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Begin Here (3) – Interpreting the Law of God (18)

Thursday, July 25, 2013, 0:01
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Begin Here (3)

Interpreting the Law of God (18)

Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14

The New Testament sometimes appears to endorse laws that the Christian movement of Paul’s day and beyond no longer regards as valid, such as the laws regulating sacrifices, the remuneration of priests, and the work of the temple. As the writer of Hebrews explained (Heb. 7-9), all these “ceremonial” laws of ancient Israel have been set aside with the coming of Jesus Christ.

Still, Paul appealed to them, because he recognized in these ceremonial laws certain principles in line with the rest of the Law of God that ought to be retained. In 1 Corinthians 9 he scolds the Corinthians for failing to support him as they were drawing on the benefits of his ministry. In making his case he appealed to two Old Testament codes, one which may have been still intact (not muzzling an ox), and one which is no longer intact as given, but which, in principle, contains wisdom to guide our practice of faith.

In the same way, the example in the Law of God of the transgression of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) may have been in Paul’s mind when he counseled the Corinthians not to “go beyond” what God had explicitly revealed in His Word as pertinent for the life of faith (1 Cor. 4:6). We don’t necessarily expect God to strike down those who disregard His will for worship (or spiritual growth, evangelism, disciple-making, or anything else), preferring their own ideas instead. But, when people head off in their own directions and according to their own best ideas, we should expect God in some way to show His displeasure and to work to bring them back to the proper path. Whenever we believe we know better or more than God concerning how we ought to serve Him, we are acting like Nadab and Abihu, and the principle of how God dealt with them remains true for us as well (cf. Heb. 12:3-11).

We need to be alert, as we’re reading the New Testament, to those situations in which the writers can be seen to be drawing on Old Testament Law to make a point, not necessarily validating the Law as given, but drawing from it principles of abiding validity which are definitely intended to promote the cause of love within the household of faith.

Order a copy of The Law of God from our online store, and begin daily reading in the commandments, statutes, testimonies, precepts, and rules of God, which are the cornerstone of divine revelation. Sign up at our website to receive our thrice-weekly devotional, Crosfigell, written by T. M. Moore.

In the Gates is a devotional series on the Law of God by Rev. T.M. Moore, editor of the Worldview Church. He serves as dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet).

Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, (c) copyright 2001, 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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