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Old Covenant Laws and General Equity

I was reading a post from Richard Barcellos on the Sabbath and came across and very concise and helpful paragraph in regards to the general equity of old covenant laws.

Someone on his blog raised on objection, saying:

I would defend what Dr. Schreiner said. I believe that abiding principles can be drawn from the Sabbath without having to hold to the abiding validity of the Sabbath Law itself. Those aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. For instance, in Leviticus 23:22, we are told that the farmer is to leave a portion of his field for the sojourner. So, if a hungry man passes by, he can take a little food on his way. I assume that most would agree that this is a ceremonial law that has ceased in the New Covenant era. Yet, who would doubt that there are principals of love, equity, and a concern for social justice that can be drawn from such a law? Does the fact that one can derive principles from a law make that law a creation ordinance, or somehow universally moral? I don’t think so,

Barcellos’ response is very helpful:

What you are describing in your comment is the concept of general equity as it applies to old covenant judicial laws. The equity that an old covenant judicial law might possess does not come from the particular old covenant judicial law itself, however. It is simply an application of moral/natural/universal law to Israel’s unique, covenantally conditioned national life. So, there may be principles in particular old covenant judicial laws (you mentioned “love, equity, and a concern for social justice”) that transcend the old covenant. I agree with you on this. But the temporary law you mentioned does not establish what constitutes equity, it is a unique illustration/application of it. Hence, the equity predates and even transcends the old covenant.

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Categories: theology
  1. October 11, 2011 at 6:29 am

    But, of course, that is the point, the aspects of the law that the believer reproduces today are those that actually belong to creation. He reproduces them not because they are in the law – to which he has died in Christ and has no obligation to – but because they are creational and as a member of God’s new creation he upholds God’s principles in the old in which he is a ‘sojourner’.

    Re the sabbath one has then to ask if it is indeed a creational ordinance.

    On a more general note, putting flesh to death by the Spirit and living according to his leading as he leads in the principles of the new life in Christ (a life of love) will fulfil the law and more.

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    • October 11, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Hi John.
      Yes, believers obey what is creational (though it seems a matter of semantics not to call that creational law).

      Yes, the question is whether or not sabbath is creational (I believe it is).

      Yes, living by the Spirit will fulfill the law – but the Spirit works with Scripture to teach us what it is we are to do (ie obey the law in its fullest sense). We are not left to vague impressions on our mind as to what we are to do as Spirit-filled new creations. We are given specific, objective commands to obey.

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