How can I know this about the Ten Commandments?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Megan Mozart, Dec 28, 2009.

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  1. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    Since many would say that the 10 Commandments were just covenantal stipulations between the great King and and his Kingdom, Israel, why do so many others say that they are binding on all men at all times? Why can't we look at them as we do the rest of the OT law - that they are fulfilled by Christ? How do we know that they are binding on all men even today? Can't we just take the moral principles from them as we do the rest of the law?

    I am such a novice in covenant theology, the law, and any other topics this question encompasses, so you'll have to be patient with me and not leave out the basics.

    I ask this because I tend towards NOT thinking that they are binding on all men. But I have not yet actually tried to search for the answer myself. I feel inadequate to figure this out myself, as it requires knowing a lot of systematic theology that I haven't yet studied.

    If there is anyone on this board who thinks the 10C are just covenantal stipulations to Israel, I would like to hear from them too. :candle:

    Also, if I end up disagreeing that the 10C are binding on all men, would I be considered unconfessional and unable to participate in this board?
  2. Simply_Nikki

    Simply_Nikki Puritan Board Junior


    The 10 commandments are part of God's moral law, which are always binding on all people at all times. I'm curious though, which part of the 10 commandments do you think are circumstantial and not moral?
  3. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    You're allowed to hold to some unconfessional beliefs and still take part in the board, though you still wouldn't be allowed to propound or defend those unconfessional beliefs on this platform. :)
  4. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    I think that you may be using the term "OT law" in different senses. Are you referring to the sacrificial system? The dietary laws? The civil sanctions? The personal commands? The directives for holy war? Perhaps, if you can specify which portion of the law you are speaking of, we can then ask ourselves whether or not such laws were fulfilled by Christ, and if so, in what sense.

  5. LeeJUk

    LeeJUk Puritan Board Junior

    I would say Megan is simply asking for scriptural justification on the issue instead of actually opposing the confessional belief enforced on this forum.
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Well for a start the Apostle Paul, "our Apostle", says in Romans that the law was binding on all men from the time of Adam's Fall until Moses, even although it hadn't been propounded and published in the stony form of the 10C.

    The 10C and any moral laws derived from them, in the ceremonies and judicials, are deemed to be special and eternal law, which was written on Adam's heart in the Garden, and is a revelation of God's character which is always binding on all men, as all men are meant to image forth God's character.

    Adam and Eve "embodied" the moral law which is summarised in the 10C. Christ "embodies" the moral law which is summarised in the 10C.

    The ceremonials - to the extent that they don't contain moral principles - were a picture book Gospel for the childhood Church. The judicials/civils/penals, to the extent they don't contain a general moral equity, were a necessary source of discipline and training for the childhood church.

    Christ fully enforces all that is moral in Moses, and doesn't let a crumb fall to the ground, in the Sermon on the Mount. See Matthew 5:17-20. We must be very careful to dismiss anything in the Law of Moses, as not having moral relevance for us. Admiittedly there is still study and debate among Reformed scholars about some areas, but most is very clear.

    The way the 10C or moral law was revealed to Israel was therefore special in a way that temporary and provisional laws were not.


    (a) It was the only law that was directly spoken by the voice of God to Israel.

    (b) The original copy of it was written with the finger of God on stone, which is a material that is much more durable than vellum or papyrus.

    (c) It was laid up in the Ark of the Covenant under the Mercy Seat where God's Shekinah Glory was specially revealed between the cherubim. Each year the High Priest had to make atonement by blood for the sins of the people in breaking the 10C by sprinkling blood on the mercy seat. The LORD was as it were "reminded" of the blood, rather than His law which had been broken.

    In the New Covenant Christ makes some slight "changes" to the 10C by fulfilment of certain aspects.

