Thursday, September 17, 2009

That Was Old Testament

I have been reading everyone's favorite book of the Bible - Leviticus. If you've read it you know that there are a lot of do's and don'ts (how to pluralize don't properly?). It got me to wondering why some of these don'ts have become "OK you can do that now". There are many people, and I have probably been one of them on occasion, who say something like, "Well, that was 'Old Testament'". Ohhhhkay - so just because it's in the OT means we should no longer abide by it?

Let me go ahead and tell you specifically what I'm wondering about. TATTOOS. Leviticus 19:28 says, "You shall not make cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD." Now, this is the only place in the Bible where I could find the word "tattoo". I don't know if God is talking about ALL sorts of tattoos that people get for any number of reasons, or if the emphasis should be placed on the part of the verse that says, "for the dead". Apparently this was a custom of pagans during that time and God didn't want His people doing that sort of thing. So, tattoos are OK if they're not "for the dead". This was just ONE of MANY laws given and for the most part, most of those laws are still, for the most part, observed today: Keeping the Sabbath (debate on which day is the Sabbath, but I won't go there), no idols, do not defraud your neighbor, do not hate your brother, do not practice magic or sorcery. These are just a few of the laws given in this specific chapter. There are many others like: no marrying your sister and such. There are also laws about not cutting your hair/beard a certain way. So I'm just wondering when it became OK to stop following these laws. Deuteronomy 11:1 instructs His people to "keep His requirements, His decrees, His laws and His commands ALWAYS" (emphasis mine).

Some will argue that because Christ and died on the cross we are now covered by grace. I get that. HOWEVER, Christ said in Matthew 5:17-18, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Paul tells us in Romans 3 that we are no longer saved by keeping the Law, HOWEVER, in verse 31 he says, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law".

Now don't think that I'm hatin' on people with tattoos. I'm not. I am only using this one as an example. I am simply thinking out loud here, which is usually dangerous in my case! I have not exhausted all of the verses in Scripture that deal with the Law. Honestly, I don't know if I can - there are SO MANY verses that talk about God's laws, which makes me again wonder why we do what we do today. Why do we fall back on the saying, "that was Old Testament"?


Brenda said...

These things are confusing to me as well. As far as the tattoo verse... I thought that was specifically for the Levitical priests. I've always had the understanding that we didn't live under Old Testament law anymore. But then what about the 10 Commandments for example? If we love God we're going to want to obey Him and follow those rules right? Then a couple weeks ago I was having my morning devotions and read 1 Corinthians 11:4-16. That's New Testament but we don't practice those things. I was so burdened and frustrated not knowing what parts of the Bible actually pertain to us today. Sometimes it seems the more I study the Bible, the more confused I get.

Christy said...

Well, it's certainly not my intention to confuse anyone. I guess I am hoping to get people thinking and studying the Word themselves more than anything. I know that is something you do. All of the laws, decrees, etc. that are given in the Bible are extremely numerous. I believe strongly that our God does NOT want us to be weighted down with legalism. The entire reason Christ came to die for us was because we are not capable of living a sinless life - we CAN'T follow the rules! BUT, the rules were given and I'm not so sure that they were meant to be forgotten because of the Christ's sacrifice. So what I'm wondering is, how many of those rules have people throughout the years, picked and chosen to stop following just because it's more comfortable or because it's "part of the culture at that time". Exodus 29:29 says, "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow the words of this law". So obviously God isn't trying to hide anything from us concerning what His requirements are. We just have to be close enough to Him to know these things. I'm still growing. I should be MUCH closer to the Lord than I am now, but because of foolish and selfish desires, I'm not where I need to be.

I had initially thought not to share this post until after I had studied the subject more in-depth, but I needed to get those thoughts out of my head, if you know what I mean. Perhaps I'll post more as I find out more. Thanks for reading and sharing, Brenda. Always a joy!

Christy said...

I am updating my own reply to Brenda. I previously said and believed that we can't possibly follow the "rules", but now I know better. See Deuteronomy 30:11 and Philippians 4:13 for instance.