Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
Recently, The Ten Commandments has become a matter of public interest as immorality and atheism has asserted themselves. This has come into view as liberal and America’s culture has suffered from Post Modernistic influence. The latter has the basic view that there is no absolute truth! This is a contradiction in its own assertion. For insisting on this pronouncement as absolute, they are in concept affirming what they assert is not true! They say ABSOLUTELY: there is no absolute truth!
As apostate atheistic influences gained ground with the result of corrupting and destroying the lives of large sections of our society, conservative people began promoting the Ten Commandments even in public places. This is not inconsistent with periods of revival in both Israeli and Church history.
The Ten Commandments were given to Israel to form a shorter synopsis of the abiding character for their culture. They were not a full expression of Israel’s legal and moral system. In the revelation given trough Moses a great number of regulations for acceptable conduct were given.
There were regulations about family roles, what was not permissible in struggles between people, there were procedures in discerning truth, carrying out justice and much more. However, the Ten Commandments were not specifications for spiritual forgiveness and salvation. They were only basic standards for Israel’s cultural life. They are basic principles, because they did not spell out many details of their application. Moses, the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and James indicated that there were detailed instructions of how Israel was to administer the basic principles of the Ten Commandments. This was called: "the whole Law
The first and second Commandments only required that the LORD be their only God, there were many other commandments as to how the Lord was to be honored. Without honoring God as specified in the other instructions of "the whole Law", i.e., to hold to Him was to insult Him. Most of the book of Malachi is occupied with Israel’s dishonoring the LORD in their holding to Him as their God.
Without the sacraments for worship and forgiveness for reconciliation with God and man, the Ten Commandments will only condemn those who would break even one of them (James 2:10). Keeping them could not save any one, because all people are by nature sinners. This is why the angels gave the glorious announcement of Christ’s birth to the shepherds in stead of to the Pharisees whose life was occupied with the study and self righteous keeping of the Law according to their added interpretations. The Shepherds could not do so because their life focused upon their sheep. They could only trust God according to His mercy and love. They looked to God more for His forgiveness like the tax collector praying in the Temple!
God has given basic laws for spiritual and moral conduct as a basic form of righteousness in the manifestation of His existence in the conscience of every person!
". . Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness . ." (Rom 2:14, 15).
Sin, before the Law, was like a virus in that it produced death, but in the administration of justice and sins were not labeled. Not being labeled, sin was a matter of debate: ". . their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,. ." (Rom 2:15).
In the midst of self centered people, most lived in confusion so that government and culture were ineffective. When written law came into being, corrosive bad conduct was labeled and could be dealt with. ". . until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law." (Rom 5:13). Imputed means labeled, accounted for what it is.
This work of the Law, which is more than contained in the Ten Commandments, functioned to show spiritual needs beyond law for justification and sanctification.
"Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." (Gal 3:24, 25).
For ". . by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20).
As justified believers are: "He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons , God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘ Abba! Father!’" (Gal 4:5, 6).
Permanent justification relationship - Once justified always justified!
As God’s children, the Law cannot revoke justification.
"I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul," (2 Sam 7:14, 15).
Faith in God as reliance upon Him, honors Him and produces obedience through a personal relationship of communion with Him according to His Person (John 17:3; 10:27-30; Romans 1:5; 16:25, 26)
Foundational spiritual relationship:
"Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God." (Rom 7:4, 5).
The Law demands the death of the violator which was satisfied in the substitutionary death of Christ. Therefore, the Law cannot condemn the believer as he has received the payment for all sin, past, present, and future! For Jesus died but once for all sin!
Function of the Law - reveal our helplessness:
"What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." (Rom 7:7).
". . so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful." (Rom 7:13).
"For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." (Rom 7:18).
The net result: Embracing Christ for overcoming sanctification:
"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin." (Rom 7:24, 25).
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:3, 4).
By faith focus on the worthiness of Christ:
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory (worthwhileness) of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2 Cor 3:18 and compare Rom 8:1-9).
By this process of faith, the Law leads the conscientious believer to dispar of self and self ability to rely upon the Lord Jesus for both justification and sanctification!
With such benefit the conscientious believer will be led to grateful love towards God, so that one will concentrate upon relying upon Him and not upon how well one keeps the Ten Commandments!
"Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." (Rom 13:10 KJV). For which one of God’s commandment would be broken if love towards others ruled our minds?
Focusing upon Christ gives us the same attitude of love for others (John 3:16) as well as loving dependence on God through Christ.
