How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Forgiveness in the Old TestamentDid forgiveness in the Old Testament take place through sacrifices or human effort? Forgiveness was received in the Old Testament the same way it’s received in the New Testament: by grace through faith.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and the Lord will show them His covenant.” The Lord reveals the New Covenant and the grace and mercy of it through David, before Jesus instituted the New Covenant at the Last Supper (Luke 22:20).

According to God’s Law, David committed two sins that should’ve resulted in death: adultery and murder. A few things made David’s terrible sins even worse:

  • David’s accountability. He knew God’s Law well.
  • David had been very blessed. God brought him of that shepherd’s field where he was a nobody born to a no-name family. Then God turned him into the rich and powerful king of Israel.
  • David’s sins were premeditated. He planned out all the details, even writing a letter to Joab that he had Uriah himself carry. It was one of the darkest moments in the Old Testament.

David’s sins should not have received forgiveness

If anyone deserved death it was David, but this is also why David’s situation provides one of the greatest examples of God’s grace and mercy in all of Scripture. Nathan the Prophet confronted David, and he responded, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13a). Continue reading “How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?”

What Foods Should Christians NOT Eat?

Are there any foods Christians should not eat?

The New Testament is overwhelmingly clear there are no food restrictions for Christians

Consider the following verses:

Matthew 15:11 Jesus said, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth.”

The Greek word for “defile” is koinoō. It means, “to make common, or unclean, or profane.” No food can make you unholy.

Mark 7:18-19 Jesus said, “Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus, thus purifying all foods.”

Jesus said all foods are pure.

Romans 14:17 The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

“Righteousness and peace and joy” are the weightier mattersPeople obsessed with food are missing the focus of the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 8:8 Food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

People are not “better” if they don’t eat certain things.

Acts 10:12-15 [There] were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.  A voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”

The sheet contained all kinds of clean and unclean animals. God told Peter all animals are now clean.

Colossians 2:16 Let no one judge you in food or in drink.

There’s no verse saying, “Let no one judge you in lying, bitterness, or serving.” These are immoral. But Paul says, “Let no one judge [what you eat],” because food is amoral or spiritually neutral. What Christians eat has nothing to do with spirituality. There are no foods that – at least for spiritual reasons – Christians should avoid.

Continue reading “What Foods Should Christians NOT Eat?”

Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?

Notice the title says, “Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?” versus “Should Christians give a tithe…” or “Can Christians give a tithe…” If you want to give a tenth, that’s fine. I know wonderful Christians who say, “God expected a tenth in the Old Testament, so I want to give a tenth in the New Testament.” Many people look at the Mosaic Law for principles to apply today, including in the area of giving, and that’s fine. But if you think Christians have to give a tenth, that’s different and you should keep a few things in mind.

Also, notice the title doesn’t say, “Should Christians give?” The answer to that question is, “Yes!” Please check out this post to see how much should Christians give.

First, Christians are not under the Mosaic Law

Giving a tenth was commanded under the Mosaic Law. Christians are under the Law of Christ, which carries forth the morality in the Mosaic Law: “Do not lie…steal…murder…commit adultery.” You see all these commands confirmed in the New Testament. But the ceremonial commands – including those related to giving a tenth – are not maintained.

Second, God commanded giving a number of tithes

There was a tithe for the Levites, the use of the temple and the feasts, and the poor of the land. This actually pushed the total closer to 23.3%. Continue reading “Do Christians Have to Give a Tithe?”

The Law of Christ: the Law Christians are under

Law of ChristChristians are no longer under the Mosaic Law, but we are under the Law of Christ.

“What is the Christian’s relationship to the Old Testament, or Mosaic Law?”

Not only is this one of the most common questions I receive, it’s also one of the most confusing. Since we’re under the New Covenant instead of the Old, this makes some people think we’re under no law whatsoever. This practically implies license to sin.

As much as the Old Covenant contained a Law, the New Covenant contains a Law

  • Galatians 6:2 If we bear one another’s burdens, we fulfill the Law of Christ.
  • In 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 Paul said he was not under the [Mosaic Law], but under the Law of Christ.

