God’s Covenant and Law

People get the idea that the Law of God is unimportant. However, it is so important that rather than change it, God sent His Son to die. How can anything be more important than that?

There has been a lot of interest in the Ten Commandments the last few years in the public. But, what concerns me is that I have not seen the Ten Commandments in very many churches. In fact, it is the churches that have said it is really not important. Speaking of the Sabbath, the Catholics simply say, that is what the Bible says, but we changed it to Sunday. They admit this, claiming to have the authority to do so.

We do not believe that God has given anybody the authority to change this law. There are certain groups, rather than admitting that it has been changed by man, will try to twist their theology with certain Bible texts to make it look like God’s Law has been done away with. When you go through the Ten Commandments with them, you realize that there is only one law they are trying to get rid of and the other nine are okay. The only one they want to get rid of is the one that He wrote with His own finger and said remember. To think that the Fourth Commandment is not important should not even enter our minds.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” II Timothy 4:3. In other words, teachers wanting to tell people what they want to hear rather than what God said. People want their Certified Public Accountant or attorney to tell them the truth; but they want preachers to tell them what they want to hear rather than what the Bible says.

What does the Bible really say? It says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. The Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus are together and should always be together. There is no conflict between God and Jesus. Some people think that when Jesus came to this earth, He was a rebel and that He stood up against God’s law. Jesus not only taught the Law but He magnified God’s law.

In Luke 2:49 when his parents found Him in the temple, He said, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” He said, “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” John 5:30. This is the will that He seeks, not His own will. Jesus is not in conflict with the Fourth Commandment because it refers to creation. This is right in the heart of the Ten Commandments and here is the Creator.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:3. “All things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Colossians 1:16. He created all things. Then speaking of Jesus Christ, it says, “There is one lawgiver.” James 4:12.

When Moses brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, there was a cloud protecting them by day and the pillar of fire by night. That was Jesus. “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” I Corinthians 10:4.

If Jesus were in conflict He would be in conflict with Himself. The Bible was given to us by God through His prophets. One part of it He wrote with His own hand and amazingly that is the part that some people want to say is no longer in effect.

He is so clear in Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” People have said that means to destroy. Does that say: Think not that I have come to destroy the law; I have not come to destroy but to fulfil? Jesus uses the word to fulfill in Matthew 3:15. When Jesus was baptized, John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to baptize Jesus. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.”

Did Jesus do away with righteousness when He was baptized? Did He do away with baptism? No, remember His great commission in Matthew 28:19, 20: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” In other words, go and teach and baptize continually. The word fulfill means that He was bringing about a fulfillment of understanding and of knowledge.

Jesus said, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matthew 5:18. Take your right foot and stomp on the ground. Is the earth still there? Has heaven and earth passed away? Jesus says not one jot or one tittle, until all pass away. Jesus said as long as it is still here, the law will not pass away.

Jesus talked about those people who teach that the commandments have been done away with in Matthew 5:19, first part: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Being called least in the kingdom of heaven means you are not going to be there. Being called least means that you are the least regarded which means that you are not going to be there.

Jesus said whosoever shall do. I am glad He added the word do because we could teach it but not do it. The talk and the walk must line up together. He says, “But whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (verse 19, last part) which means they will be in the kingdom of heaven. God is so very clear. He continues to amplify this: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.” He does not say that you can kill all you want to. He says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother.” Matthew 5:21. That really makes it serious.

He is talking about our heart, our response and how important that is. Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 27, 28. Did He tell the woman caught in adultery that it was all right now to go ahead and keep doing it? No. He said, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” That should convict each and every one of us, if not on that particular subject, but it shows that the heart is what God is after. He does not want us to be able to simply quote the Ten Commandments or to just memorize them. He does not want us even to try in our human power to perform them. God wants a change in the spirit.

What is the purpose of God’s law? The Bible is clear that the law does not save us. But it tells us what the function of the law is. In James 1:23–25 it tells us, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

We all have mirrors at home. When I get up in the morning I wish I did not have a mirror. I drag myself in and I look and I start laughing. I have about 20 minutes to become a dynamic, enthusiastic individual and it is hopeless. The mirror tells me what kind of problems I have. I have another mirror also and she will tell me if this tie is perfect or if it goes with this suit. The law shows me that there is something wrong. The mirror can’t clean me up. The mirror can’t straighten me up. The mirror can’t tell me one thing. I can get rid of that mirror, but I am still as bad off. The law is how we know that there is sin. Roman 3:20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 7:7 says, “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except through the law.” Verse 12: “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” “Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4.

