In many of my discussions with Christians, the topic of the Mosaic law comes up. The Mosaic law contains everything from the Ten Commandments to the prohibition of clothing composed of more than one fabric, and the putting to death of adulterers and gays.
Inevitably, questions arises concerning who the Mosaic law applies to, and whether it should be considered obsolete, or even immoral. In this essay, I search the Bible for answers to these questions.
To provide a quick overview of the essay, I will first present the conclusions I reached after conducting the study. Note that when I speak about the “law”, it should be assumed that I’m referring to the Mosaic law.
1. The law was originally intended for the Israelites and, by extension, all Jews.
2. While the old covenant is tied to the law, rejection of the old covenant does not necessarily require rejection of the law.
3. The new covenant does not render the law immoral, and it may not (depending on where one looks in the Bible) render it obsolete.
4. Jesus and the Apostles do not present an entirely cohesive message regarding the law. In some places they command that it be followed, and in others they reject it.
5. Despite this lack of consistency, the pervading message seems to be the following: obedience to the law, whether by Jew or gentile, is commendable, and even leads to reward in heaven, but it is not required for salvation.
What, then, can we say about Christians who deny that the barbaric and sometimes arbitrary customs laid out in the Mosaic law apply to them? We can say that they are right in at least one sense: adherence to these laws is not required for salvation.
But is it morally good to follow the law? Just about every Biblical reference to the law is consistent with an answer in the affirmative: adherence to the law is commendable, even if it is not required for salvation.
Indeed, the only message that contradicts this conclusion is given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, where he rejects small parts of the law. However, this is the same sermon in which he claims that adherence to the smallest letter of the law will be met with great reward. It is up to each Christian to resolve this contradiction for herself.
Here, then, are links to the rest of the essay, which attempts to provides Biblical support for the above conclusions.
Part 1: The prophets
Part 2: Jesus the law keeper
Part 3: Jesus the law breaker
Part 4: The apostolic law keepers
Part 5: The apostolic law breakers