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During the time of the Gnostic crisis, it was common for Gnostic writers to reject the Law and most of the Old Testament. The reason the Law was rejected was that it:
a) showed all humans were sinners
b) showed one must engage in physical acts to be holy as well as non-physical acts
c) showed a God that interacted with creation
d) showed a God that created the physical world
e) showed that a Messiah would come
There are multiple groups that John lists as falling under the heresy of rejecting the Law or the Old Testament. John was not advocating following the Law, but merely acknowledging its moral value and that it was given by God. The Law stands as a testament that we need God and that God interacted with us.
In the modern world we rarely, if ever, see a pastor teach out of the Old Testament. In theological discussions if you quote from the Old Testament, the opponent can say, “Yeah, well that’s the Old Testament.” This is somehow seen as the end-all to a discussion.
What is worse is we hardly ever study the actual Law. This leads to confusion on what is applicable and what is not. On one side, we have people who still say we are bound to follow the Law, but that it no longer saves us (truth be told, the Law never did save us). On the other side we have people who say that because it’s the Old Testament, it is passed away. They go so far as to say that the Ten Commandments no longer stand.
We can think of all those debates over homosexuality. If you bring up Leviticus, you are immediately met with an argument that has been going around for nearly a decade. The argument says, “Yeah, I agree! But should I also kill my neighbor for working on Sunday? What about slaughtering a calf to God? Should I stone my daughter for having premarital sex?” The argument looks at the Law and sees that some of the practices are not followed and/or are abolished by the New Testament and quickly assumes that everything in the Law must hold the same status.
The rejection of the moral code of the Law is one of the most common heresies of modern Christianity. The devaluation or “second-class-citizenship” given to the Old Testament is likewise common and occurs among both liberals and conservatives. It is a heresy because it devalues a word given to us by God.
The problem is people often think that the actions of Christ somehow nullified the Law. The reality is that His actions had no such effect. We are still “bound” by the Law in a different way. By accepting Christ, we fulfill the requirements of the Law because we put our faith in the One who truly fulfilled the Law. That is what grace means, that we are not bound to follow the Law because Christ has followed the Law for us. If we rejected Christ, then we must perfectly live the Law in order to be saved, but such an act is impossible.