Recently there has been a lot of debate concerning the Ten Commandments, and its place in our lives. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has been adamantly defending his right to place a monument of the Ten Commandments in the courthouse. On November 12, after a long, heated debate over this issue, the 2.6-ton monument was removed. The same week, Moore was removed from office. A November 14 CNN report says that “only one in five Americans approve of the federal court order” to remove the monument. (http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/08/27/ten.commandments/index.html)
Many people in Alabama, and in other southern states, have begun placing Ten Commandment signs in front of their homes as a way of showing their support for keeping the Ten Commandments displayed in public places. It is refreshing to see Americans showing their support for the most significant law in the universe. Ironically, however, few of these people who support the displaying of God’s Ten Commandments really respect and obey the Ten Commandments.
Right in the heart of the Ten Commandments is a law that says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
God’s commandment says “the seventh day is the sabbath,” yet most Christians believe that it is not necessary to literally obey this command. They say that even though Saturday is the seventh day of the week, Jesus Christ died, and was resurrected on Sunday, and therefore we should honor Sunday, the first day of the week, instead of Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Most Christians will freely admit that Saturday is the seventh day of the week, and the day which God referred to in the Ten Commandments, but they are unwilling to obey this command, primarily because the Sunday-keeping tradition is so strong, and to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, one must go against the majority, who honor Sunday.
In an attempt to justify their disobedience to the fourth Commandment, some Christians reject the entire Ten. The following statement echoes the sentiments of a suprisingly large amount of Christianity today: “The Ten Commandments have been done away with.” (http://www.lawofliberty.com/sabbathkeeping1.htm)
The desire to publicize the existence of the Ten Commandments is commendable, yet there is more to be done. We must recognize our own responsibility to keep those Commandments, and show, by example, how they are to be kept, including the fourth commandment. Let us take a few moments to consider what the Bible says about the Ten Commandments.
The giving of the Ten Commandments
Exodus chapter 20 begins by saying, “And God spake all these words.” (Exodus 20:1) The Ten Commandments were so important to God that He did not entrust the giving of them to any man, but spoke them Himself. “For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” (Deuteronomy 5:26) It was an awesome thing for humans to hear the voice of the living God.
What does God say concerning those things that have come out of His mouth? “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Psalm 89:34) God says that He will not change anything that has gone out of His lips. More specifically God says that He will not alter the Ten Commandments. “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. ” (Psalm 111:7, 8)
Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, wrote, “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14) Whatever God does, it will last forever. Man is not permitted to add anything to it or take anything away from it.
John wrote, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18, 19) “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32) It is a very serious thing to attempt to alter those things which God Himself has spoken.
Did the Lord change His mind after He spoke the Ten Commandments at Sinai? He said, “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6) God does not change. Man may go to great lengths to prove that God has changed His mind concerning the moral law which He spoke at Sinai, yet the Scriptures say that God does not change.
Did Christ change the law?
As we have seen, God, the Father, did not change His law which He spoke at Sinai, but did His Son, Jesus Christ, change the law? Prophesying of Christ’s mission on earth, Isaiah wrote: “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Isaiah 42:21) Christ’s mission did not include changing the law of God for it is written that He will “magnify the law and make it honourable.”
Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
According to Jesus the law of God is to stand until “heaven and earth pass.” Obviously this has not occurred yet, so naturally the law has not been done away with. Jesus went on to say that it is dangerous to teach men to “break one of these least commandments.” It is very plain that the law which Jesus was referring to is the Ten Commandment law, for the rest of the chapter deals with Jesus expounding on certain points within this Ten Commandments.
The testimony of Jesus agrees with that of Solomon, who wrote, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14)
Not only does God require us to keep His commandments, He also makes it clear that if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven we must “do his commandments.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)
God will have a group of people in the last days who will keep His commandments. Concerning the final generation upon earth John wrote, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17) “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
The prophet Zephaniah expounded on this great truth when he wrote, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” (Zephaniah 3:13) Speaking of God’s remnant people John wrote, “And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Revelation 14:5)
As we can clearly see, God will have a group of people in the last days who will keep His law. Those who break the law are sinners, “for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)
What does the Bible say will happen, at the time of the second coming of Christ, to those who transgress God’s law? “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” (Isaiah 13:9) That is a very solemn warning. It is no wonder the Lord says, “prepare to meet thy God.” (Amos 4:12)
Is it possible to keep the law?
