What Is the Purpose of the Old Testament for Those Who Walk by Faith?

woman_at_the_well

Recently I was asked what is the place of the Old Testament in the life of a believer?

When we read the Old Testament we will soon come upon the importance of the Mosaic laws, all 613 of them and how we must keep them perfectly if we are to live under that covenant.

“‘Cursed be he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deuteronomy 27:26 RSVA)

But we who are of the New Covenant are IN Christ by faith and are not under that curse.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that does them shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:11-14 KJ2000)

So how did God deal with the filling up of the just requirements of the law that we might live by faith in Christ alone? Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 KJ2000)

And just before He died on the cross He cried out, “It is finished!” Jesus came and filled up the just requirements of the law in one perfect sacrifice for all. In so doing he did away with the first covenant and introduced the New Covenant. Jesus came to establish a New Covenant for the Jews broke the first one and did not keep it for the law was week because of their flesh (See Romans 8:3).

But now has he [Jesus] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord. (Hebrews 8:6-9 KJ2000)

Then what good is the Old Testament to we who walk by faith? It is there to point us to Christ!

And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 RSVA)

So what is the nature of this entirely NEW Covenant? Is it more rule keeping as it seems to be in many of today’s churches that make a law book out of the New Testament and mix in with it the Old? Is it one in which Jesus has the power to save us from our sins, but it is up to us to keep ourselves saved like many churches teach? NO! This covenant is ALL about the power of God to save and to keep us.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12 KJ2000)

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 RSVA)

 Here we read God saying eight times how HE will and not a single “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not!” It is all about the power of God to come into us and give us a new heart and put His Spirit in us.

What is this law written upon our hearts in this NEW Covenant. Is it the 613 commandments of the Old Covenant? Not at all. In Hebrews we read,

Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit’ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest [Jesus] to arise after the order of Melchiz’edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:11-12 RSVA)

What is this NEW Law? Jesus told us what it is saying,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 RSVA)

As for the old law and where are we with that as we walk by faith? Paul wrote,

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.. (Romans 8:2-4 RSVA)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 RSVA)

Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law. For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 KJ2000)

So, as long as we read the Old Testament and look for how it points us to Christ and the vast difference between the Old Covenant based in the weakness of the flesh and the NEW Covenant based on the power of the Spirit of Christ in us, it is good. But if we read it as a pointer putting us back under the law of the first covenant, we are totally missing the point.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 RSVA)

 Let us not be as foolish as some who worship the shadow and have missed the ONE who is casting that shadow.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1 RSVA)

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 RSVA)

May God bless each one of you with a new heart and His spirit within you as you walk by faith in Christ alone.

(Note: All bold and italic type in scripture verse was added by me for emphasis – mdc)

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38 comments on “What Is the Purpose of the Old Testament for Those Who Walk by Faith?

  1. Vic says:

    In seeking to understand the new and old covenants it is vital to realize that “law” can not apply or have any power if there is not a covenant to which it can be administered.
    I have never been “under the Old Covenant”. The law of the old covenant 613 or ten or whatever list you MAKE HAS NO POWER OVER ME OR CAN IN ANY WAY APPLY TO ME.
    I never entered into Mt Sinai covenant on it terms and conditions.
    The covenant of Promise that Abraham believed Gen 15:6 was the same covenant that Christ
    brought and fulfilled. The promise being fulfilled in His Life, voluntary death and the resurrection to eternal life. This is the New Covenant each of us is offerred.
    Each faithful believer will be given this same reward of eternal life.
    The Mt Sinai covenant was a punishment for not believing God Heb 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
    The promise of the Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled by CHRIST INAUGURATING THE NEW COVENANT OF BELIEF AND FAITH. THE FIRST FRUIT OR GOOD WORK OF THE SPIRIT WITHIN US.
    I WALK BY FAITH AND BELIEF IN GOD EVEN AS ABRAHAM AND ALL THE FAITHFULL BELIEVERS SINCE HIS DAY. all believed GOD.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love this: “Here we read God saying eight times how HE will and not a single “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not!”” It’s all His work!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. kenneth dawson says:

