Deuteronomy 31:24-26, NIV, “After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.”
We live in an age where many in the Church dismiss any type of law. Professor John Murray had this to say about the commandments of God:
“It is symptomatic of a pattern of thought current in many evangelical circles that the idea of keeping the commandments of God is not consonant with the liberty and spontaneity of the Christian man, that keeping the law has its affinities with legalism and with the principle of works rather than with the principle of grace. It is strange indeed that this kind of antipathy to the notion of keeping commandments should be entertained by any believer who is a serious student of the New Testament. Did not our Lord say, ‘If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15)? And did he not say, ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love’ (John 15:10)? It was John who recorded these sayings of our Lord and it was he, of all the disciples, who was mindful of the Lord’s teaching and example regarding love, and reproduces that teaching so conspicuously in his first Epistle. We catch something of the tenderness of his entreaty when he writes, ‘Little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and truth’ (I John 3:18), ‘Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God” (I John 4:7). But the message of John has escaped us if we have failed to note John’s emphasis upon the keeping of the commandments of God. ‘And by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps his word, in him verily the love of God is made perfect’ (I John 2:3-5). ‘Beloved, if our heart does not condemn, we have confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do those things that are well-pleasing in his sight . . . And he who keeps his commandments abides in him and he in him’ (I John 3:21, 22, 24). ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments’ (I John 5:3). If we are surprised to find this virtual identification of love to God and the keeping of his commandments, it is because we have overlooked the words of our Lord himself which John had remembered and learned well: ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love’ (John 15:10) and ‘He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me’ (John 14:21). To say the very least, the witness of our Lord and the testimony of John are to the effect that there is indispensable complementation; love will be operative in thekeeping of God’s commandments. It is only myopia that prevents us from seeing this, and when there is a persistent animosity to the notion of keeping commandments the only conclusion is that there is either gross ignorance or malignant opposition to the testimony of Jesus.” [Part of the Payton Lectures delivered by Professor Murray in March of 1955 at Fuller Theological Seminary.]
We know that the law cannot save us. It is only through the blood of Christ one can be delivered from a lifetime of sin. Christ was, “delivered for our offences,” (Romans 4:25). The purpose of the law of God, in the believer’s life, is to draw us nearer to the heart of God. The commandments help to facilitate our drawing close to God. Think of it this way. God is holy, yet we are told to be holy. How can we begin to draw near to the holiness of God, without first knowing who God is? The law reveals the moral fiber of who God is. Thus, the law (being holy) can permit us to draw near to our Holy God.
The 10 Commandments are engraved on our hearts through the Holy Spirit. These elementary truths will forever be the moral code by which we live in this world. By placing them within the Ark of the Covenant, God was declaring that they would last throughout the entire Church age. Though many try to dismiss them, the 10 Commandments cannot be overlooked.
On the outside of the Ark of the Covenant Moses commanded the book of the law, i.e., the Law of Moses to be placed. By the placement of this law we must understand that it would not last throughout the Church age. That being said, there are many valuable truths in the Law of Moses, yet not all of these commands are carried over into the New Covenant. Some of the Laws were fulfilled, having served its purpose through types and shadows of Christ and His first advent.
Leviticus 21:16-24 tells us that a priest that has a blemish must not minister in the sanctuary. If we have a broken foot can we go to church? Yes, of course we can. Yet under the Law of Moses the priest with a broken foot or hand was not permitted to appear before God. This obviously is not kept today. Side note: Christ Jesus offered his body as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and interestingly enough, not a bone was broken.
Leviticus 20:13 speaks of the sin of homosexuality. This law is not in the 10 Commandments, should we permit sexual relations between members of the same sex? No! Why? Because this is an abomination. The New Testament tells us; “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26, 27).
The Apostle Paul told us to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a laborer that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is where the Holy Spirit begins to teach us. 2 Timothy 3:16 say, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” All of God’s Word is Good! The Holy Spirit will instruct you in the way you should go, this anointing you have received will teach you all things (1 John 2:27). Many people run to man for the answers when they should be turning to the Word of God and prayer. Yes, God has given ministers to help guide us, but the most precious teacher will always be the Holy Spirit.
If we would learn to love the God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves, we would fulfill the law, (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 13:10). “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:5-7).
In conclusion, the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…(1 Timothy 1:9). The law is good, if we use it the right way (1 Timothy 1:8). It all boils down to this, “…If you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:18). So, let us live in the Spirit and let us walk in the Spirit. And know this, that the law, which is holy, just, and good, has become the foundation of the Christian Church as we stand under the umbrella of grace. As to which laws are to be kept, just remember this, God does not change, what was sin yesterday is sin today. For the rest, allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide. He will never lead you astray.
By Pastor Don Elswick