Thousands of years ago, the Creator began a project. The early chapters of Genesis tell us about what He did:
GEN 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
God began the process of reproducing His kind by making something completely new. He created humankind, a species that had His form and shape, with the enormous potential to become like God in nature and character. These creatures were to possess sentience and creativity, like God’s, but on a vastly smaller scale.
God made them unlike Himself in a very important way. They were going to be transitory, not eternal. They would be physical, not composed of sprit, as was God. They would be subject to injury and death: They would be vulnerable. Yet, they would possess a Godly attribute: They would be capable of reproduction of their kind. Therefore, God made them of two genders.
The creation of these beings brought into being a set of completely new circumstances and conditions. Because of the new and special nature of mankind: Sentient, physical, temporal, vulnerable, male and female, living on a planet with abundant yet finite resources, it was necessary for God to give mankind guidance for right and wrong behavior under the new conditions. The rules God created were designed to teach man Who had made him, Whom they should worship, how He should be worshiped and how all of humanity could live together in peace and prosperity. They were to define acceptable behavior and what was unacceptable. They established what behavior and actions were right and which were wrong. God knew that by observing these rules, these laws, mankind would create conditions that lead to peace, abundance and happiness for all. If he ignored them, however, the consequences would not be good.
God had created a body of law. The Bible refers to this law as the Ten Commandments. The Commandments can be found in two chapters of the Bible: Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. These laws are a work of genius. They prohibit, in very few words, the actions that God forbids and recommend succinctly the things we must do to live in peace and happiness. In a few paragraphs that can be read in two minutes, God showed us much of what we need to know about regulating human behavior. Man has written millions, perhaps billions of words into his law books in a attempt to do the same thing.
This law was made for man, to show him the difference between right and wrong. It was created for our benefit, not as a burden or as a set of arbitrary restrictions. There are automatic consequences that befall us when we break one of these laws. Additionally, as with humanly devised laws, there is also a penalty imposed when we break a commandment. This penalty is discussed in the sixth chapter of Romans:
ROM 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When we break the law, we commit sin. The Bible defines sin as the transgressing of the Ten Commandments. This is discussed in the first epistle of the Apostle, John.
1JO 3:4 Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
We see that the Bible says that there is a penalty for breaking God’s law, that is, committing a sin. That penalty is death. When God created mankind, He knew that sin was a distinct possibility, if not a certainty. He wanted the penalty for sin to be severe enough to be a deterrent, but He also knew that there would need to be a legal mechanism for amnesty for sin to be granted. He did not create mankind for destruction, but to be His children and live with Him forever. Therefore, God designed a mechanism for our sins to be forgiven.
God determined, before He put man on this earth, that He would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, in the form of human flesh. Jesus, who lived a perfect life, free from sin (Hebrews 4:15) would accept the penalty for sin in our place, and pay for our sins with His life. This is explained in the New Testament in the book of Colossians:
COL 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, has he quickened together with him [Christ], having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
The verse mentions the “handwriting of ordinances that was against us”. In Greek, this is a legal term that refers to an I.O.U. or a warrant against us for a debt or crime. In the Roman world, crucifixion was the method for exacting the death penalty for the worst criminals. It was customary to post the indictment or accusation of the accused above his head, on his cross. Colossians 2:13 tells us that Christ took our accusation, our indictment (the “handwriting of ordinances”) and paid the death penalty for our sins so that we could live. He figuratively nailed our indictment to His own cross, taking our sins as His own. Jesus, our Savior, gave His life for our transgression of God’s law.
Since our sins made the death of Jesus necessary, we realize that we cannot continue to live a way of life that continues in sin. The Apostle, Paul, made this abundantly clear:
ROM 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
When we realize that we have sinned and understand what those sins are, we must stop sinning: We must stop breaking God’s law. The process of coming to this understanding is a spiritual development to which God leads us. This process is called “repentance”.
ROM 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Repentance will be covered in a separate article. For the purpose of this article, it is enough for us to know that God requires us to stop sinning, to stop breaking His law. Unfortunately, many Christian denominations misunderstand and abuse the mercy and forgiveness of God. They deny that the law continues to be in force and effect today. They teach that God has abolished His law and that Christians are under no obligation to observe and obey it. In teaching this doctrine, these groups become guilty of the sin of lawlessness. This sin is often referred to in the Bible as “iniquity”.
Because the conditions of human life have not changed, the need for the Ten Commandments has not changed. God has not abolished it. When God (Jesus) came here in the flesh, He emphasized the need for mankind to keep the commandments:
Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou want to enter into life, keep the commandments.
Jesus wants nothing to do with those who practice and teach lawlessness (iniquity):
MAT 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Christ promised that those who practiced lawlessness would not enter His kingdom:
MAT 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The Ten Commandments and the rest of the law of God are of the most precious blessings conferred upon us by our Creator. It is when we obey the law of God that we have the greatest opportunity to achieve lasting happiness, health and prosperity, not only for ourselves, but for all those with whom we come in contact. It is incumbent upon Christians to obey the law of God. If we are sinning, we must stop it! We are hurting ourselves and others as well. Be sure to read the article in this series about repentance. The information in that article will help you to stop sinning and to lead a better and more fulfilling way of life.