Many teach that Christ substituted some “new” commandments for the Law of God. What is the truth? Are the Ten Commandments still to be obeyed?
This is an age of rebellion against all law and authority. Nations and governments are being overthrown, and homes and schools thrown into chaos by various forms of rebellion.
Notice a revealing insight into modern man’s reaction to the phase in the Lord’s Prayer,”Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done” given by an Ohio minister. He wrote: “We don’t really mean it. We don’t like authority, nor will we give in easily even if He is the King of heaven. It is all too obvious that most men over most of the years have prayed earnestly: “Thy kingdom not come, my will be done.”
Today, many professing ministers and Bible teachers are proclaiming that The Ten Commandments are either “done away” as they say, or replaced by the “new” commandments of Jesus Christ.
What are these “new” commandments? Do they replace or contradict the Ten Commandments? What does the Bible reveal on this important subject? First of all, let us notice one of the all-important purposes for Jesus’ coming to this earth in the human flesh. Isaiah prophesied of Jesus: “He will magnify the law and make it honorable” (Isa. 42:21). Here we find that Christ came not to abolish the law, but to magnify it.
Magnify has just the opposite meaning of changing or abolishing something. It means to reveal in the minutest detail, to enlarge upon. Certainly the life and teachings of Christ do just that with the Father’s law.
Christ said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Christ did just what these words imply. He fulfilled the law. He magnified it by His perfect example. He filled it to the full, passing beyond the mere letter to observe even the minutest spiritual intent and purpose of the Father’s perfect law.
Those who knew Him as a teacher could never charge Him with having substituted the traditions of men for the commandments of God. He obeyed the Ten Commandments in word and in deed. He taught and lived them as the perfect way of life.
Christ said: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of the 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” (Matt 5:19).
When a young man came to Him asking the way to eternal life, Jesus said: “If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:16-18). The young man asked, “Which?” And Christ answered: “Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Jesus proceeded to list a number of the Ten Commandments.
Christ knew the way to salvation! He said that way was obedience to the law of God, the Father, and surrender to His will. Christ declared, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Far from abolishing the Ten Commandments, Jesus obeyed them (John 15:10).Christ was the “light” that God sent into the world to show men how to live.
After the death and resurrection, Jesus sent the apostles out with this command: “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” (Matt. 28: 18-20).
Christ’s disciples (apostles) had been there when He told the young man: “Keep the commandments.” They had heard Him magnify the commandments of God in what is called the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5, 6, 7).
His apostles had witnessed the obedience of Jesus to the Ten Commandments, and knew that His was the perfect example. Therefore, when Jesus sent them out to every nation with the order to teach them all things He had commanded them, there could be no possible doubt in their minds but that this included the Ten Commandments of God.
Obedience to the Ten Commandments, then, was the very basis of the teaching of Christ and of His original apostles.
But what about the “new” commandments of Jesus? Did they not alter or abolish the necessity for literally keeping the Ten Commandments that were revealed in the Old Testament?
Actually, in spite of what many think, there is only one place in the entire Bible where Jesus said He was giving a “new” commandment. The other references – by the apostle John are to the exact same principles, as we shall see.
“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).
Christ gave this “new commandment the last night of His physical life on earth. He had – by teaching and example - already shown the disciples that keeping His Father’s commandments were simply an expression of love.
Jesus had already summarized God’s law into the two great principles: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39). In fact, in the latter part of this summary of God’s law Christ quoted directly from the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18).
What, then, was “new” about Christ’s command to love our neighbors? The answer is plain. The principle of loving our neighbors was not new, but Jesus’ magnification of that principle in His own perfect life shed a completely new light on the spiritual intent and depth of this commandment. Remember Jesus’ emphasis – “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
Christ’s own perfect example of love and service was the greatest and most meaningful magnification of the love of neighbor as commanded by God. In His life, Jesus demonstrated how that love actually functions in day-to-day life.
Three times the Divine voice broke the usual silence of the heavens in announcing the satisfaction of God in the life of His Son. Even the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, declared: “I find no fault in Him” (John 19:4).
This was because Christ lived a life of giving to others. Whether in His constant teaching of the multitudes, His healing of the sick, His feeding of the hungry crowds or in an act of humility such as washing the disciples’ feet, he was always giving of Himself.
