Are the Ten Commandments separate from the Law of Moses?

Question:

I am a member of the Lord's church. I ask for your help in helping me answer the below response from two who believe that the Sabbath has not been abolished. The site they are referring to is your site on the subject of Answering the Sabbath Observance that I forwarded to them, hoping that would be sufficient, but it wasn't. Thank you, and I refer to your site a lot.

I read through this article and to be honest, it was filled with things I was taught from my youth and believed for over 40 years of my life. It was while I was a Sunday school teacher in a Baptist Church that I began to see the problems with my beliefs compared to what the Bible actually says. I learned my beliefs about the state of the dead and hell were actually church traditions carried down from the Catholic Church rather than what the Bible said. Even so, I stuck by my Baptist upbringing.

Here is what the game changer was for me and this is the big lie the article you posted tries to purport: There are no verses that indicate a difference between the Law of Moses and the 10 Commandments. The truth is, the Bible shows there is very much a difference. In fact the Bible tells us the Law of Moses was brought about to handle transgressions of the Law. Had there not been transgressions of the Law, there would have been no need for that handwritten book. Galatians 3:19 tells us that Law was added due to transgressions.

God's commandments were in effect long before Moses. Take a look at Genesis 26:5 about Abraham hundreds of years before Moses, "...because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." We can see they are separate things in Deuteronomy 31:26, "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;". Notice the Book of the Law was kept beside the ark as a witness against us, but the tablets containing the 10 commandments were kept inside the ark. Also notice the Book of the Law was handwritten by Moses and was there as a witness against us.

Now let's jump over to Colossians 2:14 and see what was nailed to the cross. "..having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross". Remember the Galatians 3:19 verse above said "until the seed should come...". There is no doubt what was nailed to the cross and contrary to what the article above says, there is clear verses indicating this Book of the Law was separate from God's moral law.

There are many other verses that show these being different things, but until one fully understands this, the article above makes sense as Satan blinds many to the truth. We all know violating any of the other 9 commandments is a sin, so why would the only commandment that specifically implores us to "Remember" is the very one people want to get rid of. If you look at Colossians 2:16 it talks about food and drinks and festivals and new moons. None of these things are found in the 10 Commandments. They are found in the Book of the Law (the handwritten ordinances).

The article above correctly states that there were many Sabbaths (holy days) that we don't keep today. That is how we know Paul was talking about those Sabbaths rather that the Sabbath Day from the 10 commandments because he lumped them in with food, drink, festival, and new moon all coming from the ordinances, not the 10 Commandments.

If you go through that article above using this lens, you will see the deceptions from the beginning where only partial scripture is stated because using the entire scripture in context will bring light to a different understanding that is being hidden from you. Again, for most of my life, I believed just as that article eludes to because I did not understand the separation of God's moral law and the law that was added until Jesus came.

Here are a few more verses that show the difference that the article claims does not exist. You can read them yourself. Deuteronomy 4:13-14, II Kings 21:8, II Chronicles 35:12, Daniel 9:10-11 and Ephesians 2:15. I'm sure there are many more verses where it is up to us to understand if the writer is talking about God's moral law or the Book of the Law containing all those ordinances related to ceremonial laws.

I hope this helps my friend. There is certainly nothing wrong from learning from articles and commentaries, but remember Satan is out to deceive the entire world. He will certainly use false traditions of belief wherever he can to deceive and divide God's church. I was one of those deceived for over 40 years following along with what my church and pastor told me Bible verses meant until my eyes were opened. I was not any less saved before because I always was and still am saved by grace through faith in Jesus alone, but my understanding has dramatically changed with the understanding that God's moral law has a purpose different than the shadow purpose of the Book of the Law. I will pray for you my friend and I hope you will do the same for me.

With all due respect I have extensively read from Ellen G. White and the quotes listed here are taken out of context. I would encourage a reader to read further to get the big picture. I don't see anywhere that the sabbath commandment was changed; if God intended that wouldn't it be clearly stated? Also why would he change it? Was there something wrong with it? Why change that one and not the other nine.


Answer:

Let me state at the outset that there will always be people who will not listen, no matter how reasoned of an argument you give them.

Before we get into the core issues, there are some small points that I wish to highlight:

  • This man states that he was saved prior to his learning that the Sabbath day was to be kept. If such was true, then it should not matter if someone worships on the Sabbath day or not if you can get to heaven anyway. By his own words, it is a non-issue to him.
  • This man believes in salvation by faith alone; thus, again when a person worship, if they worship at all, would technically be a non-issue because these would be classified in his belief system as "works," which cannot save.
  • I always find it amusing when people make allegations like, "You don't understand" and "You took those words out of context," but do not prove their point. Accusations are not evidence. Therefore, we will leave Ellen G. White out of this rebuttal.

His basic point is that the Ten Commandments were not a part of the Law. He then interprets every passage that mentions the Law, especially the end of the law, as not including the Ten Commandments. What is being denied is that there can be multiple terms referring to the same thing. Thus, but his way of thinking God and the LORD must be two different beings because two different words are being used. He mentions Deuteronomy 4, so let us see who Moses used the terms in context:

"Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. ... See, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today? ... Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form -- only a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. The LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it" (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 5-8, 12-14).

Was Moses discussing two different bodies of teachings? Since there are actually eight terms in this passage, is Moses discussing eight different things? Or is it just one? Notice that Moses talked about "all these statutes" and "this whole law." It seems clear to me that we are using multiple terms to describe a single body of teachings.

