1. Despising the Old Testament
First, let us beware of despising the Old Testament, for whatever reason. Let us never listen to those who tell us to throw it aside as an obsolete, antiquated, useless book. The religion of the Old Testament is the germ of Christianity. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full flower. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the blade; the New Testament is the Gospel in full ear. The saints in the Old Testament saw many things through a glass darkly; but they all looked by faith to the same Saviour, and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. These are no light matters. Much unfaithfulness begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament.
2. The Ten Commandments
Second, let us beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments. Let us not suppose for a moment that it is set aside by the Gospel, or that Christians have nothing to do with it. The coming of Christ did not alter the position of the Ten Commandments one hair’s breadth. If anything, it exalted and raised their authority (Romans 3:31). The law of the Ten Commandments is God’s eternal measure of right and wrong. By it we get our knowledge of sin; by it the Spirit shows people their need of Christ, and drives them to him. Christ refers his people to it as their rule and guide for holy living. In its right place it is just as important as “the glorious Gospel.” It cannot save us: we canot be justified by it; but never, never let us despise it. It is a symptom of an ignorant ministry, and an unhealthy state of religion, when the law is reckoned unimportant. The true Christian delights in God’s law (Romans 7:22).
3. The Standard of Personal Holiness
Third, let us beware of supposing that the Gospel has lowered the standard of personal holiness, and that the Christian is not intended to be as strict and careful about his daily life as the Jew. This is an immense mistake, but one that is unhappily very common. So far from this being the case, the sanctification of the New Testament saint ought to exceed that of the person who has nothing but the Old Testament for a guide. The more light we have, the more we ought to love God: the more clearly we see our own complete and full forgiveness in Christ, the more heartily ought we to work for his glory. We know what it cost to redeem us far better than the Old Testament saints did. We have read what happened in Gethsemane and on Calvary, and they only saw it dimly and indistinctly as a thing yet to come. May we never forget our obligations! The Christian who is content with a low standard of personal holiness has got much to learn.