When I was in college I used to take multiple choice tests on Scantrons—you know, those tests where you needed a No. 2 pencil to fill in the little bubbles that corresponded to the correct answer. I was great at those tests, except for the ones that said, “Choose the best answer.”
Of course, once you saw that statement, you knew there was more than one answer that could be right, but you had to choose the one that best fulfilled the question. It wasn’t always easy. Sweat beaded on the brow, and anxious breathing followed. Let the process of elimination begin.
Not long ago I posted on Facebook a simple three-minute video that explains how Sunday came to be the “preferred” worship day of the week for mainstream Christianity —and why it should not be. I simply commented, “Not bad for 3 minutes.” Little did I know that this simple posting would start a heated argument regarding the validity of the commandments of God. In trying to debate this issue, numerous excuses were thrown out on why the commandments were no longer valid, and I countered them the best that I could. One answer seemed to work the best.
My question I pose to you is this: What answer supports the validity of keeping the commandments of God, and the reason you should keep them? (Choose the best answer.)
Answer A: I don’t have to.
Mainstream Christianity will often say that the commandments of God were nailed to the cross, that Jesus fulfilled the law, and that we are therefore no longer required to obey the laws of the Old Covenant. Others will quote Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×which states, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” (New International Version).
First, what was actually physically nailed to the cross? Jesus Himself, of course, and the sign placed above His head that stated, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” What was spiritually nailed to the cross? In Colossians 2:14 Colossians 2:14 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;
American King James Version×, we see that the “handwriting of requirements that was against us”—“the charge of our legal indebtedness” (NIV)—was nailed to the cross. Is that referring to the laws of God? No. The laws aren’t against us, but our sins are —sins that required the payment of a penalty.
Not only were our sins nailed to the cross, but also the penalty for our sins. Jesus was the perfect and ultimate sacrifice to cover all of humanity’s sins. No longer would animal sacrifices be needed. Rather, Jesus’ blood would cover all sins for all time. This doesn’t mean that sin no longer exists. It just means we are no longer under the death penalty for our sins if we’ve repented and accept His sacrifice.
God’s law still defines what sin is. If the law was no longer valid, the entire New Covenant would never mention sin, for there wouldn’t be any sin to discuss. Obviously, the law still exists.
Jesus Himself stated: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least [by those] in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great [by those] in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
18 For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
American King James Version×).
Jesus’ own words warn about teaching that the commandments are done away. Instead He tells us to do them and teach them. Furthermore, the word “fulfill” means “fill up” or, in context, “give full meaning to.” Jesus would fulfill the law by teaching its full spiritual intent and living by it as a perfect example. In no way does “fulfill” here mean that the law is done away!
Regarding Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×, it’s no surprise that this scripture is so often taken out of context. The chapter is referring to heretical teachings with gnostic influences, not the doctrines of the New Testament church congregation in Colosse.
A close reading shows that the heretics being discussed believed that one should practice asceticism, worshipping a hierarchy of spirits and refraining from feasting on such occasions as God’s Sabbaths and Holy Days. In fact, Paul in Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×is saying not to worry about these heretics judging the way the church members were celebrating the Sabbath and Holy Days.
This scripture that is so often used to say you don’t have to keep God’s laws is actually teaching just the opposite! (To learn more, read the free Bible study aid Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest . )
Answer B: Jesus was without sin—He gave us the perfect example
Was Jesus the perfect Jew? Or was Jesus the perfect Christian? If He was both, what does that mean regarding the law and its application for us as Christians?
The majority of mainstream Christianity believes that Jesus was sinless and the perfect example of what it is to be Christian. However, where Christians tend to divide is in deciding what application the law has for them. Some believe the law is only for the Jews and that Christians only need to follow the example of Christian living that Jesus gave us.
In Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
American King James Version×, we see that “there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (New Living Translation). Plainly, Jesus was the perfect example for all of mankind. Not only are we to lead a Christian life, but we are also to obey God’s commandments as He did.
