When we see or hear the term “God’s chosen people,” the Israelites come to mind. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel were given that name after God chose Abraham to be the forefather of what became the nation of Israel. The chosen people of the Old Testament were subject to various and numerous laws and rules.
In the New Testament, with the coming of Christ, the Gentiles were adopted through the Holy Spirit to be part of God’s chosen people. (Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-7, NIV) In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus began reinterpreting the Old Testament’s laws and rules. As Paul later wrote in Galatians 3:23-25, before the coming of faith in Christ, “we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.”
Though we Christians periodically try to cobble together laws and rules as strict as those we find in the Old Testament, we are plainly told in Galatians 5:1: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” This doesn’t mean that anything goes, but it does mean that we are no longer bound–and should not be bound–by rules that go beyond human capacity for obedience.
We also find that the language addressing God’s chosen people in the New Testament is different from that in the Old Testament. For example, in Colossians 3:12-14, we read: “[A]s God’s chosen, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
That’s the language of freedom.