Discerning Between Temporary and Permanent Bible Commands

we can easily get confused by Old Testament commands and what they mean to us today. This 1-minute devotion offers clear guidance from Scripture.

There are different types of laws, commands, and instructions in Scripture.

1. Old Testament civil laws (e.g. Exodus 22)

These were given specifically to the nation of Israel at a specific time in history. They don't apply to us today, but the severity of the punishment helps us understand what God considers especially destructive to individuals and communities (e.g. Numbers 35:31; Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 20:13).(1)

2. Old Testament dietary, ceremonial, cleansing, and sacrificial laws (e.g. Leviticus 1; 3; 11; 12)

These laws emphasized the "uncleanness" of our sin. Christ fulfilled them, making us "clean" (Romans 8:1-4; Matthew 5:17; Hebrews 9:27-10:23). Paul explained that he was no longer under these Old Testament laws but under the commands of Christ (Galatians 3; 1 Corinthians 9:20-21).(2)

3. Instructions given to a specific group at a specific time

For example, in Luke 10:1-20 Christ instructed a group of seventy-two disciples to evangelize in groups of two, never carry a purse, and only stay in people’s homes. These are not permanent rules for evangelists.

4. Commands that apply to us today

It is easy to identify New Testament moral commands. We obey them because we love Jesus and believe He knows what's best for us (John 14:21).

If an Old Testament command applies to us, it will be found in the New Testament (e.g. Leviticus 19:11 & Colossians 3:9; Exodus 20:14 & Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Understanding the different types of commands helps avoid confusion (2 Timothy 2:15).

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(1) Please note: Slavery was allowed in the Old Testament under certain circumstances, but it didn't involve kidnapping like that which existed in the U.S. before the Emancipation Proclamation. U.S. slave traders would have been executed according to Old Testament laws (Exodus 21:16). I think you will appreciate this five-minute video explaining the Bible's view of slavery, especially because it is presented by an African-American Christian: Does the Bible Support Slavery?

(2) Acts 10 emphasized the end to dietary laws (Acts 10:9-16; see also Matthew 15:11).

we can easily get confused by Old Testament commands and what they mean to us today. This 1-minute devotion offers clear guidance from Scripture.
For those who want to dig deeper:

These devotions offer insights to both sides: permanent commands that are sometimes discredited as temporary, and temporary commands that are sometimes claimed to be permanent.

Temporary commands:

Should Women Wear Head-Coverings?

All or Nothing: Christ's Fulfillment of the Law

Bite Size Bible Study's Four-Part Series: Which Old Testament Laws Apply Today?

Permanent commands:

Is Submission Cultural?

Was Submission Paul's Idea?

Comparing Apples and Oranges


Bible Love Notes

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