We are left with no room to debate or doubt the relevance of the Moral Law (i.e. the Ten Commandments or Decalogue) in the daily life of all who trust in Christ for salvation. We are clearly taught in the New Testament that faith in Christ does not nullify the relevance of the Law in the lives of Christians; rather, Christians are to give the Law the uncompromising place God has always intended and demanded in their lives.
While discussing the Law and justification, the Apostle Paul declared in Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Though the Law cannot justify us before God (cf. Romans 3:28) – for we are justified by faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the Law is still very relevant to our Christian walk. Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not negate the relevance of the Law.
The following teachings of the New Testament further explain the perennial significance of the Ten Commandments in a Christian’s life.
Romans 3:20 says, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” When we bring our thoughts, words and actions under the light of the Law of God, it will show up our transgressions of His holy Law. The Apostle John teaches that “whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4).
Without the Law, man will remain unaware of his sins. In Romans 7:7, Paul elaborates this truth even further - “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Furthermore, “without the law sin was dead” (Romans 7:8), and “where no law is, there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). The Law awakens our souls to the presence of sin within us. In other words, without the light of the Law, the ugliness of the stains of sins will remain unnoticed in the darkened souls of men.
If the Law of God is not preached and applied in the lives of the people, sins will abound even in Christian congregations. Antinomian (doing away with the law) tendencies will take deep root in individuals, families and communities. Where the Law of God is not preached, there will be no conviction of sins and no crying out, “Who shall save me from this life of sin?”
Romans 3:19 says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.”
The ministry of the Law is to stop anyone who dares to speak of himself as righteous by holding him guilty before the holiness of God. No one can argue in his own defence that he is not under sin and God’s wrath. As the Law holds up God’s holy standards, it also shows that the whole world is guilty before God.
To the guilty world, it proclaims God’s just wrath. In Romans 4:15, Paul wrote that “the law worketh wrath”. The same truth is also found in 1 Corinthians 15:56 – “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” The righteous Law of God declares to every man not only his sin, but also his condemnation, even eternal death. Thus the Law urges sinners to run to the Saviour for eternal life.
The Moral Law not only convicts sinners of their sins and warns about their eternal condemnation; it also points them to Christ, the Saviour. Galatians 3:24 declares, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The Law never distracts us from Christ, it only leads us to Him. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4).
The Law clearly tells every man that he cannot be justified through the Law. While talking about our justification before God, the Apostle Paul said, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Paul then continued, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Galatians 2:19). In other words, when a man seeks to be justified through the Law, he finds himself under death, being condemned by the Law for his many transgressions. He is then led to believe on Christ, that he might live unto God. The Law points mankind to Christ, because He alone has fulfilled all the righteousness of the Law (cf. Matthew 5:17), that we might be imputed with His righteousness. Moreover, Christ also has borne the curse of the Law for our sin and died on the cross. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
Jesus did not come to this world apart from the Law, but fully in submission to all its requirements. This is so that He might fulfil not only all its righteousness on our behalf, but also to take away its curse that was upon us. Paul wrote, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4- 5). In Romans 8, Paul reiterated, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vv. 3-4). Therefore, we can most assuredly say that the Law does not divert us from Christ, for it draws us inexorably towards Him. Neither does Christ do away with the Law, for He has affirmed and fulfilled the righteousness of the Law.
(to be continued next week)