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Builders of Faith Explorer I:  Exploring Bible Truth

Lesson 8—Should Christians Keep the Ten Commandments?

 

 

1.  Who wrote the Ten Commandments, and why is this significant?

 

“And when He [God] had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”  Exodus 31:18.  “So he [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water.  And He [God] wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.  Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from that mountain)….”  Exodus 34:28-29.  “…But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.”  John 8:6.

 

Answer:  By comparing the two texts from Exodus above, we know that the “two tablets of the Testimony” were the same tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger.  The only other time in the Bible that God wrote anything was when Jesus wrote in the ground some unknown words to the accusers of a woman caught in adultery.  Since it is very rare that God Himself wrote anything down, we had better pay close attention.  This means that the Ten Commandments are very important to God and to His followers.

 

 

2.  What were the Ten Commandments written on, and what does this tell us about the nature of those Laws?

 

“And when He [God] had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”  Exodus 31:18.

 

Answer:  Of all the ancient materials used to write on—papyrus, leather, parchment, clay, and stone—stone was the most difficult and the most enduring.  It was a symbol of that which would last forever and the source of the modern saying, “It’s written in stone.”  The fact that the Ten Commandments were written in stone testifies to its eternal principles.  Therefore, God intends that His Ten Commandments are permanent.

 

 

3.  What is the relationship of the Ten Commandments to God’s character?

 

God Character Attribute God’s Law
     
Isaiah 5:16 Holy Romans 7:7, 12
Deuteronomy 32:4 Just Romans 7:7, 12
Luke 18:19 Good Romans 7:7, 12
I John 4:8, 16 Love Romans 13:8-10
Matthew 5:48 Perfect Psalm 19:7
I John 3:3 Pure Psalm 19:8
Deuteronomy 32:4 Truth Psalm 119:142, 151
John 4:24 Spiritual Romans 7:7, 14
Malachi 3:6 Unchangeable Matthew 5:18
Genesis 21:33 Eternal Psalm 111:7-8

 

Answer:  Note that all the character attributes applied to God also apply to His Law.  And the context of Matthew 5 and Romans 7 above clearly reveals that God’s Law is the Ten Commandments.  Therefore, the Ten Commandments reflect God’s character.

 

 

4.  Does God’s character ever change?

 

“For I am the Lord, I do not change….”  Malachi 3:6.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8.  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”  James 1:17.

 

Answer:  Since God’s character (see Question #3 above) has been transcribed on His moral Law, the Ten Commandments can no more be changed or abolished than God Himself can be!

 

 

5.  Did Jesus say anything that we could conclude that the Ten Commandments were to be changed or abolished for His followers (Christians)?

 

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will be no means pass from the law till 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.”  Matthew 5:17-19.  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”  Matthew 5:21-22.  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:27-28.

 

Answer:  Jesus makes it clear that the word “law” here includes the Ten Commandments because He cites two of those commandments.  Any objection that Jesus fulfilled the Law and thereby abolished it fails to understand the meaning of the Greek verb “fulfilled” as “to fill full of meaning”.  And that He did by declaring that any wrong that you want to do in your heart is the same thing as violating the Ten Commandments.

 

 

6.  What is one important purpose for the Ten Commandments, and what does that say about the validity of that Law today?

 

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:20.  “…because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.”  Romans 4:15.  “What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’”  Romans 7:7.

 

Answer:  One important purpose of the Law is to point out our sins.  And Paul’s example in Romans 7:7 above makes it clear that he is speaking about the Ten Commandments, that is, God’s Moral Law.  Indeed, without the Ten Commandments, there would be absolutely no sin.  Therefore, the fact that we all agree that there is much sin in the world today means that the Ten Commandments are still valid even for modern Christians.

 

 

7.  What does the gospel tell us about the validity of the Ten Commandments?

 

Answer:  We learned in Lesson #6 that Jesus took sinful mankind’s place as our Substitute in order to live the perfect life that we cannot (because of our sinful nature, and so on) and to die the death penalty so that we would not have to die that kind of death.  This was because God cannot lessen His perfect standard.  Jesus’ life and death as our Substitute is a major portion of the gospel.  In this lesson, we learned that the Ten Commandments specifically reflect God’s perfect character that God cannot lessen or reduce.  Therefore, the existence of the gospel proves that the Ten Commandments are still valid for everyone.  Otherwise, Jesus would not have had to come and take our place.

 

 

8.  But didn’t Jesus come to show us what God the Father is like and to die as the perfect demonstration of their love for us?

 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16.

 

Answer:  There can be no doubt that Jesus’ life reflected His Father’s character as well as His own, and that Jesus’ death on the cross was the perfect demonstration of God’s love for all of mankind.  At the same time, these purposes for Jesus’ first coming cannot be used to deny or suppress the reality that He had to come and live and die for sinful mankind in order to save us.  This view that Jesus died only, or primarily, to show His love for us is known as the “moral influence” view of the atonement.  That is, Jesus’ life and death changes sinful beings who are willing to be changed into God’s character, and thus they are safe to save.  But this is false, deceptive teaching for at least two reasons.  First, it suggests that we are saved by our change in character.  And while a saved person’s character must be transformed into God’s character, such transformation itself does not save anyone; it is a reflection of the fact that they are saved.  The root of our salvation is what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us; the fruit of our salvation is that we are transformed into His likeness.