People will say that the law was done away with 2,000 years ago. If you will stop and think about it, here we have the law and sin is the transgression of the law. Jesus is the One who brings us cleansing, forgiveness and grace. If the law was done away with 2,000 years ago, then nobody has sinned in the last 2,000 years. If the law is gone, there is no sin. Look around and you will see a lot of sin going on. The law is still being broken. If you get rid of the law, you have gotten rid of sin. You get rid of sin; you don’t need sin. Do you see how it breaks down when you take away God’s law?

The Bible tells me that there was something that was nailed to the cross. What was that?

One night I was in Washington D.C with a fairly well-known preacher who was preaching that the law had been done away with. We were talking and he asked me if I would attend a function with him on a specific date which happened to be on the Sabbath. I told him I would not be there and he asked me why not. I said because I keep the seventh day Sabbath. He said, “Oh, you do that?” I said, “Yes I do.” He said, “Don’t you know you do not need to do that?” I said to him, “I really do not want to be out of harmony with everybody. Why don’t you show me where I don’t have to do this.” I knew he could not do this. He had some new text that was in the Bible and I knew there was no new text because I had been all through the Bible. He asked me to come over to his hotel room because he had his Bible there and he was going to show me a text.

We got to his room and he read Colossians 2:14 to me. I said to him “Do you mean you brought me over here to read that text to me? That is not what that text says.” Let me read it: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” What is this talking about—the handwriting of ordinances? Remember God’s law was written with his finger. There has to be two laws. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances.” There are no ordinances in the Ten Commandments. There is nothing about washing or certain feast days or things of that nature.

In verses 15, 16 it says, “Having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” There is nothing about meat in the Ten Commandments. There is nothing about drink in the Ten Commandments or respect of a holyday. It is not talking about the seventh day Sabbath. There is nothing about the new moon or of the sabbath days, those ceremonial sabbaths, that happen during those feast days, “which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Verse 17.

We went back through and looked at all of the scriptures. He said, “You just can’t get around this, can you.” I said, “No, you can’t.” He told me that in 1949 H.M.S. Richards held a crusade at Fort Worth, Texas, and he went and was convicted that he should keep the seventh day Sabbath. He went home and his family opposed him. He said he just did not have the courage to stand up to them and so he decided not to do it. I told him it was not too late. You can do it now. We had prayer together. After I left his room that night I tried to call him, and he never accepted my phone calls again.

You can turn your back on truth. You can take subjects and you can twist them so they seem to say something they don’t say. My friend, who I thought an awful lot of, had done just that. It is dangerous. He had encountered truth the first time and then God gave him another opportunity and he encountered it again. I am just praying that God gives him another opportunity.

James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” If we break the law we are guilty. In other words, if you keep nine of them and you don’t keep that fourth one, then you are guilty of not keeping them all. “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” Verses 11, 12.

Another text about abolishing is found in Ephesians 2:15: “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” All those ordinances were beautiful and wonderful but they did not save you. This was a big problem because people began to put emphasis on all of the to dos to be saved. Paul talks about them as the school teacher or the school master that brings you to the cross. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17.

Isn’t there a text that says we are not under the law but under grace? Yes, Romans 6:14, 15 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” God forbid. We are not under the penalty of the law if we have accepted Jesus Christ and He has come into our lives. We are not under that penalty.

When you read the Ten Commandments, it makes you wonder why anybody would want to get rid of them. In the Old Testament, sin was the transgression of the law. What is it in the New Testament?—the transgression of the law. There is absolutely no doubt that it is still the transgression of the law. God said, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23. When God has saved you, you want to be loyal to Him. You want to be His. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” John 15:10.

The Ten Commandments are written in stone but God wants to write them in our hearts and in our minds. He is going to change me and I really need changing. Hebrews 8:10 says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” Jesus desires a loving spiritual relationship. He wants to change us so effectively that we really have a relationship with Him.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” John 15:4. Abiding in Him and receiving the gift. It changes our behavior and we become more like our indwelling Jesus. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8–10. He wants to change us.

I met a young man who was telling me that nothing needs to happen when you accept the Lord. There will not be any change in your behavior. I told him if you accept the Lord, there will be a change. God wants to take us and change us. I don’t want my same habits. I don’t want these same problems that I have. I want to be changed. He says, I will change you. In Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” That is how we walk.

He loves you and cares about you. We are not under law but under grace. We are not under the penalty of the law. We are not standing with the law on the outside; we are standing with the law on the inside because we have been born again. It is written in our hearts. As it was taken from the tables of stone to these tablets of our hearts and flesh, it did not drop one or two commandments on the way. All ten came to be written upon our hearts.

Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. We are His workmanship.

Pastor Jim Gilley’s sermon was taken from the Ten Commandments Weekend, 2008 series aired on 3ABN. For more information contact www.3ABN.org.