Law: the Ten Commandments 1
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Moral Law, were written By God Himself on stone tables - an indication of their importance and their enduring nature.
However, many in mainstream Christianity hold that, based on Ep 2:15, that they were abolished at the Cross. We must therefore study this topic in depth.
Throughout this study ‘Law’ refers to the Ten Commandments.
2. The Ten Commandments Ex 20:1-17; De 5:1-22
2.1 Written by God on stone
Ex 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony [Strong’s H5707, witness], tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
De 9:10 And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
The Lord Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on stone tablets, emphasizing their origin and permanence.
2.2 The Law (Ten Commandments) is God’s saving Covenant
Ex 32:15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
De 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
De 9:15 So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
NB. Both the Covenant and the Commandments are written on the tables of stone. They are thus the same (there was only one set of stone tables).
2.3 The Ten Commandments placed in the Ark of the Covenant
1Ki 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
1Ki 8:9,21 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb …
21 And I have set there a place for the ark, wherein is the covenant of the LORD, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
The Stone tables of the Covenant were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, confirming their sacredness.
3. Attributes of the Law (Strong’s G3551, nomos)
The Law is holy, just, and good
Ro 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
The Law is perfect
Ps 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul…
The Law is pure and right
Ps 19:8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The Law is truth
Ps 119:142 …thy law is the truth.
Mal 2:6 The law of truth was in his mouth…
The Law is spiritual
Ro 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The Law is righteousness
Psa 119:172 My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
Ro 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
Ro 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Ro 10:4 For Christ is the end [Strong’s G5056, goal] of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Ro 10:4 is used by many to teach that Christ cancelled the Ten Commandments. However, the Greek informs us that Christ is the goal, i.e. the aim, the main point, the fulfillment, of the law, not its termination.
Christ fulfils the righteous Law; thus the righteousness of the Law is faith in Christ.
Note. The concept of Christ as the ‘aim’, the ‘culmination’, of the Law is reinforced in studies: ‘Law: the Ten Commandments 2’ and ‘Law: Ceremonial’.
The attributes of the Moral Law testify to its sacred nature. It comes directly from the hand of God, who does not condemn mankind but desires salvation for all.
Thus the Law was given for the benefit of mankind, not for our condemnation.
The relationship between the Law and sin is discussed in the study: ‘Law: the Ten Commandments 2’,2.
4. What the Law does
The Law reveals the Character of God
As we have seen in section 3 the Law is holy just and good. These in fact are attributes which belong to God, who is Holy (Le 19:2; Re 4:8), Just (Is 45:21; Re 15:3), and Good (Ex 34:6; Mk 10:18). Thus the Law reveals God’s character.
The Law converts the soul
Ps 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul…
The Law gives freedom
Ja 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty…
Ja 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
NB. The Law is truth Ps 119:142; The truth shall make you free (Jn 8:32); Thus the Law (which is truth) shall make you free.
The Law tests genuineness
1Jn 2:3,4 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
What the Moral Law does for us confirms that it exists for the benefit of mankind. Rightly regarded, the Law places us in a proper relationship with God.
This is directly contrary to mainstream thinking: those who place emphasis on the Law are regarded as legalists.
5. Love and the Law
The Law is fulfilled in love
Ro 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Ro 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Ga 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Ja 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Loving the Law brings peace
Ps 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Love and Law are inseparable. The Ten Commandments are a measure of God’s love for mankind, and if kept in the right spirit, they are a measure of mankind’s love for God.
Thus if the Law were to be abolished, then love also would be abolished.
Love and Law are two sides of the same coin.
The coin represents the price that Christ paid for each one of mankind. It was divine Love that drove Christ to pay the price of sin for us. The price of sin (i.e. punishment and death - see study: ‘The end of sin and sinners’) comes as a natural consequence of denying God's Love by breaking His Law of Love.
In Christ, we may be restored to God's perfect Kingdom in which His Law of Love ensures the joy and well-being of all His creatures.
6. What Christ taught about Himself and the Law
Many teach that the Law was abolished at the Cross by Christ - thus we must understand what Christ taught about Himself and the Law.
Christ did not destroy the Law
Mt 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Christ did not change the Law
Mt 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Lk 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
Nowhere did Christ teach that He would abolish the Law. Rather, He upheld it and taught that it would continue until all (i.e. God’s dealing with sin) is fulfilled.
Plainly, sin continues to this day, and therefore so does the Law - sin will continue until Christ returns to bring it to an end - the Law, however, will continue for eternity.
7. The Law in the New testament
7.1 The New Covenant and the Law
The New Covenant is the Law written in the heart
Je 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
This verse is quoted in the New Testament:
He 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
The Law in the heart
Ro 2:13-15 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
2Co 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
The Law is written in the heart of all believers, and is manifested outwardly as a testimony.
Some teach that the Law was abolished at the Cross, but that it still exists in principle. However, the Collins English Dictionary defines abolish as ‘do away with, ‘put an end to’, and the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines abolish as ‘officially end’ - plainly something that is abolished no longer exists.
Thus If the Law was abolished at the Cross, it no longer exists; it could not, therefore, be written in the heart - something that does not exist cannot be written anywhere, nor does it survive in any form.
7.2 The Law upheld
Upheld by Paul (26 years after Cross)
Ro 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Upheld by James
Ja 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Upheld by John
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
It is abundantly clear that the Law (the Ten Commandments) continued after the Cross.
The Old Testament teaches that it would continue, and the Apostles, by referring to specific commandments, confirm it was still in force after the Cross, and thus it is so today.
We have seen the importance of the Law throughout Scripture. In particular, we have seen how it is upheld in the New Testament.
Indeed the attributes and functions of the Law (the Ten Commandments) confirm that it could not possibly have been abolished at the Cross.
In study: ‘Law: the Ten Commandments 2’ we address the Law’s relationship to salvation - essential study to complete our understanding of the Law (the Ten Commandments).