Thursday: The Law in the New Covenant

From the start, the principles of the Ten Commandments were given to humanity out of the Lord’s love for people. The law has always been intended to be a blessing. You obey the law, and you are greatly protected from the ravages of sin; you disobey, and you face the inevitable consequences of transgression. Who needs theology to know, personally, just how painful sin and its consequences are? How often can you read the results of sin on the faces of those who have been ravaged by it?1

Though sections of the New Testament—Paul’s writing specifically—deal with those who have misunderstood the purpose of the law, the commandments of God have been presented in the New Testament in a positive, uplifting way.

Read Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16 in their contexts. How is God’s law presented in these texts? As something still relevant, or as something negated by grace? 

So often, we see people seeking to place the law in opposition to God’s love or God’s grace, the idea being that if you truly love, then God’s law is negated. In a sense, one could argue that love transcends the law, in that one who truly loves God and others reveals the ultimate principles of the law. But this is no excuse for negating the law. On the contrary, love fulfills the law; love is the law expressed in its purest form.

It’s like the parts of a car. The parts don’t exist as ends in themselves; they are there so that the car will go from place to place. That’s their purpose, so that the car can move. Yet, without each part, the car wouldn’t function. The law is like that: it’s not an end in itself but the means to an end, and that end is a deep expression of love, love for God and love for others.

Look up these texts. How do they help us understand the link between love and law? Rom. 13:8–10Gal. 5:14James 2:81 John 5:2, 3.  

Dwell more on the links between God’s law and love. Law-keeping without love leads to what? Love without law-keeping leads to what? Write out your thoughts and bring them to class on Sabbath.



Thursday: The Law in the New Covenant — 10 Comments

  1. Consider for a moment that the Ten Commandments may not be THE law of God but merely limited expressions of God's greater law of love. This may be the case for several reasons:

    1. Jesus made it quite clear that simply not doing the things prohibited by the law was not enough. (i.e. Matthew 5:28)

    2. The Ten Commandments are derivative of the Two Great Commandments (See Mark 12:28-31) From the words of Jesus, they are not as great as the two though they appear to be expressions of the two.

    3. The Ten Commandments do not encompass all the law of God. for example, unlike the two great commandments, they deal with sins of commission but not sins of omission. More plainly, not stealing from your neighbor does not mean you have fulfilled the law regarding your neighbor's possessions. (See Exodus 23:4-5)

    For these reasons, if we feel that obedience to God simply involves keeping the Ten Commandments, perhaps we are falling far short of the mark.

      • Yes, you were a few months in advance of this topic in the quarterly. I thought it could bear repeating since the quarterly does not seem to fully develop this point.

    • Dear Stephen,

      I could see your explanation as one way of looking at the Ten Commandments. Another way that I might like to explain this would be to say that each of the Ten Commandments has a deep principle underlying its words. From this point of view, the ten are not less great than the two, but are rather summarized by them.

      • Thank you for your input, R.G. While I understand your point of view, it was the words of Jesus that the two were "the greatest." By definition, in order to be "greatest" everything else must be less. (See Mark 12:28-31)

        • Dear Stephen,

          You said:

          "By definition, in order to be 'greatest' everything else must be less."

          This is probably true. However, if the two are a summary of the ten, then the ten are not anything "else," but are included.

  2. Hi Stephen,
    I have really liked your posting regarding totally obeying the laws enshrined in the Ten commandment at the expense of those not explicitly not stated in the Ten....more often we are very carefully not to do the thing prohibited but we over look issues like "lustfully looking at a man or woman".

    • Hi, Louie. Have you read Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews? That epistle answers that question and gives a great overall understanding of Christ's ministry. God bless.


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