Davis W. Huckabee

It is at this point that people most often go astray in their view of the Decalog, for they most often impute to the Decalog a purpose and ministry that the Word of God does not. Thus, by beginning in the wrong direction, they cannot help but become further and further from the truth. They are like the traveler that, after riding at high speed for some time, was apprized of the fact that he was on the wrong road and going in the opposite direction to what he intended. But he attempted to excuse himself by say, "Perhaps so, but I’m making excellent time!" as if that would in any way correct his error.

The purposes of the Decalog do not involve some attempt on God’s part to correct failure in the creature, as if God had lost control and had to bring in some stopgap matter to restore order. Such would be an indictment of the immutability of God, and would contradict the eternal nature of the Decalog that has already been established.

"The real source of moral law was the moral nature of God. And inasmuch as the original, typical man was created in the Divine image, the law was also a summary of the constituent principles of the unfallen nature of man. Moral law, therefore, was not made, neither arbitrarily nor for definite ends, but was simply revealed. It embodied in code what from eternity had been embosomed in God. The revelation and codification may have been for beneficent ends, but the law itself was as eternal as God, and must remain, regardless of ends, as immutable as his immutable nature."—E. G. Robinson, Christian Theology, p. 190. Paul says to Timothy, "We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully," I Tim. 1:8, by which we learn that there is both a lawful and an unlawful used that can be made of the Decalog. And that there are many that do not understand the law is evidenced by the preceding verse: "Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." The tragedy of such a situation is, that though the supposed teacher of the Law may think lightly of his position and obligation, and may not be concerned about how scriptural his instruction is, his position in the kingdom of heaven will be greatly affected by it, as Jesus said. "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven," Matt. 5:19-20. The self-assured and self-attained righteousness of the religious leaders was not sufficient to get them into the kingdom of heaven, for the Lord only grants entrance to those clothed in the imputed righteousness of Christ. But even where men are truly trusting in Christ’s righteousness for their salvation, their position in the kingdom will be affected greatly by their practice and teaching of the Decalog. It is natural for men—even saved men—to break these commandments, and it is equally natural, through the pride of the human heart, for a man to try to justify his actions. But in so doing, he teaches others, perhaps less grounded in the truth, to do likewise. In man’s fallen condition, it is easy for him to obscure the natural law in his heart and to pursue his lust for the things of the world. Nor is even the saved man exempt from this. "At first the commandments were written in the heart of man by God’s own hand, but as the first tables of stone fell and were broken, so was it with man’s heart. By his fall his heart was broken and scattered amongst earthly perishing things that was before whole and entire to his Maker. And so the characters of that law written in it were so shivered and scattered that they could not be perfectly and distinctly read in it. Therefore it pleased God to renew that law after this manner by a most solemn delivery with audible voice, and then by writing it on tables of stone. And this is not all, but this same law he doth write anew in the hearts of his children."—Robert Leighton, Exposition of the Ten Commandments, quoted in W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. III, p. 346. Because of man’s fallen and perverted nature, he always tends to pervert the Decalog and to impute to it a purpose never intended by the Most High. It is needful, therefore, to consider this matter negatively at first, and note—


In taking this ground, we are fully aware that we immediately alienate a large majority of professing Christendom, for this is a flesh-crucifying doctrine, and one that is contrary to the fundamental beliefs of the majority of the religious world. In the great popularity of all humanistic plans of salvation and pride exalting views of man and man’s ability, we see but another evidence of the depraved and fallen condition of man’s heart. Let men talk all they please about man’s "natural ability," his "nobility," his "indomitable spirit," and the "spark of divinity in every man." But in so doing they only manifest their own Luciferian pride and ambition, for Lucifer desired to exalt his throne above the stars of God, and to be like the Most High, Isa. 14:13-14.

Every assumption of the natural man that he is able to fulfill the demands of the Decalog and to attain to acceptance in God’s sight thereby is an outright denial that he even needs a Saviour. It is a claim that he is able to save himself if only given the time and opportunity. But this is not the purpose of the Decalog.

