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Recently, I met with a group of men for a regular bible study. To answer a study question, I discussed what I was learning while writing about the Ten Commandments. I explained that I was writing about the relevance of the Ten Commandments today. Some of the men graciously said that since we are saved through grace alone, the Ten Commandments don’t matter much.
The same week, I was reading a book by a well-known pastor from China. One chapter from that book bothered me. He was trying to convey that God’s grace is sufficient for us. His point was that the old covenant (laws) could not accomplish what the new covenant (Jesus’ sacrificial death) could.
I agree with him up to that point. The commandments of God were given to us to reveal our need for a savior. Following the commandments will not save us. Our salvation comes only through faith in Jesus.
I disagree with the statement in the author’s thesis that “God found fault with the old covenant of law.” And that “God’s Word tells us in no uncertain terms that the covenant of Moses is antiquated and obsolete.”
The author uses the following scripture verses to support his claim that God found fault with the Old Testament commandments and that they are antiquated and obsolete.
“By calling this covenant “new,” He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear (Hebrews 8:13)”
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second (Hebrews 8:7).”
If the verses from Hebrews were the only verses on this subject, I would agree that the Bible is saying the Old Testament laws are antiquated and we can disregard them. However, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).”
Jesus’ point was, the Old Testament laws were never meant to save anyone. God’s plan from the beginning was that the Old Testament laws, which we could never fully obey, were intended to point us to the need for a savior. That savior is Jesus. His sacrifice provided all people a way to be saved by faith alone. Jesus was also saying the Ten Commandments and his elaboration on them have as much relevance now as they did before he came to save us.
What is the basis of your eternal salvation? Are you following the law or following the Savior?
What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Matthew 5:17)?”
What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18)?”
If you agree that Jesus is saying the Old Testament laws still have value, what will you do to understand their full intent?
1. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you about this directive?
2. What are you going to do about it?
3. Who are you going to tell?