Does it say in the New Testament that we are not to go by the laws of the
old testament only the Ten Commandments?

First of all, you should understand that for the Jews, the
distinction between the Ten Commandments and the other commandments in the
Law of Moses is not particularly important. It is true that when the rich
young ruler asked Jesus what he must do, Jesus began with the Ten
Commandments. However, in general, the Jews did not tend to point in
particular to the Ten Commandments which were on the tablets Moses brought
down from Mount Sinai.
Therefore, the real question to ask is what does the New
Testament say about whether or not followers of Jesus are required to
follow the Law of Moses, as laid out in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Deuteronomy. The answer is that, as Jesus said, he fulfilled all the
requirements of the Law (of Moses). In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not
think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have come not
to abolish them but to fulfill them. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements
of the Law of Moses when he gave himself as a pure and unblemished
sacrifice on the cross.

The books of Galatians and Colossians make it extremely
clear that salvation is not gained by following the Law of Moses. To
quote, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your
sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our
sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was
against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to
the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a
public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians
2:13-15). Here Paul makes it crystal clear that the Law never saved
anyone and that through Jesus, the Law of Moses was canceled as far as our
lives are concerned. In case there is any doubt at all about the
significance, Paul continues in Colossians, “Therefore do not let anyone
judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious
festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of
the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
(Colossians 2:16,17). Paul states unambiguously that Sabbath keeping is
not necessary for a follower of Christ.

In Galatians, Paul makes a very strong statement. “You who
are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you
have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4). According to Paul, if
people teach the need to follow the Law of Moses, they have fallen away
from Christ. These are strong words!!!

By the way, most of the Ten Commandments still apply, not
because they are found in the book of Exodus or Leviticus, but because
they are teachings of Jesus to his disciples. It is still a sin to “covet
your neighbor’s wife.” It is still a sin to bear false witness, or to
kill, or to worship another God besides the one true God. In fact, one
could argue that all the Ten Commandments, except the command to keep the
Sabbath are still relevant to Christians, as Jesus and his apostles taught
these things. But that is the important thing. Things taught in the Law
of Moses, such as abstaining from certain foods, or rules for uncleanness
for women and so forth, as well as the Ten Commandments have all been
fulfilled in their entirety by the sacrifice of Jesus. However, many of
the rules which God gave to the Jews still apply to us, not because they
are found in the book of Leviticus, but because Jesus taught us to do
these things.

Another comment is worth making. If anyone chooses for
personal reasons to celebrate a Sabbath or to observe any of the Laws of
Moses for personal spiritual reasons, there is nothing wrong with that.
The problem arises when someone teaches that such observances are required
for a Christian to follow in order to be right with God. I hope this
clears up the issue for you.

John Oakes, PhD

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