Summary: We hear about the 10 Commandments. In Jesus’ day Jews had to obey these and 600+ rules. But in these days, we don't like to hear about what we should or shouldn't do. So, Christian - can you dump them as many are preaching? Grace vs Law - who wins?
We are used to hearing about the 10 Commandments. The Jews of Jesus’ day had to obey these plus over 600 more rules. In these days, we do not like to hear about what we should or should not do. We do not like being told, “Do this,” or, “Don’t do that.” Have you ever thought why we are like this?
1. The Law and Christians
What is the relationship of the Law (the Ten Commandments) to Christians? Remember these Ten Commandments were the original ‘Law’, given to God’s people, after their release from Egypt.
a. There are three answers
There are three radically different answers that can be returned to this question, and we must know which one is Biblical:
- First, sinners become saints by obeying the Law. This is legalism pure and simple. It is heresy of the most dangerous kind. All who really believe and act on it, as the basis of their acceptance by God, will perish eternally.
- Second, others say that the Law is not binding on Christians because the Law has been abolished. This is a dangerous, serious error. It arises from a mistaken interpretation of certain passages in the Epistles. The inevitable tendency of such an error turns the grace of God into a licence for immorality (Jude 4 … follow with Acts 17:11 for error-avoidance).
- Third, the Ten Commandments, not the myriad of additions imposed on a rebellious people (those that died in the desert), are an expression of the unchanging character and will of God; they are a moral standard for living, which we ignore at our cost; they are, and will ever be crucial for every Christian.
Matthew 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What, though, are the ‘Law’ & the ‘Prophets’? They are both explained by Jesus later in Matthew 7:
Mat 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
b. The Law is not to be scrapped
Jesus at no time ever planned to scrap the Law. In the Matt 5, He was about to correct various errors that had been created by the Jews and by their frequent rebellions against God. Therefore, He is careful to start what He has to say by cautioning them not to misunderstand His words.
So, far from intending to throw aside Moses, He most emphatically asserts:
- First, that He had not come to destroy the Law;
- Second, that He had come to fulfil it;
- Third, that obedience to the Law is ‘until heaven and earth pass away’;
- Fourth, that whoever breaks one of the least of the Commandments and teaches other so to do, shall pay a price;
- Fifth, that he who keeps the Law and teaches men to respect and obey it shall be rewarded.
2. Christ’s comments
a. Destroy the Law?
“I am not come to destroy the Law.” The word “destroy” here means, “to dissolve or overthrow.” When our Lord said that He had not come to destroy the Law, He gave us to understand that:
- It was not the purpose of His mission to cancel the Ten Commandments ... the Law;
- He had not come to free men from their need to obey them.
Note: So, if Jesus did not “destroy” the Law:
- Then no one had destroyed it;
- If no one has destroyed it, then the Law still stands with all its Divine authority;
- If the Law still remains as the unchanging expression of God’s character and will, then every human being must obey it;
- If every human being must obey it, then this includes the Christian!
b. Fulfil the Law!
The Son of God went on to say, “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The word “fulfil” here means “to fill up, to complete.” Christ “completed” the Law in three ways:
- First, by full, personal obedience to it. God’s Law was within His heart (Psa. 40:8), and in thought, word and deed, He perfectly met its requirements. So, by His obedience He lifted up the Law and made it ‘honourable’ (Isa. 42:21).