In my last post I made the audacious claim that Christians are required to obey the Law of God. Part of my argument was bolstered by James remark, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). Which many may claim contradicts other New Testament writers like Paul. But Paul actually agrees with James (shocker!) when he writes, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Romans 2:13).
So, lets just agree that Christians, who are forgiven their sins through the atonement Christ secured, must obey the Law indeed. In addition to this we must take into account the plain and obvious fact that, “when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well” (Hebrews 7:12). What is that change? Well, it smells like shrimp wrapped in bacon. It looks like churches filled to the brim with the nations.
Well, that takes just a bit of biblical theology to piece together. The first Adam plunged the world under the curse of God through his sin and rebellion (Genesis 3). The Laws of God were given to regulate the sins of men and to show humanity’s need for the Savior. For example, the laws of cleanliness are to show us that as long as we are dead in our trespasses and sins, only death can flow out of us. Death and the curse spread out from those with rotten hearts. The repeated implementation of these laws through repeated sacrifices was a reminder to Israel that the final sacrifice had not come, that they needed to believe God’s promises of the Messiah who would give them new hearts.
The second Adam (Jesus) came, obeyed the Law. In His sinlessness, life flowed out of Him and the stain of death and the curse could not touch Him. When He touched a leper, the uncleanness of the leper did not spread to Jesus, rather the cleanness from Jesus cleansed the leper. When He touched a dead girl, death did not spread to Him but He brought her back to life. Jesus came to reverse the curse. The new Adam was going about undoing what the first Adam did.
Then this new Adam was lifted up on a cross as a perfect sacrifice, a willing unblemished lamb. Not only is Jesus the new Adam reversing the curse, and not only is He the perfect sacrifice, but He is also the High Priest. In the Law, when the high priest died, the land was cleansed, even the manslayer (someone who inadvertently killed another person) could leave a city of refuge and walk freely through the land. The death of the high priest cleansed the land, so to speak (Numbers 35:25-28).
Putting all this together we see that the new Adam, who is reversing the curse of the old creation and is the head over the new creation, paid for the cleansing of creation by His own death (1 John 2:1-3). Not only that, He secured His victory over all things by being resurrected from the dead! So, for Christians, shrimp and bacon are no longer unclean because our lives are not found in the curse of the first Adam. Rather, our lives have been liberated from the curse of the Law, and established in the new life of the second Adam through which the creation has been made new (Romans 6:1-4).
To put it simply: the laws of cleanliness are not applied to the lives of Christians because in Christ we are new creations freed from the curse of Adam’s sin. And in this way, the laws of cleanliness are profitable for Christians as they reveal to us, in a fuller way, our Redeemer.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17