Summary: An introduction to the study of the Ten Commandments
DATE: February 4, 2001
THEME: Ten Commandments – "Introduction "
INTRODUCTION - The Christian and the Law
i. Three types of law
a. Ceremonial Law – Sacrifices, offerings and methods of purification ad cleansing typical of the Messiah and fulfilled in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ
b. Judicial Law – Regulations given to the Jews for civil government.
c. Moral Law – The Ten Commandments, precepts that carry a universal demand.
ii. Three positions concerning the Law
a. Legalism – Salvation can be earned by keeping the law.
b. Antinomianism – A rejection of law. The denial that the law is binding on Christians today.
c. Our position – Although he law is not a means to salvation; it is nevertheless, a rule of Christian conduct (Rom. 3:28-31). “Though the believer is not under the law’s condemning power, he is under its commanding power. The law does not give; but it guides life.”
iii. Freedom from the Law
The believer is free from the law in at least two senses:
o We are free from the obligation to keep the law as a way to heaven (Gal. 2:16)
o We are free from the law’s punishment (Rom. 8:1-2)
I. The Origin of the Ten Commandments
A. The name was given by God Himself (Gen. 34:28)
B. They were first spoken orally to the people (Exod. 20; Heb 12:18-21)
C. They were written on two tablets of stone by the very hand of God
(Exod. 24:12; 31:18:32:15-16; Deut. 5:22)
D. The first tablets were broken by Moses (Exod. 32:19) and they were
re-written by God (Exod. 34:1, 28-29)
II. The Purpose of the Ten Commandments
A. In their original setting, they were designed to keep Israel pure and distinct from the surrounding nations
B. To bring us to Christ (Gal. 2:16-21; 3:11)
C. They are a revelation of the will of God (Rom. 2:18)
D. They are a revealer of sin (Rom. 3:19-20, 4:15, 5:20, 7:7; I Cor. 15:56)
E. They are a restraint on evil (Rom. 7; I Tim. 1:8-11). They do not give power, but set a clear standard.
F. They provide a resume of morality – condensed statements of how to live successfully. In ones sense, the rest of the Bible comments, amplifies, interprets, warns and gives historical examples of those who kept or broke them and of the consequences.
G. They are a roadmap to happiness – each could be phrased as a beatitude (Deut. 5:29; 10:12-13). The God who made us knows how best we should operate to know maximum happiness
H. They serve as a regulator of Christian behaviour (Eph. 6:1-2)
III. Pertinent Observations
A. The ten commandments may be summed up under two. In general, the first division is more important than the second (Matt.22:37-40).
1. The first four deal with our duty toward God
2. The last six deal with our duty toward our fellow human beings.
B. Love is a common thread that links the commandments together
(I Tim. 1:5; Rom. 13:10; Gal. 5:14)
1. Love provides the motive to obey
2. Obedience to the commands is a means by which love is
C. To break one of the commandments is to be guilty of all (James 2:10). To disobey one is to disobey the “authority” that stands behind them all.
D. Faithfulness to the commandments extends to the thought life.
(N.B. Matt. 5:21-22, 27-28.)
IV. Principles of Interpretation
A. Each commandment is based on a specific characteristic of the nature of God.
B. Underlying each commandment is a broad principle. Each commandment presents a specific case of a more general rule, usually the worst possible breach, hence, each commandment forbids sins of a similar nature. E.g. “Thou shalt not kill” forbids cruelty and injury to life even though not murder.
C. Prohibitions include opposite positive commands; positive commands involve contrary negative duties. E.g. “Honour they father and mother” requires respect and obedience to parents.
D. Where an action is forbidden, every inducement that may lead to that action is also forbidden.