Category Archives: Covenant and Law

Dead to the Law

by Peter Ditzel

The distinction between law and grace is a Bible teaching that, if misunderstood, can put you in real danger of spiritual bondage. The apostle Paul gives us a very solemn warning that we should take very seriously: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

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Christianity or Moralism, Can You Tell the Difference?

by Peter Ditzel

I imagine that most of you are familiar with the account in John 8 of the woman caught in the act of adultery and brought before Jesus by the Pharisees. They knew that Jesus had many times before cited the law and then said, “But I say unto you.” This time, they figured they had an airtight case of adultery and if Jesus contradicted this, they thought they would be able to charge him with violating the law of Moses.

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Q. You say that Christians don’t need to tithe. But Malachi 3:7-12 says that not tithing is robbing God. How do you respond?

A. The question is whether this applies to Christians.

Malachi 3:7-12 says,

Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

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You Have Been Born Free

by Peter Ditzel

Some of you may remember the wonderful 1960s film, Born Free. Our family has it on DVD, and it is one of our favorite family videos. It is based on the true story of George and Joy Adamson. George is a gamekeeper in Africa. The couple adopts a lioness cub after George had to kill her mother in self defense. They name the cub Elsa, and bring her up as a pet. As Elsa grows, George and Joy realize they must get rid of her. The obvious solution is to send her to a zoo, but Joy suggests that they set her free. They make several attempts to rehabilitate Elsa to the wild, all unsuccessful. Tired and discouraged, George again suggests to Joy that they send Elsa to a zoo. “Is freedom so important?” he asks. Joy’s response hits a sympathetic chord within me: “She was born free, and she has the right to live free!”

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Q. Why did Jesus tell the rich, young ruler to keep the commandments to be saved?

A. The question is based on Jesus’ statement at the end of Matthew 19:17, where Jesus says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Without an understanding of the context, this can certainly sound as if Jesus is saying that the man could have been saved by keeping the commandments. So, let’s look at the surrounding verses more carefully. The dialog between Jesus and the rich, young ruler is found in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-23, with the subject continuing to be discussed in the verses that follow.

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Q. What is wrong with the reading of the Ten Commandments each Sunday in church or with Christians wanting them posted in public places?

A. The question stems from a statement I made in another article. I began by quoting a nineteenth-century Baptist preacher:

Notice what the Baptist preacher, Gilbert Beebe, wrote in 1869: “There are but few lessons in the gospel, which the saints have been more slow to learn and fully comprehend, than that of our release from the law, and marriage to Christ” (“Loosed From the Law“).

Beebe’s claim that this is a lesson that the saints are slow to learn can be seen in the battle Christian conservatives have fought to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public places. I understand the issues of religious freedoms and free speech involved, but why the Ten Commandments? Why not the Sermon on the Mount? Or the Golden Rule, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Another example can be heard in many churches every Sunday morning. If you attend one of these churches, you will likely see the pastor stand at the pulpit and read the Ten Commandments every Sunday morning. But this is an error.
Dead to the Law

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Q. There are Scriptures in the writings of John that speak of keeping His commandments. You say that the Ten Commandments don’t apply to Christians, so what do these Scriptures mean?

A. I have, as you pointed out, many times explained that the Ten Commandments do not apply to Christians, but were given only to Old Testament Israel (check out the list of articles under “Covenant and Law” on our articles index page). To answer your question, I will first go to the gospel of John. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” In John 15:10-12, He further says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” So we see that Jesus clearly identifies His commandments as loving one another.

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