"That the law, the just and holy, and perfect law of God, was not given by him with the expectation that any of the human race would be justified by it, but that on the contrary, it was given that by it the opposition of the mind of man to God’s will and his enmity to him might be more fully proven in order to the condemnation of man, is clearly taught by the apostle Paul—Rom. 7:5, etc. In this passage we see also that the law condemns men for desiring any thing contrary to it."—Alexander Carson, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p. 52. The scriptural proof that man cannot be justified by the keeping of the Law is great, as we see from the following few of many such proofs. "And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," Acts 13:39. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin," Rom. 3:20. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law," Rom. 3:28. "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," Rom. 4:2-3. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified," Gal. 2:16. "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain," Gal. 2:21. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith," Gal. 3:10-11. "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace," Gal. 5:4. "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw night unto God," Heb. 7:19. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all," James 2:10.

Here are ten passages, all of which speak in no uncertain terms in denying that there can ever be justification by the deeds of the law. Thereby they cut the ground of hope from under the feet of all that hope for some sort of self-salvation that will not require the crucifixion of the flesh and carnal pride of the natural man. This hope of being justified by the keeping of the law is simply the old "way of Cain" come to town again. For Cain’s hopes were all in the works of his own hands, the fruits of the earth, a thank offering for God’s bounty but a steadfast refusal to acknowledge his need of an atoning sacrifice. This is exactly the same fatal mistake that legalists today make. In effect, they say, "Thank you God, for your bounty. I’m sure that you meant well in sending your only begotten Son to die for me, but it was really unnecessary, for I shall simply grasp my own spiritual bootstraps and lift myself up to heaven by my good works. And thereby I won’t be indebted to you or to any one else, but can rejoice and boast in my own spiritual strength and accomplishments."

This self-righteous attitude that is held by such a large part of the religious world is one of the most presumptuous and insulting attitudes that a mortal can have. It treads under foot the Son of God, and accounts His precious atoning blood as of lesser worth than the corrupt works of fallen and depraved humanity. God’s view of such presumption is expressed in Heb. 10:29-31, and shows that, far from the Old Testament Dispensation being the more severe, transgressions under the New Testament dispensation are much more severe because greater privileges are given, and consequently greater responsibility is entailed.

"The apostle’s inspired logic here is the very reverse of that which obtains in the corrupt theology of present-day Christendom. The popular idea in these degenerate times is that, under the Gospel regime (or ‘dispensation of grace’) God has acted, is acting, and will act much more mildly with transgressors, than He did under the Mosaic economy. The very opposite is the truth. No judgment from Heaven one-half as severe as that which overtook Jerusalem in A. D. 70, is recorded in Scripture from Exodus 19 to Malachi 4! Nor is there anything in God's dealings with Israel during O. T. times which can begin to compare with the awful severity of His ‘wrath’ as depicted in the book of Revelation! Every despiser of the Lordship of Christ shall yet discover that a far hotter place has been reserved for him in Hell, than what will be the portion of lawless rebels who lived under the old covenant."—A. W. Pink, Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. II, pp. 123-124. The Scriptures that we have cited above speak for themselves in denying any justifying efficacy to the deeds of the law, and that individual that seeks to be justified by the law flies in the face of the Lord Himself in his presumptuous attempt. Look at what Gal. 3:10 says, and it will be evident that no human could possibly keep the Law so as to be justified by it. For when it says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them," it manifestly puts all under the curse of the broken Law. For "continueth" requires an endless obedience to the Law, and one transgression puts one under the curse. The phrase "in all things" requires a perfect obedience, and only one slip is necessary to be guilty of the broken Law. "To do them" then requires the actual keeping of the Law in the spirit as well as in the letter. So it is not enough to have good intentions, or to try with all one’s strength to keep it, or to have outwardly kept the Law if the spirit of the Law is missing. How presumptuous it is for a frail, fallible, fallen sinful creature to think that he could be justified—pronounced righteous—by a Law that he cannot perfectly, perpetually keep?

If the Decalog is not given in order for man to be justified thereby, it is needful to inquire what its purpose is. Therefore, we note by way of positive consideration that—


Paul asks and answers the question, "Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made," Gal. 3:19. And again he says, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God," Rom. 3:19. "Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression," Rom. 4:15. "For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law," Rom. 5:13. "Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound," Rom. 5:20.

The purpose of the Law, according to these verses, is to manifest to man how far short he has fallen when compared with the Divine standard of conduct, to give manifestation of man’s transgression of God’s will, to make it appear in all of its awfulness, and to condemn sin. "Sin is the transgression of the law," I John 3:4f, though man may be ignorant of the Law.

