Skip to main content

The OT Law in the Life of the Church

Today’s blog is on a subject that is dear to my heart. What is the role of the OT Law in the life of the church? When I first had the desire to preach/share the gospel with people, I searched for a method. One of the methods that I came across was promoted by a man named Ray Comfort who lives in California. He called his method, “The Way of the Master.” I read his book, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret.”

In his book Ray speaks of the evangelist as being a salesman and gives four principles for selling: relate to the person, create on opportunity, convict of sin, reveal Jesus Christ.1 However, the majority of the book does not focus on who Jesus Christ is or His death, burial and resurrection, but on the third principle which is conviction.

“The way to produce conviction in the heart of a sinner is to take him through the Ten Commandments.”2 According to Ray Comfort, using the ten Commandments to bring conviction, is Hell’s Best Kept Secret. He describes the Ten Commandments as being like ten great cannons pointed at the sinner.3

It was early in 2010 when I read this book. I had been following the Lord Jesus Christ and reading His word daily for about seven years when the Lord gave me the desire to share the gospel with people. I saw logic in using the Law to Convict the sinner and liked the structured approach taught by ray Comfort in the Way of the Master. Therefore, I took off and ran with it. I connected with others who were using this method and went on mission trips preaching in open-air.

All the while something about using the Law this way nagged me. I had been reading the scriptures daily and kept reading them daily. I knew that there were many more laws given in the Pentateuch4 than the Ten Commandments. The apostle Paul did not believe that he or any other Christian was under the Law.5 The question that I kept asking (silently); “Why the Ten Commandments and not these other Laws?” In fact, there are more than six hundred commandments given in the Pentateuch.6

I was told that there were different types of laws given in the Pentateuch: ceremonial laws, civil laws and moral laws. I was told that we are no longer under the ceremonial laws or civil laws to keep them, but solely under the moral laws. This really did not make since to me for two reasons:

1. There is not a clear distinction in scripture between ceremonial, civil and moral laws; in the way that they are given, they are all moral.

2. I found nothing in scripture that said that the ceremonial and civil laws are done away, but we must keep following the moral laws.

What is the role of the OT Law in the life of the church?

It wasn’t until I understood covenant that I understood the role of the OT Law in the Life of the church. Covenant is a major theological theme throughout the Pentateuch7 and not only the Pentateuch, but the entire Bible. Covenant: “a solemn commitment guaranteeing promises or obligations undertaken by one or both covenanting parties.”8 There are several covenants in scripture, but the major theological covenants are: Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. In order to understand the role of the OT law in the life of the Church, you must first know what covenant(s) you as believer in Jesus Christ are under.

I am a gentile, that means that I am a non-Jewish person. I am a Christian, that means I follow Jesus Christ as Lord and put my trust solely upon Him for salvation. The Mosaic covenant was given by God to the Israelites, in the desert, at Mt. Sinai, through a mediator named Moses.9 I have never been an Israelite. The OT Law is a covenantal law, if the Israelites kept the Law, God would bless them with physical blessing and if they did not keep the Law, God would curse them with physical curses.10

The prophet Jeremiah speaking for God, spoke of a New Covenant to come.11 It is this New covenant that was ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross and promised to all who repent and believe, both the Jew and the Gentile.12 Listen to what the writer of Hebrews says about this, “When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.”13 Not only were gentiles never under the Mosaic covenant with the laws to keep them; that covenant is now obsolete, because there is a New Covenant in Christ Jesus.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”14 Christ has given many commandments for us to follow as Christians; some OT laws He restates, some He modifies, some He intensifies, some He changes and some He does away with all together.15 Take for example the eating of certain foods in Mark 7:14-23. Have you ever eaten a Ham Sandwich? It was forbidden in the OT Law.16

Therefore, since Christians are not under the OT laws to keep them, what is the role of OT Law in the life of the church? The overarching principle that the OT law teaches is that God is Holy.17 Therefore, the role of the OT Law in the life of the church is to teach us the Holiness of God.


[1] Ray Comfort, Hell’s Best Kept Secret (Bellflower: Ray Comfort, 2004)., 112-113.
[2] Ibid, 167.
[3] Ibid, 34.
[4] The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible.
[5] Cf. Romans 6:14-15, 1 Corinthians 9:20-21, Galatians 3, 4:21 & 5:18.
[6] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 355.
[7] T. Desmond Alexander and David w. Baker, Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 139.
[8] Ibid.
[9] cf. Exodus 19:5-24:8.
[10] Cf. Deu 28.
[11] Cf. Jer 31:31-34.
[12] Cf. Rom 10:12-13.
[13] Heb 8:13, NASB.
[14] Rom 6:15, NASB.
[15] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 363.
[16] Lev 11:7 & Deu 14:8.
[17] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 367.


Bibliography

Alexander, T. Desmond, and David W. Baker, . Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Comfort, Ray. Hell's Best Kept Secret. Bellflower: Ray Comfort, 2004.

Duvall, J. Scott, and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God's Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible. Third. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

The Holy Bible: Updated New American Standard Bible. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.