Last week we saw how the Puritans of the 1600’s agreed with the early church fathers that the Ten Commandments were a Moral Law. Many of the people who came to settle America had heard these Puritan expository sermons or even had a copy of the commentary by Matthew Henry. Those sermons considered the facts in Exodus 20. The occasion was awesome; God spoke these ten laws to the whole assembly of people whom he had delivered from slavery; He wrote them into two stones, and then had them secured into the ark of the covenant—all led them to conclude that these were ten eternal rules to govern everyone’s behavior. They concluded that this moral law was the way to please God no matter who you were or when you lived.
So because of how God had rescued them from the consequence of their sins, they practiced evangelical obedience. They thought about the meaning of each commandment, then they tried hard to keep it. When they failed, they reminded themselves of the perfect obedience of Jesus. Then, covered in his perfect righteousness, they approached God’s throne with humility and thankfulness. They asked for forgiveness. They sought strength to correct their error, and to love God and others with their whole heart. Their obedience was not looked at as merit, nor did they think these commandments were only for the Jews during the days of Moses. That would have made them irrelevant to their daily life. They did not believe in a gap between the Old and New Testaments. Being covered by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ was no excuse for continuing in sinful behavior or excusing habits that led to sin. The relationship between the law and the gospel was tight, and it was a living, vital one.
I have noticed that Christians who do not practice evangelical obedience have a hard time. Either they just throw out the Ten Commandments all together and live any way their culture approves, or they lean on some leader to tell them how to please God. They skip meditating on the meaning of the commandments, and slip into being a rule-keeper and doing what they are told or what a charismatic leader models before them. They are soon imposing those “rules” on others. They even condemn others who approach their duties differently. They often carry a burden of guilt because their thoughts and motives do not match up with their outward appearance of obeying the commandment. They can even fall off the narrow path into the ditches of legalism or antinomianism, and the gospel is then perverted by their very attempt to please God.
Seek to understand evangelical obedience. Make it an important part of your Christian walk.
Never think that this Christian practice is too difficult for children. First, they should memorize these ten rules for life and see them as ten friends. Then, they should see you model them in the home. The daily correction you give should come right out of these commandments. Do you think letting them yell, “You fool!” at their brother is a good habit? Explain how this violates, “You shall not murder.” The Holy Spirit pierces the conscience with your explanation and shows him his sin and need of a Savior. Don’t fret. You have eighteen years to train, and then a lifetime to watch for the Holy Spirit to convict and strengthen. That is life under a canopy of grace. If you develop a right view of the relationship between the law and the gospel, it will compel you to practice evangelical obedience.
Think about these scriptures:
Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren, especially the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’
Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and think darkness. And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone (Deuteronomy 4:9-13).
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, theough faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, though faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-26).