31 July 2008

The 10 Commandments: Part 1 – 1.8.08

Greetings to all in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Hope you're having a great day enjoying the benefits He loads upon us daily (Psalm 68:19).

Today I'd like to address this matter: Is the law binding upon the New Testament Christian? Are the 10 commandments binding upon the New Testament believer? Of course, there is no short answer to those questions.

Before we look at any scripture verses, let's remember that the law was given as an amendment to God's covenant with the Hebrew people for the purpose of governing their life as a nation in the promised land. Since probably none of us are of Jewish descent and none of us will probably ever visit – let alone occupy – any land in Palestine, the answer to the question is no, the law in its entirety is not, has never been, will never be "binding" upon you and me.

Next, let's look to the book of Romans.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (6:14)

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (8:1-9)

The point of the above passages is that the law had a dominating and controlling influence in the lives of men in the Old Testament. It governed and directed their lives. But they couldn't keep it. That law was said to be "weak through the flesh." And what God has given the New Testament believer is so much better. We are led and controlled, not by a law we can't keep, but by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are governed and directed by One who indwells us and enables us to do what is pleasing to God.

A man under the law had no power to keep the law imposed upon him. But those under grace are given the ability to do those things that are pleasing in God's sight (because we are indwelt by One who always does what pleases the Father – John 8:29; Hebrews 13:20-21). Note, however, that freedom from the law does not release a man from any type of obligation to keep God's commandments. Rather, freedom from the law grants that man the opportunity to do so. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid" (6:1). "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (6:18).

With that in mind, we could not conclude without pointing out the fact that each mandate contained in the Decalogue (fancy word for the 10 commandments) is repeated in the New Testament epistles…with the slight exception of #4. We'll list the references now and perhaps take a closer look at them later.

1. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 12:1-2)

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Acts 17:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:9)

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Timothy 1:20; Colossians 4:6)

4. Remember the Sabbath (different, but similar command in Hebrews 10:25)

5. Honor thy father and thy mother (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20)

6. Thou shalt not kill (Romans 13:9; 1 John 3:15)

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Romans 13:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:3)

8. Thou shalt not steal (Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28)

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Romans 13:9; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:25)

10. Thou shalt not covet (Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:10-11; Hebrews 13:5)

In conclusion, then…

1. No part of the law is binding upon any non-Jew, especially a child of God…

2. However, the Christian is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do all that God requires…

3. And each of the 10 commandments is repeated in the New Testament epistles…

So I guess this means that we're not completely off the hook. But let's keep in mind that all of what God commands is for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13). Aren't you glad He loves you?!

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