From the sermon “Introduction to the Ten Commandments“:
One last thing. What about the gigantic issue, “Do the Ten Commandments still apply?” There are many people who do not believe that the Ten Commandments still apply today. They want to know, “Why should we obey the commands? Why are the Ten Commandments still relevant? Why are they still authoritative in our day and time?” There are many good answers to that question, but let me just mention a few things.
First, we have to remember that the Ten Commandments themselves are God’s Law. As God’s Law, they are a reflection of His character, and they are unique. Whereas, some of God’s Law was written on parchment or scrolls, the Ten Commandments were written by God with His own finger on stone. Furthermore, they were spoken by God to the children of Israel at Sinai in Exodus 20, and they are clearly distinguished as something that is permanent and reflective of the character of God and meant for all ages. The old Jewish rabbis used to remind people that The Commandments were given to Israel in the wilderness, not in the land of Israel, so we see that they were meant for all nations and not just for Israel. And that’s a very important point to remember. God gave all sorts of indications that these commands were unique and that they were applicable to all times and peoples and places.
Secondly, because these commands are a reflection of the character of God, and the character of God does not change, and He Himself is the ultimate pattern of what is good and right and holy, it’s obvious that what is good and right and holy does not change. So, when we move into the New Testament era, what is good and right and holy is the same as was in the Old Testament era with regard to the moral law. Now, the civil law may change, and the ceremonial law may change, because God gave that law to specific situations and circumstances and purposes; but not His moral law. His moral law forever binds all. Therefore, since the moral law is based on who He is and it’s based on His character and His character doesn’t change, then righteousness is the same in the New Testament as it is in the Old Testament.
Thirdly, we have to remember that Jesus Himself emphasized that He did not come to abrogate the Law. Now, in Matthew 5:17-19, when He stresses this, He’s especially talking about the authority of the whole of the Old Testament, but we also learn from the book of Galatians that Jesus was born under the Law and that He kept the Law. So, Jesus, by His own example was faithful in keeping the whole of the moral Law of God. Since we are to be conformed to His image, God says in the New Testament, and He kept the Law, then we will need to keep the Law if we are really going to be like His image.
Another thing to realize is how often the New Testament references the Ten Commandments as authoritative rules for Christian living. In Ephesians 6 and Romans 13, even when he’s speaking to congregations that are predominantly Gentile Christian, not Jewish Christian, Paul will quote the commandments. In Romans 13 he’ll say, “Love is the fulfilling of the Law.” And he’ll tell those Gentile Christians to fulfill the Law. In Ephesians 6, he’ll quote the command to “honor father and mother.” And he’ll quote it to a congregation that is predominantly Gentile, and expect them to obey it. James in James 2 will talk about the “royal law” and expect us to fulfill God’s Law, and so there are numerous passages in the New Testament that make it clear that believers are to obey the Law.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.