Are the 10 Commandments Binding on Christians Today?

Author Andy Stanley, the Evangelical preacher at the North Point Community Church in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, Georgia, has recently caused quite a stir among his peers and many theologians.

In a recent column in Relevant magazine, entitled “Why Do Christians Want to Post the Ten Commandments And Not the Sermon on the Mount?” Stanley argued that the ten commandments are not binding on Christians.

“The Ten Commandments played a significant role in God’s creation of the nation of Israel. It gave them moral guidelines and helped separate this new nation from their neighbors. This was part of the formal agreement (or covenant) God created with his people, but Jesus’ death and resurrection signaled the end of that covenant and all the rules and regulations associated with it,” Stanley wrote.

In response various religious leaders have called Stanley’s remarks, “dangerous,” “reckless,” and “confused.”

However, the Bible affirms the correctness of Andy’s observations, at least in this regard.

The apostle Paul repeatedly stated in his epistles that the old covenant has been replaced with the new covenant. In Colossians 2:14, he wrote that the old law was “taken away” and “nailed to the cross.”

In the Ephesian letter, Paul argues that the law separated Jews and Gentiles, but now through Christ both are one.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity (Eph 2:14-16).

The Hebrew writer constantly affirmed that the we are today under a “better covenant,” based on a “better sacrifice” with Jesus as a “better High Priest” providing “better promises” that offers us a “better hope” (Heb. 1:4, 7:19,8:6, 9:23). He calls the law “a shadow of good things to come,” that could not “take away sins” (10:1). And that Christ’s vicarious death on the cross took away the first law that He might establish the second (10:1-16).

Stanley’s point is well taken. “Thanks to the new covenant, we aren’t required to sacrifice animals to stay on speaking terms with God. Skim through Leviticus and you’ll discover a whole lot of things we aren’t required to do.”

“We need to stop mixing the old with the new,” Stanley warns. “The church has a terrible habit of selectively rebranding aspects of the old covenant and smuggling them into the new.”

Furthermore Stanley’s observations are in line with Jesus’ own statement about coming to “fulfill the law” and Paul’s explanation that “Christ was the end of the law” (Matt 5:17-18; Rom. 10;4).

“While Jesus was foreshadowed in the old covenant, he did not come to extend it. He came to fulfill it, put a bow on it, and establish something entirely new. The “new” Jesus unleashed made the faith of first-century believers formidable. Their apologetic was irrefutable. Their courage, unquestionable. And the results were remarkable.”

I would disagree with Stanley’s implication in his article that the command to “love one another” replaced all other commandments and is the only one we are to obey. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).

In fact, scattered throughout the New Testament 9 of the 10 commandments are restated as a part of Christ’s law for Christians (Rom 13:8-10;Gal 5:19-21). The only exception being “Remember the Sabbath (Saturday) and keep is holy” which is replaced with a new day for Christian worship on the first day of the week (Ax 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2).

While we are not under the laws of the Old Testament, we learn much from its teaching. Paul reminds us of its value. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom 15:4).

It is important to be reminded that neither Andy Stanley, evangelical theologians, nor Ken Weliever and ThePreachersWord are the absolute standard of authority in religious matters.

“Search the Scriptures to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11)

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Christian Living

10 responses to “Are the 10 Commandments Binding on Christians Today?

  1. Stephen Segrest

    Dear Ken, Could you talk about the 4th Commandment and the general position of COC members on honoring it. Please include at least something on Genesis and rest in teaching us in the COC general members view. Thx, Stephen

  2. Kevin J. Cleary

    ken, I disagree about your thoughts on the command “loving one another” even Jesus said if we love one another we fulfill the royal law, which includes all the commands of Christ. If we love then we are not going to violate what was fulfilled at the cross.

  3. James Snyder

    I will make an assertion here. If anyone is really interested in the Biblical source for these conclusions, I would be happy to provide it.

    The Covenant of Abraham is the New Covenant. It was made 430 years prior to The Law of Moses. The Abrahamic Covenant was offered to Israel God said if Israel would keep His Covenant they would become a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation, a peculiar people” out of all the nations of the earth. This Blood Covenant instituted with Abraham was then spoken by God to all Israel, then written by the finger of God in tablets of stone.

    Notice the verbiage in Exodus 19. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 `And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ (Exo 19:5-6 NKJ)

    The voice was from Sinai, confirming the Abrahamic Covenant, i.e. obey my voice. Note that the Ten Commandments are a covenant separate from the Old Covenant, but a covenant unto themselves. “So He declared [spoke] to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. (Deu 4:13 NKJ)

    Israel, had they obeyed, would bring people to God, as priests. They refused to have direct access to God as priests and said Moses become the mediator. Therefore God instituted the Mosaic Covenant, the Law of Moses and that was added to the Abrahamic Covenant. He also instituted the Aaronic priesthood and all the “trappings” that went along with them.

    In Christ the Abrahamic Covenant was confirmed and fulfilled in the Blood of Jesus, and the Law of Moses was vanishing away until 70 AD when is was finally completely removed. This left the Abrahamic Covenant, which came to be called the New Covenant, because Jesus finalized it, causing the Mosaic Covenant to become the “Old Covenant.” That is why “And if you are Christ’s, THEN you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. [to Abraham] (Gal 3:29 NKJ)

    And finally, the two Covenants at the time of Moses are revealed juxtaposed.
    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. 14 “And the LORD COMMANDED ME at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess. (Deu 4:13-14 NKJ)

    So revealed at Sinai is the Abrahamic Covenant confirmed to Israel before the Law of Moses, and the Law of Moses. Note that the law of Moses is stated, “…that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.”

    Confusion comes when the Covenant of Abraham is confused or conflated with the Old Covenant.

  4. Dorthy Torno

    Great article, Ken! Perfect for sharing with my four sisters (Methodist and Assembly of God- we were raised Methodist). Nothing I have tried to teach in the past has worked, but if they read this article, hopefully it will get them to thinking.
    Thank you!

  5. Pingback: How Should Christians Regard the Sabbath? | ThePreachersWord

  6. Pingback: The Law Covenant 3 Better Promises | Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

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