Valley Station, Ky.
We must "rightly" divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Many have wrongly divided it by saying the old testament is as binding as the new, not realizing there is a great difference between the two. This misunderstanding is the cause of many false doctrines and practices such as Sabbath observance, eat – no – pork, incense burning, et cetera.
Since man cannot know his duty to God unless he knows what law is binding on him it is very important that he clearly understand whether the old law of Moses is binding. Not was it binding at one time (it was) but is it now? Not is it true (it is) but is it binding? Must we obey its commands to observe the Sabbath, burn incense, practice circumcision religiously and offer animal sacrifices on an altar? These instructions are recorded and true in the old testament and were binding therein, but are they now to be observed?
The commands of God were always binding only upon those to whom they were given. God commanded Noah to build an ark (Gen. 6:12-22) but it was never binding on Abraham or Isaac, nor does it apply to us. God commanded Abraham to offer his son for a burnt offering (Gen. 22:2) but this command was never applicable to anyone else at any time in any age. The old law of Moses was given to the Jews only (Deut. 5:1-3; Exodus 20:1-17). It never was applicable to the Gentiles, even when it was binding upon the Jews. Thus if it were binding today I t would not apply to the Gentiles! But what saith the Bible?
Its Fulfillment and Abrogation
The writer of Hebrews quoted an old testament prophecy (Jer. 31 :31-34) which foretold that God was to make a new covenant and said that the old was ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8: 8-14.) He affirms that Christ came to do God's will and that "he taketh away the first that he may establish the second.- (Heb. 10:9.) Christ came not to destroy the law or make its prophecies but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17, 18.) He did what he came to do.
The law was given "because of transgressions till the seed should come to whom the promise was made." (Gal. 3:19.) The seed was Christ (V. 16.) The word "till" shows the law would end when the seed (Christ) came. It was a schoolmaster to bring the Jews to Christ. But when Christ came there was no longer any need for the schoolmaster (the law). (Gal. 3:23-25.) Hence Christ "took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col. 2:14) and gave us the new law.
Since we are no longer under the old law Paul says "let no man therefore judge you in meat, or drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days" (Col. 2:16). Believe no man who says you must now observe the Sabbath, abstain from meats (read I Tim. 4: 1-5) or do any part of the old law.
Some false teachers bewitched the Galatian Christians with their perverted gospel, saying they had to keep the old law. (Gal. 1:6-9; 2:3, 4; 3:1.) In the book of Galatians the apostle Paul wrote that they had been "removed" from the Lord (V. 6). He said in chapter 5 that (1) they should not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage (the old law) (V. I) ; (2) If they were circumcised "Christ shall profit you nothing" (V. 2) ; (3) If they observed one point of the law they were obligated to observe the whole law (V. 3) ; (4) "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; YE ARE FALLEN FROM GRACE" (V. 4). Thus if the Christian seeks to live under the old law he is fallen from grace.
Christ is the mediator of the new testament (Heb. 8:15). "He taketh away the first that he may establish the second. By the which will (the new testament – E.F.) we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Heb. 10: 9, 10.) See Mark 16:15, 16; Heb. 5:9; Rom. 1:16.