The Ten Commandments

Are the Ten Commandments still relevant today?

John 14:15
“If you love me, keep my
Matthew 19:16-19

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honour your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbour as thyself.”

What did John have to say about the Law?

Actually, the apostle John did not say very much about the Ten Commandment Law. Much of his focus was on something else, something he estimated of great worth. We detect in John’s language an awe and wonder in Jesus. In so many ways, we see John’s close attachment to a divine, ever-faithful Friend. Wrote John, “Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1). “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” (John 13:23). “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 13:35). “I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine.” (John 10:14).

“As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:12-14). “And of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17).

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (1John 1:1-4).

Though a very old man at the writing of his epistles, gospel, and revelation, John wrote with the spirit of a child. While in vision, when he heard the familiar voice of Jesus, he turned around with the adeptness and exhilaration of youth. (Rev. 1:12). Embodied in John was the first love of the early church. He was their Moses, their Daniel, their father, and human intercessor. At his passing, the apostolic church soon would have to flee into the wilderness.

Yet, another side of the youthful, aged man becomes apparent as we look deeper into his writings. He believed in law; he stood for justice, discipline, and order. This does not presuppose that John had a dark side. It reveals that he had balance. “Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein,” (John 12:4-6) written around 100 A.D. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1John 2:18-19). It’s the justice side of love coming out of John’s saddened heart, a justice that helps make his deep love complete.

John was also faithful to obedience to God’s commandments. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.” (Revelation 22:14). “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. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” (1John 2:3-7).

Here we see that John is faithful to the commandments of old. From the context, he is saying that love has been God’s commandment from the beginning. This corresponds with the words of Jesus, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God… Thou shalt love thy neighbour…On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40). Taken from the old covenant, it is evident that what God expected of Christianity He had expected from Old Testament Israel. “God is love;” He never changes. His Ten Commandments, the Royal “Law of liberty,” is the Law of love. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10).

In the middle of all his admonitions to love one another, John finds it necessary to make mention of sin. “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1John 3:5-9).

Introducing his description of sin, John gives an interesting definition. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (Vs. 4). This single reference to the Law of God may seem insignificant compared to the volume of references to love throughout his epistle, but that short disclosure reveals that in John’s mind and in the mind of the Spirit runs an undercurrent of Law and duty and accountability, which alone leads to true love, honest service, and genuine fellowship. More on that note when we look at the book of Galatians.

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