"The published Law reveals the presence and nature of Sin. Rom. 7:7-14. Without the Law, sin may lie dormant in the soul, unrecognized by conscience, Rom. 7:7-10, and yet be none the less destructive or punishable, Rom. 5:13, 14. The Law reveals the presence of sin, and by dragging it into the light of consciousness discloses its exceeding sinfulness, Rom. 7:13."—E. G. Robinson, Christian Theology, p. 194. If all that transgress the Law are under its curse, then not only may a man not be justified by the law, but he is constantly condemned by it because of the numerous infractions of its holy requirements. The broken Law cannot give life. It can only condemn the one that broke it. Indeed, it is a standing condemnation of its breaker though he may not know or acknowledge that he is under its condemnation. "How, then, can any man look for life by the keeping of a law that he hath broken. Instead of saving him, it will condemn him as a transgressor. The law, instead of contributing to save sinners, stands in the way of their salvation. If they are saved, it must be either at the expense of law, which would be unjust, or by providing some other way of satisfying the claims of law, for which the law does not itself provide."—Alexander Carson, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p. 45.

"God did give the law, that sin might abound, (Rom. 5:20,) not that it should take away sin in any, but to discover the sin which is already begotten, or that may hereafter be begotten by lust and Satan. I say, this is one proper work of the law, to make manifest sin. It is sent to find fault with the sinner, and it doth also watch that it may do so, and it doth take all advantages for the accomplishing of its work in them that give ear thereto, or do not give ear, if it have the rule over them."—John Bunyan, Works of, Vol. I, p. 194.

As Gal. 3:19 says, the Decalog was added because of transgression, and its ministry is primarily concerned with transgressions, and not with the attainment of life, as Paul elsewhere says. "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mother, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine," I Tim. 1:8-10. The Law is necessary for these things to be imputed as wrong, for without the Decalog, these could not be charged against men, for "sin is not imputed when there is no law," Rom. 5:13.

But as soon as Law entered the universe, whether written on fleshly tables of the heart, tables of stone or tablets of paper, it immediately condemned every transgression of its precepts, and placed the transgressors under the curse of the broken law. The boastful mouth of proud-hearted man is stopped, and all the human race is manifested to be guilty before the God of heaven. And not only guilty, but under His just wrath, vessels fit only for the burning. But, at the same time it reveals them to be candidates for the wonderful grace of God to save them from all their sins if they but recognize the Divine diagnosis of their deadly disease, and receive the healing that is provided by the Great Physician.

The purpose of the Law is not to give life, nor is it to comfort men in their sins. Conversely, the purpose of the Law is to turn man away from his self-sufficiency and self-reliance and unto Christ, for in no other way can a man be saved. It is a true statement that someone has made that it is much harder to get people lost than to get them saved. That is to say, man being the rebellious and wicked and proud creature that he is, only Divine grace can bring him to admit and confess his sinful and lost condition. But once having honestly admitted this, he is generally easily led to accept the Lord’s atoning remedy for his condition.

"I say, therefore, if thou wouldest known the authority and power of the gospel, labour first to know the power and authority of the law. For I am verily persuaded, that the want [lack—DWH] of this one thing, namely, the knowledge of the law, is one cause why so many are ignorant of the other. That man that doth not know the law doth not know in deed and in truth that he is a sinner; and that man that doth not know he is a sinner, doth not know savingly that there is a Saviour."—John Bunyan, Works of, p. 182. This getting the individual to recognize and confess his sinful and lost estate is the primary purpose of the Decalog. And this it does by erecting the perfect standard of the Law before the sinner’s eyes and revealing how far short of it he has fallen. And so, putting him to death in his own eyes. For sin must be made to appear sin, "working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful," Rom. 7:13. By the Decalog, sin is made to revive in the recognition of the sinner, and he sees himself as a sinner, lost and doomed under the curse of the broken Law. And he is finally brought to recognize that his only hope is in Christ, Who only has kept the law perfectly, and Whose righteousness will be imputed to those that trust Him for salvation. Thus is fulfilled one of the paradoxes of the spiritual world: To live, one must die.

It is native to corrupt and fallen humanity to trust in self, to overrate man’s supposed good works, and to underrate his evil works, and to seek for justification by these human works. Only when the Decalog has wrought its condemnatory work is man turned from this vain and foolish hope to trust alone in Christ. Many persons, rejecting the testimony of the Law, perish in their self-sufficiency and self-righteousness.

