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Eighteen Reasons - Part 1

Scripture: Ephesians 2:15, Colossians 2:14, Leviticus 23:24-28
Were the Ten Commandments abolished? Some feel there are Bible texts which provide God's law was set aside. This sermon deals with these texts and shows what was really nailed to the cross. Even the reference to sabbaths were not part of the moral law, but set days for feasts. Yearly sabbaths were a type of holy convocations separate from the weekly Sabbath. God's 10 commandments are still binding today.
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Proponents of the growing humanist movement are attempting to change the social fabric of our times with their radical new labels for old sins. The most amazing thing is that many theological leaders are beginning to approve this liberal permissiveness. For a long time there has been a gradual slackening of support for the Ten Commandments, even in religious circles. The obsession for more freedom has led to a denial of any absolute standard of right or wrong. To support the extreme liberalism of such a position, many are suggesting that the Ten Commandments were abolished at the time Jesus died on the cross. Texts are being cited in support of this strange, doctrinal departure from the faith. Today we're going to examine some of these texts and show how unreasonable the current interpretation has become.

So many times people say, "Well, the law of Moses was nailed to the cross and that included the Ten Commandment law, so we don't want anything to do with it." It is true that some ordinances came to an end at the cross, but let's be careful to identify these ordinances correctly. Were the Ten Commandments nailed there, and did they cease to operate at the time Jesus died? Let's notice a text in Ephesians 2:15. "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace." Now this does say that a law of commandments containing ordinances was nailed to the cross. It apparently was abolished, it says, through Christ. But what commandments were those? Let's read on in another text, 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."

Now notice, friends, which law is being dealt with here. It says that one was blotted out, it was apparently a law that was against us, contrary to the Christian. Paul goes on in verses 16 and 17 to explain which law he is talking about and which ordinances are meant. "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: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Now here he spells it out for us. He says the laws which he's talking about and the ordinances involved here are the ones having to do with meats and drinks and new moons and things which are a shadow of things to come. There's nothing in the Ten Commandment law at all that's a shadow. It's all plain, solid commandments intended for all the world. In fact, it's the foundation of God's government. Somebody asks, "Well, what about the Sabbath days mentioned here? Does that refer to the seventh-day Sabbath? Is it shadowy? Is it something that was to be nailed to the cross and done away with?" No, this reference to sabbaths does not refer to the Ten Commandments at all, or to the seventh-day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments.

You see, there were certain yearly sabbath days that had nothing at all to do with the moral law of the Ten Commandments. These sabbaths came once a year and they came on certain, set days that put them on a different day of the week every year. Let's read a description of them back in Leviticus 23, beginning with verse 24. You'll discover that there were four of these yearly sabbaths or Jewish festivals spoken of here in this particular chapter, and all of them were looking forward to or pointing forward to the great deliverance from sin which would come through Christ. "Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation." This festival came on a certain, set date every year and was called a yearly sabbath. It was a shadow or type of the coming of Christ as the Saviour. In verses 27, 32 and 34, other yearly sabbaths are brought to view in which people were to rest. And then, finally, in verses 37 and 38, it's all summed up, these yearly festivals or ceremonial sabbaths. "These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, . . . everything upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the Lord."

There it is. Notice how the yearly, shadowy sabbaths are clearly separated from and distinguished from the seventh-day Sabbath of the Lord. They were included in the ceremonial law of Moses, but the sabbath of the Lord was in the heart of the moral Ten Commandment law. There's great confusion unless these two codes of law are recognized and kept separate. Remember that man had the least to do with the Ten Commandments than with any other part of the Bible. God spoke that Law directly to the people and they heard it with their ears. Deuteronomy 4:12, 13. "And the Lord spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone."

God first spoke it, then He wrote it with His own fingers on tables of stone, then Moses was commanded to put those tablets inside the Ark of the Testament. Now let's think of the law of the ordinances for a moment. They were rules which concerned the sacrificial offering, circumcision, and typical feasts pointing forward to Christ. God did not speak these things directly to people. He gave them to Moses to deliver to the people. God did not write them at all. Moses wrote them. They were not graven on stones, but written in a book. The book was not placed inside the Ark, but in the sides of it. Notice the text in Deuteronomy 31:24. "And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." We are told in Psalm 111:7 and 8 that the law of God is eternal. But these ordinances were blotted out and abolished. They had nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. They were dealing only with the typical, ceremonial, shadowy ordinances.

