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In John 7:53-8:11, Jesus condemns fulfilling the Law of Moses when it requires that a crowd stone an adulteress to death. This seems to imply (if these passages are authentic, which is in question) that in some cases fulfilling the Law of Moses is now sinful.

Even if this passage is not authentic, there are parts of the Law of Moses that now seem rather barbaric. These laws requiring the killing your children if they are stubborn and rebellious (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), killing a rape victim for not putting up sufficient resistance (Deuteronomy 22:23-24), and killing those who commit blasphemy or believe in a different religion (Leviticus 24:16; Deuteronomy 13:5-10 respectively).

Are there some cases where it is sinful or forbidden to follow any of the laws in the Old Testament, now that Jesus has fulfilled these laws (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15)?

A very good and very similar question is: To what extent does the Law of Moses still apply? and also: Do we have to obey the laws of the bible? If so, what laws? Even though these are questions that I'm interested in and still find somewhat confusing, in this question I'm looking for additional insights (scripture or scholarly) about whether it is now sinful or forbidden to follow any of the Laws of Moses (including the ceremonial laws for which we are no longer bound). Answers meant to address which of these laws are forbidden are better suited for these questions.

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Jesus does not condemn fufilling the Law of Moses. The question was a trap. Rome did not permit the Jews to execute capital punishment. So, if Jesus says don't stone her, He violates the Law of Moses. If He says to stone her, He violates Roman law. He masterfully avoided both. –  Narnian Nov 13 '12 at 21:31
    
@Narnian interesting view. I have a difficult time accepting that the Bible is still telling us that we should be fulfilling those laws of Deuteronomy. Anyways, your comment seems answer-worthy. Perhaps you should promote it? –  Jonathan Nov 14 '12 at 17:56
    
A distinction is made between the ceremonial law and the moral law. The ceremonial law was enacted as part of the covenant between God and Israel for a specific time frame. So, if you're not Jewish and live between 2000 B.C. and 33 A.D., it does not apply The moral law is still applicable, and we should fulfill it--don't lie, steal, commit adultery, etc. So, a distinction in your question between the ceremonial law and the moral law would be appropriate. –  Narnian Nov 14 '12 at 18:57
    
@Narnian I tried to clarify that I'm asking whether there are any laws, including those classified as ceremonial, which are not only not applicable, but forbidden (or sinful). In other words, I'm asking if there are cases where "does not apply" means "forbidden". –  Jonathan Nov 23 '12 at 20:10
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The topic of the law in relation to the Gospel is one of the most discussed ones in the entire history of theology. The space here is not sufficient for arguing one view as opposed to the other. I am going to answer your question with a simple "yes", though. Sometimes a contextless, literalistic application of Old Testament law is in fact sinful, and I am going to base that on three principles.

  1. Rabbinic wisdom in the tradition of Hillel. When one law contradicts another in a specific circumstance, you must chose the most important one. E.g. when asked by Gestapo about the whereabouts of some hidden Jews, the moral thing is lying. In many instances Jesus aligns himself with this rabbinic school, as opposed to the tradition from Shammai.

  2. Following that principle, there are further moral insights in the New Testament, that will on many occasions make a compliance with the old law an immoral act.

  3. The law in the OT was given to serve many purposes. They include instructions on how to evaluate witnesses and administer punishment, including capital punishment. About this four sub-points spring to mind:

    • In comparison to other laws from the same era, e.g. the law of Hammurabi or the Greek law of Draco the laws of the OT are very humane. One is not to cut off limbs of thieves, or go beyond what is a reasonable punishment.

    • That contrast, IMO, has a value. The tendency is instructive, perhaps even more than the individual examples. In a society such as ours today, we had better follow the intent of the law, than literal words addressed to an early bronze age society. And that's not because I do not believe the words are true. I say that exactly because I believe they are.

    • Instructions about how to evaluate juridic guilt and punish offenders where not given to individuals, but to the people as a whole. Just as we today may not act as policemen, judges or prison wardens except in an official capacity, so this aspect of OT law never, ever were intended for anything but officially assigned people. And that includes the law "an eye for an eye". It is not about individual revenge. (Nor is it about inflicting physical damage, but that is another topic.)

