Q. I have been reading the book of Leviticus and my question is this. As a church saved by grace I find that we still refer back to the law, in this instance, the book of Leviticus for a very detailed and exacting guidance of righteous living before God. I know these guidelines were written for Israel but some of them were and are still relevant to our life today. Many churches will point a finger at specific scriptures that they believe support their doctrine (for example tattooing) I would appreciate some clarity on this subject.
A. In Matt. 5:17-18 Jesus made it clear that He hadn’t come to abolish the Law, and that not even the tiniest detail of the law would disappear until everything is fulfilled. Therefore God’s Law still stands. With His death, Jesus paid the penalty that is due us for our violations of the law (Colossians 2:13-14), but people who don’t accept His death as payment for their sins will have to bear the penalty themselves.
I’ll use your example of getting a tattoo to explain how this works. In Leviticus 19:28 God told the Israelites not to put tattoo marks on themselves. He hasn’t changed His mind about tattoos. He still doesn’t like them because He considers us to be an example of His workmanship (Ephes. 2:10), and doesn’t like to see us deface what He has made. To Him, it’s a little like painting graffiti on a beautiful building.
Because Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins, we cannot be punished for getting a tattoo, or for breaking any of God’s other laws. Our decision to do so should be based on whether it bothers us to know He would prefer if we didn’t.
Speaking of this Paul wrote, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive” (1 Cor. 10:23). We’re free to do anything, because the penalties for our sins are already paid, and we have a righteousness from God apart from the Law, through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-24). But being free to do something does not mean it’s a good thing to do.