Are Christians still under the Ten Commandments (the moral law)?
Quick Answer: The Apostle Paul states that Christians are not under the Law (Galatians 3:19-20). The Ten Commandments (the moral law) are not an exception to this freedom. We trust Jesus as our sacrifice and as our daily source of morality and ethics. Christ within us, apart from the Law, is enough to produce the godly life we desire (Galatians 5:22-23).
Diving Deeper: While many recognize that we Christians are no longer under the Law, the Ten Commandments appear to be a modern-day “holdout” of sorts. Some argue that even though Jesus freed us from the ceremonial law, we are still under the Ten Commandments for daily living. Ironically, though, most people who claim we’re under the Ten Commandments can’t even recite them all, much less keep them!
The New Testament says the Law exists to reveal the depth of humanity’s sin so that we can find our Savior (Galatians 5:22-23). Scripture states that the Law is for the unbeliever (1 Timothy 1:9). Furthermore, the moral law (Ten Commandments) cannot produce godliness. Romans 7:7-8 states this clearly: “But sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.”
Note that “You shall not covet” is one of the Ten Commandments, the moral law. Romans 7 is saying that sin takes its opportunity through the Ten Commandments. Paul is therefore instructing us that we need to live apart from the Law – specifically the Ten Commandments – to find real victory over sin. It’s not Jesus plus Moses. For believers, it is Jesus plus nothing. And the natural byproduct of knowing Jesus is that we will bear the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Also, consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:7-10 as he calls the Ten Commandments a ministry of condemnation and a ministry of death: “But if the ministry of death, engraved in letters on stones, came with glory so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness excel in glory. For indeed what had glory in this case has no glory, because of the glory that surpasses it.”
Here, the Ten Commandments (engraved on stone) are called a ministry of condemnation and death. And throughout the New Testament, Paul makes it clear that we died to the entire Law so that we could trust the indwelling Christ fully and completely (Galatians 2:19; Romans 7:4). Through the new covenant, we participate in a ministry with even more “glory” than the Ten Commandments: the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is sufficient to produce all the daily, upright living we’ll ever need!
Let’s Make It a Conversation!
1. What have you been taught about the believer’s relationship to the Ten Commandments?
2. How does seeing the Ten Commandments as a ministry of condemnation and death affect your view?
3. How does the Ten Commandments (coveting) context bring new meaning to “apart from the Law, sin dead” (Romans 7:8)?
4. React to this statement: Those who say we’re only free from the sacrificial law trust Jesus for His blood but not His life in them.
5. Titus 2:11-12 says the grace of God teaches us to live godly lives. What does it look like to trust God’s grace alone for daily living?
Tags: 1 Timothy 1:9, 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians 3:7-10, Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 2:19, Galatians 3:19-20, Galatians 5:22-23, Grace, Jesus Christ, Moral Law, Morality, Moses, Old Testament, Paul the Apostle, Romans, Romans 7:4, Romans 7:7-8, Salvation, Ten Commandments, The Law