    • In the New Testament focus has shifted away from how to organize a priestly state of a chosen people, to how to build communities, made up from all peoples, that reflect the Kingdom of God. That renders all aspects of the OT law, that concerned the treatment of suspected or convicted lawbreakers, void. It has served its purpose and while it was not wrong, it is not any longer applicable. Trying to apply it as if it were, would be contrary to the Gospel, and thus, yes, sinful

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Thanks for the great answer. Just curious (and going off topic...): from my reading of John 7:53-8:11, it seems like Jesus would have been against the stoning even if it was ordered by a judge. What is your perspective on this? –  Jonathan Nov 12 '12 at 2:08
    
Yes, I think he probably would have been, because of his Kingdom of God perspective. –  itpastorn Nov 12 '12 at 13:37
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Many scholars question the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae (the section of scripture you cited in the original post).

http://bible.org/article/my-favorite-passage-that%E2%80%99s-not-bible

Professor Daniel Wallace writes,

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52 to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, also from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing). The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

Even patristic writers seemed to overlook this text. Bruce Metzger, arguably the greatest textual critic of the twentieth century, argued that “No Greek Church Father prior to Euthymius Zigabenus (twelfth century) comments on the passage, and Euthymius declares that the accurate copies of the Gospel do not contain it” (Textual Commentary, 2nd ed., loc. cit.).

Simply put, you're establishing a theological concept on a particular passage of the Bible which may not have even been in the original manuscripts.

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That's very interesting. Thanks for your answer! –  Jonathan Nov 14 '12 at 17:51
    
I think we have to distinguish two separate questions (1) whether John 7:53-8:11 is part of the original text of the Gospel of John from (2) whether the pericope is inspired or canonical. A number of people seem to presume that a "No" to (1) implies a "No" to (2). Yet it is entirely possible to believe that, this passage is the inspired Word of God, and thus properly part of the Bible, but that it was originally a separate inspired work from the Gospel of John, which was then inserted into John's Gospel at this point. –  Zack Martin Nov 15 '12 at 10:28
    
@H3br3wHamm3r81 I've modified my question so that, hopefully, it is clear that it does not depend on the authenticity of the Pericope Adulterae. After thinking of your response more, I'm unsure about your stance and I would appreciate your clarification. Do you agree with the other passages (like Rom 10:4) that say that we are no longer bound to parts of the Old Testament? I'm guessing that you believe that we are not forbidden to follow any of the Old Testament laws, even if we are no longer bound to them? Thanks! –  Jonathan Nov 23 '12 at 20:22
    
@Jonathan, I do not think that if one obeys the Law of Moses, they are going to hell. For example, "You shall not murder." Okay, I choose to obey this commandment. Does that mean I am going to hell now? I don't think Gentiles were ever bound by the Law of Moses. It was specifically Israelites who said "Amen" at Sinai, thus committing an oath and binding themselves to the Old Covenant. So, what about Jews? Well, Paul is clear that Jews are no longer under the Law because they have died to the Law by their unific faith in the Messiah. For those who believe in the Messiah, they are under grace. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Nov 23 '12 at 22:48
    
@Zack Martin, I considered your assertion, but ultimately, I don't even see how that belief is plausible. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Nov 23 '12 at 22:51
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It depends on which part you are talking about. The Catholic position is that the Old Law ended and it is now unacceptable to follow its religious ceremonies, however, there are certain parts of the Old Law which are still in force, for example, "Thou shalt not steal" remains applicable.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, 1441,
“The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments… after our Lord’s coming… ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began... All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, the holy Roman Church declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation.

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+1 Thanks for the great answer. –  Jonathan Nov 23 '12 at 4:39
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In Matt 5:17 Christ is recorded as saying: "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.

A second point to consider is that of the idea of dispensationalism, which (in a very brief nutshell) is the idea that we (humans) have lived under different dispensations or covenant styles of God's relationship with man - for example: there was one mode of His dealing with and interacting with mankind prior to Christ's resurrection, and upon the salvation offered to us through his Sacrifice (taking on our sin), a new order or dispensation was established (that noted of salvation and forgiveness), and upon the time at the end of the age and the beginning of the time of the New Jerusalem (see Revelation), there will be yet a third dispensation (relationship style).

