The Old Testament Law

Is it ok for a Christian (a followers of Jesus Christ) to get tattoos?

There are 3 categories

  • Ceremonial •Civil •Moral

The Old Testament Law was to point out the people’s sins, and to show them it is impossible to please God by trying to obey all His laws. The beginning of the New Testament, (New Covenant) brought over six hundred Old Testament Ceremonial Laws to an end; Leaving the civil and moral laws to guide man’s conduct, and to identify what God considers to be sin. For the Christian, the civil and moral laws reveal the nature and will of God, and how God’s people are to live.

The “Old Testament Law”

The Old Testament Law identifies sin and teaches the need for salvation; God’s grace gives us that salvation through Jesus Christ. There are over 600 Jewish Ceremonial Laws and Rituals listed in the Old Testament. These are the laws that Paul said no longer apply.


Ceremonial Law: This type of law related to Israel’s worship and diet (dietary commands). (Lev 1:1-13) The laws pointed forward to Jesus Christ and were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Though we are no longer bound to them, the principles behind the ceremonial laws, to worship and love God, still apply.

Civil Law: This law dictated Israel’s daily living (Deut 24:10-11); but modern society and culture are so radically different that some of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically. The principles behind the commands are to guide our conduct.

Moral Law: The moral laws are direct commands of God. A good example are the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17). The moral laws reveal the nature and will of God, and still apply to us today. We do not obey this moral law as a way to obtain salvation, but to live in ways pleasing to God.

The Old Testament Law is where God reveals His nature, His will/lifestyle for humanity, His moral laws, and guidelines for living. But we cannot go to Heaven by keeping that Law; we must be born again through the blood of Jesus Christ. John 3:3

Also let consider what Jesus said about the Old Testament Law.

Christ Came to Fulfill the Law

Matthew 5:17-48

God has always called His people to be Holy!

Lev 19:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Lev 19:2  Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

Lev 20:7 Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Lev 20:26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

2 Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

2 Co 6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

2 Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2 Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;and I will receive you,

2 Co 6:18  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

2 Co 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Pet 1:15-16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

The Bible directly forbids His people from getting tattoos.

Lev 19:28  Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

This verse seems to be very clear about God’s people (Israelites and Christians) getting tattoos. A lot of Christians say: “that verse is OT law, we are NT Christians and we don’t live under the law but under grace.Did you know that beastiality was only forbidden in the OT Levitical Law? Lev 18:23/20:15-16

Does that mean a Holy God approves of that now?Consider this as well!

Lev 19:29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

This is the only place in the entire Bible that God directly forbids someone to prostitute their daughter. It’s OT Law, does God approve of that in the NT? There are other “moral laws” that were OT only. An example is human sacrifice of children. Matthew Henry Commentary explains that most of Leviticus 19 (such as Lev 19:28) are moral commandments that applies not only for Israel but for NT Christians today.God forbade His people to get tattoos because it was a worldly practice in heathen cultures. Children of darkness practiced these things. God told His people not to get tattoos like the other cultures did. Egypt and other heathen nations cut themselves for their dead and got tattoos. God told His people they were not to do this. The reason He gave them was found in Lev 19:2: Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

Eph 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

New Testament Biblical principles reinforce OT law about getting tattoos.

Romans 8:8-17-We are the temple of the Holy Ghost!


In the OT the temple was one of the holiest and most sacred places on earth. It was the dwelling place of God. Not that God couldn’t be and wasn’t everywhere. The temple stood as a testimony to the world! God lives in us today as Christians. He called us to be holy and for us not to be conformed to this world.

Romans 12:1-2-God Himself lives inside of the Christian.

I Cor 3:16-17-We would never spray paint graffiti or tear up the church building, where the world thinks God lives. Why do so many Christians do it to the place where God does live?

I Cor 3:16-17-There is a strong warning to NT Christians who defile the temple of God.

Eph.5:8-God called us out of darkness. He called us to be a witness and testimony of His greatness.

Rom 12:2, II Cor 6:14-8-Yielded Christians care about pleasing God, not being worldly! Victorious Christians mortify the deeds of the flesh. Carnal Christians only care about what pleases them!

By: Jeremy Schott