THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE REST OF GOD

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND THE REST OF GOD Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

I may be mistaken, but I believe Christian people are not clear about the relationship of the Law of Moses to the new covenant, the Christian covenant. Most of us may have gathered from the writings of the Apostle Paul, that we no longer are under the Law of Moses but under "grace," whatever that means.

"Grace" has been abused horribly. It has come to be an alternative to moral transformation. "No matter how I behave, it really doesn't matter because I am 'saved by grace'"--this sort of thing.

"Grace" in actuality is a period during which we are free from the Law of Moses while we are learning to overcome sin through the Spirit of God. It is anything but an alternative to righteous behavior.

If you will look carefully at the following two passages you will see that we may not be as free from the Law of Moses as we think:

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:4-6)

Whenever a Jew, such as the Apostle John, uses the term, the "Law," he is referring to the Law of Moses.

Sin is the breaking of the Law of Moses. No one who continues to break the Law of Moses has either seen Christ or known Christ.

Please note that Christ came to take away our sins, not just forgive our sins. But the stipulation is that we live in Him.

Then there is another passage that informs us the Law of Moses always is looking over our shoulder:

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (James 2:8-11)

We understand from the Book of Galatians that men are not obligated to be circumcised. Even with the clarity of Paul in Galatians, there are Gentile Christians who circumcise their male children "just in case"!

If I am not mistaken, doctors recommend circumcision for the health benefits.

Most of the confusion between the Law of Moses and the Christian salvation is centered on the Sabbath commandment.

For generations, Christian people have regarded Sunday, the first day of the week, the day on which Christ was resurrected, as the Sabbath. For this reason they view Sunday as a holiday and assemble on that day, believing that they are keeping the Sabbath commandment.

There are some branches of the Christian religion that recognize Saturday as the seventh day of the week, which it is, and regard Saturday as the Sabbath day. Therefore Saturday is their weekly holiday and they assemble on that day. They believe that the Ten Commandments are binding on us, and so they observe the Old Testament Sabbath.

The seventh-day worshipers, although a minority, are just as Christian as the first-day worshipers, in my opinion, and should continue to worship God according to their faith.

The only problem with regarding any day of the week as the Sabbath, brings the believer back under the covenant of Moses. I will explain now where the problem is with going back to Moses.

The new covenant operates entirely differently from the Law of Moses. Under the Law of Moses, the commands and statutes given by the Lord are written in a book, the Torah. If one would be righteous and live before God, he or she must observe the Book of the Law carefully. If the worshiper broke the Law, he must offer the appropriate sacrifice.

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8)

We Christians also have a book, termed "The New Testament." This really is an unsuitable title, as I see it. I believe a better title would be, "Jesus Christ and His Apostles."

New Testament actually is an account of people who knew Jesus; of the missionary trips of the Apostles; of the writings of men who themselves were experiencing the new covenant; and then the Book of Revelation—the prophecy of the future.

The two books, the Tenach (the Jewish Bible) and the New Testament are quite different. I cannot think of a book of the Tenach that is comparable to the writings of the Apostles of Christ. The Tenach contains mostly the writings of the Prophets. The New Testament contains mostly the exhortations of the Apostles to the new churches.

The Torah, the five books of Moses, consists of commands and statutes that are to be observed diligently. Remember, the Jews were not born again and did not have the indwelling of the Spirit to guide them in their daily lives. They had the Law of Moses, and they were to observe these commandments, including the injunction not to work on the seventh day.

The New Testament does not operate in the same manner, and that is why bringing over the Sabbath observance is to put old wine in new bottles. The Sabbath commandment just does not fit, and, in fact, detracts from the rest of God into which the New Testament guides us.

The New Testament acquaints us with God's Son and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. It tells us about the ministry of Christ on the earth, and includes many of His teachings.

The main part of the New Testament is the exhortations of the Apostles of Christ directed toward the new churches of the Roman Empire. And, I may add, have the same authority to guide us today.

But the guidance given by the New Testament is different from the Law of Moses. Whereas the Law of Moses governed the numerous aspects of Jewish life, the New Testament works alongside the Spirit of God to bring us to Christ, that we may learn to live by His Life. What an awesome difference there is between the two covenants!

Before I go any further, let me state firmly and plainly that this does not mean the New Testament is a "living" document, as our current generation, molded by the philosophy of Humanism, loves to believe. Today's preachers mean by a "living document" that if we do not agree with the New Testament writings, we redefine them in a manner that pleases us.

So we say "There is no love but the law of love." How ridiculous! In America the demon population in the spirit world above us is filled with spirits of sexual lust that burn and inflame until the sturdiest Christian has to call out to Christ for help. The "law of love" will not help you resist the temptation to commit adultery or to fornicate. As one lady said, "Bless us Lord," as she began to indulge her adulterous desires.

I will tell you, it takes iron consecration to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. So please do not count me among those who treat the words of the New Testament casually. I believe every word comes from God and is not to be altered in any manner whatever!

Let me go on now to explain how the two covenants differ.

As I stated, whereas the Law of Moses governed the numerous aspects of Jewish life, the New Testament works alongside the Spirit of God to bring us to Christ, that we may learn to live by His Life.