"All true believers in Christ first believed in themselves, and their ability to do the will of God. Thus the covenant of works conceived in them, and they despised grace in their eyes. Thousands die under the vain delusion that God will accept the much good they have done and forgive the little evil. But having transgressed in any point, all other efforts at morality are ‘dead works,’ because condemnation is passed. Then no amount of service whatever will bring deliverance, no more than keeping the law in a jail or penitentiary will deliver from the condemnation already passed. Here is the end of the law. And to show the condemned that his works are out of the question, and he must look to another to do that for him which he cannot do for himself, is the purpose of the law. And it should be preached until every mouth is stopped, and all the world become guilty before God."—J. B. Moody, The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, p. 114. Paul draws a contrast between the Old Covenant—the Decalog—and the New Covenant—the Gospel—and in the course of his exposition refers to the Decalog as "the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones," II Cor. 3:7, showing again the condemnatory character of the Decalog. The Decalog, so far from giving life to men, actually condemns them, and manifests their spiritually dead condition. In God’s eyes they are "dead in trespasses and sins," Eph. 2:1, and how then can any spiritually dead person do any spiritual works that God would accept?

If we should stop in our study upon the purpose of the Decalog at this point, we would leave man in a fearfully hopeless condition—condemned and slain by the Law of God. But happily there is another, more cheerful aspect to the purpose of the Decalog. We note therefore that—


Paul gives the scriptural proof of this in Gal. 3:24 when he says, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." The English word "schoolmaster" used here and in V25 does not fully express the meaning of the word in the Greek text. Nor does "instructors" in I Cor. 4:15, the only places where this Greek word (paidagogos) appears in the New Testament. J. H. Thayer gives its meaning.

"Among the Greeks and Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood …The name carries with it an idea of severity (as of a stern censor and enforcer of morals) in I Cor. 4:15, where the father is distinguished from the tutor as one whose discipline is usually milder, and in Gal. 3:24 sq. where the Mosaic law is likened to a tutor because it arouses consciousness of sin, and is called paidagogos eis Christon, i. e. preparing the soul for Christ, because those who have learned by experience with the law that they are not and cannot be commended to God by their works, welcome the more eagerly the hope of salvation offered them through the death and resurrection of Christ, the Son of God."—Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, s. v. The Decalog was not intended to justify man, for man being a rebellious and sinful creature, the Law must of necessity condemn his lawlessness. But in so doing, the Decalog manifests man’s need of a Substitute that has kept the Law in a perfect manner, and whose righteousness can be imputed to the sinner. The Law therefore not only restrains the wickedness of man by its severity, but makes him desirous of the imputed righteousness of Christ. The end purpose of the Decalog is expressed as being "that we might be justified by faith," i. e., that one might by faith receive the perfect righteousness of Christ. How then could justification be by the keeping of the law?

Once this justification by faith is brought about "we are no longer under a schoolmaster," Gal. 3:25, and the threats of the law have no more application to us. When the son attained to legal adulthood he was no longer under the care and supervision of the pedagogue, but he did what was right out of love and respect for his father. So the true believer no longer endeavors to keep the Law out of fear of its curse, for he knows that he is no longer under the curse. But he endeavors henceforth to keep it out of love to his heavenly Father whose will it is that His children live righteously.

Paul is inspired to teach the same truth allegorically by using Sarah and Hagar as representatives of the two covenants, and their two sons as representatives of those that are under the two covenants, Gal. 4:21-31. Sarah was the older, and the legitimate wife of Abraham, while Hagar was only a slave. So likewise, the Covenant of Grace is the older, dating from eternity past, while the Law covenant was "added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made," Gal. 3:19. As Hagar was never more than a bondmaid to Sarah, so the old covenant—the Law—was never intended to do more than to serve grace.

"Notice another distinction and difference. As Hagar was handmaid, or bondmaid to Sarah, so law is handmaid or bondmaid to Grace, in that it SERVES Grace, but it cannot SAVE. I write it big: LAW SAVES NOT, BUT SERVES…So Grace requires that Law shall first do its work in preparing the soul with a feeling sense of sin and a need of salvation. So Grace has need of Law as Sarah had of Hagar. When Law does its duty, then, and not till then can Grace come with its all-sufficient means, plus Divine power to save."—J. B. Moody, The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, p. 140. How very easy it is for men to get the Decalog out of its ordained place and work, and try to give it a ministry never intended by the Lord. Abraham grew tired of waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promise to give him a son of Sarah, and resorted to a humanly devised expediency, and Ishmael was born of Hagar. Too often men turn aside from the principles of grace, and instead of leaving Law as the handmaiden to grace, they make Law to become the mistress, and Ishmaels are born, which ever after trouble the legitimate sons of grace. Paul makes the practical application when he says in V28-31, "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."