    (a) Re the introduction to the 10C, we not only have the motive for keeping the 10C that God took our Covenantal fathers out of Egypt, but also that Christ has redeemed us from sin and Satan. (John 13:34)

    (b) The Day on which the Sabbath is observed moved from the Seventh to the First, although some contend that the specific day of the week isn't mentioned in the 10C

    (c) In the Fifth Commandment the promise is related to the Land of Israel. In the New Testament our Land of Israel is the whole Earth. The Apostle adjusts this in Ephesians 5.

    (d) We also don't have a copy of the 10C written on stone, in the Ark of the Covenant. See II Corinthians. But we do have the revelation of that in the Bible.

    We who believe and our children, Jews and Gentiles, are Israel, and Christ is our greater than Moses, who originally gave His revelation of the 10C to Moses. Christ takes the 10C from Moses, makes such adjustmets as are necessary, by revelation, and hands the 10C back to us.

    Nothing moral is changed by Christ, inasmuch as God cannot change, and Christ is God. Our responsibility to obey is enhanced, inasmuch as we New Covenant Israelites have a greater revelation of God's grace than the Old Covenant Israelites did.

    The Two Great Commandments are a summary of the 10C, and the 10C are a summary of the whole moral law for the Christian.

    See e.g. Jochem Douma's "The Ten Commandments: Manual for the Christian Life"

    It is not necessary for moral law to be repeated in the NT e.g. if you want to know which relatives you are not to marry you have to go to the OT. But anyway, all the 10C are repeated in the NT, including the 4th Commandment.

    Jesus repeatedly deals with the 4th Commandment, clears away Pharisaical additions and errors, and never once hints at its imminent demise. Christ in the Gospels never deals with other days in this way. Moreover, why did God the Son by His Spirit write it on stone with His finger, if it was temporary and provisional?
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  7. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    Okay, you asked for basic, so sorry if this is too basic. :)

    The Law is divided into three categories - moral, ceremonial, and civil (or judicial). Ceremonial laws are those that were typical of things to come, and they only ever applied to Jews, e.g. dietary laws, animal sacrifices, etc. The civil laws are commandments to Israel on how to run its government. The moral laws are laws that go to the very basic nature of right from wrong, and these were always applicable to Gentiles. Examples include the prohibition of murder, stealing, adultery, as well as some outside the 10 commandments, such as the prohibitions of witchcraft, homosexuality, and bestiality, etc. (although the punishments proscribed for these are civil law, and Reformed believers are divided as to whether the government should still enforce them).

    You seem to be asking if the 10 Commandments are all ceremonial, but I know you can't mean that - Surely you agree that murder was always wrong for Gentiles as well as Jews, and still is. The non-Reformed view is not that the 10 commandments are ceremonial, but rather that one of them is ceremonial (the 4th), and the other 9 are moral. Please do not conclude that they are ALL ceremonial and start stealing my stuff! ;)
  8. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Of course, I recognize that. :) I was responding to the last line of her post:

    -----Added 12/28/2009 at 09:50:43 EST-----

    Just in case, can I have your address? :)
  9. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    No, but I'll give you a small loan to help you out if you need it. Here you go: :2cents:
  10. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    Megan, another think to consider is that most of the commandments are explicitly restated in the New Testament, and not just in the gospels.
  11. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I have to second Josh's recommendation of sermons. After I read your post I immediately thought of these sermons that he had previously recommended in another thread. I was actually going to share them myself had he not already done so. I have not finished all of them but the first 5 that he has posted are excellent. Rev Ruddell does an excellent job explaining the Law and its implications to us. He goes in-depth but it is very easy to understand. Again, I highly recommend you give them a listen. May God bless you in your studies.
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    That's a mighty fine list of links, Josh.
  13. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Yes, in our church we regularly recount the Ten Commandments as a responsive reading during worship; the pastor reads the commandment as it appears in Exodus and we respond with a correlative passage from the NT.

    Megan, you seem to be in a hurry to get all your ducks in a row. Be patient and take your time. Our knowledge must grow in proportion with our sanctification otherwise we will have a zeal but not according to knowledge. We are justified by the righteousness of Christ and not by the precision of our doctrine or devotion. Doctrine is important but let it grow as you walk in humble surrender to Christ.

