Right Attitude Towards God’s Law

They viewed the Ten Commandments in a broader sense, not by word-by-word alone, nor as a checklist, but with its spirit-principle. This is the right attitude towards God's Law.

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They viewed the Ten Commandments in a broader sense, not word-by-word alone, nor as a checklist, but with its spirit-principle. This is the right attitude towards God's Law

“The Ten Commandments are so limited and incomplete. There are sins that are not covered in it, such as drug abuse, gluttony, abortion, dishonoring grandparents, etc.”

“Where is the mandate to be baptized in the Ten Commandments?”

False Teachers’ Attitude Towards God’s Law: The Letters Of The Law

The statements above are so common for preachers who avoid the keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath is in the middle of the Ten Commandments, and thus to avoid it is to get rid of God’s Moral Law.

The “strictly following every letter of the law” without considering the spirit or principles of every precept is actually an old problem of humanity. Man always wanted to enumerate the “do’s and dont’s” and try to find holes in it.

This was exactly the mentality of the people when Christ first came to this earth. Because of this legalistic view, obeying the law for them became a burden. Consider the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30, and the one “well-versed in the Law” in Matthew 22:35-40.

Young Man: “What good things should i do to have eternal life?”
Jesus: “..keep the commandments.”
Young Man: “which?”
(In Tagalog, “Alin-alin?”)

Pharisee: “Which of the commandments are the most important?”

You see? That was how most people regarded the law. They want it to be enumerated, like a checklist, and find which are the most grievous or with little consequences and then find loopholes in it.

Sad to say, this mentality is still and very much prevalent in our time today, and worst of all so many professed pastors and preachers perceive the Ten Commandments this way! That is why their conclusion is to get rid of it.

Jesus Solution and Example

Jesus is also aware of this legalistic perception of God’s law. This was actually the attitude of the people when He came to this earth. But His solution is NOT to get rid of it, but rather to put the people back in its real understanding. God wants us to obey His law in letters, but most especially in SPIRIT and in TRUTH as well (John 4:23).

What was Jesus’ attitude towards the moral law of God? Is it the same as what we can hear from the preachers today–that God’s law is burdensome and so limited?

Isaiah 42:21 “The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.”

Matthew 5:17-19 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill..”

This prophecy is what exactly Jesus did in Matthew 5-7 as example. He expounded (magnified) what should be the right interpretation of each basic commandment. He put people’s mind back to the real meaning of each precept.

Keep this in mind: Destroying or abolishing the law (Ten Commandments) is not making it honourable.

How To Obey The Law In Spirit–Principle?

Exodus 20:17 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” KJV

Literally (or in letters-only), the 10th commandment is about against covetousness. But how about its principles? How will we obey it in its spirit or principle?

The 10th commandment is not only about greediness. It is also about contentment; and the result of being satisfied is to share blessings to others instead of taking it all for one’s self. This is exactly what Jesus had in mind when he conversed with the rich young man in Matthew 19:16-30.

Jesus followed the young man’s perception toward God’s law by enumerating it for him, and immediately the young man said “All these things have I kept from my youth up..”. At this moment it is evident that the young man regarded the law in letters only.

When the young man continued with “what lack I yet?”, Jesus steered his mind towards the “keeping of the law in spirit”.  Jesus told the young man to “go and give your wealth to the poor”, the young man was saddened because he cannot do it.

Thus, the story tells us that giving wealth to the poor is another way of obeying the 10th commandment. If we are satisfied to the blessings that God is giving us, then don’t “covet others’ possessions”. It means be satisfied. And the result of this is by “giving our wealth to the poor” especially if we are “in great possessions”. This is how the spirit of the law works. We can’t read it word-for-word but it is in there.

The Spirit of the Law in the Old and New Testament

James told us that the Moral Law should be regarded as one entity (James 2:10). The first four is about loving God, and the next six is loving co-creatures. So the Moral Law is all about love. “Love your God..and your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, the ultimate spirit of the law is LOVE.

Many said that this is the new commandment of Christ as a replacement to the Ten Commandments. But it is not.

Deut. 6:5 “Love Jehovah thy God with all your heart..”
Lev. 19:18 “..love thy neighbor as thyself”.
Lev. 19:34 “..the stranger that journeys with you..thou shall love him as thyself.”
Zech. 8:17 “..and let none of you devise evil in your hearts against your neighbor..”

These texts are from the Old Testament, and Christ connected it with the Moral Law as what we had read from Matthew chapters 19 and 22. So both in the Old and New Testament, the spirit and letters of the law are in effect.

Examples of the Godly Men Both From Old and New Testament

David: “Great peace have those who love Your law..nothing causes them to stumble..Your law is my delight. The law is perfect, converting the soul..” Ps 119:165,174; 19:7.

Paul – “the law is holy, just, and good. For I delight in the law of God.” Rom 7:12,22

James – ‘it’s the law of liberty.” James 1:25

How did they arrive in such statements if their thinking of the Moral law is burdensome, limited, and a curse? The answer?

They viewed the Ten Commandments in a broader sense, not word-by-word alone, nor as a checklist, but with its spirit-principle. This is how God expects us to view it also. Furthermore, it is the Holy Spirit who will work in us in order for us to obey God’s laws for as long as we are willing.

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  1. Hebrew 8:7 And The Ten Commandments Part 3 : Ang Tinig Sa Ilang – Adventist apologetic Internet and radio ministry Reply

    […] And they go further by saying that “dishonoring grandparents, great grandparents, or granddaughters” are not yet considered a sin in the Old Testament since it was only the “father and mother” that was mentioned in the fifth commandment. (Please read the Right Attitude to God’s Law) […]