Monday, May 30, 2016

The Law of God?

               What do the Ten Commandments have to do with us as Christians today? Do they still apply to our lives? Do we still have to obey them? Believe it or not, this is a question I get asked a lot by new believers. They are confused about the Law and not sure what the right answer is. If Christ came to fulfill the Law, then why do we have to keep the Law? Is there a right answer to these questions? I think first to answer these questions we must know what the Law is and what its purpose in the life of a believer is.
               The Law of God was given to the children of Israel as they made their way from Egypt to the promised land. In Exodus 20 God gives the Ten Commandments to His children. The Commandments are God’s Law. They were given to teach the children of God how to live in relationship with Him and with one another. Remember, God has called a people for His own for the sole purpose of being their God, and for them to be His people. God’s desire to live in intimate relationship with His creation has not changed since the day He created Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. God’s greatest desire is to live with you, and in you, fully and completely. That has never changed.
               The Ten Commandments are the Law of God. The first four Commandments teach us how to live in relationship to God. They teach us how to live a holy life with our Holy God. The last six commandments teach us how God wants us to live in relationship to one another. The Ten Commandments are God’s standard for living. They are given to us so that we can live the life that God has called us to live. They are not suggestions, they are Commandments. But still the question remains, do these Ten Commandments apply to us as Christians today? We have grace now, we have the blood of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to keep these commandments any more, do we? Jesus says we do.
               “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19 ESV
               Christ did not come to do away with the Law so that we don’t have to do what it says anymore. He did not come so that we could sin without consequences. He came so that the requirements to keep the whole law all the time, perfectly, could be met. Not by us, but by Him. His death on the cross did not destroy or overthrown the Law, His death completed the requirements that breaking the Law of God demanded. He completed the justice of the Law. His death completed the penalty of breaking the Law so that we might have forgiveness when we break that same Law.
               God’s standards for us to live a holy life in relationship with Him has never changed. He has always desired it, but sin has kept us from living that holy life with Him. Sin comes with a penalty. That penalty is death and the shame and the guilt that follows it. But God made a way for us to escape the power that sin and death has over us. God made a way for us to live in relationship with Him. God made a way for us to be holy. He sent Jesus His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. He fulfilled the requirements that sin demanded, but not the consequences. Sin demanded death and He fulfilled it. But the Law- God’s standards -still remained.
               Jesus says that “whoever relaxes one of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Grace is not our excuse to live a life of sin. You cannot live in sin and call yourself a friend of God. God’s standards are still the same- live a holy life- period. The definition of “relaxes” means to break or render something no longer binding. If you say that the Law, The Ten Commandments, no longer have any power of your life then you are basically saying that God has no power over your life. If you say that the Law is not binding and it is okay to break as many commandments as you want because we have Grace, then you are saying that God’s standards for how you need to live your life is worthless, pointless and have no place in your life at all.
               The Ten Commandments still teach us how to live in relationship to God and relationship to our fellow man. They are God’s instructions on how to live a holy life. If we “dumb down” His commandments, and try to say they no longer have a place in our lives, then we are rejecting God and His will for our lives. It is really that plain and that simple. The Commandments of God, the Law of God apply to us today just as much as they did the day God spoke them to the children of Israel.
               If we try to use grace as an excuse for our sin, then we have misused and mistreated the cross of Jesus Christ. His blood was shed for the remission of sins. His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin. It was not shed as a free pass for you to sin. You must make a choice today to either leave your sins and follow Christ, or live in your sins without Christ. You cannot have both.
               We have been freed from the power that sin had over us. We have been freed from the guilt and the shame that sin brought upon us, but we have not been freed from living the holy life that God commands of us. Grace is not your excuse to live the way that you choose.
               “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1 ESV

               Certainly not! Christ’s sacrifice is not an excuse for your sins. Christ’s sacrifice is the forgiveness of those sins when you transgress God’s Law. You cannot throw out the Law of God, it still applies to your life today. You want to live in relationship to God, but you don’t want to keep His commandments. You want a life of blessing and joy and peace, but you do not want to follow the instructions God has given you to live that life. You want but you are not willing to do. The Law is alive and has a place in your life. It is what the Holy Spirit uses to convict you of your sin. Grace is not an excuse my brother and sister, grace is a gift. Don’t abuse the gift of God just because you don’t want to follow the Commandments of God. Amen?