Christians and the Ten Commandments

Today, the LORD gives Israel the Law. We often refer to is as the OT Law but the Bible calls it the Law of Moses, the Law of God.

In this post, we'll look at ten of these laws, what we call the Ten Commandments.

It's important to see these as part of the the entire Law of Moses consisting of 613 commands, for God doesn't allow these to be separated from the rest (James 2:10).

Realize this Law was given through Moses to Israel. Israel was saved like everyone else, by grace through faith. When God told them to brush lamb's blood on the entry to their house and He would rescue them. They believed the good news. Trusted God and the blood of the Lamb and they were saved. Not just from the slavery but they were brought to God.

Three months after they walked free from Egypt, Israel came to Mt. Sinai.

Exodus 19:3 Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’”

These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.

God spoke to Moses words to Israel. This is not a law that saved Israel. They were already saved when they believed and baptized in the Red Sea.

But today, God makes a covenant with them. He's lays out a rule of life, the Law of Moses.

Borrowing from Sheldon Cooper it's a "relationship agreement." It shows them what this covenant demands if Israel is to experience God's blessings.

The way God appears is a powerful scene,

Exodus 19:16 So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. 20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

This is the context, then in Exodus 20 God said to Moses,

Exodus 20:2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

God links His name to His rescuing power. But I didn't just rescue you to worship Me for a day. I rescued you to be My people, and to be your God.

Then He tells them, here's what I require from you.

Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me.” [The 1st commandment in the Law of Moses]

God is all-in with you but He wants the same. Think of love, love is that way. So this comes from a heart of love. But this also highlights God's worth, His glory. Nothing is greater. No one is more important. Worship Him alone.

Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol... [the 2nd commandment] 5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

God loves you. He's all in. And He's jealous for you, not of you. He's jealous for your love.

He ends this commandment saying, "Love Me and keep My commandments." Love is that way. From a golden calf to an image of Mary don't love or serve any god but Me.

Also, "Don't make God small." He's infinite, almighty; He fills the universe. You can't contain Him to a trinket on a shelf or a cross on your neck.  

Exodus 20:7 [#3] “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, [the 3rd commandment] for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

Our LORD's name is intimate and holy. YHWH. I Am. Jesus.

This command goes way beyond don't use God's name as a cussword. God says, When you speak My name, don't treat it as common. Don't take Me lightly. Don't underestimate Me, My name, My power. When you call out the name of the LORD, I take it serious.

So what do you do with the curse at the end? "for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

A first principle of Bible interpretation is to identify the context. Who is God addressing? Who is this covenant with? Answer: Moses was instructed to speak this this to the house of Jacob, the sons of Israel.

This is God's covenant and law with Israel. Binding on Israel.

Not Christians.

Not the church.

Not the world.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy [the 4th commandment] . 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”

God is not all about work.

He desires fellowship with us, regular times to hang out, for us to experience His peace, to find refuge from the crazy world and our crazy minds.

He also wants us to relax our bodies. To relax with our families, "your son or your daughter".

Life is bigger than work. Your job and duties do not have to dictate your calendar. Enjoy downtime with God and loved ones. Rest as God modeled.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” [The fifth commandment in the Law of Moses]

The first four commandments relate directly to our love for God. Yet love for God is to be expressed in our love for others.

Children, God loves your parents, and parenting is hard enough; don't make it even harder on them.

Remember the blessing at the end of verse 5 is for Israel.

Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.” [The 6th commandment]

This highlights human dignity. Every person is created in the image of God.

It's so sad about Ahmad Arberry and now George Floyd. The sense of injustice that we feel when we see these reflect God's heart behind this law.

Exodus 20:14 [#7] “You shall not commit adultery.” [The 7th commandment in the Law of Moses]

Marriage is underappreciated and under attack yet it is sacred to God.

This also shows God's protection for women and children who were vulnerable.

Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.” [The 8th commandment]

Love gives, love meets needs; love doesn't steal food or money from others.

Exodus 20:16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” [The 9th commandment]

Love doesn't lie against a neighbor, make a false charge; nor does it dial 311.

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” [The 10th commandment in the law of Moses]

Love doesn't envy or lust. God is far greater than anything you desire.

These Ten Commandments introduce us to the entire corpus of the Law of God in the Old Testament. It also includes food laws, clothing laws, rules for handwashing, directives for worship, civil laws, purity laws, sacrificial laws.

But each of the 613 commands are given specifically and exclusively to the house of Jacob… the sons of Israel… those who witnessed what God did for them against the Egyptians (Exodus 19:3).

Yet we're the church, so what do we do with this?

Let's learn about God, His loving heart, His holy nature, God is all-in with you. God wants your undivided love and loyalty. God doesn't want you to steal. God wants you to rest.

BUT you are not bound to the specific duties of the Law. This is not the Christian's rule of life. You will not necessarily be made to prosper if you obey these, like God promised Israel, or cursed if you don't.

Yet the apostles found this to be one of the hardest things to convince Christians to accept.

Some isolated the Ten Commandments from the rest of the Law. Hey, we're saved by grace, but once you're saved you have to obey the 10 Cs. Then they change the Sabbath to Sunday and they ease off God's strict restrictions. We are saved by God's grace and we live and grow and mature by His grace.

You can't pick and choose. I like 9 of the 10 commandments, and the hand-washing laws but not the food or purity laws or the regulations on clothing. All 613 form a single covenant—and together they are impossible to fulfill.

If you try to enjoy a relationship with God by obeying the Law you will be miserable.

Besides, if you or anyone could ever actually please God this way, then Christ died for nothing.

But you can't. The Law tells us what to do but doesn't help us to do it. If offers no ammunition against our sin nature. It points out our failures and offers no help. The law reveals our need for Christ. Once we trust Jesus, even once a Jew trusts Christ, you're no longer under the law; you're under grace.

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

We don't obey the law for God's favor, we trust the finished work of Christ.

You aren't called to obey the Law of Moses to please God—but to believe that Jesus' work on the cross makes you, the believer, pleasing to God.

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Christ puts an end to trying to be righteous through the law.

Trusting God's love in Christ frees you to actually love Him and others. It frees us from obsessing over our failures and living under a law that condemns.

If not the OT Law of Moses, what is our rule for life?

Christ is our life. We relate to God through faith in Jesus Christ rather than obedience to Moses or the Law. The apostle doesn't say for me to live is law, but "for me to live is Christ."

As an Israelite Paul was under the Law as a rule for life, but as a Christian,

Galatians 2:19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

The law is perfect but we fail at it. Yet when you trust Jesus you're free from the Law. You can center your life on Christ who loved you. Died for you. And lives in you.

What is the Christian's rule for life? It might be right here, "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

The NT gives us specific instructions to obey. It acts to guide our lives.

Grace too supplements this rule for life. Learn to live out of the grace which Christ lavishes on all who trust Him.

The Holy Spirit empowers us to live by faith in Christ. In humility, allow yourself to be led by the Spirit. Notice, when the Spirit guides you, you experience freedom.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Not obsessing over the details of law, but living by faith in Christ. In His love. Under His grace. Led by His Spirit.