Legalistic preaching will often make numerous disciples to the preacher and swell the church rolls. But it matters not how promising such converts are, they will ultimately be cast out with their mother, the old covenant of the works. For the Law was never intended to produce sons, but to only be hand-maiden to grace, whose sons will be born in due time, as Jesus promised in John 6:37. The Law covenant and all its sons will ultimately be cast out as Hagar and Ishmael were, but we must remember that there were two expulsions of Hagar, and these both find spiritual fulfillment. We cannot do better than to again quote the words of J. B. Moody who has made an extensive study of this matter and expresses it well.

"Notice again, that While Hagar SERVED, All Went Well. But when she conceived, and strove to be the mistress of Sarah, then she was driven out into the wilderness with her son to perish…The only way for Hagar to survive, was to form the right relation to Sarah—that of servant to mistress. ‘Return to thy MISTRESS and SUBMIT thyself UNDER her hand.’—Gen. 16:9. When the means of Grace are over, then Hagar and her numerous progeny are to be driven out forever. ‘They shall not be heirs with the children of the free-woman.’ But this last expulsion will be at the ‘weaning time,’ when the innumerable children of grace shall be called from the four winds of heaven to inherit the promised inheritance, viz. The ‘WORLD.’ Then the others will be driven out forever. But the first expulsion must occur when law conceives in the sinner, and tries to bring forth of itself in him; then let the works covenant be cast out, until he is justified by grace through faith. Then, and not till then, let works come back and submit to the reign of grace."—The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, pp. 144, 145. The Decalog therefore must always be kept in its right place, as servant to grace, to point men to Christ and salvation through faith in Him. Any purpose of the Law that is contrary to this is a perversion of its true purpose, and will lead to confusion in all associated truths. But we go further, and notice another purpose of the Decalog, which is that—


As we have already stated, a large majority of the religious world thinks that the Decalog is a means of salvation, and so they endeavor to keep it that they might earn eternal life thereby. These people are hard to convince otherwise, and even when one is convinced of the folly of this view, he sometimes takes an equally erroneous view. Some people, conceding that there can be no salvation through the keeping of the Law, then cast off the Law wholly. In taking too narrow a view of the Law, they assume that since the Law cannot save, it has no purpose at all, and so cast off the Decalog and become what is well called Antinomians. This word means literally "against law," and refers to practical outlawry. But this is folly second only to the other view, for grace does not license a person to commit sin, but it triumphs over sin, Rom. 5:20-21.

"Law regulates the outer conduct, while Grace takes cognizance of the ‘thoughts and intents of the heart.’ God forgive, and forbid the thought that we can sin because we are not under law, but under Grace. Grace does not excuse sin, but provides the remedy. The adulterous look, and the murderous hate, need forgiveness. The law does not provide forgiveness except through the added types pointing to the Better Covenant."—J. B. Moody, The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, pp. 136-137. Paul shows that no man who has truly experienced the saving grace of the Lord can adopt antinomian principles, when he says, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, continue any longer therein?" Rom. 6:1-2. But this brings up a very important question. If we, who are saved by the grace of God are no longer to continue in sin, how shall we know what is sin, and therefore to be rejected, except we have the Decalog as a standard of conduct?

The apostle brings this out in a more forceful manner when he says, "But now are we delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter," Rom. 7:6. Being saved by grace does not free a person to commit sin. Conversely it obligates one to an even more dedicated keeping of the Law, not as a means of life, but as an evidence of love to the Lord, of which we shall speak more at length shortly. To declare that a Christian no longer has a standard of conduct, nor is obligated to keep the Decalog is to manifest that one has no real concept of the purposes of the Law, and probably does not know the grace of God either. The Decalog has its purposes, both to the lost and to the saved, and we who are saved by grace cannot cast off the Law, for it is still a servant to grace, and must be retained in this character. This is shown in the allegory that Paul draws from the case of Sarah and Hagar, and their respective sons. Hagar continued to serve Sarah even after Isaac was born, but as soon as the question of the inheritance arose, both the bondwoman and her son were cast out, for those "under the law" cannot inherit the promises that are made to those under grace.

