Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Ten Commandments

Let me pose a hypothetical question. If I were to murder someone, would the fault be mine or God’s? What I mean is, should God allow this to happen? Should He intercede and keep me from committing harm to a fellow human being, putting me to death before I have had a chance to do good or evil?
Too many protest that God allows too much evil in the world. But what is evil? What is another name for it? It is called sin in God’s eyes. The only record of sin and its various forms is found in the Bible. Read through it and catalog all the various types of sins men can commit, and then stop and wonder again: do we want God to intercede and strike down evil before it is committed? Murder, adultery, fornication, lust, lies, greed, pride, envy, strife, bestiality, homosexuality, incest, coveting, idolatry, slander, blasphemy…the list goes on and on. There are no gray areas with God; either we have done wrong/sin, or we have done right. There are no minor variations, which is the point our Lord is trying to emphasize in the Bible.

God hates sin in all its forms, because it mars His creation: man who was made in His image. Who is at fault? God in His mercy refrains from constantly dealing death and judgment on fallen men in this world; He calls in mercy and love for all men to repent (change your mind) and be saved from this perverse world, where so many evils are the norm. We are in fact at fault; we kill and war and lust to have what does not belong to us. Had we listened to God instead of ourselves, we would not suffer from men and cause others to suffer likewise. It’s really that simple.

This is the essence of the Ten Commandments. I recently carried a little yard prop that had the Ten Commandments listed on them, and below it was written, “Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments.’” But no one can keep God’s commandments. The point of the commandments for Israel was to prepare them for Messiah’s arrival, and salvation by faith, not by works. To keep all the law, James tells us, but to stumble even in one point, is to be a transgressor of the law, James 2:10. Period. All you have to do is sin once to be a sinner. Then you have transgressed God’s command, and now stand in the shadow of God’s judgment: Cursed is he who does not continue in all the things written in the book of the law, to do them, Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26.

This little yard post was in fact championing legalism: keep the Ten Commandments and be a friend of Jesus. These were not the commandments of Jesus from the New Testament. In fact the very first “work” Jesus gave us was this: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent,” John 6:29. This goes against the grain of the Old Testament commandments, which tell you that if you do them (constantly and daily) you will live by them, Leviticus 18:5. Paul saw the vast difference, and perhaps had those very words of Jesus in mind when he spoke, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly (all of us), his faith is accounted for righteousness,” Romans 4:4-5.

Furthermore God’s covenant at Sinai was with Israel as a nation and them alone. The Ten Commandments were theirs and no Christian, or anyone else, is enslaved to perform them in order to appease God, because such appeasement is impossible. Psalm 147 plainly tells us: “He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His judgments, they have not known them,” verses 19-20. Jesus fulfilled the law by living the only perfect life (a life lived completely in the will of God; Matthew 5:17-18) and then satisfied the law’s demands by the sacrifice of Himself, the Just for the unjust. It creates delusion and an air of works to suggest by implication that keeping the commandments makes one a friend of God. A certain ruler approached Jesus with this self-same idea, asking what commands must be kept to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ final answer to the man was to forsake all, and to come and follow Him, Luke 18:22. This could easily mean to forsake all earthly props (in this man’s case, wealth), and to trust in the only One who can save us.

The law always creates an atmosphere focused on us, and what we must do to save ourselves, or what we must do to please God. Note that it always gravitates toward “we” and “do.” How many of the commandments begin with “thou shall” or “thou shalt not?” It instructs us on what we may or may not do, but gives us no insight on how to accomplish this feat.

Upon superficial glance this would be a legalist’s dream come true. That was what the Pharisees and lawyers of Jesus’ day had devolved into: puritanical legalists; attempting to commend themselves to God through the stringent restriction of an endlessly complex maze of laws that forbade this and disallowed that. But anyone following this road, any shade of being good to earn Heaven, is deceiving themselves. One may think you are beautifying yourselves, but in fact you are putrefying yourself if I may be so blunt, because God hates the pride that inspires this thinking. Our righteousness attained apart from God is insufficient to please Him, Isaiah 64:6. Salvation is entirely about what God has done and our position: either in Him, or out of Him.

We are either saved by faith in the Son of God, and what He has done on our behalf, with nothing contributed on our part, or we remain lost, and will be eternally lost should we die in that sorry state. Peter was quick to state that the yoke of the law was a weight none could bear, but that by the grace found in Christ alone would men be saved, Acts 15:10-11. There is entirely too much emphasis today on what we are doing for God, or each other, or (Heaven help us) ourselves. What happened to what God has done for us, and that while we were His enemies? Paul attested that were there a law capable of giving life, righteousness (a right relationship with God) would have been by the law, Galatians 3:21. Do not mistake me; God does not lie, and if someone could actually have upheld the law in its entirety from the beginning to the end of his life, he would have merited salvation. God said as much. Yet read the book of Leviticus alone and consider the depths of the law.

Re-read the commandments. Have you ever lied (withholding the truth, staying silent when you should have spoken, told a “white” lie) once? Stolen anything (candy, change, someone’s answers on a test, etc), Have you ever committed adultery, or lusted after someone to do so (which God sees as the same item)? Committed murder, or been so angry that you wanted to (again, God sees these as the same issue, since the deeds of the flesh begin in our heart)? Think back to the scenario I originally posed: do we truly want God to deal with us in the capacity of His holy justice, divorced from His love and mercy? It is only by patience and long-suffering that we are still alive and enjoying day after day. One must be very brazen and proud to believe they could pass the test of God’s law.

Instead of faulting God for the wrongs of this world, look inward at yourself and see where the condemnation lies. God has spoken in His word. He hates murder, adultery, lying, theft, corruption, greed, divorce for selfish and dishonest reasons, sexual perversion, godlessness and arrogance, etc. Why does He allow them? We have free will, and the ability to do good or evil. He doesn’t “allow” such evil at all! In fact, He forbids all such behavior, and says in no uncertain terms where practitioners of these things will spend eternity, Revelation 22:15, etc. You may choose to listen, or you may choose to focus on yourself, and what the world finds acceptable today, what’s in vogue.

But the world will eventually fade and fail, and so will we. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever,” Isaiah 40:8. Again, is the evil of this world God’s fault? Or is this world the result of our willful disobedience to God, inheriting the result He warned would come from our choice to sin: namely death, Genesis 2:17? I pray that anyone reading will consider these words, and search the Scriptures to determine whether or not I have spoken truly. God loves us, and is calling us out of this world, fitting us for Heaven through the new birth and the indwelling Spirit whom the world cannot receive. What folly to despise the One who died to save us, especially when He was the same God who first warned us not to stray from His will! Only evil would result, and it has, to the sorrow of all.

This post was not intended to be an attack upon the Ten Commandments. Nor am I championing antinomianism, which is absolutely ungrounded in Scripture. I love the word of God, and believe every line of its inspired pages. I am only attempting to clarify to a confused world and compromised church the purpose the law (and all legalism) serves toward salvation: none. The law introduced sin, and sin’s strength is the law, Romans 3:20; 1st Corinthians 15:56. The law was only meant to be a tutor to lead Israel to Christ, Galatians 3:24. It does not apply to us, and we are not condemned or justified by its proper keeping, or lack thereof. We are justified only by faith, and that faith’s object must be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. All other ground is sinking sand.

No comments:

Post a Comment

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

My wife and I welcome comments to our Blog. We believe that everyone deserves to voice their insight or opinion on a topic. Vulgar commentary will not be posted.

Thank you and God bless!

Joshua 24:15

All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.