3 Lies Christians Believe about the Ten Commandments
- Andrew Farley Author of The Perfect You: God's Invitation to Live from the Heart
- 2019 13 May
Adapted from the new bestselling book “Twisted Scripture: 45 Lies Christians Have Been Told” by Andrew Farley
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God (Romans 7:4, New American Standard Bible).
At salvation, we spiritually died with Jesus. As a result, we died to Law-based living and were joined to the resurrected Christ. This is how we bear fruit for God.
LIE #1: Christians are free from some of the Law but not all of it.
Some claim that we believers died to a part of the Law but we’re still under the Ten Commandments.
Is this true?
It’s relatively easy to accept that rules about pork and shellfish and ceremonial washings don’t apply to us Christians today. But it’s a lot harder to let go of the Ten Commandments as our “source” or “guide” for daily living.
Many argue that when Paul says we’re dead to the Law and not under the Law, he’s excluding the moral law (the Ten Commandments). But in Romans 7, we see that argument blown out of the water:
I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. (Romans 7:7b–8).
Paul’s concern here is with his coveting and his inability to obey the command, “You shall not covet.” Obviously, the coveting command is one of the Ten Commandments.
So, here, Paul is referring to the moral law, and he signals to us that sin takes opportunity through the commandment. Which commandment? The covet commandment, of course. In other words, if you live under the Ten Commandments, you’re giving sin an opportunity to thrive in your life!
And notice Paul’s solution to his coveting problem: “apart from the Law, sin is dead” (Romans 7:8). Paul is instructing us that we, as believers, need to live apart from the Law (which here includes the Ten Commandments) to find any real victory over sin. We need to trust the indwelling Christ with our struggles, whether they be coveting, lying, lust, or any other moral issue.
So, it’s not “Jesus plus Moses.” It’s not “Jesus plus tablets of stone.” For the believer, it’s Jesus plus nothing, 100 percent natural, no additives!
Now, if it makes you nervous as a Christian to loosen your grip on the Ten Commandments, consider this: Do you truly believe that God’s Spirit would ever lead you to lie or to commit adultery or to murder someone anyway? Of course not!
So here’s the bottom line: The Ten Commandments are not the source of our morality. And the Ten Commandments are not the goal of the Christian life, either. Knowing Christ is the source, and knowing Christ is the goal (Philippians 3:8).
The natural byproduct of knowing Jesus is that we’ll bear the fruit of His Spirit, which happens to include self-control. So, trusting Jesus alone can and will lead us toward upright, godly living that pleases God in a way that life under the Ten Commandments never could.
LIE #2: The Ten Commandments are God’s glorious and best way.
There’s even more clarity to the issue of the moral law. In 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us that the Ten Commandments—a ministry engraved on stone—is a “ministry of death” and a “ministry of condemnation” that “has no glory” now compared with the
ministry of the new covenant:
But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved 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 abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it (2 Corinthians 3:7-10).
Only ten of the Law’s requirements were engraved on stones—the Ten Commandments. So, here Paul is clearly referring to the moral law, the Big Ten. So why would we want to hold tightly to a ministry that now has no glory compared with what Jesus Christ has brought us in the new covenant—a ministry of righteousness?
LIE #3: Christians can’t define sin without the Ten Commandments.
One question often asked is, “Without the Law, how can we define sin in the life of a believer?” That question deserves another: Can you imagine what it would be like to actually define sin using the Law today? There would be 613 flavors of sin. Eating pork or shellfish would be a sin. Sitting in an “unclean” chair would be a sin. Sending Friday night work emails would be a sin. Saturday lawn care would be a sin. We don’t even realize what we’re asking for when we think that we need the Law to define sin for us as believers.
Life lived by the Spirit is far from nebulous. The New Testament is full of instruction on the attitudes and actions that Christ is working in us. And if there’s any doubt, Paul reminds us that “whatever is not from faith [in Jesus Christ] is sin” (Romans 14:23).
So, there’s no need to go digging through Leviticus to seek out random, cherry-picked definitions of sin for the believer today. Yes, the whole Bible is God’s inspired Word from Genesis to Revelation, but context matters. We should read the Old Testament with our “New Covenant glasses” on, since we’re led by the Spirit and not under the Law (Galatians 5:18).
Isn’t Jesus enough?
The Law and conscience are perfect at convicting unbelievers of their slavery to sin and their need for Jesus (1 Timothy 1:8-10). And while we were under the Law, we too experienced sinning “of every kind.”
But now, as New Testament believers, we’re designed to live apart from the Law. Only “apart from the law” is sin dead (Romans 7:8). As believers, we died to the Law —including the Ten Commandments—so we can “bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).
We have Jesus Christ dwelling within us. He is more than enough to inspire us, and His grace is worthy of our trust.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-12, NASB).
*From the new bestselling book Twisted Scripture: 45 Lies Christians Have Been Told by Andrew Farley. Purchase Here to begin untangling more lies.
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