Lesson 10 -- third quarter 2003
August 3, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
What do we do with the Old Testament?
Since we need it, we should treasure it, not trash it. The Old Testament gives us the historical, cultural, and theological background and foundation for the New Testament. Thus we cannot hope to understand and apply the New without a solid acquaintance with and appreciation for the Old.
Thankfully, though, the New Testament guides us in knowing what place to give the Old Testament in our lives. We know, for example, that the Old Testament laws regarding vengeance and retribution have no place in the life of God's people now because the New Testament leaves those things to God and calls on us to forgive, to love, and to bless our enemies. We also know that the Old Covenant laws of sacrifices, rites, and special days have been fulfilled in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. These latter laws pointed forward to and prepared the way for Jesus; now that He is here, we do not look back in order to live by the old symbols and types.
Never underestimate the value of the Old Testament. That Old Covenant is just as much God-breathed as the New, so find in both of them inspiration, challenge, and direction for living. We are still supposed to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets" (2 Peter 3:2). So love it and, in a New Testament context, live it!
Free from myself!
So many people like to talk about and exult in freedom from law and legalism. They enthusiastically toss aside the Old Testament and vigorously reject anything in the church that smacks to them of control and regulations. They claim freedom for themselves even while forgetting (or at least disregarding) the inescapable fact that they are far from free. You see, they still live in bondage to themselves.
In Romans 7 we see a very realistic portrait of someone who struggles with his own sin-full and sin-inclined body. This person struggles mightily to live righteously, but always confronts an adversary that cuts him no slack, consistently defeating his efforts to please God. Unfortunately, that adversary is his own flesh. An entity that should be on his side is actually working against him! No wonder Romans 7:24 first exclaims, "O wretched man that I am!" and then groans in defeat and exasperation, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Being stuck in this body for this life, are we then doomed to ongoing, unavoidable defeat and bondage?
No! The very next three verses change the gloomy scene into one gleaming with hope "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 7:25). The artificial chapter division shouldn't interrupt the train of thought: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.... For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2).
There you have it, my friend -- the Lord Jesus sets us free from ourselves. In Galatians 2:20 we read it this way: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Free from myself, oh happy condition!
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