The Ten Commandments

Forerunner, "Bible Study," January 1997

The spiritual law of God works much like the physical laws of the universe. Like the invisible law of gravity, the law of God is always in effect, working at all times. When we keep it, God blesses us. If we do not, we bring its penalty upon us. To think that God has abolished His inexorable spiritual law is like telling people the law of gravity has been done away, so they may freely jump off tall buildings with no ill-effects!

This study will show that the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) are not laws devised by Moses and given only to Israel. They were binding before Moses' time, as well as during and after Jesus Christ's life. In fact, the Ten Commandments have been in full force and effect since creation. They are still binding on us today! We will see also that they are not just "church rituals" or "good suggestions," but the very code of conduct of our God!

1. What is the difference between commandments, statutes, and judgments? Psalm 19:7-9.

Comment: A commandment is a specific instruction or law from God that we are to obey forever. Commandments have no precedents because they establish original, divine law.

A statute designates a law that one engraves, meaning a lawgiver establishes it unchangeably unless he alone changes it. A religious statute sets rules for worship. Secular statutes have the force of a royal decree. A statute is formulated like a law: "You shall (not) do so-and-so" (Exodus 22:18-23:33). A synonym for statute is "oracle."

A judgment is a decision based on another established law. A judge takes associated factors into account to decide appropriately for the specific situation. It takes the form of a case-law: "If you do so-and-so, you will pay so much" (Exodus 21:1-22:15). A synonym for judgment is "precedent."

2. What is sin? I John 3:4. What is the effect of sin? Romans 6:23. For how long has sin been a factor in human existence? Romans 5:12-14.

Comment: Because His law was in effect, God has ascribed sin to man from the beginning. Without law, there is no sin.

3. To whom did God first make known His law? Genesis 2:15-17. Were others guilty of sin before the time of Moses? Genesis 3:1-11; Genesis 4:6-12. Did people commit the sin of idolatry before Abraham? Joshua 24:2. Do other examples show that breaking the commandments was sin before the time of Moses? Leviticus 18:3, 21, 27; Exodus 16:4-5,22-30; Genesis 9:21-26; 39:7-9; 30:33; 20:1-9; 6:1-6.

Comment: Law defines sin, so for sin to exist there must be law. Since Adam sinned, God must have given him His law, which certainly included the Ten Commandments, the basic law of God's Kingdom. Thus, it was sin to break any of them before the time of Moses.

4. Did Abraham, the father of the faithful, keep the commandments? Genesis 26:5. Was David, a man after God's own heart, concerned about keeping God's commandments? Psalm 119:97-100, 105.

Comment: By faith Abraham and David obeyed God (Hebrews 11:8, 32-33).

5. Did Jesus Christ keep the Ten Commandments? Luke 4:8; John 15:10. Did He teach others to do likewise? Matthew 19:17-19. How did He elaborate on keeping them? Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28.

Comment: Jesus emphatically says, "If you want to enter into [eternal] life, keep the commandments." Could anything be clearer? John writes, "He who says, ‘I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4). Paul instructs Timothy, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ [calls himself a Christian] depart from iniquity" (II Timothy 2:19).

6. Are the commandments found in the words of the apostles? Romans 1:18-25; 13:9; I Corinthians 10:7; Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:8; Hebrews 4:9.

Comment: Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, mentions the commandments frequently in his writings. He summarizes the keeping of the last six as how to love our neighbor (Romans 13:10). If it is sin to break any of the last six that show love toward fellow man, most certainly it is sin to violate any of the first four that show love toward God.

7. Would the church that Christ built teach obedience to the Ten Commandments? Revelation 12:17; 14:12.

Comment: A sign of God's church, symbolized as a woman, is the keeping of the Ten Commandments. A church that does not teach and keep them is a church of the world.

8. Does having love nullify God's law? John 14:15; 15:9-14; I John 5:2-3; II John 5-6.

Comment: John, an apostle and close friend of Jesus Christ, emphasized love. However, not once did he say that love nullifies or supersedes the Ten Commandments. Indeed, by keeping the commandments, the love of God is perfected in us (I John 2:5). The Ten Commandments constitute a spiritual law that is inexorable and eternal, producing faith and happiness and righteous character that pleases God.

9. Will God's law still be kept once His Kingdom is established? Revelation 21:8; 22:14-15.

Comment: Even after the Millennium, when New Jerusalem comes down, no lawbreaker will be allowed in the city. In Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible, obedience to God's law is the central issue. This is very clear proof that the law of God, which reflects the holy conduct of the Almighty, will be the standard for all eternity!

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