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Why don't Christians follow all Old Testament laws?

  A frequent attack upon Christians today is that there are many Old Testament rules and laws that they don't follow, yet insist on the absolutism of things found there such as the Ten Commandments. This issue isn't new: this was one of the biggest problems the early Church had to resolve 2000 years ago!

The short answer is that with the coming of the Messiah, many of those Old Testament regulations and injunctions were fulfilled in their symbolic purpose, and are thus no longer needed to be executed. Hebrews 10:1 tells us that "the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities". The example the author of Hebrews gives in 8:4-6 also carries that point:
Now if he [Christ] were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
The point Hebrews makes above is that the regulations of the law that underline the purity of the believers and the Messiah who was to come are no longer needed or have the same meaning: these rituals, such as circumcision, are to be done "in the heart" through repentance (Romans 2:29).

However, many of the earliest Christians were Jews. For them, to disregard the commands in the Old Testament was not an option. For this reason, there was the problem of why the Old Testament had these regulations, but now there is no need for them. Paul explains that the promise of living by faith and not by a legalistic set of instructions was given to Abraham, and that Moses' Law was simply a discipline for the symbolic purity of Israel compared to its neighbors, as well as for the Hebrews not to fall away due to a lax morality (Leviticus 18:24-30). Moreover, seeming inconsistencies between various sets of instructions, such as no work on the Sabbath, yet a newborn must be circumcised on the eighth day no matter what, shows that there was no real legalism in the Old Testament regulations - these were just symbols. Some regulations did hold severe penalties, such as death, but these could hardly have been done accidentally or due to necessity: the criteria was a willing ignorance or disobedience as is shown by the fact that the Philistines weren't killed when they stole the Ark of the Covenant.

But why is it that the Old Testament isn't excluded from this then? Well, just because the Old Testament had some temporary regulations, doesn't mean that it couldn't have any universal moral code included in it at all! Just because a Gentile wasn't guilty of sin for eating pork, doesn't mean he was innocent if he committed murder! This is why Paul refers to murder and other universal sins as a law "by nature" (Romans 2:14). Every person has a conscience that tells him what is right and wrong (Romans 2:12-16): Cain's murder of Abel predates Moses' instructions of the Law, but it was a sin nonetheless!

With this in mind, we can come to the next question: how do we know what was temporary and what wasn't? This is easily seen by simply reading the context of the Old Testament, as well as having common sense. For example, it's obvious that wearing clothes made out of more than one material (Leviticus 19:19) was an instruction only for that time: wearing clothes of different materials doesn't do anything moral-wise. It is this same reasoning that both Jesus and Paul use with respect to the argument of clean and unclean food (Mark 7:14-23, Romans 14:14, 17). In Romans 14:17 we read: "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.". It is this same logic that one should apply in determining what is an Old Testament regulation for the Israelites only, and what is and always was a universal commandment. One person might consider something like watching violent movies wrong, another might not think anything of it: every person has to be convinced in their own mind (Romans 14:5), obviously with a good justification.

Even in the case of the commandment to observe the Sabbath, it doesn't need to be fulfilled legalistically. Paul writes:
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)
The outward ordinances of the Old Testament no longer apply (Ephesians 2:15). This includes not just circumcision, unclean food, or not wearing clothes of two different materials, but also stoning adulterers, blasphemers, and so on. As Jesus said, the whole Old (and New) Testament can be summarized by the idea "to love God and to love your neighbor":
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Similarly, the Golden Rule best summarizes what the Bible teaches. The Talmud records a Gentile who asked the famous rabbi Hillel to explain to him the whole Torah while he stood on one foot, to which Hillel answered:
What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn. (Talmud tractate Shabbat 31a)
None of this means that the Law God put is void, or has become useless and obsolete. Jesus states in Matthew 5:17-18:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
All of this is in line with Romans 3:31: "Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." The objection that Paul preached salvation through faith and grace and not by works does not weigh in here, because in those arguments Paul was distinguishing salvation through one's own worth (works), versus reliance upon Christ (faith), and true, living faith was only possible if one's works reflected that (Romans 2:13, 6:15-16, James 2:14-17).

By fulfilling the Law, Jesus meant that his coming has now established obedience on a different level than outword observance, as Marxsen informs us.

In ancient times the Israelites were obliged to stone adulterers, blasphemers and other crimes because these crimes were the very reason God sent the destruction upon the former inhabitants of Palestine (Leviticus 18:27). The punishment for many of those crimes, such as fornication, are not void today for God Himself to give (1 Corinthians 10:8). Those laws were for the preservation of Israel as a physical country that had the Jewish religion. Today, however, our country is in a heavenly place (Philippians 3:20), and a physical enforcement of this will do nothing more than make people hide their sin in their heart more.