Out With The Ten Commandments?

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!

Made Even More Aware

The recent AWARE Saga has drawn enough attention and it is not my intention to write another article for the sake of writing another article.  However, thoughts continue to bubble and surface in my heart and I feel it is best for me to put these down for my own reflection.

The post modern world we live in today presents a very different environment for those of us who profess to be born-again, bible-believing and practising Christians.  I researched Post-Modernism during the course of my theological studies and I see its concepts being lived out in society.  That said, to observe it is one thing; but to experience it is totally yet another.  Put another way, I have been aware of post-modern ideology for some time now.  In fact, in my teaching and preaching, I make it a point to highlight it to others too.  But the AWARE Saga sheds new light and has made me even more aware of the challenges we Christians face today and in the days to come.

Take pluralism, for example.  A diversity of views and the freedom to express that is to be safeguarded and protected at all cost!  Choice is the order of day.  And we are seeing this being applied in the much-debated sexuality programme in schools.  A pluralistic mindset says, “It’s ok.  Our children need to be presented with the options (eg, homosexuality, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc) so that they can then choose for themselves.”  My theological framework encompasses choice too.  However, the bible is also clear that every choice carries a consequence.  The problem with the world today is that they are preaching choice without highlighting the corresponding consequences and its adverse effects on the individual and on society.

The guardian of pluralism is tolerance.  Simply put, for pluralism to continue and flourish, one has to allow the other the respect and freedom to do what they wish to do.  That sounds alright, but only on the surface.  In times past, I may tolerate a certain behaviour but I may not necessarily agree with it.  Today, my tolerance must extend to indicate also my acceptance!  To speak otherwise means to encroach one’s views upon the other – and that’s a no-no!  That’s fine if each group plays by the rules.  Yet, that is not the case.  We have seen that tolerance is actually one-sided in that Christians must tolerate whatever the world deems right and fit.  However, that is not reciprocated at all, for any view Christian is not to be tolerated.  Unfair, you say?  Yes, the playing ground is not level.  It has never been, and it will never be.

Let’s talk about fairness, or more accurately, unfairness.  Reading the reports and watching the news, the concensus is that it was an unfair fight, with biased reporting.  A comment was made that the Christians were at a loss when it came to handling the sharp and snide – ok, bitchy – remarks from the floor.  My question is, were they really at a loss for words, or simply at a loss as to how to respond in a nice, Christian manner?  Then again, is there ever a way to bitch in love?  No wonder, Jesus, when falsely accused and ridiculed, did not raise His voice, but chose to keep silent.

But aren’t Christians called to be the voice of truth?  Yes, I believe so.  But as we have witnessed, it is not easy being the prophetic voice.  Ask Jeremiah, Elijah or John the Baptist.  Too soft and no one hears you.  Too loud and too bold, and the Herods of the world will have your heads on a platter!  Does it mean we must keep quiet from now on?  Not at all!  But may we be reminded that it all comes at a cost.  And it is usually a lonely walk because others are not prepared to walk with you, prefering to comment from the sidelines.

Perhaps, we Christians in Singapore are not too interested in societal issues.  After all, is it not better to leave it to the government for they know best?  We have our jobs to look after, our dreams to chase, our breakthroughs to pray for and our blessings to protect.  So what if our value and moral systems are being compromised?  The sad reality is that few would do anything about it.  We are too caught up in our own little world, building our own little kingdoms … playing church?

But thank God for those who were willing to stick their necks out (whether we agree with how it was done).  Granted, the recent epic involved a women’s society and the mettle and grit of women were clearly showcased.  But that raises a pertinent question … where are the men?  Why is our school’s sexuality programme designed and determined by a women’s group?  And in response to its questionability, the mothers seem to be the ones leading the charge.  The only Christian men quoted in this incident have only come out in negative support.  That we have stronger women today is not a surprise.  Nothing wrong with that.  But does that indicate that the opposite is also true … weaker men?

As mentioned earlier, these are thoughts that have been stirring in my heart as the AWARE Saga unfolded.   The purpose is not to point a finger at anyone – for that would be too, too easy to do (and tempting too).  I am very aware of each and every point.  Only now, I have been made even more aware of its implications and severity.  In all of the above, I put myself wholly in the picture, challenging myself and wondering how I would respond in each situation.  For sure, it is extremely sobering and even convicting, at certain points.  Yet, confront these points, I must.  Deep within me, I believe that all that has happened is only an indication of what is to come.  It will not get easier for Christians; not if we desire to impact the world the way Jesus and His disciples did.  We will be called to make a stand for Jesus and everything that He stands for.  When that time comes, will we?