The Argument: I don’t need to follow Biblical laws or instructions because the sacrifice of Jesus did away with them. Christians who claim we are supposed to follow certain things are effectively saying that the sacrifice of Jesus wasn’t good enough for them.
This type of argument is commonly used by people attempting to excuse their actions or lifestyle choices they are pursuing while either claiming they themselves are ‘Christian’ or to their Christian friends or contacts. This logic is usually followed up with a few snippets or verses about Jesus ‘fulfilling’ the law (Matthew 5:17 or Romans 10:4 for example) and how whatever lifestyle choice they are making (homosexuality is a popular one) was restricted by the ‘Old Testament’ law and thus now null.
When pointed out that isn’t the case, people will then respond with something along the lines of: “Well you don’t sacrifice animals or grow your hair out a certain way or wear certain types of clothing… You are just picking and choosing what ‘laws’ to follow so you can judge people like me and think you are better than us.”
If the person making that statement is not a Christian, I’d just go straight to what the Bible says about judging others as a Christian. So essentially, what I would be saying is this: “It really makes no difference to me, as a Christian, how you live your life, so there’s no need for you to be defensive about whatever lifestyle choice it is you are making as it’s all the same to me. If you are feeling guilty about something you are doing you would need to figure out why that is on your own, but as far as myself, I’m not in any way trying to judge you or make you feel guilty. I certainly do believe following God is in your best interest and you will find peace and contentment if you choose to do so, and as such I’d highly encourage it, but that is neither here nor there.”
If the person making that statement is claiming to be a Christian, then it would be a bit different.
First, in regards to the ‘picking and choosing’ what laws to follow, lets take a look at what the Bible actually says. There are a number of things we are instructed to do according to the new testament (Here is a list of 1050 of them!), so saying that we can do whatever we want as Jesus sacrificing himself for us bought us salvation is blatantly untrue and theologically unsound. The New Testament talks about being ‘free in Christ’ a lot, however that isn’t ‘free’ in the sense that we (as Christians) can do whatever we wish; it’s freedom from sin, and the law that proved we were sinners to begin with.
Romans 6:1-2, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16 and various places in Romans and the New Testament discuss this exact issue. Paul states quite clearly that Jesus’ sacrifice does not excuse Christians to continue sinning. This not only implies there are still ‘things’ we can do that go against God (aka, His laws) but that we are not supposed to do them if we are sincerely trying to follow God.
That in itself puts a gaping hole in the, ‘We can do whatever we want because Jesus sacrificed himself for us so we’re all good!’ argument, however it doesn’t specifically address exactly what it is we as Christian’s are still instructed to do according to the New Testament, so lets look at that.
First and foremost, several passages in the New Testament sum up all the laws or instructions of God with these two things: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40, Galatians 5:14, Mark 12:28-34, Romans 13:8-10, etc.).
Okay that’s great, but how do we know if we are ‘loving’ God then?
Well luckily the Bible addresses this also. There is extensive writing about love in the books of John and there are a number of verses specifically about what it means to ‘love’ God. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) we find that loving God involves keeping his commandments (2 John 1:6, 1 John 2:4, 1 John 5:3, John 14:21, John 15:12-14, John 14:23-24, etc.).
Again, this re-affirms that we as followers of Christ are not to just do whatever we want, nor can we excuse our lifestyles or actions or mentalities and we are indeed expected and called to live a certain way and follow God’s instructions.
God’s commands and instructions are not burdensome, nor do they exist to make it so we cannot have any ‘fun’ or enjoy life. We know that God has our best interests at heart (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 37:4, etc.) and part of following God is trusting He knows better than we do.
There is a lot (almost everything to be honest) in the New Testament about how we are called to live as Christians, and going into specific details would be far too long for this article, and, lets be honest, why would I write a book about this issue when one already exists (the New Testament)?
It isn’t difficult to see that there are a variety of things God instructs us to do as followers of Christ in the New Testament. Adhering to Jewish customs and regulations are (thankfully) not one of them and that is also made quite clear in numerous areas of the New Testament. As such however, to someone who has poor understanding or knowledge of what the Bible actually says, it can indeed seem as though we ‘pick and choose’ what things to follow and what not too.
Generally, non-Christians (and sadly many ‘Christians’) just take the word of whoever they hear talking about various aspects of the Bible as truth and base their opinions and conclusions off of that information, rather than actually looking at what the Bible says. As with most arguments and ‘problems’ people have with ‘Christians’ and God and the Bible, it’s quite simple to find the truth if they just actually look at what it says.
In a very brief nutshell, Christian people (people who are genuinely attempting to follow God) are instructed to abstain from a variety of things, including sexual immorality/perversion, adultery, murder, violence, cheating, lying, pride, exploitation, idolatry, envy, greed, drunkenness, etc. And are called to love others, even their enemies (those who hate them). That last part, loving others, is what really sets Christian’s apart from all other religions and peoples, and what really sets God apart from all other god’s; the fact that despite our hatred and complete disregard for Him, He still continues to love us, and even sacrificed His own son so that we might live.
But no need to take my word for it. If you want to know what we as Christians are actually instructed to do, just read through the Bible.