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Are the Ten Commandments in Force Today?
Good News Magazine
June-July 1985
Volume: VOL. XXXII, NO. 6
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Are the Ten Commandments in Force Today?
Leroy Neff   
Church of God

Born: November 20, 1923
Died: January 28, 2014
Member Since: 1951
Ambassador College: 1959
Ordained: June 7, 1958
Office: ACE - Evangelist

Have the Ten Commandments been replaced by some new commandment? Have only part of the Ten Commandments been approved in the New Testament? Have some been altered or changed? Here is the surprising answer from inspired New Testament scriptures.

   Many people believe that all of the Ten Commandments were done away at the cross. Some say that the commandments were re-instituted later in the New Testament. Others believe that a new commandment has taken the place of the Ten.
   Just what is the truth?
   Jesus said, "If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matthew 19:17), Did He mean the Ten Commandments or some other commandments? If you want to obey Jesus Christ, you will want to know for sure which commandments He was referring to. Your eternal salvation is at stake!
   There is no reason for confusion. The Scriptures will show the truth if you diligently search for God's inspired answer.

Which commandments?

   The young man who was speaking to Jesus had the same question we are asking. "He said to Him, 'Which ones?'" (Matthew 19:18). In answer Jesus quoted five of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20:
   "Jesus said, 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother'" (verses 18-19).
   He then summed up these five commandments by saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself' (verse 19).
   The five commandments Jesus mentioned concern our relationship with our neighbors. They cover murder, adultery, stealing, lying and honor to parents.
   Obviously, when Jesus used the word commandments, He was referring to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Even though Jesus mentioned half of the Ten Commandments here, someone might suppose that things changed after the cross. To make sure, we ought to see if the other New Testament writers mentioned all or just part of the commandments.
   We will see if all 10 commandments are found in the words of Jesus and, in addition, the letters of the apostles, particularly the writings of Paul, the apostle to the gentiles.
   We cannot love God properly if we do not love our neighbor, so let us see if the last six commandments concerning our neighbor are reiterated.

Love your neighbor as yourself

   The Fifth Commandment from Exodus 20 states: "Honor your father and your mother" (verse 12). We have already read what Jesus said in Matthew 19:19: "Honor your father and your mother."
   Did Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, mention this commandment in his writings?
   He most certainly did. He repeated it almost word for word, and in addition explained the spiritual intent and purpose of this law: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). Paul's next statement quotes the Fifth Commandment, adding that this is the first command with promise (verse 2).
   The Sixth Commandment, against committing murder, has already been given by Jesus in Matthew 19:18: "You shall do no murder." He explained the spiritual intent and purpose of this command in Matthew 5:21-22: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment."
   This command is therefore more binding in its spiritual intent in this New Testament time than it ever was before.
   Jesus Christ was fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah proclaiming that the Christ, when He came, would "magnify the law" (Isaiah 42:21).
   Paul repeated this command in Romans 13:9. It is still a sin to murder another human being.
   The next command forbids adultery. Many people want to do away with this command today. But Jesus showed that it is more encompassing now than before the New Testament period. He also emphasized its importance and the spiritual application of this law today when He said that it is wrong now even to lust: "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Paul repeated this same command and showed that it was still binding even on the gentiles (Romans 13:9).
   The Eighth Commandment prohibits stealing. Jesus said, "You shall not steal" (Matthew 19:18), and this same command is repeated word for word by Paul in Romans 13:9. He said, "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good" (Ephesians 4:28).
   The Sixth through the Tenth commandments are all given in Romans 13:9: "For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal,' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' "
   Notice that Paul agreed with Jesus and summed up the keeping of the last six commandments by stating that this is the way to love our neighbor (verse 10).

How to love God

   If it is sin to violate one of these last six commands, which show how to love fellowman, then it surely must be sin to violate any of the first four, which explain the right way to love God. Certainly our relationship to God is more important than our relationship with other people.
   God said, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). Jesus showed plainly that this command is still in effect when He rebuked Satan: "And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve'" (Luke 4:8).
   This command against idolatry is mentioned many times elsewhere in the New Testament. Notice Paul's instruction to the church at Corinth, in I Corinthians 10:7: "And do not become idolaters as were some of them [the ancient Israelites]."
   The Second Commandment, which prohibits the worship of or bowing down before images, is given in detail by Paul in Romans 1:18-25. In this place he shows that the pagan philosophers, who knew God, did not worship Him as God. Instead they began to worship the things that they made with their hands. These people were violating the command of God against making images and then using them in their religious worship.
   Jesus taught that God is a spirit and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), not through idols, or the things made by man.
   The Third Commandment prohibits the use of God's name in vain. It is often referred to as a sin of blasphemy. This sin is mentioned several times, including
Many religious teachers today will not keep God's commandments and, for that matter, teach that we are under a curse if we do keep them. They claim that they know Christ. Christ says differently!
Paul's statement in Colossians 3:8 " But now you must also put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth."
   Jesus showed that this commandment and several of the others are still in force today by the following teaching: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders [Sixth Commandment], adulteries, fornications [both of these last two are included in the Seventh Commandment], thefts [Eighth Commandment], false witness [Ninth Commandment], blasphemies [Third Commandment]" (Matthew 15:19).
   There are many additional scriptures that plainly show that these commands are still in effect. The most thought-provoking of these is found in II Timothy 2:19 "Let everyone who names the name of Christ [that is, calls himself a Christian — taking name of God] depart from iniquity [iniquity is sin, and sin is the transgression of God's Ten Commandments — I John 3:4]."

Is the Sabbath forgotten?

