In my booklet, Wonderful Things in Your Law, I argue that the moral laws (i.e. the Ten Commandments) are not merely rules to be obeyed or principles to live by. Instead, they provide a picture of Christ in you (Col. 1:27). Let’s take just a few of the Ten Commandments as examples.
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Deut. 5:7).
The Hebrew word for God is elohim. The root of elohim has a range of meanings: strong, in front of (as a leader), object of fear, Lord. According to this command, we shall not be ruled by any but God. This quickly boils down to behavior; the one who rules us is the one we obey (Rom. 6:16). This is the foundation of all morality.
First John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him.” Christ is God’s seed. Jesus always does what pleases the Father, so He will fulfill the first commandment. He will neither fear nor serve any other. Our flesh serves whatever appeals to it. But Jesus in us will always say, “Here I am, I have come—it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:7, 8; Heb. 10:7)
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything” (Deut. 5:8).
Christ is God’s only image (Col. 1:15). Because we have been created in Christ, God’s image is in us. God wants us to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). This doesn’t mean God tries to change our flesh. His image is in us. God chisels away that which isn’t His image in order to reveal the image within, just as a sculptor removes stone to reveal the statue. If we only refrain from worshipping idols, we haven’t grasped the heart of this commandment. The fullness of this command is only realized if God’s image—Jesus—is becoming more manifest in us by the workmanship of the Spirit (Eph. 2:10).
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Deut. 5:12).
The inward principle that characterizes the world is forced labor/slavery. The end of the fourth commandment reads, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand…. Therefore, the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). For those outside of Christ, everything depends on their efforts. They must work—for food, security, even salvation. Those in Christ still might lapse into an Egyptian mentality; we might take on the responsibility of being holy, of ministering to others, of providing for ourselves. But if we live in the Person of the Sabbath by faith, He also lives in us; He becomes our inward principle of motivation. We cease from our own works, and Christ does His works in us (Rom. 15:17, 18).
“You shall not murder” (Deut. 5:17).
In 1 John we are told Cain belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother (1 John 3:12). John goes on to say “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:15, 16). Murder is wrong, not merely because a life has been taken, but because it violates the nature of Christ. Jesus gave up His life willingly that we might live. The murderer takes another’s life against their will for selfish ends. If Jesus lives in us, then, we will not murder but will allow death to work in us that life may work in others (2 Cor. 4:12). Really, we haven’t comprehended the spirit of this law if we only refrain from murdering people and do not fellowship in Christ’s sufferings, becoming like Him in His death (Php. 3:10).
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Deut. 5:20).
In Revelation, Jesus is called “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). During His trial before Pilate, Jesus said, “for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). Being the faithful and true witness got Jesus executed. He died for crimes He didn’t commit. The accusations against Him should have fallen on us. But He took them without opening His mouth to acquit Himself (John 19:10, 11). Accusing others falsely so they are wrongly punished is not merely dishonest. It is antichrist. By contrast, the Faithful and True Witness within will continue to tell the truth, even when it benefits others and not Himself. In this way, the ninth commandment will be fulfilled for us.