Are the Ten Commandments still in effect today? Are they still relevant to the believer in this day?
The Ten Commandments
When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments to bring to the nation of Israel, they are not the “ten suggestions” or “ten rules to live by” but commandments from God. But were these commandments only given to the nation of Israel or were they for all of mankind? Jesus referred to the commandments when a rich man came up to Jesus and asked him how he might receive eternal life. The man came up to Jesus and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother” (Mark 10:17b-19). The young man, sounding self-righteous said “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:20-22). The fact that Jesus says the man should know the commandments, and then mentions some of them, shows that they were still valid at that time, but what about today, some 2,000 years later?
The Pattern of the Believers
It’s interesting that believers are often associated with those who keep the Ten Commandments. This doesn’t mean that they are saved by them because we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Eph 2:8-9) but it does mean that those who are saved should live lives that are pleasing to God and the way to please God is to obey His Word and surely the Ten Commandments are God’s Word too. The Bible speaks about Satan, as the dragon, and the Apostle John records, “the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea” rev .12:17. and there is also “a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev 14:12).
The End of the Age
It would seem ridiculous to believe that the Ten Commandments are no longer valid or relevant today when the Book of Revelation talks about the time of Christ’s arrival where He finds the saints keeping the commandments of God (as best as they can) but also hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ. John writes that “this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it” (2 John 1:6) so “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4) and it is “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (1 John 5:2). I find it hard to believe John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, would get this wrong. Believers will live out the commandments and obey them but not to be saved but because they are saved.
Which Commandments are Irrelevant?
If you go through the list of the Ten Commandments, you can see how grievous to God it would be to break them but also, if we break them, they will break us. Can we really believe that “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13) is no longer relevant? Of course not! That would seem ridiculous. Is it still unlawful to steal (Ex 20:15)? Just ask any law enforcement officer. Bearing false witness or lying is sin too because this is a timeless commandment too (Ex 20:16) and in a court of law, lying can send you to jail for perjury. Today, adultery seems common place but so is the flu and that doesn’t make it right. Just because something’s popular doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do and in fact, the right thing to do is often very unpopular. If you had a friend who was committing adultery, would you turn and look the other way or would you tell them that they are becoming one with a prostitute (1 Cor 6:`16) and the final destination of all sexually immoral people is the lake of fire (Rev 21:8) unless they repent?
What is love? John writes “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3) and Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:16) and Jesus says “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). You can’t say you love God and not do what He asks you to do. That’s not love but disobedience. Love equals obedience. We obey, not because we are loved, but because we love Him and do things that are pleasing in God’s sight and so the Ten Commandments are still relevant today. These were not nailed to the cross by Christ but those ordinances of washings and animal sacrifices have been made obsolete by Jesus’ perfectly atoning death on our behalf. You say you love Jesus? Prove it!