  14. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for the responses so far everyone.

    Of course I don't think it's ok to lie, murder, and steal. :D tehe.

    But so far I am not sure that we treat the 10C as especially different from the rest of the law. It may have been the most important law for their covenanted nation, but I'm not sure that the continuity is there for us in the new covenant. Therefore, right now I'm at the point where I can treat it like the rest of the law and extract moral principles from it where I can. Make sense?
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Probably the most helpful way to understand this is to begin by studying and meditating on the Scripture proofs for each statement and/or proposition here in the Standards.

    The ten commandments are moral, perpetual commands, binding on all men in all generations. They are broadly applicable, which our Lord details much in the "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5,6 and 7).

    Remember also, we understand "the law" as being of three sorts:

    1) ceremonial (fulfilled in Christ)
    2) civil (that given to Israel as a 'church under age' which expired with that nation except that equitable principles underlying these laws may still apply)
    3) moral (perpetual commandments, binding on all men, in all generations)
  16. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    That normally means picking and choosing according to your lusts and desires!

    You need to get into a position where you and your husband are being taught the basics of orthodox Christianity, and to do so with a teachable spirit. Although I must say it's difficult not to admire a young couple who are as serious about their faith as you two are.
  17. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Not really. You're stopping at biblical theology and not going on to systematic theology. Of course the 10C were first of all revealed to the Israelites, but they are also revealed to us.

    Remember what Jesus said about the law in Matthew 5:17-20. Remember that you, your husband and children are Israel now. Indeed, in the New Covenant all believers are prophets, priests and kings under the Greater Prophet than Moses, and their King and Great High Priest, their Lord and Saviour from sin, Jesus Christ.

    We have no better summary/rubric of the moral teaching of the whole of Scripture than the 10C. See how the WCF Larger Catechism and many Reformed scholars have arranged the whole of Christian ethics under the various commandments.

    Of course the 10C are further summarised and condensed under the Two Greatest Commandments, but being sinners even after regeneration, we still need detailed guidance on how to love God and our neighbour, unless we think we have reached a sort of superspirituality. Many doing so have moved to antinomianism and from antinomianism to spiritual shipwreck.

    Doing away with the guidance of God's specific and detailed commands, they have become like madmen who think they can fly without a plane.

    I'm born again! I've out grown the law!

    Yes. We are born again but we're also still sinners!

    Look at me, I know what to do without referring to the 10C, without referring to the Bible! All you need is love, yah-da-da-da! Crash, Bang, Wallop!

    See the mess Western society is in. A large part of that is because sandal-wearing hippies, who believed all you needed was "love" took over in family, church and state.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2009
  18. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The Scriptures themselves, even Moses, set these ten commandments apart as a kind of "cornerstone" to the rest of the Israelite statutes.

    Ex.34:28 "And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."

    Dt.10:4 "And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me."

    There are several passages in the NT which either summarize these commands, offer a shortened listing, etc. Jesus implies that the two "great commandments" are sums of the law, according to the well-known Love-God/Love-Neighbor (1-4, 5-10) scheme.

    Here is Rom.13:8-10, following the passage that affirms the propriety of government, and presumably their duty to the "second table."
    8Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.​
    Consider this presentation from 1Tim.1:
    8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.​
    See how these are all out of "the law" that speaks against such sins. Clearly, Paul expects New Testament Ministers to know, follow, and preach "the law" for the conviction of sin, and as the rule for righteousness. And to do this without at the same time laying the old Mosaic yoke upon the faithful.

    So, some distinction is intended by Christ in the NT between that which is still in force from ancient times, and before his Cross, and afterward under his government. A government rules. It legislates, adjudicates, and enforces.

