July 5, 2017

The value of the Old Testament

Focusing on the New Testament seems easier than trying to figure out Christian principles from the Old Testament. However, I remind myself that the first Christians did not have anything but the OT, at least until Paul’s letters and the others were written and circulated and eventually accepted by the church as God’s Word.

Nonetheless, reading and studying the OT is important. The Apostle Paul said so:

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

I’m both instructed and encouraged knowing how God led and supported His people before Christ came. He leads and supports me too, enabling me to trust Him more.
While the NT clarifies I am be saved by keeping the Law of God, it does say the Law reveals sin and points to my need for a Redeemer. When I read OT passages, God shows me where I fall short and need to confess sin and rely on Christ in a deeper way. One example is from the Psalms:

“Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones, who wander from your commandments. Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies. Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes. Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” (Psalm 119:1–24)

Right away, I can confess that my walk is not without flaws, yet this also reminds me that Christ is my righteousness. In God’s sight, I am in Christ and accepted because of Jesus. At the same time, I realize that when my fleshy nature resists the power of the Holy Spirit, I will not live as the person I am in Him. To do so, I need to obey God, be steadfast, fixed on His righteousness and guarding my way so that my life is pure.

Also, I need to seek Him with my whole heart, memorize His Word and meditate on it. I also need to declare it to others. Not only will His Word bless them, telling others what God has said I must do holds me accountable to live as He says.

As the psalmist says, I am dependent on God. He opens my eyes to His wonders and gives my heart a longing to obey Him. He helps me realize the value of His commands. It is by His grace that I delight to do His will. Because of Jesus, I resist any hindrances or temptations to do otherwise.

Lord, truly Your Word is a delight. When I read about Your faithfulness, I am encouraged. The stories of Your people in the OT show me I am not alone in the struggle against sin. Your great faithfulness and power are also revealed. You showed incredible patience and mercy for people just like me, who stumble and fumble and make mistakes. We fall short, but You have provided a Lamb, a Substitute who paid my debt. Thank You for the Bible, for all of it, and for using it to give me hope and assurance.

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