Removing The Ten Commandments

The steam is slowly settling now at the steps of the Alabama Judicial Building, in Montgomery, where a monument of the ten commandments was removed two weeks ago. Despite the protest of hundreds of demonstrators in favor of keeping the monument, the 5,300 pound memorial was unfastened and rolled out by order of a federal judge. For some, this decision is an act of blasphemy against God—“We’re no longer a Christian nation for rejecting this monument.” For others it’s a matter of respecting the Constitution’s freedom of religion— “We should be allowed to display our faith in God!”

Where are we to stand on this issues as Christians? Would Jesus and the apostles be joined with the crowd on the courthouse steps in protesting the removal of this memorial? Or would they respond differently? It might be a surprise to you, but I believe Jesus and the apostles would not only not be among the crowd of demonstrators, they would be holding open the door for the workers as they rolled out the monument!

“What? How can a man who claims to be a Christian write such blasphemous words? What child of God would lend support to the atheists who successfully removed a memorial to God? Do you not care about the morality of this nation?”

And my response is, yes, I do care about God’s word and, yes, I am greatly concerned about the morality of this nation. It is a terrible thing for people to not want to have anything to do with God. However, it is a whole different matter to think that a monument of the ten commandments is a demonstration of God’s will. It is not. That memorial is as meaningless to God as a speck of dust. The ten commandments is a dead law. It is a system of religion that He no longer endorses. “How in the world can you say that about the law of Moses?” Because that’s how the apostles teach us to view the old law: it is no longer included in God’s will (Rom. 7:1-6).

The uneasiness of these words is the same reaction the Jews felt as they heard the apostles teach the law of Christ. And the rage they felt was much greater than a public demonstration on the courthouse steps. Their anger lead them to imprison and beat those who betrayed the ten commandments for Christianity. Their zeal for God caused them to kill Jews who showed allegiance to anything else except the law of Moses. But the apostles and first Christians were not moved by the “threats and murder against the disciples.” They pressed on.

One of the men who opposed Christians for rejecting the law of Moses was Saul (later called Paul, the apostle). He was in the forefront of the pack that beat, imprisoned and killed Jews who became Christians. But later, when he realized Jesus was raised from the dead, and the one by whom all men are saved, he submitted to Christ and repented of his attacks against Christianity. He then went on to say of Jesus and the law of Moses, “He has taken it out the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 3:14). It is “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (v. 17). He told the Ephesians that Jesus “abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances” (Eph. 2:15). Was he committing blasphemy by advancing such a message? Many thought so and even tried to kill him for it— “This fellow persuades men to worship God contrary to the law” (Ac. 18:3). Yet Paul and the other apostles knew the truth—“He has made the first obsolete” (Heb. 8:13).

The key to understanding the ten commandments is to realize it was a law given to the Jews, not Christians. It was the foundation of the covenant God made with them at Mount Sinai (Exo. 34:27,28; Heb. 8:9). It is not the same covenant He has with Christians (Heb. 8:8-13; 9:9,10). Are the principles of the ten commandments still applicable? Absolutely, most of them are repeated in the law of Christ, though many existed even before the law of Moses (i.e., murder: Gen. 4:8). But these principles are to be followed today because Christ teaches them, not because they were given at Sinai. We still must not worship anyone but God (1 Cor. 10:21), nor make graven images to honor in religion (1 Cor. 10:14) [it is a serious matter to have statues of religious figures]. It is still a sin to take the Lord’s name in vain (1 Tim. 1:20; Jas. 2:7), to dishonor parents (Eph. 6:1-3) and to murder, commit adultery, steal, lie or covet (1 Cor. 6:9,10). The only commandment not repeated is the command to keep the sabbath day (Saturday) holy. The Lord’s day of the new covenant is Sunday (Ac. 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1; Col. 2:14). And while we should learn the principle of honoring the Lord’s day from the regulations given in the law of Moses, it is no longer a sin to work on Saturday or even the Lord’s day because that law is not in force. It was a system given to Jews, not Christians.

Should we be concerned for the progress of atheists who want every symbol of God removed from society? Absolutely. I am greatly concerned. But is this battle to be fought on the steps of a courthouse in defense of a monument of the law of Moses? Absolutely not. We need to put away that law and serve Christ through the New Testament. The concern we all should have is not that a manmade object of worship is removed from a courthouse. Our greater concern must be whether or not we’re worshipping God in ways pleasing to Him and living lives consistent with His will. The new covenant is not on a marble marker in Alabama; it is “written not with ink but by the Spirit of God, not on tablets of stone but on tables of flesh, that is of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). It is in living lives conformed to the message revealed by the Spirit through the apostles in the New Testament (Heb. 2:2-4). That’s the law we need to be concerned about losing in our courtrooms, classrooms, communities and churches. And yet, it happens everyday when someone practices immorality, teaches a false plan of salvation or initiates a work for the church not found in the New Testament (1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 4:2-4). Where are the crowds protesting such behavior? Where is the anger and zeal? Where is the love for God and His word?

Too often, it is been unfastened and rolled out by the ruling of men.

By Mike Thomas

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