A discussion of God’s law is nearly always a very touchy subject. Merely mentioning the law or Ten Commandments elicits strong opinions that run the full range of possibilities:
- The law has been done away.
- The law was “nailed to the cross.”
- The Ten Commandments are just guidelines.
- The law has been changed.
- The law must be kept to the letter.
- The law must be kept in spirit or intent.
There is no way that all of these opinions can be correct.
We will start our discussion with the basic fact that the law originated with God. Therefore it is God’s opinion that counts. Anyone who calls himself Christian is identifying himself as a follower of Christ. It follows logically that a follower of Christ believes what He says in His word, the Bible.
Let’s go straight to Matthew 5:17-18 and listen to Christ’s opinion in regard to the law: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law…” We can see right away that Christ has very strong opinions about the law. Since He authored the law, anyone under the label “Christian” needs to take notice. Since heaven and earth are still in existence, the law still is as well. When Christ says He came to fulfill the law, His point was to make it replete and more meaningful. As we will see, He came to magnify the law. He added spiritual intent and meaning to the letter of the law. He broadened the law so that it could impact and convict the mind and heart. That is why He went on to warn in verse 19 that we must be careful about the opinions we share and teach to others, and be very careful not to break the law. Quoting Christ, “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Obviously the law is not to be tampered with.
Christ elaborated more on the law in Matthew 5:21-30. In these verses He made it clear that the laws He was referring to were the Ten Commandments. In these verses He expanded the law to encompass the heart and mind. Murder was no longer just the act itself but included hatred and anger within. Adultery was no longer just the act but included lust in the heart and mind. Christ essentially was saying that the law must become part of us, part of our character, our very nature. The laws of God are not ten suggestions we have on a plaque hanging on the wall. The Ten Commandments should become an integral part of every Christian’s life, for Christ says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
This month we will establish some fundamental biblical facts about the law, so we can explore this subject more deeply in upcoming issues.
- The law is eternal. As we saw in Matthew 5:18, as long as heaven and earth exist, so will the law.
- The law is immutable, meaning it cannot be changed and has no need of change. Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul…”
- The Ten Commandments are separate from the sacrificial laws. The sacrifice of animals to atone for sin was in effect until Christ’s death on the cross. The sacrifices were the means of dealing with breaking the Ten Commandments (Hebrews 10:1-10). The law was not “done away”; only the sacrifices and rituals were eliminated.
- God’s ultimate goal was to write His laws, in their expanded form, into the minds and hearts of believers. Christ is not doing away with the law; on the contrary, He wants it to become part of us: a living, active dynamic part of who we are.
God’s Ten Commandments are the most perfect codified law ever to exist. This beautiful law is the soundest foundation there is for a civil society. That is why it will be the basis of all laws and ordinances in thekingdomofGod. Because these laws govern our relationships with God, family, and fellow man, they are perfect for the development of good character. The more people within a society who have good character, the more civil, peaceful, stable, and prosperous that society will become. It is logical that a law which works inside the individual, building bonds with God’s family and our neighbors, will provide the foundation of a sound nation. We will continue our study of God’s law next month. Please feel free to request or download the sermon, “The Beauty of Keeping the Law.”