"In order to divorce this Covenant more thoroughly from the dispensational idea, that is, that its history is embraced and confined to the dispensation from Moses to Christ, and that it was done away by the death of Christ, at which time, also was originated the New Covenant, let us at this point show that the Old Covenant was the ‘ministration of death’ from Adam to Moses, and from Christ till now. Paul wrote since the death of Christ, and if it was alive when he wrote, it is alive now, and all like Ishmael, born after the flesh, are under that Covenant, and it reigns over them until like Isaac they are ‘born after the Spirit,’ or ‘from above.’ Then they abandon the works Covenant, and ‘lay hold’ (by faith) of the New Covenant, after which they are no longer under law, but under grace. When this Covenant conceives in us, and despising grace, tries to bring forth our own righteousness as the basis of our standing before God, then let it for a time be cast out, like Hagar was, until we are ‘justified by faith, apart from works,’ then let the Hagar Covenant come back as a ‘hand-maid’ to grace, no longer a rod over our heads, but a rule under our feet; no longer to save but to serve. These two Covenants, like Hagar and Sarah, must in this relation dwell together until the weaning time, or until the children are no longer sustained by covenant promises through faith, but inherited promises possessed. Then the bond woman and her children are to be cast out, and not inherit the promises with the children of the free woman. This makes a history from the beginning to the end of time. Not only the two women, but the two boys living together, but in their predestined relations of bondage and freedom."—J. B. Moody, The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, pp. 109-110. The Decalog must continue to serve those "under Grace" throughout the earthly life and until the promised possession is indeed possessed. It serves as a standard of conduct, for the Lord never left His children in the dark as to what their responsibilities are, nor has He left the unsaved citizens of His world uninformed as to their duties. The Law is a standard of conduct for both saved and lost. To the lost, it is a standard of conduct to show them what they must be in order to be saved by their own works, but what they cannot be except by a graciously imputed righteousness. To the saved it is a standard of conduct to show them what they are to strive to attain through the gracious workings of the Spirit. It is the standard of the ideal life that every born again person ought to desire to fulfill, and toward which he ought to strive if he would bring glory to his Creator and Saviour.

No standard is meant to give perfection, but rather to show what perfection is, and to set a goal toward which to strive. Without a standard for conduct no one could be held accountable for his conduct. Were the Decalog not a standard of conduct, no one could know what he ought to be, nor for what he should strive. Therefore, this brings us to consider another thought. If the Decalog is a standard of conduct for men, then it is the basis upon which they shall be judged for their failures. Our next thought therefore is—


This fact is made evident in that the Decalog is commonly called "law," for there cannot be judgment without law. Law is the very basis of judgment. "The law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression," Rom. 4:15. "Sin is not imputed when there is no law," Rom. 5:13. God has so ordained it that none will have cause to cry "Injustice" when judged, for every sin that a man shall be judged for will have resulted from his breaking of a Divine law. Nor will men be able to plead ignorance. For however men may attempt to convince themselves that they do not know their duty, in the Day of Judgment it will be fully manifest that they had sufficient knowledge of right and wrong, but only overruled their knowledge through love of sin and self will.

For the Christian, there is clearly foretold that he will be judged as to his works, of what character they are. This will be a judgment to determine rewards, not to determine one’s destiny for that is determined by whether one is in Christ or not at death. "…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God," Rom. 14:10-12. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he had done, whether it be good or bad," II Cor. 5:10. But how can anyone be judged unless there be some standard or basis for judgment? Judgment is simply the measuring of something or someone against a standard, and therefore, if the Christian is to be judged for rewards, there must be something to serve as a basis for judgment. This basis is the Decalog, although it is not exclusively the Decalog, for other things shall also enter in, but the primary standard will be this Divinely given code of Law.

