“All I Do is Follow the Ten Commandments”
“All I do is follow the ten commandments” seems to be a popular thought when it comes to the world’s view of faithful Christian living. Certainly these commandments are righteous because they came from God (Exodus 20:1-2). But many are surprised to find that the Bible teaches we are no longer under this law. Can one get to heaven simply by following the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews only. When God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai he was giving the law for Moses and Israel to keep (Exodus 34:27-28). This law was never given to the Gentiles. In fact, the commandments created separation between the Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:13-16). When Christ came, he removed this wall of partition that we might all be one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:27-29).
The Ten Commandments are just a small part of the Law of Moses which is given throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Bible teaches concerning law that when we break the law in one part we break the entire law (James 2:10). If we keep the Ten Commandments perfectly, but ignore the laws about animal sacrifices or traveling annually to Jerusalem for the Passover, we violate the entire law.
The Ten Commandments were a temporary law. Galatians 3:14-25 teaches that the law was only for the purposes of exposing sin and bringing us to Christ. Notice Paul writes, “Wherefore 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” (Galatians 3:24-25). The law of Moses was never meant to last forever.
Following both the Ten Commandments and the law of Christ is spiritual adultery. Romans 7:1-4 talks about living under a law and uses the illustration of marriage. If you are married to two people at once you are an adulterer, but if your spouse passes away you are free to marry another. Likewise, Romans 7:4 teaches, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
The Ten Commandments have been abolished. Romans 7:6 teaches that we are “delivered from the law.” Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18 that he came to fulfill the law. Finally Paul concludes that the law was nailed to the cross and is no longer against us (Colossians 2:14-17). The Ten Commandments no longer apply to the Jews or the Gentiles. All men are under the law of Christ today.
If the Ten Commandments are abolished, does that mean we can kill, steal, covet, or take the Lord’s name in vain? Obviously not, because the new covenant either implicitly or explicitly teaches that we must not kill, steal, covet, or take the Lord’s name in vain. Consider the laws of other countries. Most civil governments have passed laws that forbid murder. When you, as an American, choose not to murder, are you following the law of France? No; you are not under the law of France, you are under the law of the United States of America. Just because the law of France forbids murder does not mean we are under that law. We avoid the sins listed in the Ten Commandments because we are under the law of Christ. We do not follow the law of Moses.
If the Ten Commandments are abolished, does that mean the Old Testament is useless? The Bible teaches that we are to learn from the examples in the Old Testament (Romans 15:4). So say Paul, Peter, Jude, and others as they wrote to the first century Christians, many of whom were struggling with the change from the old to the new law. The Ten Commandments cannot get us to heaven today. There is only one way to reach the Father, Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and He brought His own law.