    Christ is the only Law-giver in Zion, so what law has he given? He gave the Ten Commandments himself on Sinai. See above, both for his own summary and commentary in his NT appearance, and his teaching as promoted by his apostles. But as has already been noted, the 10C didn't just become his will for man at Sinai. Not unless (for instance) we think Abel's slaying by Cain was something less than murder, and a violation of what we later on call "the 6th Commandment)".
  19. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Ah, now I understand what you mean. If the 10 commandments are the same as the rest of the Mosaic law, then it would have to be decided which ones are moral, ceremonial, or civil the same way it is decided in the rest of the law, which is mostly by common sense. For instance, it is clear that the prohibition of witchcraft is moral, while the punishment for it is civil, and it is clear that the dietary laws are ceremonial (especially since Christ declared all foods clean).

    The problem with this is that the 10 commandments are separated from the rest of the law, spoken before all the Hebrews and not just to Moses (Ex. 20), and written on stone. This would seem to indicate that they are in a category all their own. Further proof is the fact that they all seem so basic. All of the 10 except the 4th are commandments that most of the Gentile world has always had laws against, even the most debased cultures. So they are clearly moral by virtue of being set apart from the rest of the law and by virtue of being such basic truths. No Gentile would have been surprised that murder was considered wrong, though he would have been surprised to hear that sewing two garments together is wrong.
  20. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    Again, I appreciate everyone's responses.

    The more I think about this, the more frustrated I get. At this moment, neither side convinces me. Should I try to figure this out ASAP, or should I be more patient?
  21. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    Ok. I will listen to those sermons.

    I am only twenty years old. Thinking about something for more than a day is too long. :D :p ;)
  22. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    I should explain a little more what I mean by this.

    Am I right in assuming that this is something very important? I think it is. Since it is so important, I want to have the answer NOW so that I can know how to read God's word and apply it to my life correctly. But I am not smart enough to have it figured out right now. That is why I am frustrated.
  23. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate


    I understand exactly how you feel about this issue. I have had the same questions, and to a degree still do.

    -----Added 12/29/2009 at 06:57:15 EST-----

    Regarding how important it is to find an answer it the 4th you're struggling with? I ask because I assume you already don't want to steal, make idols, etc. ;) If it's the 4th, why don't you try setting the Lord's Day aside even before you are convinced fully? That is what I have tried to do, and it has been a great blessing and has improved my whole week. Spend the Lord's Day in Bible study and prayer, and you will profit from it. I am not 100% convinced the 4th is moral yet, but while we are studying it, why not set the day aside as special? It is worth it, I promise!
  24. John Lanier

    John Lanier Puritan Board Junior


    I guess I could ask him because he is on the board too but how does your husband feel about this? He is to be the spiritual leader of the household so I was just wondering if he was studying this out as well. If he knows that you are struggling with this, then he could be a help to you by diligently studying this and bringing you along to the right concusion (that they are a part of the moral law and binding :D).
  25. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    You're asking an important question. What you're considering is called "antinomianism." It's common among modern evangelicals to so identify the 10 Commandments with national Israel with the result that, when the Old (Mosaic) covenant is fulfilled so are the 10 commandments. As a consequence people commonly say, "The ten commandments are no longer binding."

    The church has been thinking about this problem for a long time; much longer than a day! (I know you were kidding but I have two daughters your age so....) That's why we have traditionally distinguished between the civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects of the law. The Decalogue, the 10 commandments, are the summary of the moral law.

    As others have said, the Apostle Paul appeals to the fact that the law repeated at Sinai was first given to Adam and Eve. The short summary given by our Lord (in the NT; Matt 22:37-40) is "love God with all your faculties and your neighbor as yourself." Our Lord, who gave the law in creation, re-stated it at Sinai, gave it again on another Mt, i the sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7).

    This category of creation is very important. The Apostle Paul appealed to it (1 Tim 2) as did our Lord (in his teaching on divorce). They both used the creational law, the substance of which was repeated at Sinai, to say that there are permanent, abiding, laws which govern all people in all times and are not specific to national Israel.