For the unsaved person, it is also true that the Decalog will be the basis, or standard, by which he will be judged, for the Decalog prescribes what a man ought to be, and his failure to be what he ought to be will be judged by this standard. This is evident from the record of the judgment of the Great Day as set forth in Rev. 20:12. "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." The Book of Life is opened to give evidence that those that appear at this judgment are unsaved, for they have never been enrolled in this Book that lists the names of all of God’s elect, which has been completed since the foundation of the earth, Rev. 13:8. Contrary to popular belief no new name has been added to this book since the foundation of the world. The other books will doubtless be, First, the Book of God’s Law, which prescribes what man’s conduct is to be. Second, the Book of God’s Providence that will show all God’s marvelous workings for the fulfillment of His will, and even the development of each person from conception to death, Ps. 139:16, and how each one responded to opportunities and challenges. Third, the Book in which God has recorded all of man’s actions, also suggested Ps. 139:16. All of a person’s circumstances, opportunities, conduct and failures are recorded in God’s book, and in the Day of Judgment these will all be brought to light and will have a bearing upon the judgment made. Fourth, there will be the Book recording all human thoughts, desires and attitudes, as suggested in Ps. 56:8, for these too will bear upon the judgment. And perhaps there will be even other books that will bear upon the results of both the judgments of saved and unsaved men. All of these books will constitute the Library of Heaven.

The Law is not dead, but alive, and it fulfills its purpose, and will continue to fulfill its purpose even until the day of the Great White Throne Judgment. Then it shall serve as the standard for the last judgment of men where it will serve as the standard for all right and wrong. And every infraction of its laws will be condemned and punished with a befitting penalty.

"If it was a sin then, and now, to ‘steal, kill, blaspheme, covet,’ etc., the same as from Moses to Christ, it shows there was, and is a live law forbidding these very things. For sin is transgression of law, and is not imputed where there is no law. The whole race of man from beginning to end will be judged and condemned by law, and there is no escape but to be born again, and that of the free woman Covenant which is from above, and which is the mother of all the children of promise."—J. B. Moody, The Exceeding Riches of the Manifold Grace of God, p. 111. It is true that some men have a greater knowledge of the Law than others, and these, therefore, have a greater accountability. As it is written, "For as many as have sinned without law shall perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law," Rom. 2:12. But it is also true, as we have already had occasion to notice in this study, that no person is totally destitute of knowledge of the Moral Law, and consequently all men are accountable to some extent. God deals in perfect justice, and every man must answer for himself and to the extent of his knowledge of the will of God. In that day men will not be asked, "Have you done what you thought was right?" Nor, "Have you followed your conscience?" for both of these things may be easily perverted. It is the folly of most people that they believe that they can follow conscience blindly. But conscience may be trained to justify that which the Law of God condemns, and false religion often does so. "The character of Conscience in all religious duties depends upon Faith. Without faith it has no life; with a false faith it is corrupted, and therefore a curse; with a true faith it is living and pure. Conscience in itself is a most potent power, but it is a blind power. It enforces the conduct dictated by a man’s faith, whatever that may be. But its power for good or evil comes only with a sense of the authority of God. It will enforce no duty nor produce remorse for any neglect of duty, in regard to God, unless faith affirms the act to be sanctioned by the will and authority of God."—J. B. Walker, The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation, pp. 253-254. Much the same thing can be said of man’s mind. If it were not corrupted and possessed of a natural inclination to evil, a man’s actions might be judged on the basis of whether he thought them to be good or evil, but such is not the case. Since the fall of man in the garden, every person has come into the world with a corrupted reason, and with a mind that is diametrically opposed to the will of God, Tit. 1:15-16. And therefore what man thinks, or what his conscience tells him to do is not so important as what the Law of God prescribes.

Law is the basis of judgment, but not the Law alone, for there are at least five elements that enter into the judgment of unsaved men: (1) The demand of the Law. (2) The extent of knowledge of it. (3) The provision of the Gospel. (4) The deeds of the individual. (5) The motivation of the deed. The Law’s demands manifests the fact of sin, while the other four of these have to do with the degree of that sin, but all of them will be brought to bear at the Day of Judgment. However, it will be the Decalog that will be the basis of, and standard for, the judgment of ungodly men, and it will be the Decalog that condemns them to an eternity in hell. The other four elements will determine only the degree of the punishment in hell.

