“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
The Law was established by God and, like all things He creates, is good. (Rom 7:12) The Law was designed to show man in vivid detail that he is unable to keep it, because the Law is not about the physical. The Law is about the spiritual. So, what exactly is the Law?
Most know it as the Ten Commandments, so we’ll focus there. When Jesus describes a few of them, He explains the problem with man is in his heart. Our hearts are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who could know it?” (Jer 17:9) Of course, this means that even when we think we are doing well, our own hearts have tricked us into complacency. Our problem then is that God looks at our hearts. He not only sees the actions we perform, but He sees the motives in our heart that drives those actions. So, let’s quickly break down each of the Ten Commandments and see that there is not one we can keep.
1. I am the Lord thy God. You shall have no other gods before Me.
The very first commandment says that there should be nothing more important to us than God. He should be our all in all, but is He? When we are not in right relationship, trusting in God for all things, in whom do we trust? The answer to that is, generally speaking, self. When we find fear of losing our job to be more important than taking a stand for God in our workplace, we are trusting in self. When we focus on our religious activity instead of our relationship with God, we are trusting in the works of our own hands, which is self. Self has always been the biggest problem with man. Adam started it off when he thought of his own desires to be with Eve, the creation, over God, the Creator. Most of us, at least once in our lives, have focused on ourselves over God. That, in essence places us upon the throne which belongs to God, usurping Him in our hearts. Thus, we’ve broken commandment numero uno.
2. You shall not make any graven images.
There are many graven images that are being worshipped in this world we live in, but we are looking as God does, at the heart. What could be a graven image? Anything which exists that we make a representation of would fall into this category. As an example, if we have someone with whom with feel we cannot live without, and our focus is upon them, we know what that person looks like, and as we dwell on their image in our minds as we think on them, instead of dwelling upon the Lord, we could very well have constructed an image which we are worshipping in our heart. Money also falls into this category. We can worship the almighty dollar to the extent of doing whatever it takes to obtain more of it, forsaking God in the process. That might be an idol that would replace God on the throne of heart and so the line blurs between this commandment on the first, but the idea is that the things we dwell on that actually exist in our lives become images we focus upon internally. That would break this second commandment.
3. You shall not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
This commandment is like the first. Just because we might not say the Name of Jesus Christ in a demeaning way, nor might we say “GD,” we may still take the name of Jesus in vain. When we grumble against our trials and our tribulations, being unthankful and ungrateful for the provision God has provided, we take His Name in vain. When we blame Him for what we go through instead of ourselves, we take His Name in vain. It need not be spoken with our lips, brethren. Our hearts still talk, just like Abel’s blood did from the ground, and God hears our hearts. Thus, we’ve broken commandment three.
4. Keep holy the Sabbath day.
The Sabbath was intended by God to demonstrate to us that we need to rest from our efforts. There was no need for the God Elohim to have rested after the six days of creation. He never tires, nor grows weary, because He is God! So, He rested to show us that we must also rest, but the rest we must have in the Sabbath was a foreshadowing of the coming Christ, Who would provide to us the ultimate rest in His Sacrifice. Now, we are no longer obligated to rest in one day. We are obligated to rest every day, for we are to remain hidden in Christ Jesus and reliant upon Him for all things. That is not to say we won’t work. If we are truly resting in Christ, we will be working tirelessly for His Kingdom. Our rest is trust, peace, and joy found in no longer laboring to obtain God’s favor. We have it. We just need to believe that, and when we stumble and try to do things which we think will bring more of His favor upon us, we are not resting in Him, and therefore, we’ve broken this fourth commandment.
5. Honor your father and mother.
If ever we have argued with one of our parents, or gotten angry at them, or simply despised something about them without ever vocalizing it, we have not kept this commandment. It’s fairly simple, but true. It’s what is in our heart. If, as we have aged, we have not followed through in helping our aging parents in the transitioning toward their own death with peace and joy, and especially if we have not shared with them the gospel of Truth as they approach their final hours, guess what? That would not be honoring them. If we are honoring them, we’d want them to know where they should want to go and how to get there, out of love alone. They may despise us for it, but we surely don’t wish for our own parents to perish eternally. And if we haven’t shared with them the Truth, we’ve broken the fifth commandment.
