Last night in our home groups we continued our discussion of the Old Testament Law and what it has to say to followers of Christ today. For the discussion, I shared a very helpful passage from Allen Ross’ book Holiness to the Lord. Ross has some good insight into how the Law, while no longer over the follower of Christ as a law-code, still can act as a helpful guide to God’s will for our lives:
The law was a pedagogue [a tutor] leading to Christ. [See Galatians 3:19-29.] The law in many ways laid the foundation for the full revelation of God’s plan of salvation that came in the person of Jesus Messiah, the Son of God. A pedagogue was a servant who came alongside he child as a tutor and supervised that child in everything until maturity. Then the pedagogue was no longer needed. The people of God in the Old Testament represent the beginning of the household of faith; they were living in the promises and awaiting the fulfillment. Now that the Messiah has come and the promises are being fulfilled, the household of faith no longer needs the pedagogue, but can live in the light of the fulfillment of the promises. Nevertheless, what the pedagogue was teaching through the ritual and the rules can now be freely applied in the spiritual life.
The law was thus both regulatory and revelatory. The regulatory aspects of the law – kinds of animals, composition of incense, handling of blood, and all the other ritual acts – were bound up in the culture and experience of ancient Israel. The revelatory aspects of the laws – holiness of God, nature of sin, access to God, forgiveness of sin, removal of impurity, and all the many theological meanings of the acts – taught the abiding truths of the person and work of the Lord as they were unfolding in Scripture. When Christ came and inaugurated the new covenant, the regulatory aspects of the law came to an end: there was no longer a temple, sacrifices, or a functioning priesthood based on the Sinai covenant. But what all these laws revealed about the nature and will of God did not come to an end, for they are binding revelation.
For further study in the concepts Ross is working with here, see New Testament passages like Galatians 2:15-21, Galatians 3:19-26; Matthew 5:17-18;and Romans 10:4.