But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND CHRISTIANS
“For the Commandment is a lamp; and the Law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:23)
The Law was given to Israel, not that they might be redeemed, but because they had been redeemed -- out of bondage -- by the blood of the Passover Lamb. When God redeems us, He instructs us in His Law. He commands us to walk in the light of it.
The Ten Commandments are binding on all men, both Jew and Gentile, in all time periods. They teach us our duty -- how to love God (the first four Commandments) and how to love our neighbor as ourselves (the last six).
Christians are not absolved from these duties. When Paul taught that Christians are “not under the Law” he meant not under its curse.
Christ became a curse for us and paid the Law's death penalty due our sins (Galatians 3:10-14). Keeping the Law does not save us. Neither did it save Moses or David. They, like us, were saved by faith (Hebrews 11).
LOVE GOD AND THY NEIGHBOR
But we are still obliged to love God and our neighbor. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his Commandments.” (1 John 2:3) “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law.” (Romans 3:8)
“For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other Commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.” (Romans 13:9-10)
Paul did NOT say that love is the ABOLISHING of the Law. Rather, he said love is the FULFILLING of the Law. Real love obeys God's Law. Paul also wrote, “Do we then make void the Law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the Law.” (Romans 3:31)
The Law defines our duty to God and neighbor. It defines love. It defines right and wrong. “... sin is the transgression of the Law.” (1 John 3:4) Let there be no mistake at this point. Christians will be judged by the Ten Commandments.
“For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the Law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be JUDGED by the Law of Liberty.” (James 2:11-12) (Emphasis mine)
James was writing to believers. He says we will be judged by the Law. Both saints (James 2:12) and sinners (Romans 3:19) will be judged by it.
For saints, it will not determine eternal destiny, but gain, or loss of reward. James calls the Ten Commandments the Law of Liberty.
True freedom is to walk in the light of God's Law. The heresy of the “Judaizers” was not that they insisted on the Law as a rule of life. Their heresy was that they insisted on the works of the Law as a way of salvation (Acts 15:1-5).
The main issue in Galatians is not what the standard of conduct for the believer is. The main issue is: how are we saved? Is it by law or by grace? (Galatians 5:4). “Not under the Law” does not mean under no obligation to obey. It means not keeping the Law in order to be saved.
MESSIAH AND THE LAW
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law, till all be fulfilled.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
Note the perpetual obligation of the Ten Commandments. It was not done away when Christ died. Rather, it is “till Heaven and Earth pass.” Our Lord Jesus Messiah is speaking to believers. He says the Law is binding on them and will determine their degree of reward.
PAUL AND THE LAW
“For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man But I see another law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:22-25)
In these lines, every true Christian reads his own experience. We love God and His Law. But our sinful nature often hinders us from keeping it.
This is why we need a Saviour. But we are NOT saved in order to keep sinning. We are saved FROM our sins (Matthew 1:21).
We are saved to love God and our neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). This then is the lawful use of the Law (1 Timothy 1:8). God intends Christians to use the Law, not as the means of their salvation, but as their standard of conduct. This is why Paul wrote:
“To them that are without Law, as without Law, (being not without Law to God, but under the Law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without Law.” (1 Corinthians 9:21) Paul acted as a Gentile to win Gentiles to Christ. But he was still “under the Law to Christ.”
Paul applied the Law to Christians when he wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first Commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:3)
Like James, Paul freely quoted from the Ten Commandments and applied them to both Jewish and Gentile believers. Many admit that nine of the Ten Commandments are quoted in the New Testament as binding on Christians. Which leads us to the Sabbath.
THE SABBATH AND CHRISTIANS
Some Christians will admit that they should keep the nine Commandments reiterated in the New Testament. But they insist that the Sabbath is not binding on Christians. Their argument holds no water for the following reasons.
The seventh day of rest was given to ALL mankind (not just to Israel) at the end of the six days of Creation (Genesis 2:1-3). Man needs to rest and remember his Creator (Exodus 20:8-11) and Redeemer (Deuteronomy 5:15). He needs to do this one day in seven.
Those who reject the Sabbath argue that we should not accept any of the Old Testament unless it is repeated in the New. But the correct principle is that we should not discard anything in the Old, unless told to do so in the New Testament (as with the Ceremonial Law).
We are not told to drop Sabbath keeping. Rather we are told to look forward to reigning with Christ (in the Resurrection of the Just) as a REST just like the SEVENTH DAY.
“For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David,
To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:4-9)
The word "rest" in the original Greek is literally “a keeping of Sabbath”. Thus there remains a keeping of Sabbath to the people of God.
Finally, the New Covenant (New Testament) is made with ALL (both Jews and Gentiles) for whom Christ died. It is the New Testament in His Blood (Matthew 26:28). Gentile believers are now fellow citizens with believing Jews, in spiritual Israel (Ephesians 2:11-22).
God puts His Laws in the minds and writes them on the hearts of every one of His redeemed people, both Jew and Gentile. His Law is the Ten Commandments, written with the finger of God -- not on tables of stone, but on fleshy tables of the heart.
It includes the Sabbath.
“For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
“For this is the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my Laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:8-10).
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss