We all struggle with interpreting the Mosaic Covenant as Christians. Well, we know what the Law says, it is clear enough. But what does it mean to us. Here is my answer. But like all good answers, there is a bit involved.
First, the Mosaic Covenant (from now on revered to as the Law) established a nation. The primary purpose of the Law was not to be a spiritual guide or a treatise on God’s view of morality (though it had these in it). The purpose was to set up a nation. That is why it used the legal genre to present its information.
As a side, do you ever wonder why it’s hard to get a spiritual blessing from the Law? Its because you’re reading legal material. Go read some of the legal code of your country. Try to get a blessing from it. It’s really tough to do.
Back to the main point. The New Covenant that we all are under as Christians parallels the Law in that it sets up a new nation–the nation of Christ (Gal. 4:31-5:1). As members of that New Covenant, we have no obligation to obey the former. In fact, we are to cast it out (Gal. 4:30). That includes everything–including the Ten Commandments.
“Woe-wait. The Ten Commandments? You’re some kind of libertine, Nate.” Hang on. You got to track with me. The Ten Commandments are a summary of the whole Law. And since they are bound to the Law, they get cast out with the Law.
“So you’re advocating antinomianism?” (Eye-roll) No, I’m not. Paul makes this same point in Romans 6 and in Galatians 5. We are not to use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
That is the point. Love is the primary control and guide for developing and applying our morality. When we truly love another person, we will inevitably be moral.
The problem is, that we are broken. We don’t know how to love. And we need help to do this thing. Now, we have Spirit in us spurring us to love. The Spirit guides us by several means, but primarily he uses the Scriptures.
And this is where the Law comes in. Jesus said that the whole Law hangs on two commands: Love God and Love people. Therefore, the rest of the Law fills out what it meant to love people in that time and that culture.
So for us under the New Covenant, we do not look at the Law as something which binds our conscience. We look at it and try to understand how God taught those people to love others. As we see God’s intention behind the commands we can find similar ways to apply it today.
This approach makes sense of the tangle of verses in the Law. We are not to go through and sort out the civil, ceremonial, and moral laws. They are all civil laws because they governed a nation. We are, however, to see how God taught them to love their neighbor and then we go do likewise.