Does Old Testament law still apply today?
Sometimes it seems like laws from the Old Testament no longer apply to us, and sometimes they do. How can we tell if an Old Testament law still applies today? It is important to distinguish between the ceremonial law, the civil law, and the moral law.
The ceremonial law—Many of the laws given to ancient Israel were ceremonial; that is, they were largely symbolic or sacramental. Dietary laws, laws concerning sacrifices, and laws regarding “clean” and “unclean” (to name 3 examples) were temporary and topological. They have been fulfilled in Christ and no longer apply to us today.
The civil law—The civil law refers to laws for the government of ancient Israel as a nation. Laws regarding going to war, or putting criminals to death, are examples of what we call civil or judicial law. Since Israel itself no longer exists as a
nation (modern-day Israel not-withstanding), the civil laws of ancient Israel no longer apply except where there is general equity.
The moral law—The moral law refers to God’s unchanging standards of right and wrong. Summarized in the 10 Commandments, the moral law is a direct reflection of God’s moral character and therefore still applies today.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear
of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:7-9)
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