 

Second, if Jesus did not really have to die as our Substitute, then His death was an act of foolish insanity.  Let’s illustrate:  Imagine that my wife and I are walking on a beautiful ocean beach, and I tell her that I love her so much that I’m going to prove it.  Then I run into the ocean water and drown myself intentionally.  Now no one in his right mind would call that a demonstration of love for my wife—but rather an act of foolish insanity.  Therefore, the “moral influence” view of the atonement, or any of its variations, is a doctrine of demons.

 

 

9.  Does God’s grace tell us anything about the validity of the Ten Commandments?

 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

Answer:  Grace is a gift that we do not deserve and cannot earn.  For example, when you are guilty of a traffic violation, go to traffic court, and the judge dismisses the charge, that judge has just given you grace.  He has freed you from the condemnation of that particular traffic law, not by abolishing that law, but by forgiving your violation of that law.  If he had abolished that traffic law, then you would not need grace at all because then you would not be guilty of violating a law that no longer exists.  Grace, by definition, is offered only when a person is truly guilty of violating a valid law.  Therefore, the fact that God still offers mankind salvation by grace through faith in Jesus means that His Ten Commandments are still valid.  As the apostle Paul plainly declared, “Do we then make void the law through faith?  Certainly not!  On the contrary, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

 

 

10.  So we return to the question title of this Lesson:  “Should Christians Keep the Ten Commandments?”

 

Answer:  There can be no question at this point about the answer to that question.  Yes, absolutely, Christians should keep the Ten Commandments.  They were written by God’s own finger on tablets of stone, a symbol of permanence in ancient times.  They reflect God’s character which is unchangeable.  Jesus personally gave deeper meaning to those Commandments in His earthly ministry.  Finally, the existence of sin, the gospel, and grace prove that the Ten Commandments are still valid for everyone for all times.

 

 

Quiz for Lesson 8—Should Christians Keep the Ten Commandments?

 

1.  Who wrote the Ten Commandments? (1)

  Moses

  God

  Aaron

  Joshua

Answer

God

2.  Which of the following materials that the ancients wrote on is a symbol of something that is permanent? (1)

  Papyrus

  Leather

  Stone

  Parchment

  Clay

Answer

Stone

3.  Each of the Ten Commandments has one of the character traits of God. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

4.  Can the Ten Commandments ever change or be abolished? (2)

  No, because they reflect God’s character, which never changes.

  Yes, when God changes His attitude toward His people, He then changes His Commandments.

  No, because they were written on two tablets of stone, a symbol of something permanent.

  Yes, God always has the authority to change His Commandments if He wants to do so.

Answer

No, because they reflect God’s character, which never changes.
No, because they were written on two tablets of stone, a symbol of something permanent.

5.  Did Jesus ever do anything suggesting a change in the Ten Commandments? (2)

  Yes, He broke the Sabbath Commandment, signaling that it was going to change.

  No, He fulfilled the Ten Commandments by interpreting them more deeply.

  Yes, He fulfilled the Ten Commandments so that we don’t need to keep them anymore.

  No, and He even said that someone who hated his brother was guilty of murder.

Answer

No, He fulfilled the Ten Commandments by interpreting them more deeply.
No, and He even said that someone who hated his brother was guilty of murder.

6.  Identify the true statements about the Ten Commandments below. (3)

  They point out what sin is in our lives.

  They help clean up our spiritual dirt.

  Jesus kept the Ten Commandments so that we don’t have to.

  If Jesus had to die for our violations of the Ten Commandments, then they must be valid.

  The existence of sin in the world proves that the Ten Commandments are still valid.

Answer

They point out what sin is in our lives.
If Jesus had to die for our violations of the Ten Commandments, then they must be valid.
The existence of sin in the world proves that the Ten Commandments are still valid.

7.  Which of the following statements about the “moral influence” view of the atonement are true? (3)

  It denies or at least minimizes the fact that Jesus had to die for our sins.

  It emphasizes the cross as the best demonstration of God’s love for us.

  It suggests that God’s love at the cross changes people’s character so that they can be saved.

  It emphasizes God’s love, but still respects the justice and wrath of God.

Answer

It denies or at least minimizes the fact that Jesus had to die for our sins.
It emphasizes the cross as the best demonstration of God’s love for us.
It suggests that God’s love at the cross changes people’s character so that they can be saved.

8.  If Jesus did not really have to die as our Substitute, then His death was an act of foolish insanity. (1)

  True

  False

Answer

True

9.  What is grace, and what does it have to do with the Ten Commandments. (3)

  Grace is a gift that we cannot earn and do not deserve.

  When a traffic court judge gives you grace, it means that he has abolished the traffic law.

  By definition, grace is only given when a person is guilty of violating a valid law.

  The fact that God offers salvation by grace means that the Ten Commandments are valid.

Answer

Grace is a gift that we cannot earn and do not deserve.
By definition, grace is only given when a person is guilty of violating a valid law.
The fact that God offers salvation by grace means that the Ten Commandments are valid.

10.  Should Christians keep the Ten Commandments? (4)

  Yes, because the existence of sin proves that they are still valid.

  Yes, because the existence of the gospel proves that they are still valid.

  Yes, whenever it is convenient, but God is not picky whenever it is inconvenient.

  No, they were abolished at the cross.

  Yes, because the existence of grace proves that they are still valid.

  Yes, because they reflect God’s unchangeable character, they are still valid.

Answer

Yes, because the existence of sin proves that they are still valid.
Yes, because the existence of the gospel proves that they are still valid.
Yes, because the existence of grace proves that they are still valid.
Yes, because they reflect God’s unchangeable character, they are still valid.