The Law of Christ is summarized in a few passages:

  • Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
  • Romans 13:8-10 He who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
  • Galatians 5:14 All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The Law of Christ is a more concise version of the Mosaic Law. Rather than try to remember 613 commands, Christians focus on loving God and loving others. In doing so we fulfill the Law of Christ.

The Law of Christ sets a higher standard than the Mosaic Law

Six times Jesus quotes the Mosaic Law saying, “You have heard that it was said…”, then adds, “But I say to you…” In each instance He sets the bar higher:

  1. Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder (Exo 20:13; Deut 5:17) But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment.”
  2. Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Exo 20:14; Deut 5:18) But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
  3. Matthew 5:31-32 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ (Deut 24:1) But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery.”
  4. Matthew 5:33-34 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ (Lev 19:12; Num 30:2; Deut 23:21) But I say to you, do not swear at all.”
  5. Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ (Exo 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21) But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
  6. Matthew 5:43-44  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor (Lev 19:18) and hate your enemy.’ (Deut 23:6) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

The Law of Christ looks to sin in the heart

  • What was previously sinful physically – murder and adultery – is now sinful when it takes place in our hearts.
  • What was previously allowed – divorce, oaths, and retribution – is now forbidden.
  • What was previously not commanded – loving our enemies – is now commanded.

We couldn’t keep the Mosaic Law which had the purpose of revealing our sinfulness (Rom 3:20, 5:20, 7:7). How much less can we keep the higher Law of Christ?

Thank God for His love and mercy in giving a Savior. By grace through faith we receive forgiveness and righteousness we could never obtain on our own (justification). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His grace mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3).

Do you have any questions on the Mosaic Law or the Law of Christ? As a Christian did you see yourself under Law? If so, which one?

You can listen to a sermon I preached on this topic here.

Balancing Liberty & Holiness

From the administration of the sacrifices to the setting up and tearing down of the tabernacle, the precision of the Mosaic Law was really amazing. With 613 commands (365 negative, telling people what not to do, and 248 positive, telling people what to do), the question was never, “What should or shouldn’t we do?” the question was, “How perfect can we be?” and the answer was, “Far from perfect.” Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. As a result, God graciously provided the New Covenant, so we are no longer under law but grace (Rom 6:14). We breathe a deep sigh of relief and it’s like, “Ahhh…grace.”

The problem though – and truthfully I almost feel a little bad saying this – is we lose the exactness of the Law. With the New Covenant comes the responsibility for each man to be fully convinced in his own mind (Rom 14:5). We have to decide for ourselves what our consciences allow (1 Cor 8:7, 10). There are times I almost wish I didn’t have the liberty afforded under the New Covenant; I wish I had a tutor in the language of Galatians 3:24 telling me what to do and not do. I wish I had the clarity of the Old Covenant helping me navigate certain situations. The Law might have felt like an “unbearable yoke” in the words of Paul in Acts 15:10, but I bet people didn’t walk around saying, “Hmmm…how do we handle this grey area?

I know the New Covenant actually calls us to a higher standard than even was found under the Old Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly said, “You have heard it was said not to _____ but I tell you not to EVEN _____” (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44). The Law forbids physical murder and physical adultery, but Jesus forbid committing those sins in our hearts…the Law was an eye for an eye, but Jesus said turn the other cheek; He was setting an almost exponentially higher standard. A verse I’ve really been meditating on is: Hebrews 12:14 Without holiness no one will see the Lord. I read this and think: “I can’t see God without holiness? No salvation without holiness? Holiness is pretty serious.” I don’t take the verse to mean our salvation is earned by being holy, as that would conflict with the Gospel; however, I do think it means holiness is a byproduct of salvation; it’s something salvation produces. Saved people strive for holiness. The absence of holiness would seem to be evidence of being unsaved. Jesus called His disciples to a higher level of obedience, but what I’d say He really called us to is a higher level of holiness…higher than even the Law commanded.