Does the Old Testament mean anything to us as New Testament believers? If so, how can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not? And if Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, does that mean that we are free to live any way we choose?
Deuteronomy 21 & Deuteronomy 22
Murder, Rape, Rebellious Children & Your Neighbor’s Ox
Deuteronomy 21 & Deuteronomy 22:
3 Kinds of Law
What attention to all the details of life we find here in the Old Testament law—everything from the jurisdiction in a murder case (Deut. 21.1-9) to “Good Samaritan” laws (Deut. 22.1-4) to rape and adultery (Deut. 22.22-30).
But why would God care about different kinds of seeds being sown together (Deut 22.9) or whether different materials were blended into one fabric (Deut. 22.11). Bible passages like these raise the question, “How can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not?”
Sowing seeds and blending fabrics may not seem like hot topics, but the question raised by these passages carries over into more relevant topics like homosexuality and transgender issues.
After all, Deuteronomy, also, says:
5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God (22.5).
And another Old Testament book, Leviticus, has this to say:
19 ‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity. 20 Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her. 21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
Why do 20-22 still apply and not verse 19?
Scholars sometimes divide the law into three parts as a means of explaining and understanding. They are: moral law, ceremonial law, and judicial/civil law.
The moral law relates to the character of God. It includes the Ten Commandments and laws concerning sexual conduct and love for our neighbor. With the exception of the laws concerning the Sabbath, these laws were reinforced and reiterated in the New Testament (Matt. 22.34-40; Rom. 1.18-32; 1 Cor. 6.9-10; Gal. 5.19-21; 1 Thess. 4.3-8). Some would say that Jesus, even, raised the bar on many of these laws (Matt. 5.21-48).
The ceremonial law contained regulations that pertained specifically to the nation of Israel as a people set apart from other nations. Many of those regulations pointed to Christ and were fulfilled in Him. Others were meant to protect the Nation of Israel from being diluted or absorbed into the culture around them. While it included some things that predate it, it did not begin as a whole until the time of Moses.
Much of it was fulfilled in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and other parts were no longer necessary to protect the messianic line. Parts of it were specifically mentioned and done away with in the New Testament. For example, He was the final sacrifice (Jn. 1.36; Rev. 5.6) and all foods and animals were declared clean, eliminating dietary and other ceremonial restrictions (Acts 10.9-16).
The third category is civil law. God ordained civil governments and we are commanded to obey and respect that authority and its laws (Rom. 13.1-7). But all authority is subject to God’s authority (Acts 5.29). Christians, just like wives and children, are not bound to obey when they are commanded to sin or when civil laws contradict God’s laws.
How Do Jesus, the New Covenant, and the Gospel Intersect All This?
Jesus ushered in the New Covenant where the law was to be written on our hearts (Ezek. 11.19; 2 Cor. 3.3). We are to obey and live life God’s way because we love Him (Jn. 14.15) and desire to please Him (2 Cor. 5.9). But to do so, we must know Him—know what He loves, know what He hates. All Scripture, including the Old Testament, was written for our benefit (Rom. 5.4). God does not change (Heb. 13.8); the things He hated then, He hates today. But one important point of the law was to show us that we could never live up to God’s holy standard and to show us our need for a Savior (Rom. 7.7-25).
The Gospel is the Good News that while we all deserve to be stoned or crucified for our sins (Rom. 3.23) and under the law could have been, Jesus Christ died in our place (Jn. 3.16; Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9), but His substitutionary death for us individually is not automatic. Only those who come to the point of saving faith by recognizing that they are utterly sinful and that their only hope is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2.2) are saved.
For those who believe the Gospel, salvation is a free gift, but like any gift it must be received before we can benefit from it (Rom. 3.23, Eph. 2.8-9). And we receive it by faith, by confessing our sin and surrendering our lives to Him and His Lordship (Gal. 2.20; Rom. 10.9-13; Eph. 2.8-9).
So if Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, does that mean we’re free to live any way we choose? The simple answer is “no.” Romans 6.1-2:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
While we won’t live perfectly sinless lives, if we truly belong to Him and have made Him Lord of our lives, the fruit will be a desire to live in ways that are pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5.9). When we sin there will be conviction and unless we repent, God’s discipline (Heb. 12.5-8).
