When God made a covenant with Abraham, He declared that through Abraham’s descendants, would come the Messiah. God showed his love and provision for the Israelites when He, through Moses, led the’ exodus out of Egypt, and across the Red Sea to settle at Mount Sinai. They were a rebellious nation who did not understand the righteousness of their God. Therefore, God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to share with the Israelites as laws to live by as followers of their Holy God. God wanted them to be different from those who did not know their Lord. In return, God promised to continue be with them and bless them as His people.
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me…I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Exodus 19:4; 20:2)
The law revealed God’s standard of absolute righteousness. It was designed to convict the Israelites of their guilt before a Holy God; He knew that no human could follow all of them all the time. Satisfying God’s righteousness could only come through the hope of the promised Messiah, who would provide the only way for humans to fulfill God’s righteous standard. Throughout the Old Testament, there are hundreds of prophecies of the coming Messiah that were written thousands of years before Jesus was born. The hope for righteousness of Israel was only to be found in the Messiah who was to come.
“The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14-15)
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:10-11). This book was written 800 bc.
About 1,400 years after God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, Christ was crucified for the world’s sins, past, present, and future. He was laid in a tomb and rose again three days later! Our personal belief in Jesus, our Savior, not the “good” things we have done, will save us.
“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Philippians 2:15-16).
Like so many others, I was convinced that once I acknowledged God as being real, I was good to go with Him. My propensity toward self-righteousness made me blind to my sin and caused me to believe that God would let me into Heaven because I was a good person. Yes, I knew that I had made many mistakes, but I had not killed anyone. When I began to study the Old and New Testament scriptures, including the Ten Commandments, God’s standard of absolute righteousness was clear. Sin could never be satisfied by good or bad behavior, but only through Jesus, the promised Messiah.
James 2:10 points out, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
To be forgiven of our sins, God provided His Son’s perfect righteous sacrifice to pay the price of sin for all those who accept Jesus as their Savior. Not only that, God imputed His righteousness on all who believe in Jesus.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Romans 3:21-24).
By believing in Christ, our obedience no longer comes from the law, but rather from the heart that radically changed through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who now lives in all those who have trusted Him. Only the gospel transforms the heart that can lead to lasting change in our lives. The pressure of religious observance is gone. Knowing what Christ did for us gives us the desire to obey and serve God out of gratitude. In many ways, Jesus’ response summarized the heart of God’s commandments that he gave to Moses.. “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40)