Review and considerations of the book: "Ten Commandments - Twice Removed" By: Danny Shelton and Shelley Quinn
The contentions with other believers is not really with keeping the Ten Commandments, they center their message on the viability of Sabbath keeping. They write that the Sabbath is "the heart of the Law. (P. 87, par 3)." This subordinates the First Commandment of "no other gods." By doing so they make Sabbath keeping more important than the Lord!
Their contention with basic Bible believers, those who follow Jesus (John 10:27-30), is that they must keep Sabbath to genuinely be saved from the wrath of God. They neglect to understand the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament especially for Gentile believers.
The power of their writing is constant assertion that Sabbath keeping is essential to keeping the moral demands of the righteous requirements of the Ten Commandments! As one person said to the effect, something said - asserted - often enough will be believed as truth!
Their teaching in this book is contradictory and incomplete!
In many places they speak of salvation by grace through faith (p. 45 par 5) (Eph 2:8, 9). "The significance of the great Ten Commandments was that they were the heart of the special covenant God made with Israel." (P.45, par 4). It ". . was perfect – and He added nothing more." (p. 46 par 1). Even in the statements of the Ten Commandments there is change:
Exodus 20:1-5 only commands "no other gods before Me!" In the Deuteronomy 11 version loving God is further commanded not just having "no other gods".
While in Numbers 15:40 God commands: ". . be holy to your God." Holding only to the Lord as God does not require in itself being "holy or loving Him!"
Then there were tithes and offerings commanded (Mal 3:8-10). Then there was the command not only to have no other gods, but to love Him and to instruct successive generations (Deut 6:5).
The authors lack of recognizing that the Church is not Israel is seen in calling the Sabbath "perpetual." The times that Paul went into the Synagogues was to reoffer the Kingdom to Israel, because Christ interceded with the Father not to hold their rejection against them by their crucifying Him. His earthly ministry was offering the Kingdom to Israel which would logically end when they rejected Him as their King.
Peter said that if they would repent and accept Christ, the Kingdom would be immediately given in an immediate return (Acts 3:18-26). This reoffer of the Kingdom was answered as seen through Acts as the Kingdom was preached through out the world associated with Israel until in Rome their rejection was climatic: "Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God (not Kingdom with its Laws) has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen." (Acts 28:28). While Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles, he went to the Jew first, when they refused to believe as a group, he would go to the Gentiles.
That he nor the Apostles and the Church at Jerusalem made the Gentiles assume the distinguishing life style and identifying commandments for Israel is seen in the counsel at Jerusalem. This was concerning Judaisers requiring Gentile believers to live as Jews (Acts 15:1-35). Concerning the Sabbath, it was not included in the things the believing Gentiles were to be concerned with. Further, the Gentile Church no where observed the Sabbath as a part of their spiritual practice.
In stead of Sabbath rest, the rest for them was the rest of faith in Jesus and His Gospel work without meritorious works2
Keeping Sabbath is meritorious, it must be done to really be right with God in Israel. The works that are exhorted, as in James, were to exhibit active faith, not to exhibit Jewish law to keep Sabbath.
One of the most important methods of interpretation of any communication, especially in Scripture, is to discern to whom or for whom something is said, especially commandments!
Jews were required to be circumcised, but it was a disavowal of a faith relationship with Christ in the New Testament (Gal 5:2). They would be "debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (Gal 5:3, 4 KJV).
The book’s authors have largely ignored this rule of interpretation of who is spoken to. They cite Exodus 31:13, 14 which says that Sabbath keeping would be an ongoing distinguishing characteristic of Israel as His special people. Sabbath keeping is nowhere used concerning the Gentile Church!
Another distinguishing characteristic of Israel was the special days that marked the various ways that they are related to God. The New Testament revelation dismisses all day keeping as obligations to the Church life:
"But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain." (Gal 4:9-11).
So day observance is optional, not any one was required by God!
"Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, . ." (Rom 14:4-6).
In Colossians 2:16, Paul instructs them to:
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:" This literally includes the seventh day Sabbath!
In contrast, when the Ten Commandments were given, violation of the Sabbath was not only a matter of judgement, but the judgement of death by stoning even for picking up some sticks (Numb 15:32-36). The Jews even tried to kill the Lord Jesus several times because He down graded strict observance of the Sabbath.
The Lord said that the Sabbath was for the benefit of man and not that man was created for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
It is interesting to speculate that Sabbath observance was not a part of the blessings of Church members. For the contention about the absoluteness of Sabbath observing was used to persecute the Lord.
In the ways of God, when Israel back slid God would chasten them by the removal of blessings. Perhaps, the Lord removed the obligation of Sabbath keeping for the Church as a punishment which was a new entity?
