Are The Ten Commandments Binding Today?

Many people think that the ten commandments are binding today, but such is simply not the case. Some have failed to learn that the ten commandments were a covenant made exclusively for Israel. Moses was in the perfect position to know the answer to the question, “To whom were the ten commandments given?” God called him to the summit of Sinai to receive these ten commandments written on two tables of stone. Furthermore, it was Moses was inspired to write the two wherein we read of these ten commandments. Exodus 20 is when they were first given. Deuteronomy 5 is when Moses repeated them for the sake of the new generation soon to inherit the promised land of Canaan. “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day” (Deut. 5:2).

One of the ten commandments involves the keeping of the Sabbath day (Deut. 5:14). To whom did God give the Sabbath? Did he give it to the whole of humanity or to a part of humanity? In the latter part of Exodus 31:17, God said the Sabbath was a sign between Him and the children of Israel.

In Second Corinthians 3:7, Paul talks about the two covenants and contrasts them. We do not have to be in doubt as to what that the old covenant included. “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away.” What was it that was written and engraven in stones? We read in Deuteronomy 5 how God wrote the ten Commandments on tables of stone. Concerning that law written in stones Paul affirmed that the law written on tables of stone is “done away” and is “abolished” in Second Corinthians 3:11,13. How could Paul have been any clearer? Colossians 2:14 says the old law was nailed to the cross. Hebrews 10:9 settles the matter once and for all time to every Biblical believer, “…He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.”

There is also the common fallacy that to say we are not under the ten commandments is to say that we can commit these sins or could not condemn sin in our world. When you present the case from the Bible that we are not under the ten commandments the response that you will often hear is: “Then are you not saying we can worship idols, profane God’s name, dishonor parents, murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness against others and covet?” Such does not follow.

In the new covenant which God has made, we find nine of the points covered by the ten commandments incorporated and enlarged upon. They are binding; not because they were in the Old Covenant, but because they are in the New Covenant. Commandment 1 prohibited having any other Gods save the one and true God. “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4:10). Commandment 2 prohibited idolatry. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 Jn. 5:21). Commandment 3 forbade taking God’s name in vain. Jesus said, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Mt. 6:9). Commandment 4 commanded Sabbath day keeping. Neither Christ nor any of his apostles ever enjoined Sabbath keeping on us. If they did where is the book, chapter, and verse? But friends, if the TEN commandments are still binding, then we are obligated to keep the Sabbath day or Saturday holy, with all that entails. Commandment 5 commanded honoring father and mother. Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise” (Eph. 6:1-2). Parental honor, respect, and obedience are demanded by Christ and His apostles. This is why such is to be obeyed today. Christ, not Moses, is our lawgiver today. Commandments 6 & 7 legislated against murder and adultery. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus cut off murder and adultery at their infamous roots- anger and lust (Mt. 5:21-30). Commandment 8 forbade stealing. Paul said, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). Commandment 9 prohibited bearing false witness. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:9). Finally, Commandment 10 prohibited covetousness. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Why are we not free to murder, steal, lie, or covet? Because Christ prohibits all these acts in the thinking, in the planning, and in the action thereof. Under Christianity, these sins are attacked at the point of origin, at the heart! We respect these principles of morality because they are part of the law of Christ under which we live today. Our Law is the law of Christ and not the ten commandments.

— Mike McDaniel