Centuries ago, God wrote His law in stone, and you're still supposed to keep it today! It's absolutely true that violating any part of God's law always brings negative consequences. As crime overruns our cities, doesn't it make sense that for peace and safety we need to obey the laws of the land? Well, this same principle applies to God's law - the Ten Commandments - in our own lives too!
They aren't called the ten suggestions, ten recommendations, or the ten great ideas. Since so much is at stake, you should take a few minutes to seriously consider your responsibility.
Did God Himself really write the Ten Commandments?
"He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God."..."Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets" (Exodus 31:18; 32:16).
Yes, the great God of heaven wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets of stone with His own finger.
What is God's definition of sin?
"Sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4)
Sin is breaking God's Ten Commandment law. And since the law of God is perfect (Psalm 19:7), its principles cover every conceivable sin. It is impossible to commit a sin that is not condemned by at least one of God's Ten Commandments. The commandments cover "man's all [the whole duty of man]" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Nothing is left out.
Why did God give us the Ten Commandments?
"Happy is he who keeps the law" (Proverbs 29:18). "Keep my commands; For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you" (Proverbs 3:1,2).
As a guide for happy, abundant living. God created us to enjoy happiness, peace, long life, contentment, accomplishment, and all the other great blessings for which our hearts long. God's law is the road map that points out the right paths to follow in order to find this true, supreme happiness.
"by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). "I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Romans 7:7).
To show me the difference between right and wrong. God's law is like a mirror (James 1:23-25). It points out wrongdoing in my life as a mirror points out dirt on my face. The only possible way for a person to know if he is sinning is for him to carefully check his life by the mirror of God's law. Hope for this mixed-up, sinking generation is found in God's Ten Commandment law. It tells where to draw the line!
"And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes [commandments] ... for our good always" (Deuteronomy 6:24). "Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe all Your statutes continually. You reject all those who stray from Your statutes" (Psalm 119:117,118).
To protect me from danger and tragedy. God's law is like a strong cage at the zoo, which protects us from fierce, destructive animals. It protects us from impurity, falsehood, murder, idolatry, theft, and many other evils that destroy life, peace, and happiness. All good laws protect, and God's law is no exception.
"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3).
It helps us to know God.
The eternal principles of God's law are written deep in every person's nature by the God who created us. The writing may be dim and smudged, but it is still there. This means, of course, that you cannot find true peace unless you are willing to live in harmony with your inner nature, upon which God has written these principles. We were created to live in harmony with them. When we choose to ignore them, the result is always tension, unrest, and tragedy - just as ignoring the rules for safe driving leads to serious trouble.
Why is God's law exceedingly important to me personally?
"So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:12).
Because the Ten Commandment law is the standard by which God examines people in the heavenly judgment. How are you measuring up? It is a life-or-death matter!
Can God's law (the Ten Commandments) ever be changed or abolished?
"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail" (Luke 16:17). "My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips" (Psalm 89:34). "All His precepts [commandments] are sure. They stand fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:7,8).
Absolutely not! The Bible is very clear on this point. If the law could have been changed, God would have immediately made that change when Adam and Eve sinned instead of sending His Son to die in the sinner's behalf to pay the penalty of the broken law. This was impossible. The commandments are revealed principles of God's holy character that will always be true as long as God exists.
God is good (Luke 18:19), the law is good (1 Timothy 1:8).
God is holy (Isaiah 5:16), the law is holy (Romans 7:12).
God is perfect (Matthew 5:48), the law is perfect (Psalm 19:7).
God is pure (1 John 3:2,3), the law is pure (Psalm 19:8).
God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4), the law is just (Romans 7:12).
God is true (John 3:33), the law is true (Psalm 19:9).
God is spiritual (1 Corinthians 10:4), the law is spiritual (Romans 7:14).
God is righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), the law is righteousness (Psalm 119:172).
God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9), the law is faithful (Psalm 119:86).
God is love (1 John 4:8), the law is love (Romans 13:10).
God is unchangeable (James 1:17), the law is unchangeable (Matthew 5:18).
God is eternal (Genesis 21:33), the law is eternal (Psalm 111:7,8).
Notice on the above chart that God and His law have the same characteristics. Do you see what this means? The Ten Commandment law is God's character in written form - written so we can comprehend it. It is no more possible to change God's law than to pull God out of heaven and change Him. Jesus came to show us what the law (which is the pattern for holy living) looked like when made up in human form. God's character can never change. Neither can His law, for it is His character in human language.
Did Jesus abolish God's law while He was here on earth?
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law. ... I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. ... Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17,18).
No, indeed! Jesus specifically asserted that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill (or keep) it. Instead of doing away with the law, Jesus magnified it (Isaiah 42:21) as the perfect guide for right living. For example, Jesus pointed out that "You shall not murder" condemns anger "without cause" (Matthew 5:21,22) and hatred (1 John 3:15), and that lust is adultery (Matthew 5:27,28). He says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
Will people who knowingly continue to break even one of God's commandments be saved?
