We are talking about the life of Christians. So at this point, what does the law matter? We have Christian liberty. Haven’t we died to the law, that we might live for Christ Jesus? Didn’t Paul say: “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:6).
After this long study of the Ten Commandments, you might be feeling condemned, guilty, dead in your many failures. If that is the case, you need a reminder of your Christian liberty. We have been freed from the penalty of breaking the law (death). We are freed through faith from the curse and condemnation of breaking of the law. We are no longer under law, but under grace (Romans 3:19). We no longer have to depend on the shedding of blood of a lamb, goat, or bull to cleanse us from the guilt of our sin. No more need for priests. Jesus is our priest; the veil has been ripped apart. No more ceremonial law for us.
Christian liberty also includes being free from superstitions. Matter and physical pleasure are not evil for us. No certain food plan for us. We can eat kale, or not! We can enjoy all of God’s creation as long as our spiritual wellbeing is preserved (and that of others) (I Corinthians 6:12-13). The rules imposed on us by others no longer have any power. We can home-school, or not. Oh, it is a blessing to live so freely.
The Moral Law Remains As An Authority
But, we are not free to ignore the Ten Commandments as a guide or standard of how to please God. We are not free to pursue any sexual orientation we want. Adultery is still a sin. Telling a lie is still wrong. We are to set aside Sunday for worship. We are to love God and others. How can we be sure this is Biblical? Paul exhorted Christians to love one another on the basis that the moral law was still an authority over them. Ernie Reisinger points out this reasoning process:
Notice in these three aspects of Christian liberty that Christians have NOT been set free from responsibility to obey the moral law. Believers are exhorted in the New Testament to love one another on the express ground that it is a requirement of the moral law. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Gal. 5:13-15). …To the same purpose, the apostle, writing to the believing Romans, inculcates brotherly love and purity from the authority of the moral law. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ “‘you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor a’s yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (The Law and the Gospel, (P&R Publishing, 1997,) p. 59-60.
There is no need to fulfill something if it has no authority over you any longer. So Paul is saying that the Christian is not free from the use of the law to determine how to best love his neighbor. Stealing your neighbor’s car or coveting her husband is not the way to love your neighbor. The moral law guides the Christian so she know how to love God and other people. Ernie, my warm-hearted Calvinist friend, concludes, “Our freedom from the penalties of the law is not freedom from its precepts for holy living. In this way, grace and law are both established while true Christian liberty is affirmed.”
Stand firmly on this orthodox view of the law and Christian liberty. Smile to yourself when others impose their rules on you. Don’t exclude others just because what works for you doesn’t work for them. Cringe when another relishes her ” Christian liberty” to practice homosexuality or to live with another rather than marry. Don’t be close friends with one who claims to be a Christian but habitually lies about others or shop-lifts for the thrill it gives her. Seek to use Paul’s reasoning to defend this right view of Christian liberty and the law.
Keep teaching children the Ten Commandments. Use the commandments to show them their sin and lead them to Christ.
Yes, it does matter, even now. We are under grace; we have Christian liberty. But, the moral law is still an authority over us–to guide us, to show us what pleases God, and what is sin.