Written by Dr. Joey Krol
Ever have a conversation with someone about God’s view on a matter, such as homosexuality, abortion or sme-sex “marriage,” and they bring up some wild response from the Old Testament law as a defense? They say, “What about not eating shellfish?” Or, “what about wearing mixed fabrics?” They dig up certain passages on restrictions on beard trimming, or keeping your hair at a certain length. They do this to downgrade the validity of the Scriptures, but also to create doubt on the Word of God. However, by people making these statements from the Old Testament law within that context actually shows their lack of understanding of the Holy Scriptures.
First, we need to understand the different types of law in the Old Testament.
There were some ceremonial laws that had specific instructions meant to distinguish the Israelites from pagans, to have right-standing with God and to remember His faithfulness to their ancestors. These instructions included sacrifices of animals, circumcision, honoring the feasts and many others. These do not apply to the church today because Christ made us in right standing with God. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Second, civil law in the Old Testament dealt with disputes and conflicts between individuals. It focused on the day-to-day activities of the Jews. It focused on restitution for crimes committed, practices for justice, how to handle family inheritances and a bunch of other civil matters. While the culture back then and the culture today are radically different, the principles behind the commands should guide the way we treat one another. When it comes to civil matters today, Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
There is an aspect of Old Testament law that still exists today, the moral law. The moral law is based on God’s holy nature, which does not change. It includes Idolatry, human sexuality, loving God, loving your neighbor, sexual sins, etc. The moral law has no expiration because it is based on God’s holiness and character. Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change.” As believers in Christ, we are not saved by the moral law but by the finished work of the cross. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” While we’re not saved by keeping the moral law, when we fully follow Christ, we should naturally bear godly fruit. When we bear godly fruit, we will naturally uphold the moral law.
So go ahead, trim your beard, get a haircut, and enjoy a nice platter of shrimp—and celebrate your freedom in Jesus Christ.
Dr. Joey Krol is the Senior Pastor of Galilee Baptist Church in Decatur, IL and is the author of “Common Misunderstandings about God, Jesus and The Bible.” Pastor Joey is married to Aubrey and they have two children, Timothy and Hannah.