Many modern-day evangelists and Christians tend to lay little or no emphasis on the ‘Moral law’. I am talking specifically about the ‘ten commandments’ – written by God and given to Moses thousands of years ago, as recorded in the Old Testament. This I think is largely due to a hyper-understanding of St. Paul’s teaching regarding freedom from the law, made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ. Below is one of many examples of St. Paul’s “freedom from the law” teachings.
Romans 7:6 (KJV) – “But now we are delivered from the law, being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter”. The NLT uses the words; “released from the law… No longer captive to its power”.
Just to be clear, I have to point out that in no way am I trying to dispute the teachings of St. Paul on this matter, I am only trying to point out a problem with the way it has been received by many. It is indeed true that our salvation is given to us not by doing the works of the law, which in this case is the ten commandments, but by the grace of God, but does that mean the moral law given by God Himself has become useless today?
Nowadays, many are of the opinion that since Christ has fulfilled all of the law, the moral law (the ten commandments) has become obsolete and no longer has any usefulness. But If that is the case, why are we still obliged to keep the ten commandments today? Why are we not permitted to engage in idolatry, commit adultery, steal, murder, bear false witnesses and so on… why do we still consider all these things as wrong today? What many do not know is that the laws of Moses are categorized in three dimensions, namely;
⦁ The Ceremonial Law
⦁ The Civil Law
⦁ The Moral Law
The Ceremonial Law:- These were commands that relate specifically to the Jewish mode of worship (see Leviticus 1:2-3). Its primary purpose was to point forward to Jesus Christ; these laws therefore, were no longer necessary after Jesus’ death and resurrection. While we are no longer bound by the ceremonial laws, the principles behind them – to worship and love a holy God still apply today.
The Civil Law:- These applied to daily living in the nation of Israel (see Deuteronomy 24:10-11). Because modern society and culture are so radically different from the time and setting, all of these guidelines cannot be followed specifically today. But the principles behind the commands are timeless and should guide our conduct.
The Moral Law (the ‘Ten Commandments’):- These are direct commands of God, and it requires strict obedience (see Exodus 20:13). The moral law reveals the nature and will of God, and still applies today.
We can see above that while the ceremonial and civil laws doesn’t apply to us today, the same cannot be said of the moral law. The moral law was given for all time and all people. It doesn’t only reveal the nature and will of God, but it also shows us God’s standard of holiness, which admittedly is quite high for a fallen world like ours to reach. Therefore when we read St. Paul’s teachings on freedom from the law, we should get the real message. His message doesn’t in any way imply that we are now free to disobey the ten commandments, which is the moral law. In this case, “freedom from the law” doesn’t mean freedom to disobey the law. He was only saying that we can’t be justified by the law, in fact, it is impossible for any one to be justified through the works of the law. If that were the case, then salvation would be out of our reach because there is none who can in reality adhere to all of the laws. It was for this reason that Jesus had to come and offer himself as a sacrificial lamb thus giving mankind hope of a reunion with God. In short, we broke the law, Jesus paid the fine.
Many Christians however, have bought into the misrepresentation of the words of St. Paul. There are many implications of this, one of them being that it presents our God as ‘a god of contradiction’. The Bible tells us repeatedly that God never changes and his words remains the same from generation to generation.
Matthew 24:35 – “Heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass away”. Psalm 119:89 reads; “Your word O LORD, is everlasting: it is firmly fixed in the heavens”. (see also, Numbers 23:19, Isaiah 40:8, James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8). Many go about teaching that Jesus has destroyed the law when in fact Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, that he didn’t come to destroy the law, but rather he came to fulfill it.
Luke 16:17 – “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a single stroke of a pen to drop out of the law”.
So, if the Moral Law truly reveals God’s nature and was hand-written by God, and we know from the scriptures that the word of God is eternal, why then should anyone concede that the moral laws is useless today? But hey! At least, majority of Christians today acknowledge the Ten Commandments as God’s moral compass, regardless of whether they actually keep every single one of the commandments or not, so that’s a reason to be optimistic.
The primary aim of this blog post is to point out a major problem with the methods of modern-day evangelism, and how it has contributed to the many false conversions we have been seeing in the Church recently, But more importantly, it is to show Christians the effectiveness of the moral law, when utilized in our day to day evangelism. I am talking of the kind of evangelism that leads to true repentance from the heart, instead of the many false repentance that is quite rampant in the Church today.
It is also important to note that Jesus made use of this principle during his ministry on earth. It is a method that can be useful for any of us, not just when we witness to unbelievers, but also when we engage ‘works-oriented’ Christians who think that salvation can be earned through their “good deeds”.
In case you haven’t noticed, modern-day evangelism and the methods it uses to bring converts to church contribute in no small way to a large number of what many call ‘backsliders’ in the Church today. It is sometimes argued that most newly converted or born-again Christians fall-away due to ‘non follow up’ of the Gospel – either by themselves or by the people who presented the Gospel to them in the first place. While this might be the reason in some cases, it certainly isn’t responsible in every case. Oftentimes, these people fall-away from the faith as a result of either how the Gospel was presented to them in the first place or how they have received it; and very often, how they receive it depends on how they were presented with it. Let’s face it: The modern Church has strayed away from the biblical way of sharing the Gospel and as a result, more people are easily falling away from the faith today.