"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). "He will destroy its sinners from it" (Isaiah 13:9). "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10).
The Ten Commandment law is the guide we must use in finding our way to God and holy living. If I ignore even one of the commandments, I am neglecting part of the divine pattern, or blueprint. If only one link of a chain is broken, its entire purpose is undone. The Bible says that when we knowingly break any command of God, we are sinning (James 4:17), because we have refused His will for us. Only those who do His will can enter the kingdom of heaven. Of course, God will forgive anyone who genuinely repents and accepts Christ's power to change.
Can anyone be saved by keeping the law?
"By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:20). "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).
No! The answer is too plain to miss. No one can be saved by keeping the law. Salvation comes only through grace, as a free gift from Jesus Christ, and we receive this gift by faith, not by works. The law serves only as a mirror to point out sin in our lives. Cleansing and forgiveness from that sin come only through Christ.
Why, then, is the law an absolute essential for perfecting Christian character?
"Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all [whole duty]" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20).
Because the full pattern, or "whole duty," for Christian living is contained in God's law. Like a 6-year-old boy who made his own ruler, measured himself, and told his mother that he was 12 feet tall, our own standards are never safe. I cannot know whether I am a sinner unless I look carefully into the perfect standard - God's law-mirror. Millions who have cast out devils, prophesied, and done many wonderful works in Jesus' name will be lost (Matthew 7:21-23) because they did not bother to check their lives with His great law-pattern. Hence, they think they are righteous and saved when, instead, they are sinful and lost. "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3).
What enables a truly converted Christian to follow the pattern of God's law?
"I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Hebrews 8:10). "I can do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13). "God did by sending His own Son ... that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:3,4).
Christ not only pardons repentant sinners, but He restores in them the image of God. He brings them into harmony with His law through the power of His indwelling presence. "Thou shalt not" then becomes a promise that the Christian will not steal, lie, murder, etc., because Jesus lives inside and is in control. God could not change His law, but He made a blessed provision through Jesus to change the sinner so he can measure up to that law.
But isn't a Christian who has faith and is living under grace freed from keeping the law?
"For sin [breaking God's law - 1 John 3:4] shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin [break the law] because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!" (Romans 6:14,15). "do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31).
No! The Scriptures teach the very opposite. Grace is like the governor's pardon to a prisoner. It forgives him, but it does not give him freedom to break one single law on the statute books. The forgiven person, living under grace, is under double obligation to keep the law. A person who refuses to keep God's law, saying that he is living under grace, is mistaken. He is living under disgrace.
Are the Ten Commandments of God reaffirmed in the New Testament?
Yes, and very clearly so. Look the following over very carefully.
The Law of God in the New Testament
1. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10).
2. "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 John 5:21). "Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising" (Acts 17:29).
3. "That the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed" (1 Timothy 6:1).
4. "For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works" "There remains therefore a rest ["keeping of a sabbath," margin] for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." (Hebrews 4:4,9,10).
5. "Honor your father and your mother" (Matthew 19:19).
6. "You shall not murder" (Romans 13:9).
7. "You shall not commit adultery" (Matthew 19:18).
8. "You shall not steal" (Romans 13:9).
9. "You shall not bear false witness" (Romans 13:9).
10. "You shall not covet" (Romans 7:7).
The Law of God in the Old Testament
1. "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
2. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6).
3. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
4. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).
5. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).
6. "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13).
7. "You shall not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14).
8. "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15).
9. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16).
10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:17)
Are God's law and Moses' law the same?
No, they are not the same. Study the following notes and comparison carefully.
Moses' law contained the temporary, ceremonial law of the Old Testament. It regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which foreshadowed the cross. This law was added "till the seed should come," and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16,19). The ritual and ceremony of Moses' law pointed forward to Christ's sacrifice. When He died, this law came to an end, but the Ten Commandments (God's law) "stands fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:8). That there are two laws is made crystal clear in Daniel 9:10,11.
Please note that God's law has existed at least as long as sin has existed. The Bible says, "where there is no law there is no transgression [or sin]" (Romans 4:15). So God's Ten Commandment law existed from the beginning. Men broke that law (sinned - 1 John 3:4). Because of sin (or breaking God's law), Moses law was given (or "added" - Galatians 3:16,19) till Christ should come and die. Two separate laws are involved: God's law and Moses' law.
Called "the law of Moses" (Luke 2:22)
Called "law ... contained in ordinances" (Ephesians 2:15)
Written by Moses in a book (2 Chronicles 35:12)
Placed in the side of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:26)
Ended at the cross (Ephesians 2:15)
Added because of sin (Galatians 3:19)
Contrary to us, against us (Colossians 2:14)
Judges no one (Colossians 2:14-16)
Carnal (Hebrews 7:16)
Made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19)
Called "the law of the Lord" (Isaiah 5:24)
Called "the royal law" (James 2:8)
Written by God on stone (Exodus 31:18; 32:16)
Placed inside the ark (Exodus 40:20)
Will stand forever (Luke 16:17)
Points out sin (Romans 7:7; 3:20)
Not grievous (1 John 5:3)
Judges all people (James 2:10-12)
Spiritual (Romans 7:14)
Perfect (Psalm 19:7)
How does the devil feel about the people who pattern their lives after God's Ten Commandments?
