ARE WE UNDER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?Pastor Don Fortner
Grace Baptist Church of Danville
2734 Old Stanford Road
Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Recently I received a letter from a friend in another state asking me this question, "Are we under the ten commandments as a principle in our lives? The answer to that question is most important to us all. Therefore, I will attempt to answer it publicly in this article.
Let me state emphatically that there is no sense in which the believer is under the law. We observe no covenant with the law, no ceremony of the law, and no commitment to the law. And we fear no curse from the law. In the fullest sense of the word, we are free! In writing to the Galatians about the moral law (and we know that it was the moral law and not the ceremonial law that is in question, because he quotes directly from Deuteronomy 27:26, a passage dealing specifically with the moral law) the Apostle Paul said, "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." And he calls it foolish and bewitching for a man to suppose that he can be either justified or sanctified by the law. In every respect, "Christ is the end of the law's types, ceremonies, covenants, and commandments. Our legal and moral commitment to the law of God was fully satisfied in the Representative Life and Substitutionary Death of the Lord Jesus Christ in our stead.
But I must, with equal emphasis, say the believer has neither the desire nor the liberty to break the law of God in any point. We are not antinomians (Lawless or against the law) though he may lay that hidious charge against us for insisting upon our freedom from the law, even as they did against the Apostle Paul. But the law is not our principle of life.
Are we then without principle? Do we have no law? Perish the thought! We have a higher law and a nobler principle than any legalist ever devised. If we would please God, we must keep his commandment. "And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave his commandment." Here is the law of Christ's kingdom, Faith and Love. The only grounds for our acceptance with God, either for justification or sanctification, is faith in the righteousness and shed blood of Christ. And the only principle motivating and ruling our lives is the love of Christ, the love implanted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit for our Lord and our fellow man. It is not the fear of the law that keeps us from idolatry, blasphemy, and crimes against God. It is the love for God. It is not the fear of the law that keeps us from lying, stealing, murder, and crimes against men. It is love for our neighbor. Where there is love there is no need for law.
The law is bondage, suitable for slaves. The gospel is freedom, such as children enjoy. The legalist tithes because he is afraid not to. The believer gives generously because he loves Christ. The legalist strictly observes what he calls the sabbath day because he is afraid God will punish him if he breaks it. The believer has ceased from his own works and comes to rest in Christ, the true Sabbath. The difference is indeed a matter of principle. The principle motivating the legalist and ruling his life is fear and works, hoping to gain acceptance with God either for justification or sanctification on the basis of his obedience to the law. The believer's principle of life is faith in Christ, his rule of his love, and his motivation in life is the glory of Christ.
Is the law therefore useless? Certainly not! The law, with its strict requirements of perfect righteousness, stops the sinner's mouth, convicting him and condemning him for sins and sentencing him to death. The law slays the sinner. The law shuts the sinner up to Christ. The law strikes terror in the sinner's conscience and forces him to seek another refuge, even the Lord our Righteousness. I say, preach the law to expose sin! Preach the law to point men to Christ! But do not make the law a grounds for acceptance with God, a motive for Christian service, or a principle of life. It was never designed for that purpose. "The law is good if a man uses it lawfully." The only lawful use of the law is for an ungodly man, and then only to shut him up to Christ. It was not made for a man who is made righteous in Christ Jesus. "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." Brethen, let no man bring you again under the yoke of bondage. The law has no claim upon the believer. Christ alone is our Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. Resting in Christ alone and trusting only his merit, we gratefully sing--
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and,bruised by the fall,
Grace hath redeemed us, once and for all.
Now we are free, there is no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation!"