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Sunday, February 12, 2012

An unchanging God = eternal 10 Commandments?

One of the main arguments in favor of the 10 Commandments being eternal is that they are the embodiment of God's character and since God never changes, His law can't change. Let's look at this for a moment. First of all, any command God gives won't go AGAINST His character. But that doesn't mean that all commands given by Him are eternal and can't change. Through His commands we learn something - about Him or about life in general. But if He give different commands to different people, that doesn't at all mean He changed His mind or that He changed.

We have no problem applying that to other commands/laws/statutes given by God. God commanded Noah to build an ark. Just because He doesn't require the same thing from you & I doesn't mean that God Himself has changed. God commanded the Children of Israel to stone blasphemers and Sabbath-breakers. Has He changed or should we still be doing this? God commanded Noah to preach against Nineveh. Do we think He has changed who He is simply because He doesn't ask the exact same of us? Even whole law-systems don't necessarily apply to everyone - the 613 laws God gave to the Israelites is a perfect example of that. And yet we don't think God Himself changed even though these laws don't apply to Christians.

The problem with this scenario is that often the 10 Commandments are just assumed to be God's eternal, all-encompassing moral law. No one bothers to establish that fact first. Yes, if the 10 Commandments are this, then it wouldn't make sense for God to change them. But we first have to determine what God's unchanging law is. I haven't found a verse in my Bible that tells me this about the 10 Commandments. If I've missed it, I would love to see it. I have asked before, but no one has answered. For whatever reason, it's considered acceptable to just assume this, but it's not ok to ask for Biblical proof...?

What I have found (and what initially I was shocked to find) is that the Bible repeatedly calls the 10 Commandments the very words of the old covenant which was replaced by the new covenant when Jesus died. 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, 2 Chron. 6:11, 2 Cor. 3:3-11, Heb. 9:4, 2 Cor. 3, Gal. 4:21-31, Heb. 8:13, Heb. 10:9, 2 Cor. 3:6-11, Heb. 8, and many more.

While the Bible does talk about an eternal law, I don't see Biblical evidence for the 10 Commandments being that. Instead, the evidence is overwhelming that God's eternal law (and the very character of WHO He is) is love. Matt. 22:36-40, John 15:12 & 17, Rom. 13:8-10, 1 Cor. 13, Gal. 5:6-14, Gal. 6:2, 1 Thess. 3:12, 1 Thess. 4:9, all of 1 John, 2 John 5-6, and many more.

Love is what is stressed in the new covenant (and it's in the old covenant as well). When you truly love God and love your neighbor, you don't have to be given a set of rules to follow. Rules just manage outward behavior - God wants a change of heart.

Some want it both ways. They say it's supposed to be a change of heart, but you still need the list of rules (you just need to internalize them). The problem with that is that under the old covenant they were told to internalize them as well. Deut. 6:5-9, Joshua 1:8, Prov. 7:1-3. So if the laws are the same (the 10 Commandments) and the application is the same (in the heart & change outward behavior), what is the difference between the old & new covenants?

Jesus gave us lots of specifics to follow when He was here. If we are going to focus on something, why not focus on those? Why focus on the words of the old covenant? The Bible even warns against that and tells us we won't be able to understand the new as long as we focus on the old (and remember, the 10 Commandments are the very words of the old covenant).

"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. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2 Cor. 3:14-16

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