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Keeping the commandments
- Jacob Ninan
Some people think that the ten commandments are also meant for Christians to keep. These are not the same as those who think that keeping the ten commandments would qualify us for heaven. They know that no one can qualify for heaven by being good enough, by the standards of the ten commandments or higher (Ga.2:16). We can find acceptance with God only on the basis of God granting it to us as an act of mercy, when we acknowledge ourselves as sinners and receive forgiveness because Jesus has already taken our punishment. What these people imply is that the standard of the ten commandments is what we have to live by as Christians. No, our standard is much higher.
Jesus said in the sermon on the mount that under the old covenant it was good enough if one did not murder anyone, but that under the new, one had to be careful about getting angry (Mt.5:21,22). Under the new covenant we should not even be looking at a woman with lust, leave alone physically commit adultery (v.27,28). The new covenant standard is way higher than that of the old.
What then did Jesus mean by saying He had come to fulfill the law? (v.17,18).
Think of what Jesus said about worship. He said that (under the new covenant) we would worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn.4.23). Does this not indicate to us that this is also how we have to keep the law, in spirit and in truth? If we see the 'law' as a shadow, Jesus came with the 'substance' where the requirements of the law are met in spirit and in truth (Co.2:17).
This is not something God demands of us now, but something He now enables us to do. When we are born again by the Spirit of God, He gives us a new heart and spirit and also writes His laws on our heart and mind (Ez.36:26;He.8:10). This transforms our desires, interests, values, likes and dislikes, etc., and we want to keep all God's commandments, ten commandments and more. But we want to keep them in spirit and in truth, and not just externally. We get to see the core truth about what the law really means rather than just the external requirements. For example we can see how Jesus kept the law regarding Sabbath. Just keeping the ten commandments is out of context. Our life now comes out of inner compulsions rather than controlled by external forms or patterns.
We can see how this is a life of inner values, integrity, attitudes and a desire to please the Lord. As long as we guide our lives by questions about what we are allowed to do and not, we are only living at the level of the old covenant. Instead now when we are driven by a strong gratitude and love to Jesus and we long to please Him, honour Him, and to fulfill His plans, we can be at a much higher plane than we have been before.
This is something we grow in as we allow ourselves to be transformed in our minds when the Holy Spirit works in us (Ro.12:2). But the more we taste in, the more we have a longing for it.