How should a Christian think about the Ten Commandments? Are we under the law or not?
Romans 7:4-6, says that we are not under the law as a mechanism to get us to heaven. We are under grace. The message of Romans is that Jesus alone perfectly has kept the law; all those who are grafted into Him by faith are counted completely righteous just as He is completely righteous. His law-keeping and substitutionary death makes us right with God.
So does that mean the Ten Commandments serve no function for the Christian? Well, what does the Bible say?
1 John 5:3, avers, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” 1 John 2:3, “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” YHWH in Exodus 20:6 describes Himself as “showing steadfast love . . . to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
There is a kernel of truth in the statement, “It’s not about rules; it’s about relationship.” But that is an overstatement if it is meant to justify a libertine life. A person unconcerned with holiness has little biblical claim to saving faith. In Luke 6:46, Jesus questions, “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?”
God writes His law on our hearts in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32). The result is we will do the law (Ezekiel 36:27).
We go from being under the law to the place where in Christ, the law becomes part of who we are. We have a new heart, and that new heart begins to seek what God wants in the world. The Spirit is doing in us what the external law could never do: giving us a delight in the law of God in our inner man (Romans 7:22).
To be sure, the Bible does call Moses’s ministry, a ministry of death (2 Corinthians 3:7). But it is only a ministry of death for the person trying to do the law to win God’s saving favor. We already have God’s favor in Christ.
Thus, James 2:8 calls the essence of the law, a “royal law that produces freedom.” Paul says the law is good (1 Timothy 1:8; Romans 7:12). Psalm 19:7 promises, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.”
God is a hundred percent for us in Christ, but He is not content to leave us in sin. He will transform us into the very image of Jesus—a Jesus who loves the law of God.