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The Ten Commandments: Why the Law?

By Jeffrey Stivason Posted at The Place for Truth:

According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, “The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof….neither doth Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation” (WCF, 19.5) Obviously, the Westminster Divines were not claiming that one’s obedience merits anything before God. They knew their Bible. The Jews had sought to establish their own righteousness on the basis of their law keeping and failed. The Jew’s failure was unbelief. They did not receive the teaching that “everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.” Of course, “believes” in that verse is a reference to belief in Christ. Yet, freedom in Christ means freedom from the bondage of sin that we might offer obedience to Christ. That obedience is described for us in the Ten Commandments. So, this article is an attempt to give some perspective on those commandments.

Perhaps the first and most basic question needing addressed is, why the law? After all, this question is raised in both Galatians and Romans. However, it is preceded by another question. Paul asked the Galatians, does the law given to Moses nullify the promise given to Abraham? Let me illustrate what Paul is asking. If I promise to give my car to a friend next week, then I have made him a promise. However, when the week arrives for me to give my friend my care and I say, “You can now have my car if you do these three things,” what have I done? I have introduced a law that nullified my promise. So, has the law given to Moses nullified the promise given to Abraham? The answer is clear. No, the law does not make void the promise (Gal. 3:17-18).


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