Has the Old Testament “law” been abolished?


Has the Old Testament “law” been abolished?

Scripture says in the book of Hebrews that: For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. (Heb. 7:12). The former law is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God (7:18). Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant (7:22) and because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood (7:24). Now the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises (8:6).


Ok, let’s backtrack a bit. By means of a covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, to redeem us, and to guarantee us eternal life in Jesus. These truths, revealed in the Bible, are the basis of Christianity. The Bible is essentially a covenant document. The old covenant included those made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. The new covenant came about during the Messianic age where the Law of God would be written upon the hearts of men:


The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…This is the covenant I will make with the house of
Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people
” (Jer. 31:31, 33).
By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:13) For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law (Heb. 7:12).

 The New Covenant was promised in

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

 It was proclaimed to Abraham:

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3).

 It was fulfilled in Christ:Praise be to the Lord, the God of
Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace
“. (Luke 1:68-79).

The new covenant is where God promises to Man eternal salvation based upon the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

 What is the purpose of the law:

What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator (Gal. 3:19). In fact, if you read on in Galations chapter 4 you will find that Paul gives us the example of Hagar & Sarah as a reminder to “cast out” the old law or covenant.

 The Law prepares us for the gospel

The law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith,” (Gal. 3:24).

 The Law justifies no one.

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law,” (Rom. 3:20).

 We are made righteous in God’s eyes by grace apart from the Law of God. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law,” (Rom. 3:28). “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1).

“Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified,” (Gal. 2:16).  

 The Law is for the ungodly.

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” (1 Tim. 1:8-11).

 Are Christians then still under the law?

Scripture say that “If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Gal. 5:18). However before anyone gets the idea that this is a free ticket to engage in sin, we must also remember what is says a few verses prior: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature*; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:13,14) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature (Gal. 5:16,17). Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:24,25).

 Admittedly Christians are now responsible for upholding a new law: Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).That’s for another post!

There is much more to say on this subject and hopefully this is a good starting point for some dialogue on Biblical law and covenant agreements as relates to present day believers in Christ.



 Jim Richardson


20 Responses

  1. Excellent post, Jim! Talk about letting the Scriptures speak!!

    Do you have any thoughts on the prophets? Specifically, how the prophetic voice of Ezekiel and Daniel speaks to our world today? Would love to read your thoughts on this topic.


  2. Well said and exposited, Jim! And my pastor loved your recent Ezekiel 33 reference. Sez he feels just like a ‘rock star’ sometimes, and then comes crashing down when folks who need to do something about sin in their lives, don’t.

    God bless you.

  3. Thanks 49er!

    I shall endevour to post more like it as the Lord leads. I’m in the middle of Daniel right now and enjoying reading about Daniel’s visions and then hearing the interpretation thereof. Please tell your Pastor thanks and that I am (believe me) truly humbled.

    God bless!

    Jim Richardson

  4. Bill,

    I was just telling 48er that I’m in the middle of Daniel right now and enjoying reading about Daniel’s visions, then hearing the interpretation thereof. I’ll ask the Lord to lead me in a discussion on that subject. I can say without hesitation that ALL of God’s Word is being used to speak to His saints in these last days.

    I’d REALLY like to get into Hebrews:

    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
    Hebrews 1:1,2

    I can’t wait!

    Jim Richardson

  5. He has truly promised us exciting – and perplexing times. And by just looking around at the world in our midst, one can’t help sensing a certain degree of prophetical fulfillment.

    Gless bless your studies, Jim.

  6. I see you have quickly moved away from the abortion discussion. this one is more interesting to me, anyway.

    Covenants involved promises,oath, pledge (whatever word you like) by all involved parties. So, even for the anti-nomiam brethren (always seems to be a lot of them), God has expectations and calls us to live a certain way (I would personally just say he commands us, and wants obedience but those are dirty words).

    It’s funny, how we all have diferent terminology but really are saying the same thing. Different ones object to different words and phrases.

    thanks for the post

  7. Do you do anything more with your musings than post them on the web?
    God bless
    Maria in the UK

  8. Maria,

    I wish!!!

    No, this is it. However, I would love for the Lord to use me in any way He chooses. In the meantime, this blog is about the things that interest me while any accompanying spiritual comments posted are, I pray, under the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    I can tell you that I LOVE the dialouge and I love meeting new brothers and sisters in the Lord in different parts of the world. It does seem that blogs are currently the best way to acheive this.

    Thanks Maria!


  9. Bill,

    Try this message concerning the prophecies of Ezekiel and Daniel by Ray C. Stedman on for size: http://www.raystedman.org/highlights/ch19.html

    Lord bless,


  10. Jim:

    I guess we’re not under the law dispensation any more since Christ died. (See Hebrews 9:16–For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.). We’ve got a NEW and BETTER covenant now in the NEW TESTAMENT. We don’t observe the specific laws and ordinances any more, but the spirit behind the law still applies. We still believe in the 10 commandments, right? The law was a SCHOOLMASTER to lead us to CHRIST! Did you ever hear the expression (in reference to the 2 testaments): “The OLD is the new CONTAINED. The NEW is the OLD explained. I like that l’il synopsis!

  11. Tommy,

    The Sabbath is the only commandment that is not mentioned in the New Covenant which makes sense in light of Hebrews chapter 4. Christians can now enter into the Sabbath “rest” of Jesus, resting from our “works” as He rested from His.

    “There remains, then, a Sabbath‑rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.”

    We are resting as God is “resting”….seven days a week!


  12. Hello,
    These are excellent Scripture references which I have also referenced in my own studies, and also some good discussion here. Could you please tell me what you think of Matt 5:17-18? Right now, I am dealing with a group of believers who claim that we are still to keep the Torah and they use this verse to back up their claims. I believe they take it out of context. I am not looking for a reason to sin. I have a heart that truly wants to please the Father and strive to live a holy life by keeping two commandments: Loving God with all my being and loving my neighbor as myself. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

    In Messiah,

  13. […] Originally Posted by Jerry I know that he did not, yes. Your opinion is wrong. Has the Old Testament ?law? been abolished? Thy Word is Truth! […]

  14. […] Originally Posted by Intransigent Atheist I often read posts out there on the Internet that distinguish between which Old Testament laws Christians are supposed to adhere to. For example, homosexuality would fall under moral law while not eating shellfish would fall under ceremonial law. Is there a consensus among Christian demoninations as to which laws must still be obeyed? Also, can anyone point me to a resource that lists these laws by type? You can read here: Has the Old Testament ?law? been abolished? Thy Word is Truth! […]

  15. I know this is an old post but as Becky asked could you address this verse: Matt 5:17-18

  16. Hiya, excellent post. I think I can add something about Matt 5:17-18. Jesus did not come to abolish (demolish, destroy) the Law, for the Law still applies to non-redeemed persons (see the 1 Tim ref above), he came to fulfil (pleroo – satisfy) the demands of the Law, bringing to an end the contract of sacrifices for sin, by being the Ultimate sacrifice, once for all.

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