018

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction… 1 Corinthians 10:11

As we study Deuteronomy, it is important to remember that the particular applications of the Ten Commandments that are laid out here were given to the nation of Israel.

It would be a great mistake to draw a direct line from these Old Testament laws (given to Israel) to the Christian today. For example in Deuteronomy 14, we have laws about clean and unclean food. But in the New Testament, Christ proclaimed all foods clean (Mk. 7:18-19).

In the same way, it would be a great mistake to draw a direct line from the promises specifically given to Israel to the Christian today. For example, “the Lord will bless you… if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God…” (Dt. 15:4, 5). Teachers of the “prosperity gospel” seize on words like these as if they were given to every Christian, as if to say, “Obey God and you will be rich.” But God has not promised material prosperity to every Christian.

If you take every command and every promise that was distinctive to God’s covenant with Israel and apply it directly to the Christian, you end up in great difficulty and confusion. Having said that, the law of God reflects the character of God, and all of his words were written for us that we might learn from them (1 Cor. 10:11). The Old Testament law is full of principles that guide us in wisdom as they are rightly understood and applied to our lives (2 Tim. 3:16).

Do you find it difficult to apply Old Testament commands and promises to your life? Ask God for help and wisdom to rightly apply them to your life.

The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.

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