“Therefore the Law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:12
God spoke the Ten Commandments with His own voice. He wrote them with His own finger upon tablets of stone. It was after the Lord God had delivered the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt. They had seen the incredible power of God poured out in the Ten Plagues upon Egypt. They had watched in awe as God rolled back the waters of the Red Sea to allow them to cross through on dry land. On the other side of the Red Sea they had seen the Lord close the waters over the pursuing Egyptian charioteers.
They had tasted the manna that God had sent from Heaven to feed them in the desert. They had quenched their thirst with water that had flowed from the rock at His command. They had seen the mighty power of God to save and to heal. They had also seen His power to punish, to judge, to kill and to destroy.
Now, as they stood before the mountain of God, it was covered with smoke as the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace and the whole mountain trembled violently.
This was the context in which God revealed His Ten Commandments.
The Law’s remarkable origin reveals its Holy character. The Ten Commandments flow directly from the Eternal character of our Holy Creator and Eternal Judge. They are the standard by which the world will be judged. The Ten Commandments provide a permanent rule of life for all people. The Law defines sin (“…sin is lawlessness.” 1 John 3:4).
Converting the Soul
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7
The Law of God convicts of sin (Romans 7:7-11). The Law condemns transgression (Romans 4:15; James 2:10; Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 11:26-28). “But he who looks into the perfect Law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
The Law restrains evil (“But we know that the Law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the Law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and for murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.” 1 Timothy 1:8-11; “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11).
The Law brings people to Christ. (“Therefore the Law was our Tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by Faith.” Galatians 3:24; “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalm 19:7).
The Law of God guides our sanctification. (“That the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:4).
A New Covenant with Renewed Minds and Regenerate Hearts
The Law of God lies at the very heart of the new Covenant. (“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new Covenant with the House of Israel… I will put My Law in their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.” Jeremiah 31:31-33).
The Law of God Remains in Force
Our Lord Jesus Christ expressly affirmed the eternal validity of God’s Law. (“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil. For assuredly, I say to you, till Heaven and Earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these Commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and the pharisees, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20)
Throughout the Gospels, Christ emphatically taught the relevance of the Law (Matthew 22:36-40; Matthew 23:23; Mark 7:1-13). Christ Jesus upheld the civil function of the Law to restrain evil (Matthew 15:3-6). Christ Himself perfectly obeyed the Law during His life and ministry on earth (Psalm 40:7-8; Matthew 8:4; 17:24-27; Mark 11:16-17; John 8:46; John 15:10; 1 John 2:4-6).
Christ Jesus saved us in terms of the Law. (“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5; “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the Cross.” Colossians 2:13-14.)
While the Ten Commandments are binding on all mankind, they are especially relevant to Christians. They reflect the character of God and keep their full authority today. “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am Holy.” Leviticus 19:2.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Our First Priority
When pioneer missionary, John Eliot, first translated the Scriptures into the Algonquin language of the Indians in Massachusetts he started with the Ten Commandments. His first sermons to them were also on the Ten Commandments. Of course, John Eliot did not think that the Indians could be saved by the Ten Commandments. However they needed to understand the Law of God before they could understand their need of salvation in Christ.
In the same way, John Paton, missionary to the cannibals in the South Pacific, began his ministry by teaching the Ten Commandments. The sharp needle of the Law needs to make way for the scarlet thread of the Gospel. Until people understand the Law of God they will not be able to understand the holiness of God. Until people understand the holiness of God, they will not understand their own sinfulness and their need for Salvation in and through Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
The Fruit of Faith
Also, whereas Justification by Faith deals with how sin is pardoned, sanctification deals with how sin is subdued in our lives. Robert Murray M’Cheyne explained: “It is a holy-making Gospel. Without holy fruits all evidences are vain. Dear Friends, you have awakenings, enlightenings, experiences and many due signs; but if you lack holiness, you shall never see the Lord. A real desire after complete holiness is the truest mark of being born again … unregenerate men cannot bear this testimony.”
Regeneration and Repentance
Teaching and preaching the Ten Commandments helps put Repentance back into the Evangelistic message. Many self - deceived church members give no Biblical evidence of being born again by the Holy Spirit – despite having responded to evangelistic appeals, walked the aisles, signed decision cards, prayed sinner’s prayers, gone through the waters of Baptism, had their names entered on church memberships rolls and having attended numerous church activities.
Justification and Sanctification
Teaching on the Ten Commandments should help demolish the theory that one may receive Jesus as one’s “personal Saviour,” without submitting to Him as Lord. The notion that obedience to the commands of Christ are an optional extra for any true Christian will be exposed for the falsehood that it is by any exposition of the Scriptures. The cleansing of our sins by the Blood of Christ and the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our hearts here on earth, are inseparably joined together in God’s great work of Salvation. Justification and Sanctification go together.
Delight in God’s Commandments
King David, the writer of most of the Psalms and one who was described as “a man after God’s own heart” wrote: “Make me walk in the path of your Commandments, for I delight in it.” Psalm 119:35; “Indignation has taken hold of me because of the wicked, who forsake Your Law.” Psalm 119:53; “Oh, how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day.” Psalm 119:97; “I hate the double - minded, but I love Your Law.” Psalm 119:113; “It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your Law as void. Therefore I love Your Commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold!” Psalm 119:126-127
The Apostle John declared: “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the Truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4
The Apostle Paul taught: “Do we then make void the Law through Faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Romans 3:31; “Therefore the Law is Holy and the Commandment Holy and just and good.” Romans 7:12; “For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.” Romans 7:22
Martin Luther declared: “The first duty of the Gospel preacher is to declare God’s Law and show the nature of sin.”
John Bunyan said: “The man who does not know the nature of the Law cannot know the nature of sin.”
Those Who Wage War Against God Will Lose
In one sense, you cannot break the Law of God, you can only break yourself upon God’s Law. Countless individuals and nations have violated God’s commands and sought to wage war against the Law of God. The gutters and slums, hospitals and asylums, pubs and prisons and battlefields and graveyards are filled with the results of man’s rebellion against God.
Love and Law
“By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our Faith.” 1 John 5:2-4
“Therefore the Law was our Tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by Faith.” Galatians 3:24
The full message on which this study is based, as presented to Livingstone Fellowship, is available as part of the new audio MP3 and data boxset, The Ten Commandments. It is also the final chapter of the book, The Ten Commandments – God’s Perfect Law of Liberty, the Afrikaans version Die Tien Gebooie –God se Volmaakte Wet van Vryheid is also available from: Christian Liberty Books, PO Box 358, Howard Place 7450, Cape Town, South Africa, Tel: 021-689-7478, Fax: 086-551-7490, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Website: www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.
To listen to the audio of this sermon as presented to Livingstone Fellowship, click here.
A PowerPoint of The Ten Commandments – God's Perfect Law of Liberty is available, here.
The Ten Commandments – God’s Perfect Law of Liberty is also available as an E-Book.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa