Which Law For Christians?

A perennial topic for debate nowadays is, “Should Christians be keeping the Ten Commandments?” Do they stand or fall with the Old Covenant? Do the Ten Commandments predate Moses, putting them outside the Old Covenant? Are they the pinnacle of God's thinking on laws for the human race?

These are interesting topics because some people do believe this and there is nothing wrong in asking, “Have they got that right?”


In discussing this it would be helpful to establish if the Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant that God agreed with Moses and the Children of Israel. Let's look at Ex 34:28..

Ex 34:28. ”And he (Moses) was there with Jehovah forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

And we can have a look at Deut 4:13

Deut 4:13 "And he (Jehovah) declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone."

So we see from these that the Ten Commandments were an integral and primary part of the Old Covenant. And the next question is, “Was this given to people before it was given to the Children of Israel? To answer this let's look at Deut 5:3.

Deu 5:2-3 Jehovah our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Jehovah made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

So we can also see that God did not make this same arrangement with the forefathers of the Israelites. This Covenant and it's institutions and commandments were exclusively between God and Israel.

We also see that the commandments, statues and laws that Abraham followed cannot have been the same as the ones given to Israel centuries later, because God inspires Moses to state that this Covenant which INCLUDES the Ten Commandments was not used before Mt Sinai!


Now we know from the God-inspired writings of the New Testament that the Old Covenant is obsolete. Christ has ushered in a New Covenant.

Heb 8:13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Jeremiah knew this would happen and wrote.

Jer. 31:31-32 says: "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: NOT according to the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt."

We have accepted Christ as the sacrifice for our sins. The Old Covenant law condemned us; It could not save us; But, Christ did. We are under a New Covenant, not the old one! So what is the result?

Rom 7:4 So, my brothers, you also have become dead to the law by the body of Christ so that you should be married to Another, even to Him raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit to God.

Christians are dead to the Mosaic Law. We are not married to it as Israel was. In fact we are to be married to Jesus Christ. He is law to us. And Jesus will marry a spotless, pure bride; not one who is a bigamist, married to the Old Covenant Law and to him!

But some will say, “Don't the Ten Commandment show us what it means to be righteous?

The Ten Commandments and indeed the whole law condemns those who break them, but they cannot bring God's righteousness. The law can develop Self-Righteousness in those subject to it though! Notice what is said in Phi 3:5-9

Phi 3:5-9 I was circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. As regards the Law, I was a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness in the Law, blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith.

Read also Romans Chapter 7. The Law of Moses cannot save. It cannot change you. The law arouses sin in you and when you succumb, the law kills you. The law cannot set you free or develop God's righteousness in you. The law shows you what sin is, but the law cannot save you from sin!

We are to live by faith; and Law and Faith are opposites!
As Gal 3:12 says, “The law is not of faith.”

Speaking of faith, look what it says in Acts 6:7.

Acts 6:7 And the Word of God was increasing. And the number of the disciples in Jerusalem was multiplying exceedingly; even a great crowd of the priests obeyed the faith.

Notice what Luke brings out that Christians were obedient to? The faith! Not Law but faith!

We Christians are to live lives, "not having our own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith".

It is Jesus Christ who is the pinnacle of everything that God has provided for man. EVERYTHING! That is why we live NOT by law, but by faith in Him who CAN save us, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now some will say that, "Since the law shows what sin is should we not keep it scrupulously anyway?"

Some time ago I was approaching a road junction and the traffic lights were not working. There was a policeman in the centre of the junction who was directing the traffic. As you came up to the lights you would notice that they were RED but the policeman would wave you throught. Now what if someone were to decide that since the law says that you must STOP at a RED light, they were not going to go through? Soon there would be chaos, possibly an arrest and a car being removed from the junction by the police!

What's wrong with this picture? They have put the law in a position of higher authority than the policeman. Christians are not to do that. We are to hold Christ as our high authority not the law.

Now, think back to the junction before the legalist came along. There was order! There was no license! People were obedient! But, they were obedient to the PERSON who had authority greater than the law!

Do not be fooled by anyone who tells you that not holding the law up as your highest authority is license. We obey a greater authority, the Great Lawgiver, Jesus Christ. They deny the authority of our Lord and Savior. As Col 2:14 tells us; the "Ordinances which were against us" have been nailed to the cross. It's Jesus Christ who rose up again to life!

Have a look at the words of our Lord, Jesus Christ in Mat 5:20-22...

Mat 5:20-22 "For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

The Scribes and the Pharisees kept the law and that produced it's own level of righteousness. And at the level of (self) righteousness that is of the law, they STOPPED. But like the policeman in the scenario above, Christ says, I don't want you to stop there! That's not your true guide. I am! Come through to the righteousness I can supply!

..And be found in Him (Christ Jesus); not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith.

Another example from Jesus himself should help show if the Law is the highest authority or if there can be higher imperitives.

Joh 7:21 Jesus answered them, "I did one deed, and you all marvel at it.
Joh 7:22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
Joh 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man's whole body well?
Joh 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

Here Jesus shows that one of the ten commandments (the Sabbath law) is broken in order that the circumcision law is carried out as Moses decreed.
Jesus brings out a similar point with a different example in Mat 12:11-12.
Mat 12:11 And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? Mat 12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Once again Jesus shows that there can be higher imperatives that keeping a particular OC law, once more as in the last case it's the Sabbath law.

There are other examples in the Old Testament also such as 1 Sam 21:6 and Deut 2:34 where God allows the law to be broken and does not hold the people guilty.

As was stated earlier, it is our Lord Jesus Christ who is the pinnacle of everything that God has provided for man. Jesus is the highest imperative. That is why we live NOT by the Mosaic law, but by faith in Him who CAN save us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As Paul says in 1 Cor 9:21..
1Co 9:21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

We live under the law of Christ!

Attlee Brathwaite.

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