    this is marvelous and I experienced the reality of this on Friday at work–I work in shipping and receiving at oral Roberts univ. and on Friday I had lots of packages to deliver and satan said to me-you will not be able to deliver all of them by four oclock but Gods spirit in me said oh yes you will–so off I went believing God was going to give me the ability to do it–then at three thirty I had 10 packages left–I went into Rebecka Dunckans office and scaned the packages gave the hand held scanner to her to sign and suddenly the packages were not in the manifest–I freaked out and thought out loud–satan has won and God was wrong–I took the packages back to shipping and receiving after I had delivered the other seven packages–it was now twenty minutes to four and I was saying this cannot be true–so I reentered the packages into the computer and sinked the hand held and off I went back to her office and now it was fifteen more minutes left plus I had another package to deliver on another floor–I gave her the packages and scanned them and handed them to her and she signed and we both rejoiced –then off I went to deliver the other package–I did it and got back to shipping and receiving and it was 3:59 so I clocked out and God had won–Saturday the Lord revealed to me that I need not fear–he had it all under control–I need not fear about my doubting nature and I need not attempt to try to be more obedient to a bunch of rules because He in me overrules and he causes me to follow along

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Kenneth. Yes, I call our Father “the 11:59 God.” in your case He was the 3:59 God.
      If we need something at midnight, He often tests our faith by holding it back until 11:59. 🙂

      Bless you, my brother!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kenneth dawson says:

        yea Mike and whats interesting is that on Saturday morning I asked God why he did not reveal to me at the moment of the disappearance of the packages on the manifest that I could have left the three packages with her and just went back to shipping and receiving and made up a new label-scanned it and then just sign her name and all would have been good–He said oh I just wanted you to get that extra package and doubly prove my point–wow what a Father!

        Like

      • Michael says:

        Yes, Kenneth, what a Father we have and oh, how much He loves us!

        Like

    • Wow!! Kenneth, I really got breathless while reading your gripping story! Pheeeeeew……….

      Thanks so much for sharing your exciting experiences with us on here!

      Liked by 1 person

      • kenneth dawson says:

        yes Sue it was a very gripping experience–I could not believe I was in the middle of a battle ground between satan and God–sort of made me feel like a Job dude.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written, Michael! Another well thought out article on the vast difference between the Old and the New Covenant. The following sums it up perfectly. You wrote,

    What is this NEW Law? Jesus told us what it is saying,

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 RSVA)

    Without love for others, nothing else, howsoever great it is supposed to be, will ever make sense. Or in other words,

    “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13 ESV)

    In His love,
    Susanne

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you, Michael, for the post. Holy Spirit, help us to live in Christ Jesus who has fulfilled the law. One time I was in the presence of an argument between 2 men who were arguing over which day was the sabbath. The Lord spoke to my heart in that setting: “I am your Sabbath”. Needless to say, I have rejoiced over that word every since.
    Love in Him,
    Pat Orr

    Liked by 4 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Pat! You got it!!! You really bless me, my sister. In God’s kingdom it is not about time and space as we know it, for He is of the Spiritual dimension and His kingdom does not come with outward observation but is in our midst. The seventh day of His rest is the dimension of His kingdom where we may boldly enter in if we cease from our won labors and throw ourselves upon Christ as our ALL in all.

      Keep sharing from your heart those treasures Christ has put in you. Amen.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Camille says:

    I like Jeremiah 31:31-33 This is verse 33- “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares Jehovah. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I will write it. And I will become their God, and they will become my people.”

    So the law went from something written on scrolls and more easily delineated, to something written on people’s hearts, and more flexible and individual (though still having boundaries).

    I also like this point that can be found on biblehub.com under Colossians 2:14 (regarding the law being removed when Jesus was nailed to a stake).

    This is a quote from __Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible__:

    “it is thought to be an allusion to a custom in some countries, to cancel bonds, or antiquate edicts and decrees, by driving a nail through them, so that they could not be legible any more:”

    and this from __Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary__ :

    “One ancient mode of cancelling bonds was by striking a nail through the writing: this seems at that time to have existed in Asia [Grotius]. The bond cancelled in the present case was the obligation lying against the Jews as representatives of the world, and attested by their amen, to keep the whole law under penalty of the curse (De 27:26; Ne 10:29).”

    So yeah, we are not obligated to keep the law. There’s no way to reconstruct the Levitical priesthood. The temple in Jerusalem is gone. Without those, there is no point in trying to keep the law. So we are not required to avoid pork, lobster, etc. We are just required to not eat blood, or meat from animals that haven’t been bled. (Acts 15:29) We keep the Sabbath (God’s rest) by not be legalistic. So one day is not intrinsically more special than another.

