Jesus says in Matthew 19:17 no one is good but God alone and if we are to enter into eternal life we have to keep the commandments.
ESV - 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.
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The very heart of this issue is the concept of grace and faith. Thankfully, the apostle Paul covers this entirely in the book of Romans. First, what is the purpose of the law (commandments)? Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. The law is there so that we can understand no matter how hard we try, through our good works, we will never achieve perfection. If God forgave me today, and my debt is completely wiped clean, and I do my very best to be perfect, to not sin at all, for the rest of my life - it would be impossible. It is a standard that simply cannot be achieved given our sinful and broken nature. By understanding the law, we therefor understand that we can never boast of earning our salvation. But what about others who have never heard of the law? Romans 2:14-15 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. There is a built-in mechanism in each and every one of us that understand fair play, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. You do not need to have heard of the Ten Commandments to know that murder is wrong. Ignorance is no excuse, even in our current society's legal system. If we cannot earn it, then how do we attain righteousness in God's sight and have eternal life? Romans 3:23-24 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. The answer is grace. Jesus died and took our place in the judgement of death. In return, this has enabled God to grant us the gift of grace. If we receive this gift, by believing who Jesus is (God), and that he took our place (died on the cross, raised 3rd day), then through our faith, we are justified, made clean, and righteous in God's eyes. This gift covers all our sins; past, present and future. What is the essence of God's commandments? Matthew 22:36-40 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
It turns out this question is quite layered, so I will dissect it and do my best to give a straight forward answer. Transgression of any part of the law is the same as transgression of the entire law. James 2:10 NIV “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Matthew 5:19 NIV “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven...” Does this mean that there is no chance for me once I’ve stumbled? The Bible does teach us that none of us are righteous and that all have sinned (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10, 23). However, the Bible also teaches us that Christ has imparted His righteousness to us. And in Romans 3:28 Paul writes, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law,” (NIV). Therefore, a man can literally break every commandment a million times yet still be saved by Christ imparted righteousness through faith in Him. What does it mean to have faith in Christ? Well, that is another question completely. If this is the case, then what is the purpose of God’s law? Why would He give us a law if we don’t have to obey it? Romans 3:20 NIV “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Romans 5:20 NIV “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Part one: How exactly does that work? Well, the law shows us what sin is. As Paul writes in Romans 7:7, “Indeed, I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet,’” (NIV). So by showing us what sin is, we become aware of the sin in our own lives. That takes care of the “trespass might increase part,” but what about the “grace increased all the more” part? Well, we are also told in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). Once we are able to see our sin, being conscious that our transgressions condemns us, we become even more grateful for Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. The greater our gratitude for His grace, the greater His grace becomes. Let me phrase this another way: the more we appreciate Christ's grace/mercy (i.e. that He gave His life for us), the more it means to us. Part two: Our natural response to God’s love should be a loving one. Even God’s people who lived before Christ’s ministry were able to see His love, and they loved Him for it in return. They understood that God’s law was just and right. Solomon wrote that God’s commands would “prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity,” (Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV). He also explains that God’s discipline is out of love, “as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:11-12). One of the longest psalms was written about God’s law. The author of Psalms 119 describes in detailed length His love for God’s law and his desire to understand it. So, why should we keep God’s commandments? Or, rather, should we keep God’s commandments? I will let Paul answer this question for me. Romans 3:31 NIV “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.” Romans 6:15-18 NIV “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Of course, we know that “sin is lawlessness,” (1 John 3:4 NIV). Therefore, to abstain from sin, we should obey God’s law. Should we keep the commandments? Paul certainly seems to think so. Why? Because, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good,” (Romans 7:12 NIV). The part one must not neglect, however, is that God wants honest, heartfelt obedience. Deuteronomy 11:18 NIV “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” Jeremiah 31:33 “‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’” Christ explains that, “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” (Matthew 5:28). God does not want us to blindly follow His commandments out of obligation. God wants us to have sincere hearts, willing to follow whatever commands He gives us. He wants us to have His law "written on our hearts". That is why Christ sums the commandments in saying, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," and "love your neighbor as yourself". God simply shows us what love is by showing us what love is NOT, and He does this through His commandments. Now, to answer the true content of your question. Is there any law that we, as Christians should not keep? If you consider that all of God’s law is good, given with the intention of showing us sin so that we could avoid sinning, then why would anybody want to ignore even a single commandment? Many argue that the Sabbath commandment is now obsolete. Others argue that this commandment, specifically, has changed. I am not sure if this is the commandment to which you are referring, but I would argue it is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is commonly ignored and pushed to the side. It is also the only one of the Ten Commandments that I know of that men have taken upon their authority to alter (unless of course you consider the Catholic Church’s Ten Commandments which dispose of the second and split the tenth into two). Since an answer in defense of the Sabbath is not directly related to the content of this question, I will leave that discussion for another time. If you wish to read a sermon I wrote in defense of Sabbath-keeping, please e-mail me. firstname.lastname@example.org
To repent of sin means to stop breaking the 10 commandments (which is what sin is according to John). 1 John 3:4 Contemporary English Version (CEV) 4 Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law.
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