Perhaps the clearest distinction could be made by asking a few questions. The day before Jesus died, a man who was guilty of sin was under obligation to bring a sin offering as an expression of faith that God would accept him and forgive him. It was a sin for that man to refuse to show his faith in this way. But was it a sin for that man to refuse to bring an offering the day following Jesus' death? You say, "No, because the blood of Jesus had been shed and no one needed to kill any sacrifice again because Christ had come." Now let me ask you this: Was it sin to break the Ten Commandments the day before Jesus died? Of course it was. And it was a sin to steal, kill, or break the Sabbath, the day after He died as well. It was just as wrong to break any of those Ten Commandments the next day as it was the day before He died. Then we have to admit that the two laws were different, and they were not on an equal basis after Jesus died. The ceremonial law came to an end right there. The sacrifices no longer continued beyond the cross. They were nailed to it. Those things were contrary to the Christian because they were only pointing forward to Christ. When Christ came, type met anti-type; the shadow had met the substance, and it was no longer necessary to bring sacrifices.

Let's recognize then, that we're dealing with two laws; one of a ceremonial, temporary nature that existed until the cross, and the other one, the Ten Commandment law of God, which is eternal, and which continues, and which applies to all men of all times and generations. This is not some strange teaching, by the way, because I have before me now the BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER of the Church of England, and under the Articles of Religion I read these words: "Although the law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, yet not withstanding no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral."

Here you see the two distinct codes of law, the ceremonies and the moral Ten Commandments. This agrees perfectly with what John Wesley said about the two laws in his book SERMONS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, Volume 1. He says this: "The ritual or ceremonial law delivered by Moses to the Children of Israel containing all the injunctions and ordinances which related to the old sacrifices our Lord did indeed come to destroy, to dissolve, and utterly abolish. But the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments and enforced by the prophet, Christ did not take away. It was not the design of His coming to revoke any part of this." The great reformer, Martin Luther, subscribed to that same doctrine. In his SHORTER CATECHISM we read this question: "Are we under obligation to keep the ceremonial law of the Jews? Answer: No, the ordinances which it enjoined were only types and shadows of Christ and were fulfilled by his death. This distinction between the Jew and Gentile was now removed. The ceremonial law was abolished. Question: Are we under obligation to keep the moral law? Answer: Yes, because it is founded on the nature of God and cannot be changed. It is of universal application which was impossible with respect to the ceremonial laws. Christ demands obedience to this law."

And now maybe we should have a statement from the noted world evangelist, Billy Graham, taken from his MY ANSWER column in the newspaper. Here's the question: "Some people I know tell me that the Ten Commandments are part of the law and do not apply to us today. They say that as Christians we are free from the law. Is that right?" And here's the answer that Billy Graham gave in his newspaper column: "No, it is not right. And I hope you'll not be misled by these false opinions. It is very important to understand what the New Testament means when it says that Christians are free from the law. It certainly does not mean that they're free from the obligations of the moral law of God and are at liberty to sin."

You see, the word "law" is used by the New Testament writers in two senses. Sometimes it refers to the ceremonial law of the Old Testament. This ceremonial law was of a passing character and was done away when Christ came. From this law Christians are indeed free, but the New Testament also speaks of the moral law which is of a permanent, unchanging character and is summarized in the Ten Commandments. This law sets forth God's demands on human life and man's duty to God and his neighbor. That it definitely applies to the Christian is made clear in Romans 13, and with that statement of Billy Graham I heartily concur.

And so, friends, with that we let the case rest today. The law of God has not been abolished. The Ten Commandments are just as strong and binding today upon the world as they were when God wrote them. In spite of the fact that many theologians are not in agreement and many college and university young people do not want to accept it, the Word of God speaks out loud and clear on this subject.

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