That said, as humans, we have been given The Law (of the Old Testament: see Exodus and Deuteronomy for examples) and nowhere in the New Testament Scriptures are we instructed to now simply forgo respecting those old Laws. Paul mentions that it is by The Law that we humans come to know and understand our own actions as being sinful or in-line with God's will - so through the Law, we can recognize our failures and recognize sin in our own hearts.

Also recall, that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.” Prior to enjoying this ‘apple’ they we are told that they were naked and that they were not ashamed of this fact – i.e. they did not even know to consider if they should be ashamed or not of their nakedness – they were without the understanding of there being anything about good and evil. There was only God and the garden in which they lived with God. When they took of the fruit, they were misbehaving, yes, but in that act they became aware of and knowledgeable of good and evil – and they then started to realize all that was either good or evil in their own existence and ways – their nakedness for instance.

One has to be aware of what is good and what is evil before he can elect to even try to forgo what is evil and follow what is good. A newborn may act in a selfish manner, but he is no more able to even consider his actions as good or evil, right or wrong, than he could drive a car and know to keep tot eh speed limit. He is not aware yet of what he is doing could even be wrong or right, (evil or good). He initially learns these things according to what he is taught within his home as being right and wrong, and later to a greater degree within the culture he elects to respect.

This brings us to the question (as per the topic point here) as to if Christians are supposed to continue to follow the old Mosaic Laws; and I will place two different law 'types' for an example here, to show that we are:

The laws regarding burnt offerings (which clearly no Christian denomination is advocating the continuation of burning animals as sacrifices to God). There are numerous Old Testament Laws going through nuance after nuance of how and why to make various burnt sacrifices to God depending upon the situation at hand. These sacrifices were performed as a means of atoning for one’s sins (breaking of the law). When Christ came though, He took on all mankind’s sins (passed present and future) and became the sacrificial lamb for all when he was sacrificed on the cross. Upon his resurrection, a new dispensation, a new covenant started, and although the old rules remained, there was now no need for anyone to put forth a burnt offering for their atonement, of breaking the laws, for Christ had already paid that fine, that debt. De we then, or are we supposed to stone someone for adultery, as the Law stated in the Old Testament? No. Why not? Would that not then be denying the Law? It would, if it were not that Christ has already paid the fine for that person’s sin – he has already died for that sin. Does this mean that we are free to sin then? “May it never be …” (see Romans) for each time we sin, we are in a sense driving a nail into Christ’s hands and feet, and we injure ourselves, for in that sin, we are not embracing the relationship with God, which we are otherwise offered to simply accept, if we would act properly. But even here, we have a way to be redeemed to that relationship when we repent of the sin, and accept Christ’s death as the ransom for our own sins. In this way too, we are not to condemn another for their sins, but to point the sin out (in love), and help him repent (see the law of what is right and wrong) ask for forgiveness, and accept the Grace of God as offered to each of us, if – again- we would simply accept Christ as our Savior…and move on to (try and) sin no more.

Christ also pointed out to us, that the physical action of breaking a Law, was not necessarily the only way to break the Law, for the law can be broken in the heart of man, though he elect not to act upon his sin of the heart (ex: Matt 5:28).

That Christ forgave the woman, did not equate to Christ saying that the Law was no longer relevant, but rather what the punishment would be, and who should rightfully be doling out that punishment were placed in a new light of His sacrifice (which he was about to undergo) - Him fulfilling the Law and the prophecies, and now taking on our sin (i.e. the woman's as well), and her sin now forgiven (recall he told her sin was forgiven and to go and sin no more), for he did not condemn her.

So...it is not a sin to follow the old Laws, in fact, we are to follow them. But whereas in the old dispensation, the old time, prior to Christ, the "fine" was to be done by the people (stone someone, or give a burnt offering), in the light of Christ being the sacrifice for all the sins we (or others) do, the aspect of who is in charge of doling out the fine of breaking the Law is now back in the hands of God, and no longer in ours. see Matt 22:40 for a summary of all the law.

