Q: “As Christians who are 'saved by grace,' how should we respond to the Ten Commandments?”
A: True Christians, genuine believers, know that they have been saved by grace, not by our works or the good things we might do to try to win “points” with God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Even though we are under “grace” today, God’s commandments still stand. The Ten Commandments were given to man to show us our shortcomings. They were kind of an “instruction manual” to show us what sin actually is and to help keep us on the right path toward Heaven. For man, the Ten Commandments were a goal that could not be reached as it is impossible for us human kritters to keep all the Commandments and never make a mistake. Let’s take a look at God’s Commandments as found in Exodus 20.
1). I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2). Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.
3). Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.
4). Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5). Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6). Thou shalt not kill.
7). Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8). Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10). Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
If we think about it, some of us might have a pretty good shot at keeping some of the Commandments, but the problem is that if we break one Commandment we are guilty of breaking them all....not too good of odds for us to make it to Heaven by trying to keep all the Commandments. We find that explained in James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
First John 1:8 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. As tough as the Ten Commandments were, the Hebrews added some 600 additional dos and don’ts to the list to clarify exactly what God was saying -- kind of like today’s pundits explaining what the President really meant in a speech so we common folks can understand it.
So then did Jesus’ arrival eliminate the need the law or the Ten Commandments? Absolutely not. Jesus spoke quite the contrary in Matthew 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill...For verily I say unto you, ‘til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, ‘til all be fulfilled.”
Unlike the way of mankind, complicating things, Jesus had a way of keeping things powerful simple. Jesus summed up all the Commandments into just two Commandments, and if we read them you will quickly realize that if we keep those two Commandments of Jesus all the rest will fall right into place. Matthew 22:36-40.... “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’”
Not only should we not covet. We should also look out for others and share in the joy of what others have. Not only should we not murder. We should preserve and protect life. We should not even hold anger or hatred in our hearts. (Matthew 5:22)....The Ten Commandments are a reflection of where our heart’s desires are. Grace is like a surgeon’s scalpel in the hand of God that dissects our heart and changes our desires. I’m gonna close with Ezekiel 36:26 where it says.... “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”