What is the biggest misunderstanding of the Old Testament? It might be a belief that is plaguing you as well.
In Galatians 3, Paul references Abraham’s noteworthy faith. As he upholds Abraham’s faith, he also reminds us that we are not able to obtain salvation through the keeping of the Law. If questioned, most people would say that salvation in the Old Testament is obtained by works, in the New Testament it is obtained through faith. In the Old Testament, one had to keep the Law, in the New Testament, one had to receive grace. Actually, when you study the Bible, you will see a whole different picture.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law. 11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. 14 The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:10-14, HCSB)
No one is justified by the law. Did you catch that? No one. The righteous will live by faith.
The Bible uses a phrase numerous times that Abraham “believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Abraham had faith in God, and due to that faith, God bestowed upon him righteousness.
The first time this is used is in Genesis 15:6.God had just shown Abraham the stars in the sky and told him that the uncountable number of stars was equal to the number of descendants that this childless, aging man would have one day.Abraham believed, and God declared him righteous due to that belief.
Faith brought about righteousness.
That happens in Genesis 15, but most people say the Old Testament is about keeping the Law.Isn’t it interesting that God calls Abraham righteous based on his faith in Genesis 15, and the 10 Commandments aren’t even introduced until Exodus 20?
People were not to keep the Law to establish a relationship with God, they were to keep the Law because they had a relationship with God.
Fast forward to the New Testament and the concept hasn’t changed. The Law reveals how we are in sin, how there is a curse upon us, but Christ redeemed us from that by becoming that curse. Just like Abraham, we don’t find righteousness by trying to keep the Law. We find righteousness by having faith in Christ.
The biggest misunderstanding of the Old Testament is thinking that God ever expected people to work for their salvation. It has always been grace through faith, and it always will be.
They struggled to accept it then, and you can find yourself in the same dilemma if you are not careful.
Today, don’t get caught in a performance trap where you think you have to measure up to earn God’s love.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.