I can understand when a preacher cautions against an over zealousness in the keeping of the Law. That tantamounts to an attainment of righteousness through works which can eventually end up either in self-righteousness or condemnation. We are, after all, no longer under the law, but are now under grace (Rom 6:14 – a favourite verse of extreme gracers). As such, “we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter (Rom 7:6)”, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:6)”. I have no problems with this and would readily say a loud “amen”.
BUT for the same preacher to openly declare that when churches teach the Ten Commandments as a pulpit series, they are in effect, killing their congregations across the weeks ……. now, that I’ve got a huge problem with?!?! It just doesn’t sit well with me at all. Let me add that in support of his stand that the Law must now be done away with, he convincingly paints a picture that the Law is bad and ugly. That’s not what the Bible says! On the contrary, we are told that the Law is holy, just and good (Rom 7:12).
Yes, the Law does bring death, but that’s because it brings an awareness of sin; and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Read in context, and with proper understanding, it is not the Law that kills, but sin. Paul emphasises so clearly in Rom 7:7, “Is the law sin? Certainly not!”. It is sin, taking advantage of the Law, that deceives me and by it kills me! (Rom 7:11) Let’s get it straight once and for all … it is sin that is bad and ugly, and sin that kills. Not the Law!
When Paul says that we have been delivered from the Law, what he means is that we have been delivered from the penalty of the Law. This penalty or curse is operative when the righteous requirements of the Law are not completely and satisfactorily fulfilled. Jesus came and died for that very purpose … to redeem us from the curse of the Law (Gal 3:13).
Does it mean I no longer need to keep the Law? Well, yes, not in the Mosaic sense, on the outward according to the flesh. But, no, for now, I need to keep another law – the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, according to the Spirit, one that is inward but manifests itself outward through love, for the law is fulfilled in and through love (Gal 5:14; Rom 13:8-10).
Sounds nice. But how do I know if my understanding of love is biblically-defined and not Hollywood-influenced or societally-driven?
Simple. I read the Bible and see God’s righteousness requirements in and through His commandments given to His chosen people … the Law*. The key difference is that I now have the illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit to teach and guide me into all this truth. I don’t strive to keep the Law according to the flesh for I will fail time and time again. Instead, I strive to live it according to the Spirit allowing Him to change me from the inside out, with the full assurance that when I do mess up (and that happens quite a lot), there is no condemnation in Christ for He has already paid the price for me at Calvary! Not that I deserve it one bit, but because He has already made that provision … not just for me, but for everyone who would believe in His precious name. That’s grace!
Let us recognise that the problem is not found in our contentions between law and grace. Instead, it is found in our constant struggle between walking according to the Spirit and walking according to the flesh (that’s another topic for another article another time).
So, before anyone throws out the Ten Commandments and proceeds to rip out the entire Law from the Bible (since it’s no longer needed and makes for easier carrying to church and back), pause and think for a while. Be a noble Berean (Acts 17:11); not just receiving the word (any word!) with all readiness, but to also check out the Scriptures for a consistent and an accurate understanding, allowing the Holy Spirit to bring revelation and conviction.
*Think about this … the essence of the Law of Moses and the Law of the Spirit are one and same … they are both from God … holy, just and good!