The Ten Commandments (“t10C” for short) are for everyone.
There are some modern believers who insist that t10C were given only to the ancient nation of Israel, and apply only to the ancient nation of Israel. Christians in particular, they say, are no longer bound to obey t10C. We are no longer under law, but under grace, they reason.
While these people’s logic seems to make some sense, and their zeal to defend grace against legalism is commendable, they’re simply confused. They fail to understand the scriptural truth of the continuity of God’s law from the Old Testament to the New (which is why they have so much trouble with the book of James).
When they are taken together, the passages that teach us about the Old and the New Covenants (Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 11 & 36, 2 Corinthians 3, and the whole book of Hebrews) leave no doubt that the law God has now engraved on our hearts is substantially the same as the law he engraved on Moses’ stone tablets.
The similarities between the old dispensation of God’s covenant with his people and the new one are sweeping and profound. In both the old dispensation and the new, submission to God’s will by obedience to God’s law is required. Never is it presented as “preferable, but not exactly necessary.”
In both dispensations, though, it’s the obedience of God-given faith, not the obedience of man-powered works, that God demands. And in both dispensations, it’s God’s grace that works in man the faith that saves him and sets him to work for God.
There are, on the other hand, important differences between the old and the new. Basically, there are two major differences: Christ, and freedom.
Under Moses, God’s people knew that there was Someone coming who would provide the final sacrifice and save them from their sins. Yet the identity of the Christ and the details of the final sacrifice were not yet clearly seen. As well, it’s possible not all understood the final sacrifice the Christ would provide was to be Christ’s offering of himself. Now, after Calvary, we see it all.
Another difference is that in Christ, the law is fulfilled, and God’s people are set free. Now Jesus IS our law, and in him we have liberty. While the fundamental principles of morality (the Ten Commandments) are still in force (as Jesus made clear in the Sermon on the Mount), the regulations, restrictions, structures and strictures that served for a time to teach God’s people his holiness and prepare them for the Christ, are gone. Circumcision for males is gone, replaced by baptism for believers. The Sabbath of enforced inactivity is gone, replaced by the Lord’s Day with its mixture of worship, rest, and freedom. The food laws are gone, with only the requirement that we thank God for the food he gives us. (1 Timothy 4:4-5) And so on. Our Lord’s kid brother twice refers to the law that we live under today as “the law of liberty” (James 1:19-25 & 2:8-13). This “law of liberty,” includes some of the key and most well-known of the old commandments. It is the law that is written on our hearts, and it is the law communicated by the Spirit who dwells within us now. But it is still the law, and its central tenets remain in place. The New Testament teaches this consistently and insistently.
Do you see? Christ has not set us free from obedience to God’s law, but for obedience to God’s law. We are his people, saved by grace alone, through faith, not at all by our own works, but for the works that God has prepared for us to do (Eph 2:8-10).
Don’t ever let anyone tell you t10C don’t apply to Christians. Not only do they apply to us, by the power of the Holy Spirit they bless and strengthen and free us.