    But to me, the big reason why we need to be very familiar with the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament), is that without that history we can’t make sense of the New Testament. Why is Jesus called a “lamb” and not called a puppy or a giraffe? Why does Jesus appear in Revelation chapter 5 as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and as a lamb “as if slain”, (people slaughter lambs by cutting their throats). That’s kind of gross isn’t it?

    It’s all rather random if you don’t have the back story of the passover lamb and of Judah and the tribe of his descendents in Israel.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thanks Camille, Yes, I think that Jesus was going over all those types and shadows and prophesies from the Old Testament with to two on the road to Emmaus that day and showing them how it all pointed unto Him. But as for the Jewish leaders and their Bible scholars, there was nothing He could say, because they were the “all knowing ones” in their own minds and they all knew that no good thing could come out of Nazareth. Isaiah prophesied that it would be this way saying,

      “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people dull, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities are wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land is utterly desolate, And the LORD has removed men far away, and there are many forsaken places in the midst of the land.” (Isaiah 6:9-12 KJ2000).

      This prophesy was fulfilled by 70 A.D. It was not only a familiarization with the Hebrew scriptures, a new heart and a new spirit that also gave them understanding of what they were reading. We must become as a child if we are to enter into the Kingdom of heaven, not a teenager who already knows everything. 🙂

      Like

      • Camille says:

        Your quote from Isaiah reminded me of 2 Cor. 4:3,4 – “If, in fact, the good news we declare is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things* has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through”

        Satan is the god of the system that runs the world now. He’s the god of politics, big business and false religion. (Things that go around crushing the little people without a second thought.) So many people are spiritually blinded, and Satan likes it that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Yes, Camille, the Greek word translated “world” in the N.T. is Kosmos. Jesus called the devil the Prince of this Kosmos. Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of this kosmos and told Him that they were his to give if He would just bow down and worship him. He told the deciples that the prince of this kosmos had come to Him and found nothing in Him that he could tempt Him with. Then before Pilate at his trial He told Pilate that His kingdom was NOT of this Kosmos.

        Yes, so many people are wrapped up in the tentacles of this kosmos system and are like puppets being controlled by this evil system and its prince and like Jesus said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” We need to look beyond the offenses that people commit to see the evil one behind it all and not forget to pray for those who do evil against us for they are victims as well.

        Like

  7. amongtheforgotten says:

    I just get a huge smile on my face reading this Michael. Reminds me of the people I meet every now and then that keep trying to convince me I need “this or that” to make me complete or to give me a fuller understanding “like them.”

    What they fail to grasp is that you cannot give anything to anyone who already has all they need and desire! You simply cannot add to full and overflowing, and its hard to be happier than joy unspeakable and full of glory.

    Maybe if they stick around long enough to actually attempt to love me some of what I have will rub off on them…..lol

    I’m sticking with the simplicity of the gospel. What He does and has done is perfect. Why return to lesser things?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Michael F., Or as I like to put it, why trade in a plate full of Copper River Salmon for on old dead bottom feeding sucker fish? Once you have fond out the joy and freedom that is our IN Christ as our ALL in all, the religious systems of men and all their programs of dead works just don’t hack it.
      Thanks, my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Andrew Murray’s “The Two Covenants” is now available on Amazon’s Kindle for only 99 cents. I use it quite often as a reminder. Here’s the link —

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Two-Covenants-99-Cents-ebook/dp/B003NSBU7I/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Carina says:

    As I read your post I was reminded of this passage in 1 Corinthians 10, which is a good explanation of why reading the OT is still relevant to us. The NASB version even includes a heading “Avoid Israel’s Mistakes”.

    10 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.

    6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

    So while the Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and is no longer relevant to us, the Old Testament stories are great examples of heart attitudes and sins that can make God very displeased with us.

    I’ve heard Christians use the OT as an excuse for their bad behaviour. “Well, David committed adultery and murder, you know, nobody’s perfect.” But in the New Covenant, we’re supposed to do better, since we have the indwelling Holy Spirit. We have a higher standard, we have the full revelation, so while it’s true that nobody’s perfect, we shouldn’t fall into a hyper grace mentality which Paul so strongly warns against in Romans 6.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Carina, you are right. God has made all things pertaining to righteousness our in Christ. What will we say to Him in that day if we neglect so great a salvation. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, dear sister. The O.T. should be a great example of how so many failed to enter into God’s rest and that we do not also fail to walk faith in HIM as they did.

