Andy Stanley, the son of well-established megachurch pastor Charles Stanley, and an influential pastor in his own right, has ignited a major controversy within the Body of Christ. Check out the headline from his head-turning (or head-spinning) article:
The reactions to this article Relevant Magazine have gone from measured:
To exhortational and somewhat combative:
To controversial and a little snarky:
When any pastor tells Christians that they are not obligated to keep the Ten Commandments, it’s understandable that there is going to be some alarm. After all, we need laws to ensure that society is stable and secure. Moral guidelines are imperative to ensure that our communities do not devolve into a war of all against all.
Of course, we should remember that human life did not begin in the Hobbesian mythology of wandering peoples scraping over scarce resources. Life began with God speaking the worlds into existence, breathing life into man, then granting His creation the great commission to replenish the earth.
So, what was the young Pastor Stanley talking about?
First, Stanley addresses the political controversies about the public displays of the Ten Commandments, especially in government buildings like courthouses and schools.
Then he pivots to the one commandment which Jesus gave His disciples the night He was betrayed:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” —John 13:34
The one commandment!
Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? But if we’re going to create a monument to stand as a testament to our faith, shouldn’t it at least be a monument of something that actually applies to us?
You mean that the Ten Commandments do not apply to Christians, Pastor?
Stanley explains the dichotomy of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
Jesus issued his new commandment as a replacement for everything in the existing list. Including the big ten. Just as his new covenant replaced the old covenant, Jesus’ new commandment replaced all the old commandments.
Participants in the new covenant (that’s Christians) are not required to obey any of the commandments found in the first part of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant: as I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Guess what? Pastor Stanley is correct!
Throughout the New Testament, Paul the Apostle explains that we are no longer under Law, i.e. the Law of Moses, but under grace (Romans 6:14).
In fact, because of Jesus’ death, we are dead to the law:
“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.” (Romans 7:4)
Not good enough? Paul writes the same to the Ephesians:
“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:13-15)
Paul writes “having abolished the law of commandments …”
Their demands on us have been removed because of the Cross
Paul also writes to the Colossians:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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;” (Colossians 2:13-14)
In fact, the law does not make anyone holy, nor does it serve to enable godly behavior!
By the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). The law merely brings out our sin and shows our need for a Savior (Romans 3:19-20; Romans 7:7-25).
The Law given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai was not God’s main agenda:
“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:” (Romans 5:20)
Literally, the Law came in on the side, but was not God’s focus. Removing the spiritual gloss of traditional laerning, that verse seems heretical. “You mean the law was designed so that there would be more sin?”
Yes, but not because God wants us to sin. He wants us to be free from sin, to recognize that in Adam we are dead in our trespasses. In Christ, we receive grace, righteousness, and His life!
The law was a harsh taskmaster that showed our need for a Savior. When we believe in Jesus, we no longer need this schoolmaster (Galatians 2:24-26). We are not under law, but under grace.
Pastor Andy Stanley is right: Christians do not live by the law, but by grace!
Paul explained the power grace young pastoral charge Titus:
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:11-12).
Grace teaches us to reject sin, to live godly lives in this fallen world, not the law, which is not for righteous people anyway (1 Timothy 1:9)
In the next article, I will explore how—and why—other pastors and writers challenge, reject, or raise the alarm over the New Covenant, the revelation that Christians are no longer under law, why the Ten Commandments is no longer for those in Christ.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a blogger, writer, and commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow his blogs at The State of the Union and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.