The book of Galatians is where mainstream Christianity will often base its overall argument that Paul is saying Christians no longer have to obey the law of God. Certainly, the study of Galatians is much more expansive than what can be covered here. However, in light of the rest of Paul’s epistles and the entirety of the New Testament, there is no possible way to legitimately conclude that Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is ultimately saying that one is no longer under obligation to obey God’s law. (To better understand Galatians, read the informative Bible study aid book The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God’s Law? )
While many argue that the commandments were just for the Jews while we need only to live a Christian life, they fail to see that not only did Jesus keep the commandments of God, but so did His apostles (see 1 Corinthians 7:19 1 Corinthians 7:19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
American King James Version×; 1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×) and so would the Christians of the end time (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×; Revelation 14:12 Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
American King James Version×). His true followers are defined as those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.
The traditional Christian argument against the law maintains that, in the time between Jesus’ death and His second coming, the adherence to the commandments is unnecessary. Many state this in spite of the fact that the Bible shows that time period being bookended by Jesus and His early disciples keeping them and the end-time Church keeping them. The argument is simply illogical.
Answer C: As the name implies, they are commandments, not just suggestions
No one debates what the word “commandments” means. However, there were two arguments made against the commandments.
The first of the arguments made was to debate whose commandments we are to keep. To many, there is a difference between God’s commandments (considered “nailed to the cross”) and Jesus’ new commandment stated in John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
American King James Version×: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (NIV).
Did Jesus’ new commandment replace God’s commandments? As we’ve seen, Jesus did not come to destroy God’s law or replace it. What He did come to do was to “fulfill” the law, or give it full spiritual meaning. Jesus emphasized how love and the law work together. They are not exclusive of each other. Rather love equates to fulfilling God’s law (Romans 13:10 Romans 13:10Love works no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
American King James Version×).
When Jesus was asked which commandment is greatest, He responded: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 Matthew 22:37-40 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
American King James Version×, NIV).
The requirements of the whole Bible and all the commandments of God are ultimately summed up as love. If you are loving God and your neighbor, you will be upholding the law and fulfilling it. Furthermore, “loving your neighbor” is not only a New Testament concept. Jesus was directly quoting Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
American King James Version×: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
The second argument often made is that you can’t earn salvation by keeping the commandments. Salvation is a gift. Since you can’t earn salvation by keeping the commandments, you don’t need to keep them.
This argument is a half-truth. It is true in that salvation is a gift that can’t be earned. However the conclusion is faulty. While you can’t earn salvation by doing anything, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t expect us to follow His way of life or meet conditions He sets (see “Is Belief All That’s Required for God’s Gift of Salvation? ”). Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:19 1 Corinthians 7:19Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
American King James Version×that “keeping the commandments of God is what matters.” It’s very difficult to argue around what this verse is saying.
Answer D: You keep God’s commandments because you love God
Even in the Old Covenant, God understood the problem in the covenant agreement with His people ancient Israel. The problem was never with the law, but with the hearts of the people. God stated this clearly: “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29 Deuteronomy 5:29O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
American King James Version×, NIV).
The combination of “love,” “hearts” and “commandments” are used so many times together in the Old Testament that we can’t possibly cross reference them all here. God understood that His people in the Old Covenant didn’t have the heart to follow Him, a problem common to all mankind (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×), but He promised to change that in the New Covenant.
He stated through His prophet Jeremiah: “‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (Jeremiah 31:33 Jeremiah 31:33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, said the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
American King James Version×, NIV). In the Old Covenant, the law was written on stone. In the New Covenant, it is to be written on our hearts. God wants our motivation of obedience to be that of love, not just because it is commanded.
In the New Testament, we see this stated again and again. The apostle John wrote: “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him” (1 John 2:3-5 1 John 2:3-5 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
American King James Version×, NIV).
He continues: “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3 1 John 5:2-3 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
American King James Version×, NIV).
We can summarize all this simply with: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. We so love God that we keep His commands.”
Which do you say is the best answer?