So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:12)
One of the greatest mistakes Christians often make when discipling new believers is to teach them that the laws of God are no longer binding on us, that what God really wants from us is to love him. There are commandments in the New Testament given to believers, but these commandments are more like suggestions rather than laws. They are often quick to point out that Paul says “we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6). Yet, in the very next few verses Paul goes on to say, “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” The law is “holy and righteous and good.” Thus, when Paul talks about being “released from the law” he is talking about being released from the condemnation of the law because of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but not that we are released from the obligations of the law. The Ten Commandments still apply to the believer and are just as binding on the believer today as they were in the Old Testament. The requirements of the law upon a person does not change at the moment of regeneration, rather the manner in which the law is applied by the Holy Spirit is what changes. As Martin Luther once said, “The Law is like a stick which God used to beat me, but afterward I learned to walk with.” Believers are no longer under the condemnation and judgement of the law, but the law is still there to keep us from sinning. For this reason, in discipling my family, I have taught them to memorize the Ten Commandments. Not because keeping the commandments is a means of salvation, but because the Holy Spirit uses the commandments to drive us to Christ and keep us close to Christ.
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