“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” – Romans 7:21-25.
Throughout the year, many people join in on a Bible reading plan. Reading through the Bible in one year is a great idea for so many reasons. It’s challenging, but not impossible. And it builds a positive habit and gives you a deeper understanding of faith and church history. But once the exciting days of Genesis and Exodus are behind you, you’ll find yourself moving into Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. “Oh man,” you might start thinking, “I don’t know if this was such a good idea” as you read stories of battles—horrible battles—and lots of stories of death and killing and the earth swallowing up families in the Old Testament.
For many Christians, this is a little disturbing to read considering what we know of the God of mercy and love that we read about in the New Testament.
The difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament is in the way God dealt with sin. When God commanded the Israeli army to eliminate the people of Jericho, for example, He was dealing with the people’s sin. And sin, whether in the Old or New Testament, deserves death. So how do we account for responses that are so different in the Old and New Testaments? How can we understand these harsh judgments written about in ancient times?
The answer is Jesus. The Old Testament and New Testament are unified in God’s overall revelation to us. They are distinctly separated by the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The New Testament is all about Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus died on the cross – in our place, for our sins. You see, the consequence of sin is the same. It is always death. The difference is Jesus, taking our place. And when we choose to believe in Jesus Christ, God cleanses us of our past, our baggage, our mistakes, and our sins.
God is the same. His judgment of sin is the same – but thanks to Jesus, God gives us a way to be forgiven from our sins and live a fulfilling life. A life lived to the fullest is a life that is characterized by being in relationship with Jesus, because He is the definition of life. John 14:6 says, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
- How do you feel about the Old Testament versus the New Testament?