Seventh-Day Adventists/10 commandments
I do not understand why the 10 commandmends are explained away in such a way that man are taught not to keep them. In the old covenant, the 10 commandments were written in 2 tables of stones. In the new covenant, those laws will be written in the mind, in the heart. (Jer 31:31-33; Heb 8:10, Heb 10:16) If this is God's intention, and Jesus Himself said that He did not intend to do away with them, (Matt. 5:17,18) and made a statement that those who teaches to break them are called "least in the kingdom of heaven....", and when we get to Christ, He says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (Jn 14:14; why then make the Beatitudes a set of laws replacing the 10 commandments? (The Beatitudes are not even laws!) Isn't this doing the opposite to what God is intending for us to do?
Dear Brother Ray:
The Ten Commandments are not "explained away" so as to teach that we do not have to keep moral law. The Old Covenant was taken away and replaced with the New Covenant. The Ten Commandments were the heart of the Old Covenant.
"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" (Deuteronomy 4:12-13 NASB).
If you accept that the Old Covenant has been taken away then so has the Ten Commandments which were that covenant. So does that mean that we are free to break all the moral commandments contained on the tablets of stone? Of course not. In fact all the moral commandments that were on the tablets of stone can be found restated in the New Testament as commands for Christians to obey. Now here is the sticky point for SDAs. The only one of the Ten Commandments that is not restated for Christians is the Sabbath commandment. The Sabbath was the ceremonial sign of the Old Covenant.
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you... It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed'" (Exodus 31:12-13, 17 NKJV).
As the sign of the Old Covenant it was placed on the tablets of stone which was the covenant document between God & Israel. Like other covenant documents of the time and place the king would place the ceremonial sign in the covenant document usually in the center of the document. So it is that we have the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments and yet it is not a moral commandment.
I see no evidence that the Ten Commandments are the laws written on our hearts. The Bible verses you mention do not say that. Jeremiah 31:31-33 says that God will make a new covenant with the people and that this covenant will not be like the old covenant with written laws, but the people will know and desire to keep God's law.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:31-33 NASB).
In John 14:15 Jesus does not say "keep my Ten Commandments". Jesus' commandments are recorded in the New Testament. We are to keep them all not merely ten.
" This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:12-14 NKJV).
In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus is not speaking about the Ten Commandments.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (NIV).
Here Jesus is clearly speaking of something much larger than the Ten Commandments which does, however, include the Ten Commandments. Jesus is speaking of the law and the prophets or the Old Covenant. There is no biblical evidence that "Law" here refers to solely the Ten Commandments. In fact Matthew never uses "Law" to refer solely to the Ten Commandments. He uses "Law" to refer to the Torah or the books of Moses. "For example, For all the prophets and the Law (Ten Commandments?) prophesied until John" (11:13 NASB). Again, "Or have you not read in the Law (Ten Commandments?), that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent?" (12:5 NASB; see also 7:12; 22:36-40; 23:23). Yes, "the Law" includes the Ten Commandments, but is not limited to them as these examples show.
So if you are right and the Law continues into the New Covenant then Christians are obligated to keep all the Old Covenant. Thankfully, Jesus came to fulfill all that was written about him in the Law and the prophets. He fulfilled all prophecies that concerned the coming of the Messiah for our salvation. Nothing further needs to be accomplished. He did it all.
"After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst!' Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!”'And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:28-30 NKJV).
To sum up, I believe that the Biblical evidence is clear that Matthew 5:17-18 is Jesus assuring the people that he has not come to destroy their religion. He is the fulfillment of that which the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to. He is the goal of the Old Covenant Law that the Jews so revered. He is the fulfillment of what the great prophets spoke so magnificently of. Jesus reveals to the people that not the smallest part of the smallest letter will be taken away until it all comes true. Jesus further confirms the Law by saying that if one breaks the least of the 613 Old Covenant laws they will find themselves in God’s disfavor. If one keeps all the laws of the Old Covenant one will be in God’s favor because all the 613 laws are still in effect until he fulfills them all. Then, and only then, the entire Old Covenant will become obsolete giving way to the New Covenant. “In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me'" (1 Corinthians 11:25 NIV).
"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself... He said to them, 'This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.' Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:27, 44-45 NIV).
May God open our minds to understand the Scriptures.
Thanks for the question.