Certainly there are some who will quickly protest, claiming, “We cannot keep the law of God, we can never stop sinning.” It is true that we cannot keep the law of God in our own strength. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7) Yet, the Lord has said, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17) Surely there must be some remedy for sin.
Paul wrote, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:24, 25) Praise God that He has made a way of escape! God, through His infinite wisdom, has designed a way in which we can be forgiven of our past sins. That is wonderful! Notice that the verse said that we can have “remission of sins that are past.” Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that we can be forgiven now of sins that are yet future. In fact, the Lord has made it clear that once we are forgiven we are expected not to continue in that sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1, 2)
Suppose a known thief comes to your church seeking membership, claiming that he wants to give his life to the Lord, and asking for prayer that he might give up his habit of stealing. Now suppose the pastor tells this man, “My friend, you have it all wrong; don’t you know that we can never stop sinning? Just accept Jesus as your Saviour and everything will be okay.” Certainly any conscientious individual would immediately see that the pastor’s reply is wrong. Yet, many pastors make similar statements without raising the slightest suspicion in the listeners, when they claim that it is impossible to stop sinning. If it is true that we cannot stop sinning, then where do we draw the line? Is it only that we cannot stop sinning when it comes to sins that may go unnoticed, such as lying and coveting, or would we go on to say that we cannot stop sinning even when it comes to such sins as adultery and murder? One may say that these more obvious sins can be avoided, but why stop there?
If it is true that the compulsive liar cannot give up lying, then it must also be true that the murderer cannot give up murdering and the thief cannot give up stealing. If this were the case then this world would be filled with nothing but the vilest of criminals. It is very obvious that the assertion, “we cannot stop sinning,” is completely contrary to common sense, but is it contrary to the Bible?
Paul shared a wonderful promise when he wrote, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Praise God! He has promised us that there is no temptation that will ever come upon us from which we cannot escape. God always provides a way out of sin. Thank God that Satan cannot force us to sin.
What shall I do when I am tempted?
God says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” (Psalm 50:15) If we will call upon the Lord when we are being tempted, He will give us the victory over every temptation. “For in that he [Christ] himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to [“run to the cry of.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon] them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) If we do not call upon the Lord when we are tempted, He cannot help us and we will be left to our own strength. When we call upon the Lord at the time of our temptation it does not have to be in an audible voice, but cry unto Him in your thoughts. Silent prayers are heard by Him who “searcheth the hearts.” (Romans 8:27)
Some say that it is a grievous burden to keep God’s commandments. But this contradicts the Word of God, which says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3) John wrote, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3, 4)
John also wrote, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) God wants us to cease from sin, which is transgression of the law. If the law has been done away with, I confess to you that it is not possible for anyone to sin, for how can one break a law that does not exist? If the law was done away with, it is perfectly just and right to murder, steal, commit adultery, etc. It is clear that God’s moral law is still in effect, and those who violate God’s law are sinners.
Let us exalt the Ten Commandments before the people of this nation. Yet, in the midst of our eagerness to share them with the world, let us not overlook the fourth Commandments which deals with the Sabbath. This Commandment is just as valid today as it ever has been.
Chief Justice Moore demonstrated courage in standing up for his convictions. Let us also stand up in defense of God’s law. Let us demonstrate, by our actions, that we are willing to obey God’s Commandments, including His Command to keep holy the seventh day of every week, by ceasing from our worldly labors and devoting our attentions to Him in worship and praise on His holy day, even though our friends, family, and neighbors may turn against us because of our stand for the truth. The real issue concerning the Ten Commandments is not whether or not they will be displayed in public places, but whether or not we will acknowledge their validity by our words and actions.
Jesus says to you today, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32, 33) Stand up, and be counted, as one who is in favor of all of God’s Ten Commandments.