"And the dragon [the devil] was enraged with the woman [true church], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God" (Revelation 12:17). "Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God" (Revelation 14:12).
The devil hates the people who uphold God's law because the law is the pattern of right living. And if you decide to follow the pattern outlined in God's law, you will feel the devil's wrath upon you at once and with all fury. It is not surprising that the devil hates and bitterly opposes all who uphold God's law. But it is shocking and astounding to hear religious leaders denying the binding claims of the Ten Commandments while at the same time upholding the traditions of men. No wonder Jesus said, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?" "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:3,9). And David said, "It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void" (Psalm 119:126). Christians must wake up and restore God's law to its rightful, exalted position. It is folly for this undisciplined generation to presume that it can break the laws of the living God with impunity.
Doesn't the Bible say the law was (or is) faulty?
No, the Bible says the people were faulty. God found "fault with them." (Hebrews 8:8). And in Romans 8:3 the Bible says that the law "was weak through the flesh." It is always the same story. The law is perfect, but the people are faulty, or weak. So God would have His Son live within His people "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Romans 8:4) through the indwelling Christ.
Galatians 3:13 says we are redeemed from the curse of the law. Can you explain this?
The curse of the law is death (Romans 6:23). Christ tasted "death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9). Thus He redeemed all from the curse of the law (death) and in its place provided eternal life.
Doesn't Colossians 2:14-17 and Ephesians 2:15 teach that God's law ended at the cross?
No, these passages both refer to the law containing "ordinances," or Moses' law, which was a ceremonial law governing the sacrificial system and the priesthood. All of this ceremony and ritual foreshadowed the cross and ended at Christ's death, as God had intended. Moses' law was added till the "Seed should come," and that "Seed ... is Christ" (Galatians 3:19,16). God's law could not be involved here, for Paul spoke of it as holy, just, and good many years after the cross (Romans 7:7,12).
The Bible says "love is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:10). The Bible also, in Matthew 22:37-40, commands us to love God and to love our neighbors, and ends with the words, "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Do these commands replace the Ten Commandments?
No, the Ten Commandments hang from these two commands like our 10 fingers hang from our two hands. They are inseparable. Love to God makes keeping the first four commandments (which concern God) a pleasure, and love toward our neighbor makes keeping the last six (which concern our neighbor) a joy. Love fulfills the law by taking away the drudgery and by making law-keeping a delight (Psalm 40:8). When we truly love a person, honoring his or her requests becomes a joy. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). It is impossible to love the Lord and not keep His commandments, because the Bible says, "This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:4).
Doesn't 2 Corinthians 3:7 teach that the law written and engraved in stone "was to be done away"?
No. The passage says that the "glory" of Moses' ministration of the law was to be done away, but not the law. Read the whole passage of 2 Corinthians 3:3-9 again, carefully. The subject is not the doing away with the law or its establishment, but rather, the change of the location of the law from "tablets of stone" to the "tablets of the heart." Under Moses' ministration the law was on stones. Under the Holy Spirit's ministration, through Christ, the law is written upon the heart (Hebrews 8:10). A rule posted on a school bulletin board becomes effective only when it enters a student's heart. Christ's ministration of the law is effective because He transfers the law to the heart of the Christian. Then keeping the law becomes a delight and a joyful way of living because the Christian has true love for both God and man.
Romans 10:4 says that "Christ is the end of the law." So it has ended, hasn't it?
"End" in this verse means purpose or object, as it does in James 5:11. The meaning is clear. To lead men to Christ - where they find righteousness - is the goal, purpose, or end of the law.
Why do so many people deny the binding claims of God's law?
"Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:7-9).
Were the righteous people of the Old Testament saved by the law?
No one has ever been saved by the law. All who have been saved in all ages have been saved by grace. This "grace ... was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2 Timothy 1:9). The law only points out sin. christ alone can save. Noah "found grace" (Genesis 6:8); Moses found grace (Exodus 33:17); the Israelites in the wilderness found grace (Jeremiah 31:2); and Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and many other Old Testament worthies were saved "by faith" according to Hebrews 11. They were saved by looking forward to the cross; we, by looking back to it. The law is necessary because, like a mirror, it reveals the "dirt" in our lives. Without it, people are sinners but are not aware of it. However, the law has no saving power. It can only point out sin. Jesus, and He alone, can save a person from sin. This has always been true, even in Old Testament times (Acts 4:10, 12; 2 Timothy 1:9).
Why worry about the law? Isn't conscience a safe guide?
No! A thousand times, no! The Bible speaks of an evil conscience, a defiled conscience, and a seared conscience - none of which is safe. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). God says, "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Proverbs 28:26).
I want to thank Amazing Facts, who placed this Bible study in my Bible. Friends, won't you make a decision today to give your heart to Christ, and through His power to begin following His commandments?
God Bless you and keep you!