  • Law (torah) - We often think of laws as a list of regulations, as we find in our government books, but the word here means "instructions" or "teachings."
  • Statutes (chuqqah) - Statutory, legal obligations, or binding regulations.
  • Judgments (mishpat) - Decisions by which to judge or govern, as well as the consequences of following or breaking these decisions.
  • Teachings (lamadh) - Things to be learned
  • Commandments (mitswah) - To give an order
  • Words (davar) - What God has said. Interestingly, "Ten Commandments," found in Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 4:13; 10:4, is literally "Ten Words."
  • Wisdom (chokmah) - Wisdom, skill, or good sense. It refers to acting in accord to right principles.
  • Understanding (binah) - Insight. Understanding the logic of something.
  • Covenant (berith) - A legal contract to establish and regulate a relationship

Rather than seeing two bodies of works, this passage shows that Moses is discussing one work that can be viewed or described in a variety of ways. The Ten Commandments are merely the prologue to the entire body of work. They are a subset of the greater work and not an independent work.

While the writer claims that the Ten Commandments are separate from the Law, notice what Paul said, "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead" (Romans 7:7-8). Paul quoted the tenth commandment and said, "the Law said." Paul understood that the Ten Commandments were a part of the Law -- a law that the Jews died to so that they could be joined to Christ. "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God" (Romans 7:4). Having been freed from that Law, they are now free to serve the Spirit. "But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter" (Romans 7:6).

The mistake made in quoting, "Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you" (Deuteronomy 31:26), is that "this book of the law" contained the Ten Commandments (in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). Yes, it was separate from the copy of the Ten Commandments written in stone by God, but what was on the stone was a subset of what God had Moses write in the book. Speaking of stone, recall what Paul said, "But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory" (II Corinthians 3:7-11). Paul is referring to the tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments. He called them the "ministry of death" and "the ministry of condemnation" that had fading glory so faint that the glory of the Gospel far exceeds it. It was a ministry of death and condemnation, in part, because the Gentiles were excluded from its terms (Deuteronomy 4:8; 5:3).

"Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands -- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity" (Ephesians 2:11-16).

"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day -- things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ" (Colossians 2:13-17).

When the writer acknowledges that the law was abolished, he is acknowledging that such includes Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, which are copies of the Ten Commandments. Such cannot be separated from the rest of the Law. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (Galatians 5:1-4).

The writer tries to redefine "Sabbath day" in Colossians 2:17 by giving it a narrower definition that the term requires in order that the fourth commandment is not included in Paul's list. But his argument is done by definition only. He assumes that Paul could not possibly being including the Ten Commandments in his discussion of the ending of the Law (despite Romans 7), so he redefines the terms to match his beliefs. This is a private interpretation and not an attempt to understand what God actually said. "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (II Peter 1:20-21).

Now, let us look at the list of Scriptures the writer gave that he claims would show that the Ten Commandments are separate from the Law. We already proved from Scripture that the Ten Commandments are a subset of the whole Law, but we should see if there might be contrary evidence. I already showed that Deuteronomy 4:13-14 doesn't prove what the writer wants it to say.

  • "And I will not make the feet of Israel wander anymore from the land which I gave their fathers, if only they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that My servant Moses commanded them" (II Kings 21:8). I fail to see how this is evidence that the Ten Commandments are separate from the Law. I would instead conclude that they would be considered a part of all the law that Moses commanded the Israelites, especially in light of Deuteronomy 4.
  • "Then they removed the burnt offerings that they might give them to the sections of the fathers' households of the lay people to present to the LORD, as it is written in the book of Moses. They did this also with the bulls" (II Chronicles 35:12). This shows that the laws concerning sacrifices were included in the Law of Moses, but it does mean that Moses' Law was only about sacrifices. It does not prove that the Ten Commandments were not also a part of that law.
  • "To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice" (Daniel 9:9-14). Daniel confesses that the Israelites had not kept God's law given through Moses. Thus, the consequences spelled out in that law were justly applied to the Israelites. What laws did they break? Well, Jeremiah said they were covetous (Jeremiah 8:10) -- the tenth commandment. They were worshiping idols in the temple (Jeremiah 7:30) -- The first and second commandments. They stole, murdered, committed adultery, and swore falsely (Jeremiah 7:9) - The sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth commandments. Ezekiel says they broke the Sabbath laws (Ezekiel 22:13) -- the fourth commandment. This is why they ended up in captivity -- they broke the Law of Moses, which included the Ten Commandments.
  • Ephesians 2:15 talks about "the Law of commandments contained in ordinances." This matches what I've been saying all along. The Law contains the Ten Commandments. It does not prove they are a separate work.

Thus, not one of the verses given establish two bodies of works, but rather support that they are a unified whole. He acknowledges that Moses' Law was ended. Logic requires that this included the Ten Commandments.

Nine of the Ten Commandments also appear in the Law of Christ. For example, "For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not give false testimony," "You shall not covet," and whatever other commandments there are, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love therefore is the fulfillment of the law" (Romans 13:9-10). Please notice that the summary, which Jesus said was one of the two greatest commands, is from Leviticus 19:18 and is not a part of the Ten Commandments. The only command that is not repeated in the Law of Christ is keeping the Sabbath; instead, we find that Paul says not to let anyone judge you in the matter of Sabbath day (Colossians 2:17).

I hope these details help, but likely the writer will not listen because he has already turned his back on what he knew to be true in order to accept a lie.

Jeff,

Thank you so much. I very much appreciate you helping me on this subject.

Regards, and keep up the good work you are doing.