One of the greatest sources of confusion when it comes to understanding the Bible is centered on the Old Testament Law. Why did God give it? Is it all still binding on believers today? If not, why not?
People naturally respond in one of three ways. (1) Some people think that all of the Old Testament Law is binding on all believers, and so they strive to obey all of it. (2) Some people think that the Old Testament Law is now meaningless and serves no purpose, so they ignore it. (3) Other people have no idea what to think about it, so they don’t give any thought to it.
All of the above responses are incorrect. It is when we understand what the law does that we can begin to understanding the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law.
What the Old Testament Law Does
1- The Old Testament Law reveals the nature and the character of God.
It is through the O.T. Law that we learn that God is holy, righteous, and opposed to sin. Leviticus 20:26 says that we are to be holy. Why? Because God is holy. The law of God flows from the character of God, and it is in the O.T. Law that we see that character.
2- The Old Testament Law reveals sin.
Several verses in Romans point to this truth such as Romans 3:20 and Romans 4:15. But perhaps none is more clear than Romans 7:7 which says, “…if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin…” The law reveals sin, but more than that, it also shows the seriousness of that sin.
3-The Old Testament Law shows God’s desire for His people to be distinct.
Many of the dietary and ceremonial laws were all about God demonstrating his desire for his followers to be distinct from the world around them. Believers are to be holy and distinct from the surrounding world, and this is demonstrated in the O.T. Law.
4- The Old Testament Law points us to Christ.
Galatians 3:24 says that “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ…” While the law demanded righteousness, it could not create it. The law cannot give life. The Law proclaims, “I cannot save you.” It points us to Christ because not only did Christ fulfill the Law, but it is only though faith in Christ that we can have salvation.
So the next time someone you know seems confused about the “Why?” of the Old Testament Law, feel free to explain how it is through the Law that we learn about God, the seriousness of sin, and God’s desire for his people to be distinct. Also, share how that the law points us to Christ — the only source of true life.