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  • We Shouldn't Teach the Ten Commandments

    A lot of controversy comes up about obeying the Old Testament Law. Some people like to use the Old Testament against certain practices, such as getting tattoos. Other people feel like Christians are hypocrites because we eat pork or wear clothing of two kinds of fiber.

    I will argue that we should not teach the Ten Commandments in Sunday School because they are now completely invalidated by the new covenant. Christians are not bound by the old covenant, and are not responsible to follow any of its laws. We are instead responsible to obey new covenant (e.g. Matthew 5-7) and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16.)

    Some people have tried to divide the law into civil, moral, and ceremonial. they then say that Christians should obey the moral law, but not the civil and ceremonial, which was specific to Israel. I have two problems with that: 1. When you read through the Law, there is no categorization by such a system, all the laws are mixed together. The food laws are mixed with the sex laws, and the business laws, etc. 2. James 2 says, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

    I think a better interpretation is that 1. The Law was given to the Jews and never applied to the Gentiles. A careful study of Amos supports this. 2. The Law has been fulfilled, completed, and abolished by the sacrifice of Christ. I have included some of the Scripture that teaches this at the end of this post.

    Now, someone might say, 'but didn't Jesus say, "Until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5.)'

    And I would respond, certainly, yes he did. However, the question is, What does Jesus mean by 'Heaven and Earth'? If we look at the contemporary literature and rabbinic writings, we find that the temple in Jerusalem was often referred to a 'heaven and earth' because it was seen as the place where heaven and earth united. For those of you who like math, it was seen as the intersection of heaven and earth. The temple was also seen to symbolize the whole earth. There was extensive artistic metaphor that depicted the courts as the seas and the chambers as the lands, etc.

    So what Jesus is saying is, currently, you are still under the law, because I haven't died for sin yet, but you will know when you are no longer under the law because the temple will be destroyed. The temple was destroyed in 70AD by Roman armies.

    I am not purposing that we as Christians should do whatever we want. There is certainly instruction on how to live in the New Testament. However, none of this teaching was written to us. It was written to specific ancient audiences with specific intentions in mind by the author, and in order to apply it to ourselves, we need to understand what the author was saying to the original audience, and extrapolate the theological principle behind it.


    Verses that teach the abolition of the Law:
    "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31.)

    "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." (Luke 22.)

    "When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He does away with the first in order to establish the second." (Hebrews 10.)

    "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5.)

    "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6.)

    "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up." (1 Corinthians 10.)

    "Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian" (Galatians 3.)

    "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." (Galatians 5.)

    "He [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both [the Jews and the Gentiles] one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances." (Ephesians 2.)

    "The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." (James 2, see also 1:25.)

    "Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well." (Hebrews 7.)

    "Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near."(Hebrews 10.)

    "As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand...

    Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." (Romans 14.)


    *Please note that I am not purposing that the Ten Commandments are a bad idea, but they are not commandments to us. Furthermore, by emphasizing them over passages such as Matthew 5-7, we miss much of what we as Christians ARE commanded.
    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi


  • #2
    Please show me where the instruction for a man not to marry his sister is in the New Testament.

    Thanks.
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by keck553 View Post
      Please show me where the instruction for a man not to marry his sister is in the New Testament.

      Thanks.

      The Bible is not an exhaustive in its truth, nor in its moral stipulations. That is, there are sins that are not described by the Bible. Christians who are led by and obedient to the Holy Spirit will be able to discern what is sin. Scripture serves as a standard for us to evaluate what is leading of the Spirit, and what is not.

      The purpose of the Bible is not and has never been primarily to serve as a moral code or a comprehensive set of sins. It is a record of God's acting in history by which we might understand God better. Through a clear understanding of the nature of God, we understand what is and is not pleasing to him. That is, what is and is not sin. More importantly, we understand how God has allowed for us to be in a right relationship with him through Christ, and how to accept such a gift.

      The Bible was never a rulebook, and if we treat it as such, we will miss the entire meaning of our lives.

      "Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For 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." (Romans 13.)
      "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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      • #4
        Is a man marrying his sister moral in God's eyes?
        Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

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        • #5
          I think you are way off on your interpretation of Mathew 5 through 7. It did not abolish the 10 commandments but reinforced it.

          Case in point

          Matthew 5:19 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

          Matthew 5:21-22 21 ¶ "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

          This is just one of many scriptures that completely back’s up my point. The Ten Commandments say tho shall not murder, and Jesus is telling us that we should mean it in our hearts.