   "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8) is the Fourth Commandment — and the one most people have forgotten! This is the command that many people falsely claim was forgotten and left out of the New Testament.
   Is it reasonable that God would have left out any of the Ten Commandments in the New Testament when David said these commands "stand fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:7-8)?
   The Fourth Commandment is shown plainly to be in the New Testament. Have you ever read this inspired scripture? "It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath" (Hebrews 4:9, New Testament from Aramaic, Lamsa).
   You probably have not known about this important scripture before, because the Authorized translation of the Bible, along with certain others, has failed to show the real meaning of this verse. The original Greek writings and some marginal renderings make it clear. Notice it in the Authorized translation: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." The Revised Authorized Version gives a similar translation.
   This chapter tells of the millennial rest to come for God's people who are faithful and inherit the promises of God. A "rest" is mentioned several times before verse 9. The Greek word for "rest" in the first part of this chapter is katapausin; however in verse 9 the word rest comes from an entirely different Greek word, sabbatismos. This word literally means, as most margins show, "keeping of a sabbath."
   The Sabbath rest each week is a memorial of creation and a picture of the soon-coming millennial rest.
   Correctly rendered, this verse reads, "There remaineth therefore the keeping of the Sabbath to the people of God."
   Notice these points about this verse: This keeping of the Sabbath remains. It is not forgotten or done away or nailed to the cross. And it remains for the people of God. The rest of the world has forgotten that it still remains.
   If it still remains, then it is still holy to God. We ought therefore to remember it and keep it holy as God has always commanded.
   This day pictures the rest that God had on creation week and therefore honors the fact that He is Creator. It also foreshadows that He is soon going to bring a millennium of peace, the seventh thousand-year period, to this world. The government of this world will then fall and Jesus Christ will establish His government over all the world.
   The command to keep the Sabbath today is also proved by several other scriptures. Paul instructed us to follow him as he followed Christ (I Corinthians 11:1). Peter also told us that we ought to walk as Christ walked (I Peter 2:21). The apostle John said the same thing in I John 2:6.
   Christ always kept the Sabbath! It was His custom (Luke 4:16), and He was continually showing His disciples and the religionists of that time the proper way to keep it. He showed this by the perfect example He set.
   The disciples were to follow His example and teach others the same things. His parting instruction was, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:19-20, AV).
   This makes it plain that His commands, including the Sabbath, are to be observed today.
   Paul followed Christ in always keeping the Sabbath (Acts 17:2) and taught the gentiles as well as the Jews on the Sabbath (Acts 13:42, 44, 18:4).
   Several other New Testament scriptures, particularly in the book of Acts, show plainly that the Church, as it started out, kept the Sabbath. Sunday on the other hand, was always a work day. Jesus said that He was Lord of the Sabbath, not Lord of Sunday (Luke 6:5). Sunday is not the Lord's day, and it never has been, contrary to many cherished beliefs.
   For further information about this command, write for our free booklet Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath?

A new commandment

   We have not seen that each of the Ten Commandments is commanded in the New Testament.
   But what about the "new commandment" that Jesus and the apostle John spoke of? Just what was this new commandment, and does it abrogate or do away with the Ten Commandments?
   "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34).
   People assume that all we have to do is "love" one another. Then they interpret "love" to mean that they do not necessarily have to obey God's commandments. They take for granted that love is just affection.
   They do not realize how much Christ loved His disciples. He had the kind of love described in I Corinthians 13, the kind that always obeys God's Ten Commandments. He had the kind of love that caused Him to instruct His disciples, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).
   That is the kind of love that Christ was talking about when He told His disciples about the new commandment.
   Yet how could this be a new commandment when Israel in ancient times was commanded plainly to love God and neighbor (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18)?
   Notice II John 5: "And now I plead with you , lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another." Love is ever new and yet old.
   That kind of love that Jesus and John spoke about is not just affection.
   People today have come to think that lust is love. Lust is getting, but love is giving and serving others in the way defined by God. The first four commandments define the way to show love to God, and the last six show the way to express love to neighbor.
   Any other way is not love at all, but is only lust, greed and selfishness. The commandment of love is therefore not only the one that was given at the beginning of Christ's ministry to His disciples, but also a way of life given to the first man, Adam.
   This kind of love is further affirmed by John: "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3).
   Instead of the new commandment of love doing away with the old Ten Commandment law, this scripture shows plainly that it establishes the Ten Commandments in this New Testament age more firmly than before.

What will you do?

   There are many religious teachers in the world today who will not keep God's commandments and, for that matter, teach that we are under a curse if we do keep them. They claim that they know Christ. Christ says differently through John: "He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:4).
   Such people claim that only part of the Ten Commandments appear in the New Testament. This is a convenient way to "do away" with any command that one does not want to obey, or does not want others to obey. The Bible plainly labels such teachers what they are.
   We have already seen how each and every one of the Ten Commandments is still in effect today! Are you going to follow those who want you to disobey God and forfeit eternal salvation, or are you going to obey all of God's commandments?
   If you do not have a copy of our free book The Ten Commandments, write for it immediately. It offers a thorough study of how each of God's Ten Commandments applies to us today.

God's plain truth

   It should be clear now that all 10 commandments are to be obeyed today! It is obvious from hundreds of Old and New Testament scriptures that they are to be followed as a way of life. These commands of God are in the Bible all the way from Genesis to Revelation.
   The scriptures show that Jesus Christ of the New Testament was the only God ancient Israel knew. Therefore it was Christ who said: "Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My Commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" (Deuteronomy 5:29).
   Do you want things to go well with you, or do you want the curses of disobedience?
   In the very last chapter of the Bible, it is again made clear that the Ten Commandments are still to be obeyed: "Blessed are those who do His commandments [all of them], that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).
   This is the way to live happily and abundantly. It brings the right results. It is the way, through Christ, that we may inherit His free gift of eternal life.
   Will you obey and live?

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Good News MagazineJune-July 1985VOL. XXXII, NO. 6
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