“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can you ye escape the damnations of hell?” (Matt. 23:33). Are these strange words from a man of love? No. Rather, they are manifestation of how perfect love sometimes says and does things for the good of others which at the time they may not appreciate.
Christ loved these Pharisees! It was in love that He thundered these words to wake them up from a life of religious hypocrisy and perversity that was damning their souls. Remember, it was also for these same Pharisees that Jesus died. It was for these men and others like them that Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
It was in that perfect, understanding love that Christ withdrew Himself occasionally from the crowds to rest, to meditate, to pray. For He knew that only by keeping close to the Father and being an instrument in His hands could His human presence and teaching enrich the lives of others. Christ did not just act like He loved others. He did love them with a perfect love. Through God’s Holy Spirit within Him, He desired from the heart to love and serve His fellow beings for their highest good.
Jesus Christ literally lived the words Paul latter showed He uttered: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In this way, His command that men love one another “even as I have loved you,” certainly does become a “New” and more all-encompassing command in governing human relationships.
How many religious people think that Jesus just had a sentimental type of love in His heart, but that He didn’t really obey God’s commandment literally.
The truth is that Jesus Christ kept and obeyed every one of the Ten Commandments (and that included the 4th one; remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, not Sunday), in the letter and in the Spirit, just as His followers today should do. As we have already seen, He declared that He had obeyed the Father’s commandments (John 15:10).
To make it perfectly clear, Jesus never had another god before the true God. He never committed idolatry, or blasphemed God’s name. Jesus kept holy the Sabbath that God had made holy and often worshipped in the synagogue on that day as was His custom (Luke 4:16).
Jesus Christ honored His parents, and He never killed, committed adultery, stole, lied or coveted. He set us an example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter. 2:21).
Today, a true Christian is one so surrendered to God that Christ is literally living His life in that person through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For the apostle Paul said: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
A true Christian should not only have faith in Christ, but should live by the very faith of Christ placed in him by the Holy Spirit. Christ – through the Spirit should literally be living in the true Christian. And remember, Jesus will live the same life in you today that He did 1900 years ago, setting an example. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Christ, in His flesh, “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Yet in His fleshly life He obeyed the Ten Commandments. Dwelling now in His labourers through the Holy Spirit, He will keep the commandments in them. It is Christ’s love. It is His power in us that can keep the spiritual law of God. For Jesus Christ was, and is, obedient to God the Father.
In the epistle of the apostle Jesus loved, the apostle John, we also find reference to a “new” commandment. “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which he had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past and the true light now shines. He that is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness even until now” (I John 2:7-9).
Here the apostle refers his flock first of all to the “word of God which they had from the beginning. But then he mentions one “new” thing. He proceeds to explain this is the deep spiritual love which brethren in Christ should have for one another. There is simply no room in this love for hate, envy or malice.
Bud does this Christian love “do away” or change the Ten Commandments of God? Of course not! It only emphasizes and magnifies the personal love Christians must have toward their fellow men. This love goes far beyond the letter of the Ten Commandments, but by no means replaces them!
Again, John wrote in his second epistle: “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it” (II John 5-6).
Here John defines Christian love as keeping the commandments! We are not just to love the persons of God and Christ. We are to love their way, their very character which is expressed in the Ten Commandments. Christ not only taught obedience to the commandments, He lived them! And so John adds: “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (v. 9). When we examine the positive side of the “new” commandments, we find that they simply reinforce and make more binding the old! They outline a way of love, of giving, of serving, which can only be attained through Christ Himself living in us.
We are to learn to love our fellow man as Jesus loved us. That is New Testament doctrine. It is far more binding than the letter of the commandments stated in the Old Testament. But it does not replace them. Rather, it magnifies them to their full spiritual intent. And these ”new” commandments themselves refer to the perfect magnification in the life of Christ. He is to be our “light”, our example.
Describing the principle of how we should love our neighbor, the apostle Paul stated: “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10). For God’s spiritual love flows down the riverbed, or channel, expressed in the Ten Commandments.
In perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments, in their every phase and facet, Jesus’ entire life was a radiant life of love itself, and love is the fulfillment of law. The new commandment He gave called attention to His perfect example of obedience to the Father, and of kindness and service to all men. Upon receipt of God’s Holy Spirit we too can have that love. For us, it truly is a new commandment. We can now love as Christ loved.