The foregoing thought deals more with the unbeliever than with the believer, but there is another purpose of the Decalog which relates more to the believer, and that is—


There are a number of Scriptures that set forth this fact in no uncertain terms, for obedience is the most evident manifestation of love to God, and by obedience to the Law one shows love to one’s neighbor. Concerning this, A. W. Pink rightly says—

"The supreme test of love is the desire and effort to please the one loved, and this measured by conformity to his known wishes. Love to God is expressed by obedience to His will. Only One has perfectly exemplified this, and of Him it is written, ‘I will delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart,’ (Ps. 40:8). But we ought so to walk even as He walked (I John 2:6). Simple but searching is that word of His, ‘He that hath my commandments and keepth them he it is that loveth Me’ (John 14:21). And again it is written, ‘By this we know that we love the children of God when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.’ (I John 5:2-3). The ‘waning’ of love, then, means departing from, failing to keep, God’s commandments!"—Gleanings in Exodus, p. 156. For the true believer the keeping of the Decalog manifests his love to his Lord, for Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments," John 14:15. And again, "Ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you," John 15:14. It is a common practice in this degenerate age for men to sin "O How I love Jesus" while yet refusing to obey even the least of His commandments, but this is nothing less than hypocrisy. True love is not selfish, but is selfless, and delights to please the object of its affection even when self-will must be denied. Therefore, when we see someone that professes to love the Lord, but who will not obey Him, we must simply remember that, "By their fruits ye shall know them," Matt. 7:20.

The Christian knows, or should know, that he is not under law, but under grace. Through the atonement of Christ, he is no longer under the condemnation of the broken Law, but this does not license him to sin as he pleases. "For ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid," Rom. 6:14-15. Not only is he freed from the condemnation of the Law, but he has become dead to it that he might live unto Christ. The apostle illustrates this truth by likening it to the case of a woman that, so long as her husband lives, is bound by the law to him, but when her husband dies, she is freed from that law, and may marry another. His application of this is, "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter," Rom. 7:4-6. The whole point of this discourse is that when a person accepts Christ’s atoning death, he immediately ceases to seek justification by the Law, and to all intents becomes dead to it. His obedience of the Law is henceforth no more of that compelled nature wherein he sought justification by it, but he becomes united to Christ in love, and this is the motivation for his keeping the Law. This new motivation causes him to serve in newness of spirit, and not just in the oldness of the letter of the Law.

For the Christian, because of this new motivation, his service to the Lord is acceptable and pleasing in the Lord’s sight. The commandment is still the same, but the new motivation back of keeping it makes it new in practice. John refers to this when he says, "Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past and the true light now shineth," I John 2:7-8. This is a paradoxical saying, but refers to loving one’s brother as the Lord commanded, as the context reveals.

The Decalog may be summed up in two requirements, to love God supremely, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, and the fulfilling of the Law is the manifestation of this love. Scripture says, "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law," Rom. 13:8-10. "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," Gal. 5:14. "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well," James 2:8.

The Decalog is a standard of conduct to reveal to man what God requires of him, and when a renewed man endeavors to fulfill this code of laws, he manifests his love for the Lord of it. However, it will be a lifelong struggle for the Christian to fulfill the requirements of the Decalog, for while the commandments are not grievous, I John 5:3, yet they are contrary to the carnal mind, which is a natural rebel against the Decalog. "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be," Rom. 8:7. And therefore a terrible civil war is produced between the two natures in the Christian, which will continue until the death angel sunders soul and body, Rom. 7:22-25.

A terrible civil war? Truly so! Yet may we remember that the endeavor to honor and keep this Law of God manifests love to God and love to man. "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous," I John 5:2-3. "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment," I John 3:23.

But not only does the keeping of the Decalog fulfill the Royal Law by loving one’s neighbor, and manifests one’s love to God, but it is also a manifestation that one has been born of God and dwells in Him. "He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us," I John 3:24. "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God," I John 4:7. This last verse is another of several proofs that the new birth is the origin and cause of all Christian graces. For "love," like "believeth" in I John 5:1, is a present participle, while "born" in both places is perfect passive (past tense with consequences that go on to the present). Faith and love are the effects of which the new birth is the cause. Proper understanding of this causes us to shout "All glory to God!"

The purposes of the Decalog are manifold, which only goes further to reveal that man could never be justified by the keeping of the Law. However, the Law is good if it is used for its intended purposes, but justification of sinners by their deeds is not one of its intended purposes, and it manifests a decided antagonism against the whole grace system to think so. Almost all "Religion" is manmade, and all such will do its utmost to glorify human effort, even at the cost of robbing God of His glory, and so, it has always taught salvation by the deeds of the Law, to a greater or lesser extent. But Scripture is very clear that on the basis of the grace system, "it is of faith, that it might be by grace," Rom. 4:16. Hence, "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith." Rom. 3:27. "Not of works, lest any man should boast," Eph. 2:9.