We can’t be deceived into thinking we can live in an on-going sinful lifestyle and be at peace with God. If there is no conviction of sin, it could very well be evidence that we are not truly saved (Matt. 7.21-23).
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6).
“… such were some of you,” past tense. When we belong to Him, God changes us from the inside-out. He gives us new righteous desires and the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit to live righteously.
TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:
Turn to the Lord
Here in this passage the Psalmist is discouraged and overwhelmed. He feels abandoned even by friends and loved ones. But he understands that his help comes from the Lord. He ends this Psalm with the declaration, “O Lord, my salvation!”
When we feel overwhelmed with nowhere to turn, we have a faithful God. Let’s purpose to make Him the first One to whom we turn in times of trouble.
Making Good Use of Our Resources
Verse 27, “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession.”
A lazy man or woman fails to make the most of the resources he or she has, instead he squanders them away.
Are you being a good steward of the resources God has given you? Are you using your time wisely? What about your talents, your spiritual gifts and your finances?
Our Sin and His Holiness
In verses 1-11 we see Peter still involved in his fishing business. After Jesus used his boat to minister to the crowds, He blessed Peter with a huge catch of fish under circumstances that would not have happened naturally. Peter caught a glimpse of who Jesus really was. When he did he fell to his knees and responded, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'”
Likewise, when we see Jesus as He really is, it should expose our hearts and cause us to see ourselves as we really are—sinners in need of a Savior and then in constant need of His help and forgiveness.
Join the Discussion
How do you understand the law and the various aspects of it?
What is the biblical basis for your stand on homosexuality, “gay marriage,” and other topics?
If you’ve been blessed by this post and you know someone else who would benefit, I hope you’ll forward the link to them.
Posts on Homosexuality:
This week’s featured books:
Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope. by Christopher Yuan & Angela Yuan
Coming Out, Then Coming Home
Christopher Yuan, the son of Chinese immigrants, discovered at an early age that he was different. He was attracted to other boys. As he grew into adulthood, his mother, Angela, hoped to control the situation. Instead, she found that her son and her life were spiraling out of control—and her own personal demons were determined to defeat her.
Years of heartbreak, confusion, and prayer followed before the Yuans found a place of complete surrender, which is God’s desire for all families. Their amazing story, told from the perspectives of both mother and son, offers hope for anyone affected by homosexuality.
God calls all who are lost to come home to him. Casting a compelling vision for holy sexuality, Out of a Far Country speaks to prodigals, parents of prodigals, and those wanting to minister to the gay community.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20
When Homosexuality Invades the Family by Ruth Ann Bruce
How should Christian parents respond when they discover their daughter has chosen a homosexual lifestyle? How should they handle the changes is their relationship? How can they deal with the confusion and heartbreak? The author offers biblical hope and answers based on the sufficiency of Scripture and the sovereignty of God.
Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Denny Burk & Heath Lambert
Embrace the Bible’s Hope for Profound Personal Change
Is same-sex attraction sinful, even if it’s not acted on? Bible-believing Christians have personal and pastoral reasons to answer this question well, since our answer will shape how we counsel and encourage our brothers and sisters.
What does it mean for homosexuality to be transformed? Denny Burk and Heath Lambert challenge misconceptions on all sides as they present biblical answers on sexual orientation and change. Ultimately, hope rests not in heterosexuality, human effort, or willpower, but in Christ.
I would love to have you join me on this journey through the Bible. Just sign up for the BIBLE IN A YEAR daily posts so you don’t miss a single one.
Sign up now and receive a copy of “Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life.”
You can also SIGN UP FOR SPECIAL “CHRISTIAN LIVING” posts, including the new series “A Marriage Make in Heaven?”
I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs:
Mondays The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Tuesdays Tea & Word Purposeful Faith Tuesday Talk
Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Messy Marriage Coffee for Your Heart Christian Blogger Linkup Mississippi Mom Writer Wednesday Seeking God in All I Do Women of Intention
Thursdays Booknificent Thursdays Dare2Hear
Fridays Missional Women Faith & Friends Fresh Market Friday Grace & Truth
Sundays Spiritual Sundays
This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!
“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.