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Over 3,400 years ago, through mighty miracles, God freed the ancient Israelites from Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at that time. Then, in the wilderness God gave them the Ten Commandments, explaining that allegiance and obedience to His laws would find favor in His sight and bring blessings on the nation.
We all know the rest of the story. The ancient Israelites rebelled against God and, even today, most of mankind rejects God’s commandments. Many maintain they were only meant for the Jews, and believe they do not need to obey them, citing Romans 8:2 (“free from the law of sin and death”), Romans 7:6 (“delivered from the law”) and Romans 10:4 (“Christ is the end of the law”).
A common belief is that salvation is a free gift by God’s grace, but God will not give grace to someone who is not repenting of their sins and submitting to His laws. People who are trying to obey God’s laws often give in to temptations and sin, but if they are truly sorry, God will forgive them again and again. God knows our hearts, and if we are not trying to live by God’s laws, God will not continue to forgive us.
The Bible tells us Christ came as the “Mediator of a better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6). The popular belief that the new covenant abolishes God’s law reflects a misunderstanding of both covenants. God tells that He made ‘a better covenant, which was established on better promises’, but it was not established on different laws. The law stayed the same.
When a ruler approached Christ and asked Him what he must do to obtain eternal life in the Kingdom of God, Christ responds: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother’” (Luke 18:18-20). Clearly, Christ is telling him if he wants to enter into the Kingdom of God, he must obey the commandments, listing five of the Ten Commandments as an illustration of the relevance of them all.
In 1 John 2:3-4, the Apostle John gives instruction as to whether or not the commandments have been done away: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” If we don’t keep the commandments, a relationship with Jesus Christ will not, and cannot, exist.
In Luke 13:23, Christ was asked how many would be saved, and He answered with a parable, explaining, “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from’” (Luke 13:25).
Christ is telling them in this verse that a relationship does not exist between those who are knocking and the Master of the house. In verse 26 they then try to convince the Master that He should know who they are, “... We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’” They mistakenly believe preaching about, worship and service to Jesus Christ is sufficient, when they are of little value if there is not first of all submission and obedience.
Christ tells them there’s something missing, and there’s a reason He doesn’t know who they are, “...‘I tell you I do not know you…Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity” (verse 27). The Greek word for iniquity used here is adikia. This same Greek word is used in 1 John 5:17: “All unrighteousness [adikia] is sin…” And sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
If we deliberately continue to break the law, we will not be able to have a relationship with God, which means we will not be able to enter into the Kingdom.
In Galatians 5:19-21, we are given a list of the workings of the flesh, and told those who practice such things will not enter into the Kingdom of God. Every single item on that list is directly related to the breaking of the Ten Commandments. Paul is telling us there is still a penalty for breaking the law that will bring cursings and death.
The Ten Commandments teach us what should be our greatest priority in life because they show us how to love God and how to love others. They are a key to a relationship with our Creator,and must obviously be kept in order to inherit eternal life. The commandments have not been abolished, they are living spiritual laws.
Virtual Christian Magazine (Feb 2011)