Understanding the Ten Commandments

ten commandments

Understanding the proper relationship between the law and the gospel results in a deep appreciation for forgiveness, true conversion, and choosing to “keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” Revelation 14:12.

“’Teacher, which is the greatest Commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'” Matthew 22:36-40. Jesus is quoting here from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. By fulfilling these two commands, we cannot help but keep all of the others, for these two summarize the Ten Commandments, as well as the Old Testament moral laws.

This is a very good, detailed study of the Ten Commandments by Steve Wohlberg – portions quoted below. https://www.tencommandmentsfromgod.com/

The Law of Sacrifices was Abolished, Not the Big Ten by Steve Wohlberg

There was a “law” that was separate from the Ten Commandments. It was written by Moses and involved “sacrifices… and burnt offerings … offered by the law” (Hebrews 10:1,8). Called “a shadow of good things to come” (vs. 1), its “sacrifices” pointed forward to the great Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ died, this “shadow” ceased. Jesus Christ “abolished … the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Ephesians 2:15). We know this is talking about “the law of sacrifices,” and not the Ten Commandments, because in the same book (Ephesians), Paul quoted the 5th commandment, “Honor thy father and mother,” as being in full force for Christians today (see Ephesians 6:1-3). “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us … nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). Some apply this verse to the Ten Commandments, but this is a mistake. Notice carefully that the “ordinances” mentioned here that were nailed to the cross were “the handwriting of ordinances.” The “handwriting” refers to the law that Moses wrote with his hand in a book (Deut. 31:24-26), and not what God wrote with His finger on “two tables of stone” (Exodus 31:18).

The following verses show the clear distinction between “the law of sacrifices” written by Moses (which were abolished) and the Ten Commandments (which endure forever):

The Ten Commandments                                  The Law of Moses

Written by God. Exod. 24:12                                Written by Moses. Deut. 31:9

The finger of God. Exod. 31:18                            The hand of Moses. Deut. 31:24

Written on stone. Exod. 31:18                             Written in a book. Deut. 31:24

Placed in the ark. Deut. 10:1-5                             In the side of the ark. Deut. 31:26

Royal law of liberty. James 2:8-12                       Law of ordinances. Eph. 2:15

Moral precepts. Exod. 20                                       Ritual matters. Deut. 31:24

We should keep. James 2:12                                 We should not keep. Acts 15:24

Judges all men. James 2:12                                    Judges no man. Col. 2:16

Spiritual. Romans 7:12-14                                     Carnal. Heb. 7:16; 9:10

Christ magnified. Isa. 42:21                                   Christ abolished. Col. 2:14; Eph. 2:15

Established by faith. Romans 3:31                        Blotted out by Christ. Col. 2:14

When Jesus Christ died, He caused “the sacrifice … to cease” (Dan. 9:27). But the Ten Commandments can never “cease.” They’re on “two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) and still exist in the original “ark” in the heavenly temple (read Revelation 11:19).

Twisted Text – Galatians 5:3,4 (A Debtor to the Whole Law)

Paul wrote, “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” This is 100% true. Those who seek to be “justified,” which means “set right,” with God by the law remain condemned as lawbreakers (see Romans 3:19,20) for the simple reason that “all have sinned” (see Romans 3:23) and broken the Ten Commandments in the first place. When people trust in the law, or in their own efforts to keep it, they invariably remain under a crushing “debt” to God Himself they can never pay. The only deliverance from such bondage is by repentance and simple faith in Jesus Christ alone.

But once again, the question is: now what about the law? Are we free to keep breaking it? In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul then lists “the works of the flesh,” which include “adultery” (breaking the 7th commandment), “idolatry” (breaking the 2nd commandment), and “murder” (breaking the 6th commandment), and then he shockingly warns that “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verse 21). In other words, no, the law doesn’t save us, but neither can we continue to willingly violate it and expect to go to heaven. Then in verses 22 and 23 Paul lists “the fruit of the Spirit” specifically, and summarizes by saying, “against such there is no law” (verse 23). In other words, there is “no law” of God that is against love, joy and peace, but His law is still against idolatry, adultery, and murder.

Thus a careful reading of Galatians 5 lends no support to the false notion that we are now free to violate any one of the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, those who are truly filled with the Holy Spirit will keep them. Read Romans 8:4.

The Curse of the Law and the Gospel by Steve Wohlberg

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13). This verse is often interpreted as an argument against God’s law and in favor of Jesus Christ. This is a gross perversion of it’s meaning. Here is what it means, and what it doesn’t mean.

“The curse of the law” hangs over those who break the law (see Deuteronomy 28:15). “The curse of the law” is “death” (compare 1 John 3:4 with Romans 6:23). Death is pronounced upon all those who break God’s law of Ten Commandments because that law is so perfect, so holy, so unchangeable (see Romans 7:12), and so eternal (being written on stone, Exodus 31:18), that all lawbreakers are justly condemned to die for violating its holy principles. Thus is not an argument against God’s law, but in favor of it.

The Good News is that Jesus Christ willingly took the horror of “the curse of the law” and became “a curse for us.” Because of what Jesus did for us on Calvary, we can repent of our sins, have faith in Him, be fully forgiven, and thus stand before God’s law as if we never sinned (see Romans 3:26). Far from abolishing God’s law, the death of Jesus Christ establishes its holiness and eternal validity (Romans 3:31).

 

About E.J.

My name is Ellen “E.J.” Lefavour. I am a Christian artist and writer living in Vero Beach, FL, where I have been living with and caring for my mother since God led us here in September of 2017. I pray you are blessed, built up in your faith and Christian walk, and become an interactive participant in God's Morning. We're here as Christ's body, supporting and building each other up in all righteousness, in His name, awaiting His soon return.
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