6. You shall not kill.
This one was addressed in the scriptures. “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer:” (1 John 3:15) This is pretty clear when we look at it through God’s eyes. He looks at the heart, and so if we hate them, in our hearts we have killed them. God counts that as having broken the sixth commandment.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
This one is also covered in scripture, in the words of Jesus Himself. “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matt 5:28) Every man I know, at some point in his life, even if it was only once when he first began puberty, has done this; and, from what I can tell from the way the world is changing and becoming more open about sin, women do the same toward men. We’ve all broken the seventh commandment.
8. You shall not steal.
If ever any of us have taken from another something which did not belong to us without the owner’s permission or consent, we’ve stolen it. We may have to go all the way back to being toddlers in the crib with another toddler and have taken his toy. Most likely, all of us have “borrowed” ink pens, paper, or some other office supplies. From quarters in telephones, to cheating on taxes, and all things between, we’ve broken the eighth commandment.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Little white lies are what catch most people. You know the so called harmless ones that everybody tells one another. No, those jeans do not make your butt look big. Yes, I did my homework already. I don’t know. Any lie, for any reason, will eventually be found out, and the damage that lies do is astronomical. It may seem like nothing, but every little lie found out will destroy trust, even if only fractionally. Besides that fact, lies are the tools of the devil. He is the great Deceiver and his small lies are enough to topple the faith of many, many people. He lies to get us to succumb to his will, not God’s. Why would we emulate him in any way? Any lie at all breaks commandment nine.
10. You shall not covet.
That Ferrari in the neighbor’s driveway… The riding mower that makes mowing look fun… The motorcycle that would make us feel young again… His wife… His money… His house… His blessings which we don’t have… Covetousness places enmity between us and our neighbor, even if he is unawares, and between us and God. Why us and God? Because we are saying all that He has blessed us with is not enough. We want more. We desire what someone else has, and have made God’s blessing as nothing in our heart. What’s worse is that God’s ultimate blessing is made to seem as nothing. When we desire more and say that this is not enough, we are saying that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough to satisfy us. We need to realize we have all we need in Christ Jesus and be content with what we have. Oh! How we shame the Cross when we break this tenth commandment.
And so we see how it isn’t just about breaking these commandments in the physical. The Law shows us this, and Christ explains it, but the message He gives Paul about our lives as believers is the most encouraging thing of all. See, the Law could not save us. It is good, and it is wonderful, but since we are found guilty under it, even if we only break one of the commandments, we must be judged accordingly. God is righteous to judge us and is bound by His Own Righteousness to do so. So, in His infinite wisdom and love, He did the only thing he could do, and that is pay the penalty for us. Death is the price of Sin (Rom 6:23a), and so Christ died on that Cross that we might not have to die the eternal death. It was His gift to us that we might experience eternal life through Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23b) And so, we no longer have to be judged under the Law. Christ did that for us, taking our judgment that we don’t have to. This makes the Law obsolete, but it is not useless to us. It is still a set of guidelines to live by. Paul says this when he writes, “we establish the law.” This is right and true, because God said:
“I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:16b&17
So, we know that the Law is within us and we are given the desire to serve God with all that we have to follow the guidelines established in the Law. And, as we are new creatures in Christ, we are free from the bonds of sin that caused us to break the commandments to begin with. This does not mean we cannot sin again in breaking them, nor does it mean we will not become tempted to. We will without a doubt be tempted and tried, but Jesus simplified it for us. He told us this:
“Though 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 neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
If we are believing in Christ for all things, walking in the Spirit, we will have the fruit of the Spirit, which is Love. God is Love and He not only tells us to love, but He showed us how to love. He lived His life sacrificially and in the end, He showed us the greatest love, for “greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) He laid His life down for us, His friends. He follows this statement with an exhortation. He said, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command.” (John 15:14) He gave us the commands. Love God; love one another. If we follow those two commands, on which the Law hangs, we will be following the Law, or rather establishing it before others. In faith, we follow the Lord. In faith, we do not ignore the Law; we demonstrate it to others, even when we fail. Faith in Christ allows the flowing of the Holy Spirit in us and through us, and the Love of God will be demonstrated. It is His Love that keeps the commandments, having fulfilled them to the Cross. Abide in His Love, brothers and sisters.