    Yet, there are elements in the Decalogue that are specific to national Israel. E.g. in the fifth commandment there is a promise, "that your days may be long in the land...." That land promise belonged to national Israel. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul repeats the fifth commandment (to Christians, in the NT so it's not just for Israel) but he changes the promise in Eph 6:2 to make it more general because the national covenant ended with the death of Christ.

    So, you're right to recognize that Israel was a temporary arrangement, that it had a specific function in the history of salvation, and that function has been discharged and fulfilled with the coming of Christ. You're conclusion, however, that the moral law is not in force any longer, doesn't follow and contradicts the repeated and explicit teaching of the NT itself. Sin is stil lawlnessness (1 Jo 2). Idolatry is still sin (1 Cor 10:14), murder is still sin (matt 5; Mk 7; Rom 1; Rom 13).

    Finally, the moral law is grounded in the nature of God. The history of redemption does away with those things that specifically Israelitish, but it doesn't do away with God's moral law because those laws reflect who and what God is and that doesn't change.

    So, there's a reason why the Reformed confessions and catechisms all teach the abiding validity of the moral law. It's not just that we're a bunch of killjoys; it's because the law is grounded in God's nature, revealed in creation to Adam, re-stated at Sinai, and re-published again in the NT without the Israelitish elements.

    We did a conference on this very topic a few years back. Here are the mp3s:
  26. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    Wow, I thought that antinomianism involved believing that we may now sin and it's no longer... "sinful." Is that what believing the 10C are no longer binding on all men leads to? Because I certainly don't believe we can sin so that grace may abound! Paul condemns that.

    I have heard the criticism that it was unhelpful that Calvin made these categories in the law. Why is that?

    I still think that those things are sin. Like I said, like there are moral elements in the law that we can extract, perhaps we can do that with the ten commandments as well. So we can know then that murder, theft, and idolatry are sin. Or are you saying that I have no basis for knowing what the moral law is if I don't accept the 10C as binding on all men, and the summary of all law?

    I don't think you're killjoys. :)
  27. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    One thing that has been helpful in understanding this, is read Matthew 5-7. This is sometimes called "The greatest sermon ever preached." While all Scripture is God's Word, our Lord is giving an extended teaching of didache (doctrine) here.

    The context is the broad application of the ten commandments to us as a standard of righteousness.

    Not only are sinful deeds violations of God's perfect standard, but the thoughts and words related to them.

    So, being angry "without cause" is a violation of the sixth commandment, etc.

    That's why when we get to the fourth commandment, if on the Lord's Day, we spend our time watching, thinking about and talking about football, our sin is being revealed.

    The uses of law (summarized in the Westminster Standards) are:

    1) point people to their need for Christ
    2) retrain evil
    3) a "mirror" of what the Christian life should look like (a rule for life)

    Rather than abrogating the ten commandments, our Lord is establishing them in their broad application as a standard for the lives of all men.

    A standard by which all men, believer and unbeliever will one day be judged by Him.
  28. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Quote from Megan
    It can lead to that, because we're abandoning the foundational and basic moral anchor that God has put in the Scriptures for us. We are still sinners after we are born again remember, so we still need God's rules to guide us.

    Believing that the 10C are for us doesn't make us immune from sin of course but it does give us a light for our path and a lamp for our feet, and if we love these commands of God revealed afresh in Christ, who kept them perfectly, we'll want to obey them.
  29. Megan Mozart

    Megan Mozart Puritan Board Junior

    I haven't yet gotten to listen to any of those sermons yet. I haven't had time. But once I get the time I will listen to them and come back to this thread if I have any questions. I'll also read the Sermon on the Mount again.
  30. PointingToChrist

    PointingToChrist Puritan Board Freshman

    This has been alluded to in earlier posts in this thread, but thought this should be posted:

    Luke 18:18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’”

    We would do well to heed the Word of the Lord.
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