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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 10 Commandments

FAQ from Adventism

1. The 10 Commandments are God's holy, eternal, moral law - How can you say they have changed? God doesn't change, therefore His law cannot change...
  • First, we must recognize that not once in the Bible are the 10 Commandments called God's eternal, holy, moral law. Instead, they are called the words of the old covenant which ends and is replaced by a new covenant (Ex. 32:15-16, Ex. 34:27-28, Deut. 4:13, Deut. 9:9-11 & 15, Deut. 10:3-8, 1 Kings 8:9 & 21, 2 Chron. 5:10 & 6:11, 2 Cor. 3:3-11, Heb. 9:4, Gal. 4:21-31, Heb. 8, Heb. 10:9 & 16, Is. 49:8, Jer. 31:31-33, Mal. 3:1, Heb. 7:22).
  • In the Bible, "The law", "the Lord's law", "your law" "Moses' law" are used interchangeably (a few examples - 2 Chron. 31:3-4, Luke 2:22-24 & 39, John 10:34). They all refer to the WHOLE law - all 613 individual commands (including the 10 Commandments) give to the Israelites (Deut. 12:32, 2 Chron. 33:8). Not once in the Bible does it say, "These commands are moral, these over here are ceremonial, and these are civil - only the moral laws and a few of the civil laws carry over to Christians." That is something completely man-made. Moral commands are mixed throughout the laws - not just in the 10 Commandments. And the "most important" commands in the law aren't even in the 10 Commandments but are from what many consider to be simply "civil" laws or the "rest" of the law (Matt. 22:34-40, Deut. 6:5, Lev. 19:18).
  • When we read the Bible, we will note that God gave many commands to many different people throughout history. In Gen. 6:14, God tells Noah to build an ark. We don't apply that verse to us because we understand it was given to a specific person for a specific reason. We don't think God changed who He is because he doesn't ask us to build an ark, too. In Gen. 22:2, God tells Abraham to offer up his son as a sacrifice. We don't apply that verse to us, and we don't think God changed who He is because He doesn't ask us to sacrifice our children. One of the laws given to the Israelites (which were part of the whole law - including the 10 Commandments), was in Lev. 19:27 - "'Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.'" I have yet to meet someone that believes this applies to them. And yet we don't think God has changed His character because He asks different things of different people.
  • In summary, "the law" refers to all 613 commands given by God through Moses to the Children of Israel. The Bible doesn't separate them into moral, ceremonial, and civil laws - they are all mixed up together, and they were all important to keep since they were given by God. Just because God gives different commands to different people doesn't mean that HE changes. The law was given to a certain group of people at a certain time for a certain time span and for a certain purpose. Gal. 3:17, 19 - "What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise... What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come..." John 1:45 - "...'We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and also about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth..."
2. So basically you want to say that Christians are under 9 of the 10 Commandments but just throw out the Sabbath?
  • Think about it... That's the same as saying, "So basically you want to say that Christians are under 57 of the 613 laws but just throw out the rest?" Just because some of the same commands are given to Christians doesn't mean that the original law as a whole applies to us. I've heard this illustration before, but I'll borrow it for this blog (sorry - I'm not sure who it originally came from). As a citizen of the United States, certain rules apply. If you were to move to Canada, the laws would change. We wouldn't accuse them of taking the United States' laws and just throwing out some of them. Instead, it's a whole new law.
  • Not once are Christians told that we are under the 10 Commandments or the whole Mosaic law. In fact, the opposite is true. In order to be "under" the Mosaic law and have ANY of the law apply to you (including the 10 Commandments) you had to be circumcised (Ex. 12:48, Acts 15:5, Rom. 2:25-26). Once you were circumcised, you were obligated to keep the WHOLE law. In Acts 15, the apostles were faced with this very issue in the new Christian church. Some people were saying that Christians should be circumcised and keep the WHOLE law (including the 10 Commandments), but the apostles said that wasn't necessary. Instead, they laid out some basic commands that happen to be some of the Noahide laws (which to the Jews were meant for all non-Jews, or all of mankind).
  • So, are we under the old covenant or the 10 Commandments? The Bible gives us ample evidence for this one - The Transfiguration speaks volumes. Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus. Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets. When the disciples offered to build a shelter to honor each of them, Moses & Elijah (the Law & the Prophets) disappeared and only Jesus remained. God spoke saying, "'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'" (Matt. 17:5) The Law & the Prophets served their purpose - to point to Jesus - but when Jesus came we have the real thing so we don't need to continue focusing on the "roadsigns". Jesus came to fulfill the Law & the Prophets (Matt. 5:17 & 18, Luke 24:27 & 44, John 1:45, John 5:39 & 46, John 19:28, Acts 13:29, Acts 24:14, Acts 26:22-23, Acts 28:23). When we focus on the old covenant (remember, the Bible says the 10 Commandments were the very words of the old covenant), a veil is over our heart - 2 Cor. 3:14-15 - "But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts."
3. But doesn't the Bible say that if we love God we will keep the 10 Commandments?
  • Actually, it doesn't. Let's see what it DOES say. The verse you are referring to is John 14:15 - "If ye love me, keep my commandments" KJV. The NIV is much clearer - "If you love me, keep my commands." (in other words, Jesus' commands) But since KJV is the version of choice for Adventists, let's look at the original Greek word. The word used here for commands is "entole". The word used for law (including the 10 Commandments) is "nomos"). They are not referring to the same thing. Yes, if we love God we will want to obey Him, but we must be careful to understand WHAT He asks us to follow.
  • John 6:28-29 is a good starting place. We are asking the same question - "Then they asked him, 'What must we do to do the works God requires?' Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" 1 John 3:23 says the same thing and adds love to the equation - "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." In the new covenant, we are told again and again to believe in Jesus and to love one another. THAT is what God asks of US. (Rom. 13:8 & 10, 1 Cor. 13, Gal. 5:1-14, 1 Thess. 4:9, all of 1 John, 2 John 6)
  • For specific guidelines in everyday living, we are under the law of Christ now (Gal. 6:2). We look to Jesus now, not the Law or the Prophets (Matt. 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). "If you love me, keep MY commands." (John 14:15 - emphasis is mine).

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