In Christ’s sermon on the Mount, He raised the moral and spiritual level of the Ten Commandments. With the exception of the tenth commandment, they required only outward performance. He explicitly raised the commandments to internal attitudes:
"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; . ." (Matt 5:22).
This is repeated concerning several of the other Ten Commandments. However, as He said, He did not come to destroy the Law, He upgraded it from commanded outward obedience to a transformed inward attitude, the affairs of the heart. Contrary to the authors saying: "He added NO more.!" Rather, He added commandments:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34, 35).
In Matt 28:19, He commanded with all authority in Heaven and on Earth to: "make disciples of all the nations,. ." and to teach "them to observe all that I commanded you . ." (Matt 28:20).
p 50: They imply that there is no difference between the Old Covenant and the New as far as Sabbath keeping - they tend to hide this by pushing the 10 Commandments.
EFL - The Old Covenant was sanctified by the blood of a sacrificial animal – The New Covenant is founded on Jesus blood symbolized in Communion. 1 Cor 11:23-36
The Old demanded works to maintain a justified position Ezekiel 33:12.
The New demands a dependent faith perspective (Heb 11:6).
P. 24 They make performance necessary for salvation from 1 John 2:3, 4. This must be understood as an attitude, not a works salvation. Jesus said: "the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit (attitude) and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers." (John 4:23-24).
"In Spirit" means attitude of dependence (John 8:31-35; Phil 3:12-14), not in a legalistic sense of (authors assertion to include Sabbath keeping) James 2:10. Faith starts on a minimal level such as faith upon Jesus work on the Cross (1 Cor 15:1-3) - recognizing Who Christ was and had confessing faith that saves - Rom 10:8, 9; Matthew 10:32.
Also: "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him." 1 John 2:29 - Following Him (John 10:27). The story of the Apostles following Jesus was a growing experience as they learned more, not a keeping of a code (Phil 3:12-14; 2 Cor 3:18).
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises . 7 A New Covenant For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says, . ." (Heb 8:6-8). When He said, "’A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear." Heb 8:13
The strength of their argument is the contention that the 10 Commands, especially the Sabbath command, is based upon the creation’s 7th day where God rested, are based on the original creation, but when Christ rose from the dead He began a New Creation (1 Cor15:45-49; 2 Cor 5:17). Therefore, the Sabbath has no basis for the born again, for that one is a part of a new, eternal creation, not the old that is ruined by sin.
p. 24 -They define sin from 1 John 3:4 as lawlessness , from which they would promote Sabbath keeping implying that this is necessary to the salvation experience. They write that it is "the only clear definition of sin in the Bible. (Yet there is Romans 1 & 3:23). Sin is lawlessness, the breaking of God’s Law -" p..24 par 6. This is making real salvation into a system of works. Which they define, at one time including the habit of being a vegetarian. This comes close to a mark of apostasy! For 1 Timothy 4:1-3 lists forbidding certain foods as a mark of apostasy! The weakness of this is that they haven’t proved that Sabbath keeping applies to the Gentile Church! They simply contend that it is an eternal commandment.
The Sabbath is specifically said by God to be a sign between Him and Israel- no such thing is applied to the Church.
Indeed, Acts 20:6, 7 have the Church meeting on the first day of the week and in 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.
They ignore that in Acts 20:6, 7, Paul was pressed for time in his schedule to get to Jerusalem. For after preaching all night, he went walking immediately to catch a ship. But he had stayed there seven days waiting to meet with the Church, if they worshiped on the Sabbath, he would have met with them then!
In 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2, they say that laying aside their gift for the poor saints in Jerusalem was a private thing. But why "the first day of the week"? Paul said this "putting aside" to be done as a practice on the first day of the week, not only for the Corinthian Church, but the Gelatin Churches," to lay aside" their giving on the "first day of the week" "the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper."
His stated purpose was that there "so that no collections be made when I come." If the laying aside had been privately, there would have been collections when he came!
Therefore, the Gentile Churches were meeting on the first day of the week, not on the Sabbath!
Paul was very sensitive that they knew that he personally was not like their philosophers that taught for money, so he did not want money collecting to be associated with his arrival (2 Cor 12:14-18)!
While it is commendable for them to want to obey God according to His Word, but it can be disasters when interpretation inaccurately makes the believer dependant upon "works of righteousness," Sabbath keeping, for genuine salvation rather than on "obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; 16:25, 26). Sabbath speaks of rest, not legalism, a have to do or die.
"He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).
1 Deut 4:8; Matt 22:40; Gal 5:3, 14, and James 2:10
2 Matt 11:28, 29; Rom 4:1-6; 1 Cor 2:5; Heb 3:11, 18; 4:1-11