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Question 143

Hi Father I have a question about the old testament and if we are still bound by the Laws, or are we exempt from them because of our Lord         

 

Answer to Question 143

 

The Mosaic Law, the Law of the Old Testament and all the Jewish festivals like the Jewish Passover were given to Israel for one purpose only; to prepare them spiritually for the coming of the Messiah. Christ the Messiah is the same God of the Old Testament that gave them the Law, thus when he came as a man he didn't come to destroy the law which he had given, but came to fulfil it and renew it. Christ said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. As already said, the purpose of the Old Testament Law was to prepare Israel for the coming of Christ, but the laws and observances were not perfect. The people were still in an age of darkness without the grace and light of the Holy Spirit to enlighten them and show them a different and superior code of conduct. As preparation for the coming of Christ, the Law of the Old Testament was given to teach the people right from wrong. Without the Law there was no definition of what was pleasing to God for as St. Paul says “I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said ‘you shall not covet’”. (Romans 7:7)  The law then defined what sin was and without it the people were unaware of its existence. But even with the law, the people were not ready to accept spiritual laws like turning the other cheek and loving their enemies. They needed to be educated slowly and in a way they could understand. An eye for an eye was, for that period of time before grace, the most effective law, because in the majority of cases the fear in breaking the law held them bound to keeping the law.  Our best teacher to help us understand the Old Law and how things changed with the coming of Christ is St. Paul. He said: “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 22:26.) “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11).  The Old law can then be likened as laws for children who are not ready to think like adults, but by this I mean they are like children in the spirit who have not grown spiritually. We can explain this using an image of our modern day educational system. The Old Testament is like the education we are given in infant and junior schools and the New Testament like the education we are given in senior school. University, which is optional, can be likened to those who have put into practice the teaching of the New Testament and have received a master’s degree in the spiritual life. With the coming of Christ a new covenant was given and with the new covenant a new law. That is why St. Paul says: “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6: 14), and that “the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (2 Cor. 3: 6). Paul also tells us the Old Law and its ordinances acted like a middle wall of partition, a barrier that separated and kept apart the Jew from the Gentiles. (Ephesians 2: 14-16)  It encouraged discrimination and hatred of the Gentiles to the point where any contact of a Jew with a Gentile was considered unclean and contaminating. At that time this barrier and separation was necessary to protect the Jews from the idol worshipping Greeks. But Christ brought down this wall of partition in his flesh. With his death on the Cross, Christ abolished and put to death the enmity that existed before and brought about the reconciliation of both Jew and Gentile with themselves and with God. By destroying the middle wall of partition and abolishing the commandments of the Old Law, Christ proceeds to the making of a new creation. Christ is the new man and the true image of God, the prototype and the first-fruit of the new mankind. In his person Christ creates a new man, the new humanity which without any discrimination consists of both Jews and Gentiles. The Old Law which separated the Jew from the Gentile had no place in the new humanity, it had to be abolished for a new law in Christ, a new law teaching peace and reconciliation, a new law of love for all people.