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Do Christians Have to Follow Old Testament Laws?

Cheryl Mascarenhas Mar 18, 2020
One of the most important questions that hounds most Christians is that of adhering to the rules given in the Old Testament. Rigid as they may seem, the books of the Old Testament contain the rules of the Old Covenant, and it is wise to note that some of these laws are repeated in the New Testament. Let's find out if we are still bound by the Mosaic laws.

Did you Know...

Apart from the 10 fundamental commandments, there are 613 laws stated in the Old Testament.
The laws mentioned in the Old Testament were meant to distinguish the idolaters from the Israelite. Some of these laws were meant to teach the Israelite to worship, obey, and please God, while others were meant to teach them to atone for their sins.
These laws can be seen more as a way of life that the Israelite were called to observe, rather than just a covenant made for salvation. While some of these laws still make sense, it is true that none of the laws bind Christians today.
The seed for which the Israelite waited was fulfilled with the birth of Christ. The birth of a savior as prophesied by the prophets in the Old Testament makes obsolete any other law that the people were called to observe. So to say, the laws in the Old Testament are essential to learn about the seed of faith, that we, as Christians, are called to believe in.
Christians are not required to follow the Old Testament rules about crimes, punishments, warfare, slavery, diet, circumcision, sacrifices, observance of feast days and ritualistic cleaning. However, as Christians, we are called to abide by the morals and teachings laid down by Christ. In keeping with this light, we ought to remember that...
...Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
―Romans 10:4 (ESV)
The laws mentioned in the Old Testament should be considered a guardian, guiding people to accept the coming of Christ. Galatians, Chapter 3, reminds us that we were blessed with the Spirit, not by the works of the law, but by the mere act of placing our faith in the Lord.
Just as Abraham believed in the promise made by God, so must we believe in the promise made and fulfilled by God, through His son Jesus Christ.
Christians are called to believe in the fact that, through the sacrifice on the cross, He has redeemed all of us from the transgressions of the past. Christ is the seed that had to take life, to fulfill the promise made to the people of Israel in the Old Testament.
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. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
―Matthew 5:17-18 (ESV)
The teachings of Christ, however, are undeniably based on the laws of the Old Testament. Christ commands us to love God wholeheartedly, and accept our neighbor as ourselves. To put it mildly, Matthew 22:37-39 is Christ's summary of the 10 Commandments given to Moses in the Old Testament.
If you truly love your neighbor, you wouldn't be searching for means to put down your neighbor, nor would you be interested in coveting that which belongs to another. Which means that, indirectly, we are referring to the commandments given to the people of Israel mentioned in the Old Testament.
It is best to remember that, we, as Christians, are called to follow each of the commandments given to us, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment" (CCC 2053).
Bear one another burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
―Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
Christ's law, as given in the New Testament, perfects the laws given in the Old Testament. Jesus did not abolish the moral and ethical laws which were in effect from the time of Moses, but, on the contrary, he affirmed and expanded those very principles.
While the Old Testament forbids consuming anything that is unclean, Christ simply states that whatever comes out of a man defiles him/her. Christ's law states that we should not be labeling or judging anything as good or evil, but accept everyone as our own. Partiality in dealing with those around is also forbidden, in the law of Christ.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
―James 2:10 (ESV)
The whole purpose of the laws in the Old Testament is to point us to our need for a savior, that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The nails that bound Christ to the cross held fast the laws mentioned in the Old Testament. The death of Christ saw the death of the Old Covenant, and with his resurrection, Christians are bound by the laws of the New Covenant.
All but the commandment to observe the Sabbath is repeated in the New Testament. Christ himself rebuked the stringent laws of observing the Sabbath, but that doesn't mean, we, as Christians, have fallen slack in praising the Lord.
God, in his immense love for all mankind, gave up his only Son as a Holy sacrifice, and it is our moral obligation to love God, and in reverence, obey His commands.
In the end, it is not so much about following the laws mentioned in the Old Testament, but about loving God and our neighbor that matters. By obeying the commandments given to us by God the Father, we would only be upholding all that God wants from us.