Questions and Answers

Written by Drew on February 14th, 2006

“Are the Ten Commandments still binding?”

One religious group believes Christians are still under the Ten Commandments, including the command to “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” When faced with passages affirming the end of the Law of Moses (Rom. 7:4, 6; Gal. 3:13, 23-25; Col. 2:14), it is said that the decalogue is “distinct” from the rest of the Old Covenant, and “totally unique” because of its divine authorship. The Ten Commandments are alleged to be “the only words of the Bible which God wrote with His own hand.” Thus they were not “blotted out” on the cross with the rest of the Law (Joe Crews, “Feast Days & Sabbaths: Are They Still Binding?” p. 2).

Cliches notwithstanding, words don’t have to be written in stone in order for them to be true. God went to the trouble of “breathing” all scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). That should be enough.

Furthermore, God’s handwritten ordinances were destroyed when Moses came down from Sinai and spied the idolatry of his people (Ex. 31:18; 32:15-19). Later, Moses ascended again to receive the commandments once more, but this time it was he, not God, who chiseled them on stone tablets (Ex. 34:27-28). If the medium by which the commandments were communicated was important, it would have been preserved to this day. The concepts were the main thing, not the way in which they were written.

Notice that the Ten Commandments were not given to the entire world. Rather, these words were a covenant with Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham (Ex. 34:27-28). Those of us who would have been known as “Gentiles” were not included in this covenant.

Besides that, it is clear that the Ten Commandments were meant to be included in the Law of Moses, which, as we have already shown, was canceled upon the death of Christ. Romans 7:6-7 reads,

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

The Law of Moses, described as “the law” or “the old written code” includes the command, “You shall not covet.” Even those remotely familiar with the Old Testament know this to be the tenth commandment of the decalogue. Paul says, “But now we are released from the law,” the law which includes the Ten Commandments. If there was a distinction between the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial laws involving tabernacles, animal sacrifices, and circumcision, Paul didn’t know it.

In most cases where the Sabbath is mentioned in the gospel accounts, Jesus is correcting the traditions of the Pharisees (Mt. 12:1ff; Mk. 3:1ff; Lk. 13:10ff; 14:1ff; Jn. 5:16-17; 7:22-24; 9:16). The early Christians met on Sunday for worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).

Most of the Ten Commandments are found repeated in the New Testament. But the Sabbath day ordinance was fulfilled in the true rest provided by Jesus Christ (Mt. 11:28-30). The seventh day was but a copy and shadow of the heavenly blessing (Heb. 8:5). Today Christians can enjoy a “Sabbath life” instead of the ordinances of the Old Law. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

 

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