Over the past few months, I have been listening to the sermons of others on YouTube during my downtime. I do this because I try not to spend too much time entertaining myself. As I listen to these sermons on a variety of topics, I often hear specific words of Jesus Christ taken out of context. I also hear many of these orators ignore statements of Jesus that appear to be easy to understand. My previous statements are not words of condemnation. I am writing this to caution the readers to confirm any teaching you come across in your Bible. Through much prayer and studying, we can discern the true doctrines that God Almighty has preserved in the Holy Scriptures.
To help others in their study of the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, we are launching an additional series on this website. The 2 Olive Trees invites you to read the first installment of our new series: Stop Ignoring What Jesus Said.
An Overview of the Reformation
Modern Christianity has systematically taught that the commandments are done away with. Most of this teaching is a consequence of Roman Catholic abuse of their adherents. The Roman Church utilized the teachings of hell and purgatory to extort many. During the Dark Ages, many people still held to the belief that they must keep the commandments of God pertaining to conduct. The Catholic Church was able to use this belief against millions of people to coerce them into paying for indulgences. After centuries of exploitation, a rebellion against the “Mother Church” arose within the priesthood. We know this rebellion as the Protestant Reformation.
In an attempt to free people from the spiritual stranglehold, some Catholic priests such as Martin Luther began to assert that God requires no works. Originally these priests only wanted to reform the Catholic Church; however, the church was unwilling. As a result, many denominations arose. These denominations taught most of the same doctrines as the Catholic Church. The major difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is their teaching on work-based salvation. Catholicism maintains a set of rituals not found in the Bible while mainstream Protestantism promotes faith without works.
What Did Jesus Teach
If we claim to be followers of Christ, then we should study His teachings intimately. Jesus Christ had a lot to say about the commandments of God and works. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus never taught that we do not have to keep the commandments. Read the following verses carefully:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matt. 5:17)
First recognize that Jesus is talking to His disciples (Matt 5:1). It is commonly taught that He is preaching to the multitudes; however, verse 1 indicates that He went up a mountain and His disciples followed. The multitudes were following Him because of the healings He executed in Galilee (Matt. 4:23-24). His fame went through Syria and then groups from different parts of the region began to follow Him. It becomes plain that Jesus saw the multitudes of people and decided to isolate Himself by going up a mountain. When His disciples came unto Him, He began to teach them.
Why would Jesus have to tell His disciples He did not come to destroy the law? Jesus knew that His disciples learned what they knew about God’s word from the scribes and Pharisees. The scribes and Pharisees did not keep the law of God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). These religious leaders were hypocrites, teaching the law but doing the opposite. Jesus’ teachings appeared to be contrary to their teaching; however, He taught against their hypocrisy, not the law given through Moses. Did you know that Jesus commanded them to do what the Pharisees said, but avoid copying their actions?
“Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matt. 23:1-4)
Yes, Jesus told the multitude and the disciples to keep what the scribes and Pharisees taught from the commandments God gave to Moses. Remember, the 5 books of Moses contain many laws and those laws are made to morally guide all of mankind. These books deal with marriage, theft, murder, loans, charity, property, inheritance, and much more. These laws were crafted by the mind of God. The Ten Commandments are a summary of God’s moral code for man. When you understand this fact, it becomes obvious that Jesus would fulfill these laws rather than destroy them. Please read the books recorded by Moses often. These books contain valuable information about how we are to conduct ourselves and why.
The Commandments Are a Salvation Issue
“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matt. 19:17)
Many try to explain that this verse is for the Jews or that Jesus only said this because He hadn’t been crucified yet. The only reason for trying to explain this verse in these ways is to excuse adherence to the Ten Commandments. Remember, Jesus came to fulfill, not to destroy the law. Willful disobedience to God’s moral law will lead to spiritual destruction. It is not a light thing to teach these laws are nailed to the cross. Notice this verse:
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:19)
It’s important to point out that Jesus did not say those who teach men to break the commandments will be in the kingdom of heaven. He tells the disciples that those who do this evil shall be “called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus Christ is explaining how important it is to keep and teach the least of the commandments. Depending on what we do, we will be highly regarded or lowly regarded in kingdom of heaven. Do not misunderstand these plain words of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Entering the kingdom of God requires repentance, then obedience.
The Bible does not teach that the law was destroyed though it does teach that the sacrifices of the Old Testament cannot compare with the perfect sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 10:1-10). Remember the law gives mankind the knowledge of what sin is (Rom. 7:7). The law is not dead. We are to be dead unto sin.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1)
We cannot continue to live in sin if we have repented and begged for God’s mercy. Grace is not a license to sin. Being dead unto sin means not letting sin have influence over your body. Read Rom. 6:6-14. These verses display the attitude believers should have toward sin.
“What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” (Rom. 6:15)
Neither Jesus Christ nor the apostles taught that the law was done away with through His sacrifice. They taught we must keep the commandments in a “newness of spirit.” (Rom. 7:6). Just like in our society, the law has no power over you until you transgress it. Being dead unto sin (which is the transgression of the law, see 1 John 3:4) removes the laws power over you. The only way to be free of the law is to be dead unto sin. Your relationship with God requires this level of obedience. It requires the keeping of the commandments, which differentiates between righteousness and unrighteousness.
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:1-3)
Jesus Christ taught His disciples how to keep the law in spirit and in truth. Read the 5th and 6th chapters of Matthew to see these plain teachings. After His crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples to teach the things He commanded them to do. And He commanded them to keep the commandments.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt. 28:19-20)