When reading the Old Testament, especially the book of Leviticus, we can see that for almost every possible sin, the sinner had to be put to death, by stoning or by fire. In the Law, there was no second chance. Whether it was cursing, non-biblical sexual activities, doing magic, eating unclean food, etc., death was always the punishment. Why was God so strict towards people in the Old Testament, punishing them with death (or commanding their death by stoning or fire) for their sin; knowing they were sinners and were likely to commit those sins in their life? Why isn't death penalty the punishment in the New Testament, and today? If the answer is "because of Jesus' death, everything is finished"; well I thought that the purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus' death was to save us from the spiritual death (Hell); not the physical death (ex: capital punishment required for many sins in the Old Testament).
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First, none of us are supposed to escape physical death, whether its Old or New Testament covenant. When Adam sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit, all humankind's punishment is physical death. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Second, In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that the OT laws was given by God to us so that we may understand sin and more importantly understand how impossible it is for us to attain righteousness through works (observation of the law). As you have very clearly read and understood, every sin, no matter how "small" or "large" is still a sin. Our God is holy and perfect. Any sin is total abomination in His presence. Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight. The law is a standard of perfection that no human being, from Adam through today, has attained. Q: Why isn't death penalty the punishment in the New Testament, and today? It still is. The laws have not been abolished. Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said, 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 the laws are still in effect. But if you are a Christian, you now no longer live under the law. Your righteousness is afforded to you by your faith in Jesus through God's grace, as Abraham was afforded his righteousness before the law was given (Romans 4). Jesus' death blots out all our sins - yesterday, today and tomorrow. The law cannot touch us. Romans 4:22-25 the Apostle Paul wrote, That is why [Abraham's] faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. As Christians we no longer live under the law, but under God's grace by our faith.
Samuel you must understand the culture of the time. Men could not survive on there own, it took a community. The Talmud teach us that two sins cared the death penalty. The disregard of life and the theft of ones mind. It wasn't too long ago in America a man could be hung for stealing a horse. Today that would be way over the top. But by stealing a man's horse showed a total disregard for his life Stealing ones mind was just as bad. In the OT if you stole a mans donkey in day light, it didn't carry the death penalty. But if you came at night, you would be stoned to. Death. You not only stole his possessions, you stole his peace of mind. Any one who has had their home burglarized knows what I'm talking about. You don't feel safe in your own home. You sleep with the lights on. Think about if a mans wife was unfaithful. He can no long function on the same level as before. So things are not always as they seem. Today it seems like the laws are to protect the guilty, in the OT laws protected the innocent.
One of the reasons for the death sentence for so many sins is for us to see how God views sin. He takes it very seriously. One time is all it takes to be guilty, to become a sinner. Sinners deserve hell - you do and I do. "The wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23 Too many of us forget how awful a thing sin is and begin to think we are pretty good people. Most people in our society today think they are "pretty good" and even that their god will let them in their heaven, but God's standard is perfection. Since we can't be perfect, God came to earth and paid for our sin in our place so we could have His righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Sin is serious and we need to avoid it and not accept it!
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