Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
The core and foundation of the Law of God is “The Ten Commandments.” This is the subject and title of this month’s presentation by Dr. Ernest L. Martin. This article is compiled from a 1978 tape and a short 1979 article.
For each of us the observance of the Ten Commandments is, as Shakespeare wrote, “a custom more honor’d in the breach than the observance” (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4). We cannot honor the law and break it at the same time. Yet at our heart (which is deceitful above all things, deceitful even to ourselves, Jeremiah 17:9–10) we all think we are basically “good.”
The Jews attempted to be righteous by “binding” the Law of God, including the Commandments with their traditions. Their justification in increasing the traditions was to keep people far from breaking the Law of God. Their vain human attempts at righteousness did just the opposite. These scribal and pharisaical “traditions of men” (Mark 7:7–8 and Colossians 2:8) caused themselves and the people to “transgress the commandment of God” by their tradition (Matthew 15:3). The result was as Jesus said, they “made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). They did this purposefully 1 :
“For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. And he said unto them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition.”
Yet Jesus says, “if you will enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). How fair is this? Well, it is not fair. It is not intended to be fair, but it is perfectly in line with God’s requirements to accomplish His purpose in your life, and in the life of everyone He has called to know the truth now.
Our situation is even worse because when Jesus became flesh He made the Ten Commandments absolutely impossible to keep. He made thought crimes to be breaking the Ten Commandments. We cannot help but break them because Jesus raised the qualifications for observance. Even the thoughts of our heart are subject to scrutiny by God and are sinful:
“You have heard that it was said by them of old time, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Jesus raised the “bar” of breaking the Ten Commandments so high that no human being can avoid breaking the Law of God even in their thoughts. According to this new standard hatred in your mind has become the equivalent of physical murder (Matthew 5:21-22), Everyone must “miss the mark” of achieving the righteousness that God requires. Now the thoughts of our heart are acts of sin, not just our physical actions as Moses seemed to say. Jesus made sin a thought crime.
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
Mark 7:21–23 (cf. James 1:13–15)
Some moral atheists think this is shameful and wrong. They believe we should only be responsible for what we do and not for what we think. God’s opinion is otherwise and He makes the rules. He does so for a purpose. The Law of God, with the Ten Commandments as its foundation, is a teaching tool. The Law is a schoolmaster as Paul explains:
“But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster
[Why?] to bring us unto Christ,
[For what purpose?] that we might be justified by faith.
[What is our current status?] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For you are all the children of God [How?] by faith in Christ Jesus.”
As Dr. Martin shows, the Ten Commandments are inadequate and deficient. Each of the Commandments requires explanations of God’s requirements. Those requirements change as His revelation progresses through history, finalizing in the Mystery given to the apostle Paul and others in 63 A.D. 2
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“Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity.”
2 Corinthians 9:7
Thank you so much for your contributions in this past year, your purchases, your reading ASK material, your encouragements, and your prayers. You keep us going. You keep us improving. You keep us humble. We thank God for you. We thank you for your love.
David W. Sielaff
1 Not everyone was so. Note what Luke wrote about Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist:
“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Zechariah and Elizabeth were blameless, not sinless. That simply meant they were not involved in scandalous public sins. DWS
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