Unfortunately, most of us are taught from an early age that the 10 commandments were given by God to man as a standard for living. And sadly enough, we are pretty much given this instruction concerning the bible even as believers. Chanting statements like, ‘The bible is God’s basic instructions before leaving earth.’ We are told by our pastors and teachers that our main ambition should be that of holiness and moral purity; citing the righteous standards of God’s laws as our rules of conduct. Now while all this may sound right in terms of what is noble, nothing could be further from the truth when considering the gospel of Christ.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a quick, yet profound look at what the gospel actually is; or rather what it really means and represents to us as believers. To gain a proper understanding of the Good News, it is paramount that we know what that news is first; which I believe can be summed up by the following. Please allow your spirit to bathe in the true meaning of these passages, and note with care the contrary structure between these verses, and the teachings and belief systems of those which claim God’s laws as a standard for living; and His recorded word not much more than an instruction manual for life.
But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses.’ Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: ‘Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.’ ~ Acts 15:5-11
And we have such trust through Christ toward God, not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the New Covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit; for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech – Unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is spirit; and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with un-veiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as the spirit of the Lord. ~ II Cor. 3:4-18
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. ~ Galatians 3:21-25
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit. ~Romans 8:2-4
Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical Priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another Priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For he testifies: ‘For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.’ ~ Hebrews 7:11-19
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of mutilations! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection. ~ Philippians 3:1-10
We are taught that the law is intended to produce holiness in man, but this was never God’s intention in giving the law. The law was given that we would see sin for what it is, and in that our hopeless inability to overcome it by merely following certain sets of principles or moral laws. That we would inevitably turn to God in Christ for salvation. If righteousness or life could be gained through using God’s word as a simple standard for living, then Christ died in vain. God’s word in its entirety is about the redemption of man, and is designed solely to lead us into His loving arms through and in the life of Christ.
O’’ foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? ~ Galatians 3:1-3
George L. Miller