There are 6 specific passages that every Christian needs to carefully examine regarding life after the Old Covenant.
- Galatians 3:10-29 (Old Covenant not enough now)
- Ephesians 2:11-15 (A New Covenant)
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 (The New Covenant Promised)
- Matthew 5:17-43 (Jesus–spirit of the Law)
- Colossians 2:16-23 (food, drink, festivals, or Sabbath)
- Hebrews 4:11-13 (Jesus is our Sabbath Rest)
So, sacrifices, Sabbaths, festivals, tithes, ten commandments, ceremonial laws…what are we to do? How do we choose which ones we follow and which ones we don’t? The point is, we are not bound to any of them because by his grace we are saved…therefore, sin does not condemn us anymore. The law was our guide to what was and what was not sin. If we believe in Jesus, our lives are hidden in Christ and we cannot fail. We are to walk by the Spirit which means his Law will be written on our hearts and not on paper. He will teach us what to do…whether to go to church on Saturday or Sunday (or never), whether to Tithe 1% or 50% of our income, whether to kill or have mercy. One might say, but some of those are already written out for us. We know not to kill, we know that we are not to forsake coming together. My answer is, Jesus tells us to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7; Hebrews 3:11). Which is why Abraham was about to kill his only son even though on paper, it looked wrong. The Holy Spirit is now our teacher, not the law, and God will hold each one accountable for what the Holy Spirit has told each one to do. Not what the Old Testament law said, or the Ten Commandments said, or anything else says. Look at the New Testament and you will see that Paul’s writings overwhelmingly included right attitudes towards people and God rather than specific behaviors. Behaviors are what legalists are made of!
At first glance it seems that Jesus, in Matthew 5, contradicts Paul in his letter to the Galatians and the Ephesians. Jesus demonstrates that what he came to do was FULFILL the law. Not cancel it out. Jesus came to demonstrate what the Law actually looks like when it is accomplished perfectly and left us with a new approach to God–life with the Holy Spirit.
Before the law was given there was a promise given to Abraham (Abrahamic Covenant), the law did not change the promise when it came, it only guided people towards the promise. When the promise was realized in Jesus, the guidelines were no longer needed. Now, the only thing we must do is live in the promise, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. This is done through the power of the Holy Spirit which is given to those who accept Christ.
Why do you think Jesus broke all the rules? Because he walked by the Holy Spirit, not by the letter of the Law. The Spirit is the law perfected because laws are designed to hold people accountable and the Spirit is the ultimate authority.
God does not expect people to adopt the written Jewish laws from Moses–they are fulfilled! What those people who did them were seeking to attain, was attained in Jesus. It is like re-doing a homework assignment that you got a 100% on. We don’t need to do the work because it was done for us. Instead, because Christ got a 100% all we have to do is live by His Spirit.