Hey Christians, how do you feel about the Old Testament? Often we Christians find the New Testament to be relevant and easily applicable to our lives, while the Old Testament is foreign, difficult, often boring and long. All those laws, some of which seem bizarre or even wrong. They can leave us with a feeling that the Old Testament is utterly irrelevant for us. So let me say very clearly: The Old Testament matters to New Testament Christians! In this series of posts we have been learning David Dorsey’s four-step method that guides Christians to apply every OT Law to our lives. Finally, we come to step 4: How can we apply a law’s theological principle to our lives? So if you haven’t read the four previous posts in this series, please go back and read them first: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
One law we’ve talked about is when God tells the people to build parapets, walls, around their roofs. In the previous posts you can read how to filter that law through Dorsey’s first three steps. When we did that, in Step 3 we saw that God has a heart for people to practice safety. While we Christians are not going to make new laws about this, Dorsey’s Step 4 guides us in how we can apply the principle based on God’s heart. You see God’s heart for reflected in all sorts of safety rules and regulations that just make sense. Wear your seat belt when riding in a car. Use smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your homes. We could go on and on about guiderails, airbags, and sprinkler systems. But know that when we are applying these principles, we Christians are not making new laws for the church or for disciples of Jesus. Sure, our nation might have laws for the common good, and those we must obey, but just because we understand God’s heart doesn’t mean we are to make new laws.
Instead we can learn God’s heart and apply it to our own lives, without making a law that is binding on others. The difficulty that Christians have had with this process, though, is that many of the OT Laws have been wrongly applied for a long time, to the point where they seem to be Christian New Covenant standards.
I’ve heard it said many times, for example, “Christians should not charge interest to other Christians.” That is clearly what God says in the Old Testament in his covenant with Israel. Israelites were not to charge interest any other Israelites. That was part of God’s covenant for them. It is not for us.
So what was is for us? The New Testament, which is God’s covenant with the church. So we have to ask is there any place that the New Testament talks about charging interest? I encourage you to search the NT for yourself.
If the NT does not ban us from charging interest of our Christian brothers and sisters, then how do we apply this OT law?
We can learn the principle behind the OT rule, and seek to apply it to our lives. What do we see of God’s heart in this law about interest? There are potentially a number of ideas: Christians should practice love, care, kindness, and generosity. We see God asking us to trust him rather than the ability to make money. We see him saying, trust your brothers to pay you back, to treat you well. That leads to a key question which will help us apply the principle: how can we express generosity to others?
We can choose to make a personal decision to not charge interest. But if we do so, we must be very careful not to think of it as the best choice, and everyone else should do it as well, and get self-righteous about it, as if we are more spiritual, more committed to God than others. We can even start to think that everyone else is wrong or sinful if they charge interest. And then we have moved far away from God’s heart. We must stay humble.
Through this process, Christians can learn about God from every single OT Law, while at the same time, clearly realizing that we are not bound to follow the letter of that law. But don’t be discouraged…you don’t need to do this three-step for every law to be a good Christian.