“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:23-26).
Sometimes, as Christians, we have difficulty understanding what it means to live by faith or live by the law in the Old Testament. Some think we should, “Unhitch” the Old Testament from our faith. But on the other hand, we recognize that the Messiah, Jesus, was revealed in the Old Testament, even in the Mosaic Law, so there is much more value in the Old Testament that a simple set of rules to obey. The essence of the New Testament is present in the Old Testament.
In today’s passage we are told that faith has come and we are no longer under the law. Yet, faith has always been present. Elsewhere, Paul tells us that Abraham was justified by faith (Romans 4), not by the words of the law. Abraham preceded the law. So, faith actually preceded the giving of the law. In Hebrews 11 we are given a long list of Old Testament figures, born under the law, who received promises and acted on the basis of faith in God and not just a set of rules. Their faith testifies that they had a relationship with the Lord that went beyond the rules and regulations of the Mosaic Law.
But, now, in our age, we have the benefit of looking back to both the Old and New Testaments, to see the faith of these important figures and be motivated by what they accomplished through their faith in Christ, that we might also live such a life of faith. And that life that we live demonstrates that we too have faith in the same Christ worshipped by those who went before us.
So, what place does the Old Testament have in our lives compared to our faith in Christ? It is great in every way, for in the Old Testament we see the pre-figuring of Christ, the prophecies about his coming. In the Old Testament we have the moral code expressed in the Ten Commandments, and other laws, that help us understand our sin so that we may approach Christ in faith that he can free us from the sin that has been revealed in us. And in the Old Testament we have the first pattern revealed to us about how God would deal with our sin in form of animal sacrifice that pre-figured the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. So, the Old Testament, and the Mosaic Law, are of great importance as we obey the moral code, believing in faith that this pleases Christ who died for us.
The Pentateuch, speaking of itself, states, “This is not an idle word for you; indeed, it is your life” (Deuteronomy 32:47).
Do you follow the Ten Commandments? Obeying God’s word is an expression of our faith in Christ. How can your respect for God’s commandments be worked out in your life of faith today?