How do we learn to live by His Life? By continually inviting the Lord Jesus into every moment of every day. We keep looking to Him; talking to Him; asking His help; giving thanks when He helps us.

As we continue this dialogue throughout the day and night, Jesus' Presence keeps coming closer to us. In my own case, I am becoming increasingly aware of the spirit world; but I do not suggest that everyone will respond in the same manner.

Where, then, does the New Testament fit in? The writings of the Apostles keep us from drifting into error. One cannot just start out in the Christian life by listening to Jesus. It takes quite a while, maybe several years, before one can distinguish between Satan and the Spirit of God. At least this has been true for me. Meanwhile we meditate in the Scriptures continually and pray often. Gathering with fervent Christians helps us stay on track.

We never are to regard ourselves as an "empty vessel," as some have expressed it. We are to live a vital life of discipleship, keeping our will razor sharp. We do not throw ourselves open, inviting spirits to control us.

As we serve Christ faithfully as a disciple, He grows in us. As He does, we find ourselves doing the right thing; making right decisions. It is Christ in us, who Himself is the Law of the new covenant.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)

The New Testament was not available in Peter's day, so he directs us toward the Prophets of the Old Testament. However, his exhortation applies equally well to both the Old and New Testaments. As we pay attention to the writings of the Bible, Christ, the Morning Star, rises in our heart.

I know of no better description of the way the new covenant operates than is presented in the verse above. We can see at once the difference between the two covenants. The Law of Moses simply does not lead us to the rising of the Morning Star in our heart.

When the Apostle Paul was challenged by the leaders of the Jews concerning observing the Law of Moses, Paul showed at once the difference between the covenants:

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19,20)

The Law of Moses brought Paul to the death of the cross. Therefore, Paul was free from the Law because "the Law has authority over a man only as long as he lives."

What did Paul have now in place of the Law of Moses? Paul had Christ living in Him. Christ is the fulfillment of the Law for everyone who believes in Him and lives by Him. Christ Himself is the New Covenant.

When we have died with Him and no longer are living, but Christ is living in us, we ourselves become the new covenant between God and man. This is because our life now reveals the godly Presence and behavior of God.

Can you see how different the new covenant is from the Law of Moses?

But John and James (above) imply that somehow the Law is looking over our shoulder. It is! Sin is the breaking of the Law of Moses. When we break one of the commandments of Moses, we are guilty of sin.

However, when we dutifully are following and obeying the Spirit of God, the Law of Moses is suspended. We are in a "grace period."

But—and this needs to be preached in America today—when we are not dutifully following and obeying the Spirit of God; are not living as a disciple; are not denying ourselves and carrying our cross behind the Lord, then, if we break the Ten Commandments we are guilty of sin.

We cannot "accept Christ" on one occasion and forever after be free from the Law of Moses. I know this is preached, but it is an error. We have to accept Christ as all times, every day of every week. We have to keep confessing and turning away from our sins. If we do not, we are guilty of sin when we break the Law of Moses.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:4-6)

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (James 2:8-11)

The above are the words of Jesus Christ through two of His Apostles.

As I stated previously, the New Testament leads us into the rest of God. Not too much is being said about the rest of God these days, but it is our goal. Our goal is to learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

Now, here is the relationship between the Ten Commandments and the rest of God. As Christ, who Himself is the Rest of God, is formed in us, we gradually have the wisdom and strength to overcome sin, the breaking of the Ten Commandments. Little by little the Spirit of God moves us toward total victory over our sinful nature.

This process increases each day of our consecration to Christ. You can see from this that pausing from our pursuit of Christ each Saturday to obey part of the Law of Moses is not appropriate.

If it happened that each Saturday the Lord instructed us to cease working and go to church, then this would be an integral part of the rest of God. But I have been a disciple for more than 65 years, and the Lord never once has pointed out that I should turn my eyes from Him and cease working and go to church on Saturday.

I go to church on Sunday because I am a denominational pastor and the churches of the denomination gather on Sunday. But I do not cease working on Sunday. I put out more than usual effort as I preach.

If the denomination met on Saturday, then I would preach on Saturday.

I follow the Lord closely on Saturday and Sunday. Often I rest on at least part of Saturday afternoon to get ready for Sunday. I feel the Lord's Presence when I am preparing and when I am resting. I do not take my eyes from Jesus on Saturday, Sunday, or any other day of the week.

The Lord Jesus lives in the eternal Sabbath. This means in all He thinks, says, and does, He behaves in concert with His Father.

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. (John 8:28-30)

In the verse above, Jesus is our example. We are to live by Him as He lives by the Father. Here is the perfect fulfillment of the Sabbath commandment.

So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these." (John 5:16-20)

I will tell you one thing, it is fortunate for us that the Father is always at His work. If God stopped working on Saturday, that certainly would be a bad day for us!

Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. (John 14:10,11)

Our goal, our land of promise, our Canaan, is to progress in Christ until we can say in truth, "It is not I, but Christ who is living in me." When this is true of us, we have fulfilled the intent of the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath commandment.