Three Categories of
The Old Testament Law

Three Categories of the Old Testament Law

Galatians 3:18-19 (NIV)
The Old Testament Law

For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.(Gal 3:18-19 (NIV))

The Old Law serves two purposes for the Christian. One is to reveal the nature and will of God as to how people are to live. The other is that it points out people's sins and shows them it is impossible to please God by trying to obey all his laws completely.

God's promise to Abraham was through faith, while the Old Testament Law focuses on actions. The covenant with Abraham shows that faith is the only way to be saved and enter into Heaven. Faith does not do away with the law; but the more we know God, the more we see how sinful we are.

Christians are to depend on their faith in Christ alone for salvation. In fact, Christ is the only way given by God for His Followers to enter heaven. (1 Tim 2:5)

The law points out for the Christian what God considers to be sin. It teaches the need for salvation; God's grace gives us that salvation.

What is the Law?

Part of the Jewish law included the laws found in the Old Testament. When Paul said that non-Jews, (Gentiles) are no longer bound by these laws he is not saying that the Old Covenant laws do not apply today. He is saying certain types of laws may not apply. 

The Old Testament Law

  • Ceremonial Law: This type of law relates to Israel's worship. (Lev 1:1-13) The laws pointed forward to Jesus Christ and were no longer necessary after Jesus' death and resurrection. Though we are no longer bound to them, the principles behind the ceremonial laws, that is to worship and love God, still apply.

  • Civil Law: This law dictated Israel's daily living (Deut 24:10-11); but modern society and culture are so radically different that some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. The principles behind the commands are used to guide our conduct.

  • Moral Law: The moral laws are direct commands of God. A good example are the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17). The moral laws reveal the nature and will of God, and still apply to us today. We do not obey this moral law as a way to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.
    (From the "Life Application Study Bible")
  • The Old Testament Law is where God reveals His nature, His will/lifestyle for humanity, His moral laws, and guidelines for living. But we cannot go to Heaven by keeping that Law; we must be born again and trust in Jesus.


    Samuel Mills

    The Commandments of Jesus

    The New Law of Grace

    The Law and Christianity


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    Samuel L. Mills

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