In Chapter 19 of the Book of Exodus, we read how God established His covenant with the Hebrew people. This Mosaic Covenant is stated in verses Five and Six.
The Decalogue, or Ten Commandments, is spelled out in Chapter 20, verses one through seventeen. The first three are commandments relating to God. The remaining seven relate to man. It is important to understand Commandments Four through Ten have to do with how we conduct ourselves with other people.
The Fifth Commandment has nothing to do with animals, as some claim. In fact, this Commandment has been incorrectly translated almost universally ever since the King James Version of the Bible [See Strong's Number 7523-4] was published in the beginning of the 17th Century. The proper translation is
Thou shall not murder
In addition to the Decalogue, God provided a lengthy list of ordinances for the Hebrew people to use in governing themselves and to guide their every day living. If you are interested, you can read them in the remaining chapters of Exodus, and in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
The entire system of 619 commandments and ordinances normally is referred to as the Law. The intent of the Law is to establish and preserve the people of God (the Hebrew Nation) as an ideal, just and worshiping community. All Jews were expected to know and understand the Law and to live according to its dictates. Harsh penalties were prescribed and sometimes enacted for failures to comply with any provision of the Law. Scribes and teachers (rabbis) dedicated their lives to detailed examination of the Law and its application to the Jewish Nation.
Anyone able to completely keep the Law; to live righteously without ever once violation any Commandments or ordinances would, by virtue of his righteousness, be taken up to Heaven after the death of his mortal body. Unfortunately, as we read in the Bible, the Hebrew peoples never lived according to God's will. It is here that we begin to see the beauty of God's plan. God made provision for atonement when a person violated the Law. The offender could make sacrifices whenever he transgressed, and the spilled blood of the slain animal or bird would be accepted as atonement for the sin. There were rules and attitudes for proper sacrifice.
The system failed. Not because God had not designed it properly, but because His people corrupted the interpretation and application of His rules. God knew this would happen, of course, and had intended from the outset that we understand that no man could be saved from eternal damnation by following a set of rules not even a set of divinely-given rules. Forgiveness and salvation must come from another source.
God had a plan all along. He would provide a way for man to escape condemnation and spend eternity with his Lord. This plan is outlined in John 3:16-18
When Christ died on the Cross, His perfect sacrifice was accepted by God as the atonement for all men, and victory over sin. When He arose from the grave, He conquered death. We may participate in these victories through God's grace, not by anything we might do.
How demanding is the Christian life? Despite what the denominational churches, and many nondenominational churches as well, might say, being a believer is not that hard.
Is it difficult to come to Christ? Not according to the Bible. Of course, there are preachers and priests who would have you believe otherwise. When confronted by opposing opinions in matters of doctrine, just go to the source:
In this new Covenant of Grace, we are freed from the impossibility of satisfying the Law in order to attain to eternal life. When we truly believe in Christ's substitutionary sacrifice, and recognize Him as the Son of God, we move out of subjection to the Law and into Grace. No more are our sins written in the memory of God; they are covered by the Blood of Christ.
Okay, we are saved by grace. Isn't there anything I can do to obtain forgiveness and salvation? Nope! One must be born again (John 3:3)., and that involves the Holy Spirit. There are churches and pastors who would have us believe we must conform to their rules, if we are to receive eternal life. That is not what God says.
Since we are no longer bound by the Law, and we are free in Christ Jesus, why look for ways to place ourselves back under the yoke of the Law? Just doesn't make sense.
May 12, 1992
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