King David was able to say, “O how I love your law, I meditate on it all day long.” He also says “I delight in your commands” and that “The law from your mouth is more precious to me that thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:97, 47 & 72). He even described the law as “refreshing the soul” and “sweeter than honey” (Psalm 19:7 & 10)
If we’re honest, we would probably be inclined to disagree, even though we know we shouldn’t. Or maybe we try to be theological about it and say that this was just because David was in the Old Covenant. But really, we ought to cultivate the same kind of appreciation for God’s law as David had. After all, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). That doesn’t mean it has the same application for us as it did for God’s people before Jesus, but it still has some purpose for us in which we should delight.
In our most recent Men’s Book Group, the author of the book we’re studying wrote this: “Christians often speak of the three uses of the law. The first is to lead us to Christ by convicting us of sin. The second is to restrain wickedness in the world. The third is to help us to learn the nature of the Lord’s will, acting as a kind of blueprint for holiness” (‘Hole in our Holiness’ by Kevin de Young, page 50.)
With the law explained in these three ways, it clearly has abiding significance for us. We still need our sin pointing out, society still needs restraining and we certainly need to see God’s holy nature, which never changes. But there is also something significant that changes in the coming of Jesus.
Another article I read recently (ftc.co/blog/posts/christ-fulfilled-the-law) was pondering how the law was that which made it possible for a holy God to dwell amongst his unholy but saved people in the Old Testament without them being obliterated and dying – by following the 613 commandments. But as they couldn’t fully keep the law, God’s presence left the Temple and left his people. But Jesus makes it possible for God to dwell amongst us, by granting us his righteous fulfilment of the law as if our own righteousness, and so he lives in the believer by his Spirit.
But we know from the New Testament that the Old Testament law doesn’t apply to us in the same was as it did before Jesus came (see for example, Acts 10 & 15, Galatians 2 & 4, Romans 6). But the law is also not negated. How then it carries over to us today requires carefully consideration.
So, beginning at the end of this month, we’re going to spend eleven weeks tackling the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. We’ll spend the first sermon introducing them, and then the next ten weeks taking one commandment at a time.
Graham Beynon, pastor of Grace Church in Cambridgeshire, who also preached through the Ten Commandments and then wrote a book about them, he said this: “For me, and for the church, there was a sense of rediscovering the Ten Commandments, and so coming to appreciate and value them afresh.” (‘Surprised by the Commandments’ page xii.) I pray that the same will be true for us.