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          • #6
            "Is a man marrying his sister moral in God's eyes?"

            I would argue that it is not, because incest was understood to be within the meaning of the term 'sexual immorality' as used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6.

            One could also argue that Genesis 2 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh," shows that the divine plan for marriage was that it be between members of different families. However, this is arguement is somewhat weaker because it is fairly inconsistant with the meaning of the passage.

            Do you every wear clothes that are part cotton, and part polyester? Do you condemn farmers who grow hay and corn in the same field? Are dairy farmers who crossbreed cattle sinning? Because Leviticus 19:19 says,
            "You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material."

            To me, this is the point James is making in ch 2 when he says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty."

            If the Law is in force, those who wear cotton/polyester shirts are just as guilty of sin as those who are adulterers or murders, but James teaches that we should rather follow the law of liberty, that is, the new covenant.
            "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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            • #7
              Christ repeatedly pointed to the Old Testament in His teachings. Claiming we are to do away with them invalidates everything He said, because everything He said was rooted in the OT.

              You can't just claim "sexual immorality" was "understood" to refer to incest. What about prostitution? Pre-marital sex? Rape? Bestiality? Etc.?

              Christ spoke of "sexual immorality" as a sin. The only place to find out where "sexual immorality" is defined is the Old Testament laws.

              The laws are entirely valid today, just as they were before Christ completed His work on the cross. The difference is that before, the Law condemned people. Today, the Law still condemns people in their sins, with the exception of those who have handed over their sin to Christ to be done away with. The ones who accept Christ's work upon the cross are forgiven of their sins. If there is no Law, there is no sin, because it is the Law that condemns people in their sin.
              To This Day

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              • #8
                I'm curious. Where did you hear this or are you drawing your own personal interpretation ?

                We are not to teach the 10 commandments, and therefore, according to your interpretation, we are not to obey them either.

                Why would we obey commands but not teach it to future generations ?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by danield View Post
                  I think you are way off on your interpretation of Mathew 5 through 7. It did not abolish the 10 commandments but reinforced it.

                  Matthew 5:19 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

                  Matthew 5:21-22 21 ¶ "You have heard that our ancestors were told, 'You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

                  This is just one of many scriptures that completely back’s up my point. The Ten Commandments say tho shall not murder, and Jesus is telling us that we should mean it in our hearts.
                  I don't feel like you actually read my post. I didn't say that Matthew 5-7 abolish the old covenant, but rather they are the substance of the new covenant, which is built upon the old, and supersedes the old, and repeals the old.

                  The Old Covenant was actually suspended centuries before through the prophet Hosea, who said, "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" which Jesus quotes to the Pharisees in response to their legalism in Matthew 9.

                  Jeremiah prophesied the eventual complete overturning of the Old Covenant with a New Covenant ont he ground that the Old Covenant has been broken and a new one is necessary. (ch. 31) Jesus fulfilled that prophesy at the last supper, (Luke 22) and inaugurated the new covenant.

                  As for Matthew 5:19, I already explained that. You seem to have ignored that. 'Heaven and earth' was a common expression that rabbis would use to refer to the temple. It has passed away. Furthermore, 'all' is accomplished, "Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit."

                  As Paul explains in Romans and Galatians, the Law has fulfilled its purpose and is no longer in force. Because the Old Covenant was broken, God in his authority replaced it with a New Covenant. He has the authority to do so.
                  "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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                  • #10
                    OK, now hold on everybody, let's not get carried away here. Chimon does have a point that some Christians go too far with Old Testament law and wind up descending into legalism. That is indeed something that should be avoided like the plague.

                    However, Chimon, neither do we need to throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Without the Old Testament, the New Testament would make no sense. And while it is true that restrictions such as eating pork and fabric restrictions are not things that we need to be concerned about today, neither are those two things contained in the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments (as well as a great deal of the rest of the Mosaic Law) are valuable for us today, if for no other reason than to be able to understand God's point of view regarding sin.

                    It's true that we don't need to be walking around in a constant state of panic over impending "judgment" raining down from Him since Christ already took that punishment for us, but that doesn't mean we can't learn anything from it.

                    Oh, one more thing, the New Covenant does not repeal the Old Covenant - it fulfills it. We are still living under the Mosaic Law today. It's just that we don't have to worry about it, because Christ fulfilled it perfectly on our behalf, so we are granted judicial immunity through Him.
                    ----------------------------------------------
                    When the plain sense of Scripture make sense, seek no other sense.

