It’s become my conviction that fundamentally we are not supposed to follow the Ten Commandments. I mentioned this in my post about The Shack… the perspective that I fundamentally follow Christ, and he may lead me where he wills. I want to dig into that a bit here, because I think choosing to follow the Ten Commandments is at odds with choosing to follow Christ. My three main thoughts on this are:
- It can move the focus off Christ and his grace, and back into performance based law keeping.
- They’re too easy. The Ten Commandments are too easily kept… and allow us to fall into the trap of pride and “arrival”.
- God didn’t need The Ten Commandments, or want us to live under them at all.
We are new creations in Christ, and the Law holds no water for us. Christ completed the Law, fulfilled it absolutely, so while we are with Christ the Law is completed for us. It is finished. Peter in Acts goes as far as saying “Don’t tempt the Lord” regarding Christian Gentile commitment to the Law.
Too easy… I was battling with this yesterday, as a good friend who I respect and often disagree with wrote an article on the Ten Commandments. It occurred to me that I’ve taught children to follow the Ten Commandments, and I know I was raised to follow them as well. And yet, we have the rich young ruler of Matthew come to Christ saying “I’ve done all this. What next?” Christ tells him to sell all he has, and give the money to the poor, something we understand the young man can’t bring himself to do. This is crucial to me… the fact that he has followed these laws to the letter, but his heart hasn’t changed. He’s dotted every i and crossed every t, all the while missing the point completely. We can keep the Ten Commandments and think we are justified, think we have arrived at some level of obedience or right-living, and yet have missed it completely. I don’t believe it’s in God’s character for us to miss him. He is continually drawing us to himself.
When I look at the Old Testament, I’m struck by the progression of things. Adam and Eve walked and talked with God. If God created things like this, I have to believe this was his primary intention for life and humanity. That this was how it was meant to be, always and forever. At this point man had 1 command, from God, not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To me this is God saying “Will you trust me? Will you trust that I know best? Will you depend on me, to lead you where it’s worthy to be lead?” But the enemy whispers to us, saying that we can make those decisions for ourselves; that we are a better judge of our own future, and independence isn’t such a bad thing. And so starts the slow but sure spiral into madness.
Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and we have a group of people God has called his own. He’s led them out of Egypt and been providing for their every need. And yet, the people Israel have no desire to personally interact with God. They’re more than happy for Moses to represent them, and to give them a list of do’s and don’ts so that they feel they’re on the right track. They don’t want the interaction, they fundamentally don’t want the relationship. Look at Romans 9:30-33. So God says “Have it your way. Your hearts are turned away from me, so if you want to be justified here is a Law you must keep.” But the New Testament tells us God never intended for The Law! Just like Israel later demanded they have a king, like the nations around them, God says “Fine… but if you want one you’re going to live with the consequences.” Are we not a remarkably disobedient species? We want our own way, continually, and then we want that way to be easy. We complain when we can’t keep the Law, or when our man-made king tramples us under foot.
Here, for me, is the point. Christ comes, lives a sinless life, allows his blood to be shed as a sacrifice, and completes the Law once and for all. He offers each of us his blood, to cover us as well, if we will just enter relationship with him. If we will just return to the garden with God, where he’s still saying “Will you trust me? Will you trust that I know best? Will you depend on me, to lead you where it’s worthy to be lead?”
This trumps everything else. Will we move away from our independance and into dependance? Will we give up our self help, our self improvement? The rules we choose to live by don’t help us in that relationship, they’re fundamentally at odds, because we’re trying to improve ourselves, trying to independantly become a better person. Christ isn’t calling us to become better people, he’s calling us to love him. And he’s calling us to walk with him. Will we trust that he knows best? Will we trust that he will provide everything that we need to continue in relationship with him, to go deeper?