      Like

  10. Michael, what a wonderful post, and a great reminder that we can accomplish nothing without God’s love and grace, and the Holy Spirit’s intervention. There are so many scriptural reminders that we are under a New Covenant, I don’t understand why we continue to re-enslave ourselves to law. It is our hearts that are important – the higher level of following that Jesus commanded. Yes, enslavement might appear to be easier; it takes less discernment. But once we accept the gift of God’s love and grace, Jesus’ yoke is so much lighter to bear.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Susan, Bravo!!! Thanks for the wonderful comment, dear sister!

      About five years ago, I was on a phone conversation with a great brother in eastern Montana and he said to me, “I don’t think that most Christians today know what the New Covenant really is!” It started me thinking and I was not sure I knew what the New Covenant was! This put me on a quest to find out and boy was I surprised how little vision I had for what Christ did other than having a knowledge of many disconnected pieces. Since then the vision of the simplicity of His grace and power to save us, keep us and empower us to do His will has all come into focus and what it means to abide in His rest has all made sense. Yes, His yoke and burden is so easy when we don’t try to carry it on our own. God bless you, Susan, and thanks so much for sharing your insight on here. BTW, I signed up to follow your blog.
      Michael

      Like

  11. Q's Corner says:

    Thank you Michael for clarifying this for me. There are some who have been trying to teach me things that I know are false doctrine, and they have also worked to confuse me on this very subject.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Susie, Paul warned it would be so saying, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”(Acts 20:29-30 KJ2000).

      Peter also warned saying, “Sometimes false prophets spoke to the people of Israel. False teachers will also sneak in and speak harmful lies to you. But these teachers don’t really belong to the Master who paid a great price for them, and they will quickly destroy themselves. Many people will follow their evil ways and cause others to tell lies about the true way. They will be greedy and cheat you with smooth talk. But long ago God decided to punish them, and God doesn’t sleep.”(2 Peter 2:1-3 CEV)

      Susie, keep listening to the Spirit of Truth and you will know what is of God and what leads you into bondage.

      Your brother, Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Q's Corner says:

    My question is this: Why are so many working hard to put us back under the curses of the OT???

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Q's Corner says:

    Bless you Michael for your encouraging words, I hear the truth in them and receive them also.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Some are as yet unable to conduct their earthy OT lives under the light that the new exposes. Metaphorically: many “luv” McDonalds’ Big Macs until it’s ingredients are exposed. Once exposed, one tends to view Big Macs in a more truthful way and, hence, naturally reduce their consumption. I trust this lame reply makes some sense; if not, please excuse …

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I am always impressed by your interpretation of Scripture, Michael. Your explanation has particular relevance, I think, for abuse victims. We were so often harshly criticized as children that condemnation by the law seems “natural” to us. By contrast, the love of Christ is liberating…providing the acceptance we once longed for, on a scale beyond our imagining.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna,
      You always know how to bless me. YES! That is the point. Condemnation comes for the law, either O.T. or laws men make from the New. As John wrote in the opening of his gospel, “And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17 KJ2000). His grace and His love is what all of us need to receive in our lives if we are to be healed. God loves us the way we ARE… every day of our lives and He knows our end from the beginning and that His plans for us are for good and not for evil… many sons and daughters unto HIS glory.

      Anna, your dear heart is so precious and it shows in the way you reach out to and love these abuse victims your reach out to. God bless and keep you close to His wonderful heart, my friend.
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Great analysis! For a moment, let’s put a frame around it. The Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God–all of it from Genesis to Revelation. Recall that in Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” [NIV] Although nothing in the Old Testament has “disappeared,” the self-sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross has superseded ritual animal sacrifices and ceremonial law. Those elements are still there, but Jesus has improved upon them by moving to the next step in God’s overall plan of redemption. Praise God we are saved through faith by accepting His great love demonstrated on the Cross. The Old Testament still has an enormous wealth of wisdom for us today. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Lloyd, What do I think? I try not to. My thoughts are NOT His thoughts when I do. I just try to listen and write what He gives me to share. If we do not share from the mind of Christ it is all for not. I feel led to share this one verse from Hebrews, though,

      “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…”
      (Hebrews 1:1-2 RSVA)

      The WORD of God has never stopped speaking, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.”

      Liked by 3 people

  17. That is an excellent answer Michael. the scriptures have spoken!

    Liked by 2 people

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