This is the third post in my series on poor interpretation of the Old Testament and its impact upon the church.
In Matthew chapter 5 Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18).
Is Jesus telling his followers that they are supposed to keep the OT law? Is Jesus saying that the law still applies? Is Jesus instructing his disciples to keep just part of the law? What is going on?
What is going on is that Jesus is saying that he has come into the world to fulfill the law. He is going to do what no one else has ever been able to do. He is the only one who could perfectly keep the demands of God's law. He did this because we cannot.
Throughout Jesus' life we see obedience to an infinite degree. He did not sin - ever. The only reason his sacrifice of himself was acceptable to his Father is because he was perfect. This allowed his atonement to be a substitutionary one.
When on the cross Jesus said several things. One of them (likely spoken in Aramaic but written down by John in Greek) was tetelestai. This word is usually translated "It is finished." While it means this, it also carries the idea of "It is accomplished." One of the primary things Jesus did was accomplish the perfect fulfillment of the OT law. He was the first and last person to do this.
As followers of Jesus, we are freed from the demands of the law. Because the law doesn't apply to us, we do not have to follow any of it. It has no impact on how we live church life today. The law ought not affect our church practice, principles, or forms. Instead, Jesus has freed us to live as his New Covenant followers. We've been shown much in the New Testament to instruct us in how church life should look today.
Many of today's traditional church practices stem from faulty interpretation of the OT. This ought not be. We have no need for the Old Covenant. It is a relic, a thing of the past. To follow it in any of our practices is to go backwards. Christ has given us something far better.
Our Lord perfectly fulfilled the OT law for several reasons. One was so that we don't have to. Praise the Lord for this gift!
Friend, if you are trying to fulfill any parts of the OT law, please let me encourage you to stop. You don't need to. God doesn't expect you to. Embrace the freedom of the New Covenant.