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You can still follow the old law, but the condition is still the same: everything is applicable. If you fail in one, you have sinned. The stoners were guilty in the moral realm (adultery) if they commited even a minor infraction in the ceremonial! I recommend you read Deuteronomy 28-30.

James 2:10 NET For the one who obeys the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

Background to the Mosaic Law

The Purpose of the Law

The law was given to make Israel God's People, Abraham's Seed, and to bless the world, to bring it back to God, reverse the expulsion from Eden.

Method

Israel needed to:

Obey the law

Receive blessings

Impress the surrounding nations

Achievement, success rate

Rahab turned to God on seeing the victories given to Israel.

Why were the achievements so few?

Because the observance of law was so insignificant.

Because the law itself was an inferior covenant

Even if the people depended on God, and took possession of the land, the pagan nations who were impressed and converted to Judaism would find forgiveness, but not empowerment, ability to live the eternal life, chayei olam. Moses quickly realised that this was an inferior glory, but did not want to dishearten the people. He covered his face with a veil so that the people would not be demoralised at seeing the glowing radiance fade from his face. They had just left Egypt, were wanderers in the wilderness and needed all the hope and encouragement they could get. Telling them that full redemption was a future event was not exactly the message they needed to hear.

When Jesus fulfilled the law, He won the rewards associated with Sinaitic Law. God blessed His Nation when Jesus, representing its people, Israel, obeyed the law.

To be pure, the citizen needed to make the right choices with regard to the natural drives of his body: harvesting the fruits of your own land was good, those from your neighbours land, bad. Sex with your wife was good, with your neighbour's wife, bad. The appetites themsrlves, yetzer hara, were themselves not bad, only the wrong exercising of those appetites. Man, made in the image of God, with a moral compass, could differentiate and choose, unlike wild beasts. Hence the concept of justice, as opposed to the law of the jungle, might is right.

Mercy and love are also what characterize the human race. Only humans do not destroy the weak in their family. They lay down their lives (categorised by the various acts of sacrificing one's own reserve food, shelter and resources, to protect the weak) .

In order to be the people and the nation God required, Israel found it had to have a right mind and a right body. The mind had to be subdued, by accepting the word of God, and the body had to be broken, to serve the mind, just as a horse needed to be subdued, to be useful for riding. The right mindset in the right body could create the right people in the right nation.

Joshua could not give Israel closure, only God could. The virgin birth proved that. Just as Isaac was possible because of an ovum provided by God (Sarah's womb was as good as dead) and his birth proof of God's causation, Jesus was proof that it was God who provided the Lamb, from a spermatozoon supernaturaly produced and implanted.

The blood of Jesus could do what no blood of bulls and goats did. It cleansed Israel and it cleansed her Temple. It cleansed the mind of those who agreed with the Gospel (here was the Messiah who vindicated the righteous and reconciled them with God, and who could redeem them, both their minds and their bodies, through confession : con>with, fess>speech, agreement) . If you were righteous, you could be vindicated; if you were unrighteous, you could repent and then be reconciled.

Now, the Church is to be a pure people in a pure community, its members to have a pure mind in a pure body. An obedient church could now act out that righteousness:

Romans 7:24-25 NET Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Original Question

Are there some cases where it is sinful or forbidden to follow any of the laws in the Old Testament, now that Jesus has fulfilled these laws (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15)?

Now that the church enjoys the blessings meant for God's People, what remains of the law? Since Jesus won redemption for the church through obedience to the law, obedience to the law now wins redemption for the world:

Colossians 1:24 NET Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body – for the sake of his body, the church – what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

The form in which you follow law could be the Mosaic law, which requires ALL requirements to be fulfilled, or you could follow the law of liberty and love, the Royal Law, requiring holy living, enabling God to use one for ministry.

