Why Christians Do Not Apply Old Testament Sanctions (ie. The Death Penalty) To Sin

Thirdmill:

John Frame has noted that the New Testament church “fulfills the Old Testament theocracy” (Barker 1990, 95). In applying the Old Testament laws to the church, Paul did not apply them exactly as they were applied in the Old Testament. For instance, In 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, Paul addresses a situation where a man is living with his father’s wife. According to Old Testament law, the man and the woman should receive capital punishment (Leviticus 20:10). However, this was not recommended by Paul. Rather, the proper punishment of this crime for Paul is excommunication (vv. 2, 13). Furthermore, Paul’s statement in verse 13 is a quotation of a formula found in Mosaic penal sanctions (Deut. 17:7, 12; 12:19; 19:21, 21:21; 22:21, 24: 24:7).

Dennis Johnson has noted that “in the Deuteronomy contexts this formula, whenever it appears, refers to the execution of those deeds ‘worthy of death’: idolatry, contempt for judges, false witness, persistent rebellion towards parents, adultery, and kidnapping” (Barker 1990, 181). These crimes were to be punished by purging the offender from the covenant community through his execution. Johnson continues, “Paul applies the same terminology to the new covenant community’s judging/purging act of excommunication– a judgment that is both more severe (since it is ‘handing this man over to Satan,’ an anticipation of the final judgment), and more gracious (since it envisions a saving outcome to the temporal exercise of church discipline, which may bring about repentance that will lead to rescue from eternal judgment)” (Barker 1990, 181-182). Therefore, it may be safely said that the proper application of those capital offenses of the Mosaic law are properly applied in the church today as excommunication. 3. Conclusion In 1 Timothy 1:8 Paul claims that “we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully.” Theonomists take this to mean that the law should be applied largely as it was in the Old Testament, without using it as a means of salvation and taking into account the explicit statements in the New Testament where certain laws have been abrogated. However, it appears that Paul’s statements concerning the end of the law are somewhat more inclusive than this. The law, in its ministry of condemnation (2 Cor. 3:9), has been abolished and has replaced with the “ministry of righteousness” by the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:9-11). The law has been written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit. As we walk in the Spirit, we fulfill the law. This does not mean that the Mosaic law no longer applies to the Christian as a rule of life. Rather, it means that the law can no longer condemn us (Rom. 8:1) because Christ has satisfied the demands of the law in His life and paid for our sins on the cross, and He has sent us the Holy Spirit, by whom we are empowered to fulfill the law (Rom 8:2-4).

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/witch-burning-puritans.17870/, Comment 24

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