Have you ever broken the speed limit? Perhaps for most people the better question would be, “Have you ever kept the speed limit?” Once, I was driving 60 mph in a 40 mph zone. A patrol car drove up behind me with its lights flashing. To my surprise, the officer simply gave me a warning.
I was delighted!—but did the officer do the right thing?
Setting the Stage
As an officer of the law, this policeman’s obligation was to punish transgressors of the law, not to forgive them. I broke the law and he was obliged to enforce it. How then could the officer have forgiven me and still upheld the requirements of the law? He could have paid for the ticket himself, thereby paying the law its just due while letting me go free. This illustration perfectly presents the spiritual situation in which each of us stands.
Let’s reflect for a few moments, not on the speed limit, but on the greatest law that has ever been written, the law of Almighty God. God not only spoke this law with His own lips, but He also wrote it with His own finger (Exodus 31:18). The Bible describes this law as “holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12). This law contains ten simple principles (called the Ten Commandments) written on two tables of stone, showing their permanence (Matthew 5:17-18). The first table contains four principles that explain what it means to love God; the second table contains six principles that describe what it means to love our fellow human beings.
Since the very beginning, all the inhabitants of our planet have disobeyed this law (Romans 3:10, 23). This is a serious matter because the Bible defines disobedience to this law as sin, and the payment for sin is death (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23).
To give us a way of escape from the penalty of the law, Jesus, who created us all (Colossians 1:16), offered to come to this world to live the life that the law requires of us. He also offered to take the place of every human being on planet earth by taking that death penalty upon Himself.
Points to Consider
Jesus’ death shows that this same law cannot be changed or discarded. Think about it. Why did Jesus need to die? He died to save sinners from the death penalty of the law. If God wanted to save sinners some other way, He could have done away with that law which required the death penalty. But in doing so, He would have set aside the foundation of truth, the detector of right and wrong. He would have accepted sin, and contradicted His own character of righteousness. When God had to choose between letting the law be destroyed or letting sinners be destroyed, He was unwilling to do either. Instead He chose a third option: sending His Son to die on the cross. By so doing, He indicated the permanence of the law as well as His love for sinners.
In light of this truth, why do so many Christians say that the law is no longer necessary? There are several reasons. First, many Christians have been told that the law was “nailed to the cross” rather than established at the cross. From the previous point alone, we can see that when Paul mentioned in Colossians 2:14 that something was “nailed to the cross” and done away with, he was not referring to the Ten Commandments. He was rather referring to certain ceremonial requirements that pointed forward to Jesus and passed away when He died on the cross.1
Second, some Christians take texts regarding the law from the writings of the apostle Paul and misuse them. They say: “Didn’t Paul write that where sin abounds grace is even more abundant (Romans 5:20)? Didn’t the great apostle affirm that we are not under law but under grace (Romans 6:14), and that we are justified by faith without works of law (Romans 3:28)?” Indeed, he did! But notice that in each one of these statements Paul immediately corrected any possible misunderstanding of his words. He clearly denied that grace gives us a license to sin: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1-2). “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:15). “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not!” (Romans 3:31).
Third, there is a misconception that in the Old Testament believers were saved because they kept the law while New Testament believers are saved by grace. Acts 4:12 tells us that there is no salvation outside of Jesus. Old Testament believers were saved in the same way as New Testament believers—by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:2).
Fourth, some Christians claim that because Jesus kept the law and paid its penalty, we don’t have to obey it. Does this really make sense? Did Jesus die so that we could disobey? Would the officer’s payment of my ticket give me the right, from that point forward, to drive 60 mph in a 40 mph speed zone? Of course not! If anything, the officer’s goodness in paying for my ticket would be a powerful incentive for me to obey the law. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).
Finally, many claim that we no longer need to obey the Ten Commandments because we are now under a different law—the law of love. However, this misconception is based on a faulty understanding of love. The very lips of Jesus uttered the words, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15, NASB). The great apostle Paul affirmed, “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). There is no conflict between love and the law, because God is the source of both!
Dear reader, God Himself has opened a door of opportunity for you. Will you take it? Not all will be saved. Obedience to God still matters! Will you prove yourself loyal to Heaven? The Law of God expressed in the Ten Commandments still stands today. The Bible says, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life” (Revelation 22:14). Those “who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12) will be His people in the last days. Hear God as today He pleads with you and others, saying, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
1Hebrews 10:1-4; see also additional references on glowonline.org.
Scripture marked NASB taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
All other Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Todays 10 Commandments
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