2 Timothy 2:20-21 NET Now in a wealthy home there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honorable use, but others for ignoble use. So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

Following the Mosaic Law is not sin. Its just impossible, since ALL requirements cannot be met, leading to death, impotency. No benefit is achieved. Mosaic Law observed through faith provides only guardianship care, which is already a obsolete, redundant in the Gospel, which provides restoration and empowerment of the prodigal. However, however, it is better to misunderstand the Gospel in seeing the continued necessity of Mosaic Law as a lifestyle, not as salvific, than to misunderstand the Gospel by viewing the requirement of the new, Royal Law to be mental assent to the message that Jesus is the Messiah, the Holy One of God (Free Grace Theology) leading to the gift of immortality.

Would the Jews have been sinners in obeying Law in stoning the adulteress? Talmudic interpretation makes a right call in its interpretation of Torah. There, even lex talionis, eye for an eye, calls for monetary compensation for accidental bodily injury of another person, and even in that, mercy could be shown to those unable to pay.

It boils down to interpretation:

Mark 2:27 NET Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.

How is the law made for man, and not man for the law?

It was supposed to give life!

Romans 7:10 NET and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!

Hillel "Whatever is hateful to you, do not do unto another. That is the whole of the Torah. The rest is commentary."

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But, in James 2:10, James is not imploring people not to keep the Law. Rather, just the opposite. The problem was that his audience would keep some parts of the Law but totally ignore others. James 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. You see? He said, "Okay. You do not commit adultery. But, then you murder someone. That makes you a transgressor of the Law." James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. Notice do. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Nov 23 '12 at 15:57
    
Paul compares the Sinatic Law with Hagar: an attempt to bring to fruit God's promise to reconcile the world through human effort. Hagar must spend time in the wilderness in a hardened state, but it is only temporary. A time will come when God's word will not remain unfulfilled. Israel will be reinstated. She will fulfil all the law, be blessed, but through faith in Christ! But those who attempt to observe all the law NOW will not go to eternal damnation! –  Footwasher Nov 23 '12 at 19:30
    
I thought we were talking about James since he wrote the Epistle of James. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 Nov 23 '12 at 22:39
    
My response is in the chat section. –  Footwasher Nov 24 '12 at 21:44
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Human degree of consciousness applied in historical context decides if a law is good or not. The laws of Moses were useful, in the context when laws and understanding weren't serve the life at that time. The Hebrews infected with idolatry disease taken after long stay with Egyptians, saw the big miracles applied by Moses to punish the oppressors, they went on dry through the middle of the splitted Red sea, and they saw lots other miracles during journey in desert. Still having the same eyes and same minds they considered that a golden calf made by their hands was their saviour against egyption threat. Of course, nowadays is inconceivable for our modern minds to embrace this kind of illusory.

Why?

Because God cured and taught us, in the meantime. The humanity consciousness evolved along history. 2000 years ago, the most civilized cultures, Greek and Roman, still have gods for everything: gods for hunting, gods for fertility, good for food, for wine, for seas, for beauty, for trade ...

How disappeared all these in less than 300 years?

God stated on earth, born as a simple human, he passed all ages from childhood to maturity going through temptations of the sinful nature of human body in all critical ages. Defeating all possible sins that a human can do, he start to teach us with simple words using simple parables, explaining what is good, and what wrong, what is sin and what is virtue, where the sins came from. He make a "fire" on Golgotha, a "fire" of a new understanding, a new wisdom. He sent his witnesses to spread this "fire" through the entire world. Many martirs paid with their blood, and many askets, monarchs, devoutly people has kept His "fire" burning until nowadays

Would has been possible to receive this new level of wisdom without to experience the laws of Moses?

I think not. Because the laws of Moses served as a unit of measures for our sins. Without having this unit of measure, his words like: "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago ..." (Matthew 5) would not be possible.

When He stopped the furious crowd to stone the adulteress till death, He wrote in a dust of human heart a new law brought from His Kingdom, unknown from Moses laws: HUMILITY. He point our view from outside to inside, from other's sins to our own sins.

He didn't forced our understanding, imposing this new law as an almighty God. He appeal to our will as rational beings, respecting our freedom to choose between good and evil. We are free today to think what we want about his pronia, to judge Him, to see Him as a killer god, to reject Him, or to see His overwhelming love for human nature.

The Old Testament centered of Laws of Moses is not only a historic record of humanity. Is in the same time history of thoughts to the soul of any human.

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