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                    • #11
                      First thing that has to be considered in this. What was and/or is the law intended to do? Secondly we need to consider the two greatest commandments that Jesus taught about in the NT.

                      Paul spoke on this in great detail in his letter to the Romans.

                      Romans 7

                      7 ¶What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET."
                      8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
                      9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
                      10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
                      11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
                      12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
                      13 ¶Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
                      14 ¶For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

                      So we can say without a law there is no sin. Now lets look back further and ask, were Adam and Eve under the law? Sure they were, they had one law. Do not covet. Did they keep that one law? Now lets look at the second thing we have to consider, the two greatest commandments.

                      Matthew 22

                      36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"
                      37 And He said to him, "`YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.´
                      38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.
                      39 "The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.´
                      40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

                      We can see from these two commandments that it we do these two thing then we do keep all the ten commandments. So the ten commandment still apply to us as Christians today, just they are stated to us in a different way. The law is intended to point us to the need for the savior, and it points us to the savior. So in essence we have to become Jews spiritually before we can even become Christians. We have to be convicted by the law and admit the fact that we need a savior first. When we turn over our lives to Jesus as our savior then we become Christians. So you see I would have to say it is very important to teach our youth about the ten commandments.
                      I am a Christian man in the Devil's land, spreading the gospel man to man.
                      Have you laid your burdens down?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by markinro View Post
                        I'm curious. Where did you hear this or are you drawing your own personal interpretation ?

                        We are not to teach the 10 commandments, and therefore, according to your interpretation, we are not to obey them either.

                        Why would we obey commands but not teach it to future generations ?

                        Well, I feel like a study of the Scripture I mentioned would lead you to this conclusion, but no, this is not only my opinion. Drs. William Marty (STM, ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary*) and Paul Penley (PhD. New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School*) affirm that the Law is not binding on Christians. This is actually a very common stance among evangelical scholars, and many more such theologians could be found to support this stance.

                        I regards to your other question, I think that the 10 commandments are generally good ideas, but we should teach all Scripture, but we generally teach the 10 commandments first to children. I think it would be more profitable to teach Scripture that applies to us more directly. The standard of Christian morality is not the 10 Commandments, but the Gospel.

                        *If you are suspicous of these scholars, you can look into it and you will find that both DTS and Trinity are conservative, orthodox, evangelical seminaries and that both of these theologians are in good standing with their academic/theological communities there.
                        "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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                        • #13
                          However, the question is, What does Jesus mean by 'Heaven and Earth'? If we look at the contemporary literature and rabbinic writings, we find that the temple in Jerusalem was often referred to a 'heaven and earth' because it was seen as the place where heaven and earth united. For those of you who like math, it was seen as the intersection of heaven and earth. The temple was also seen to symbolize the whole earth. There was extensive artistic metaphor that depicted the courts as the seas and the chambers as the lands, etc.


                          I read your post but your view of the expression of “heaven and earth” by rabbis is taken out of place. Christ is telling us that until the end of time God’s Law will be in place. It has nothing to do with the destruction of the temple nor is Christ suggesting anything about his death on the cross nor is it talking about an intersection of heaven and earth. He is simple stating that God’s law will be in place for all time for both heaven and earth, and if you teach people to break the law you will be the least in the kingdom of God.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TrustingFollower View Post
                            We have to be convicted by the law and admit the fact that we need a savior first. When we turn over our lives to Jesus as our savior then we become Christians. So you see I would have to say it is very important to teach our youth about the ten commandments.
                            It was the purpose of the Law to convict of sin, but no longer, as Jesus himself taught: "Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned." (John 16.)

                            Originally posted by TrustingFollower View Post
                            in essence we have to become Jews spiritually before we can even become Christians.
                            This absolutely false. This is known as the heresy of the Judiazers and is refuted by Acts 15.
                            "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by danield View Post
                              I read your post but your view of the expression of “heaven and earth” by rabbis is taken out of place. Christ is telling us that until the end of time God’s Law will be in place. It has nothing to do with the destruction of the temple nor is Christ suggesting anything about his death on the cross nor is it talking about an intersection of heaven and earth. He is simple stating that God’s law will be in place for all time for both heaven and earth, and if you teach people to break the law you will be the least in the kingdom of God.
                              How do you know this? How are you able to arbitrate the meaning of such a passage? Isn't it warranted to consider how the historical context and cultural idioms reveal the meaning of Jesus' words to the original audience?
                              "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." -Mahatma Gandhi

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