Jesus set the example for us in Mark 10, where we find the story of a rich young man who runs up to Him and asks; “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. Now this is probably the most important question anyone can ask, because the thought of the afterlife sits somewhere in the mind of every person – even those who claim lack of believe in it. Let us carefully analyze step by step, how Jesus responded to this young man.
Jesus did not respond by telling him something enticing like; “Oh my friend, you have a void in your life that only I can fill and if you will just say this prayer and accept me into your heart, you will get love, joy, peace and abundance in your life and go to heaven when you die”.
Now, if it sounded like you have heard those exact words before or something similar, it’s probably because it is a very popular line, normally used by modern-day Christians when they share the Gospel. Perhaps at one point, you might have even used the same words when talking to someone about Christ. Truth is, this is the kind of message we tend to use when trying to win souls to Christ. I mean, it sure sounds like sweet music to the ears of the unbeliever. The problem with this very enticing method of evangelism, is that people end up coming into the faith with the wrong mindset, and this leads to what I call ‘false repentance’.
The truth is; When all you tell the Lost about are things like love, joy, peace, abundance and so on, they walk into the faith expecting all these promises to come to them in the form and understanding that they have as unbelievers. On one hand, you might encounter someone who is not doing very well in life, so he or she comes to the belief that once they accept Christ, all their problems in this world will disappear and their lives would become smooth sailing. On the other hand, someone who is doing pretty okay in life and has everything they need in this world is likely not going to repent and become born-again by hearing promises of love, peace, joy, happiness and abundance, because as far as this person is concerned, he or she already possesses all these things. Even if they accept your preaching, say a prayer with you and accept your invitation to Church, I am certain that they are not going to be truly convicted based on the ‘lollipop Gospel’ that you presented to them. Of course, they are going to like it – who doesn’t want to hear that they can get all the goodies of life – It is the in-vogue Gospel now after all, but the truth is, that isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the end result of this kind of Gospel is that the modern Church is filled with people who don’t even understand what it means to be a Christian.
Now let us go back to the story of the rich young man and see how Jesus preached to him using the moral law (the ten commandments). Notice in verse 18 that the first thing Jesus did was to correct the understanding the young man had of the word “good”.
Mark 10:18 (KJV)- “And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, and that is God”.
He then points out six of the ten commandments to him;
Mark 10:19 (KJV) – “Thou knowest the commandments – Do not commit adultery, do not Kill, do not steal, do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.”
The young man was adamant that he had kept all the commandments since his youth, until Jesus pointed him to the essence of the first and second commandments.
Mark 10:21 (KJV) – “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have a treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross and follow me”.
Notice that the only kind of incentive Jesus guaranteed the young man was “a treasure in heaven”. In addition, He also told the young man to “take up his cross and follow Him”. Now here comes the uncomfortable question for every evangelist who is reading this: When you evangelize and persuade people to come to Christ, do you tell them beforehand that they would have to take up their cross and that the awaited treasure is not of this world? For sure, that doesn’t sound pleasing to the ear. Verse 22 tells us that, “the young man was saddened by this and went away grieved, for he had great possession”.
What Jesus was trying to do there, was to make the young man see that the law which he had claimed to keep from his youth could not save him, the only one who could save him and grant him the eternal life he sought, is Jesus – the way, the truth and the life. Unfortunately, The young man failed to realize this, nor was he willing to surrender all and follow Christ. In fact, by angrily walking away, the rich young man showed to Jesus and everyone present that he had broken both the first and second commandments. How come?
Exodus 20:3 (KJV) – “Thou shalt have no other gods BEFORE me.”
Exodus 20:4 (KJV) – “Thou shalt not make any graven image or any likeness of in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…”
Those are the first and second of the ‘ten commandments’ and shockingly, these are the two that people tend to break the most. This is because we break this command on a daily basis without even realizing it. Before you start thinking that you are any different, just pause for a minute and consider that which you worship. The first command clearly states that we are not to have any other gods in our life. Mind you, it does not have to be a “golden calf” or some sort of ancient pagan statue; anything that takes our attention from our creator can be an idol. Anything that you love more than God, you have made your own personal god.
Anything at all – even the big dreams and ambitions that you chase relentlessly and oftentimes give more priority than your relationship with God. Reality is people have taken all these things as their gods without even knowing it. What is that thing that you are addicted to? It could be your Money, Career, Relationships, Addictions, It could even be the Smartphone or Laptop you are holding right now … the list is just endless.
All we have to do is sincerely search our hearts and examine our lives, and we will come to see that we are not too different from the rich young man who placed more value on his earthly riches and possessions than on his salvation. My advice to whoever is reading this is that no matter what you may be chasing in life, God (the giver of all life) should always be your number one priority. Remember, “…the Lord your God is a Jealous God” (Exodus 20:5).
Another important thing to notice from the story of the rich young man is that Jesus didn’t present him with a ‘watered down’ preaching, He didn’t invite the young man over to his house for another conversation over dinner or anything like that, he didn’t even try to stop the young man from leaving. The lesson here is that under no circumstance should we as Christians attempt to compromise the Gospel. The word of God is authoritative; therefore, we shouldn’t twist or bend it when witnessing, otherwise we would end up misleading people; thus, doing more harm with it than good.
Having seen how Jesus utilized the moral law to teach his own message of salvation, let us now proceed to look at why this particular principle is important in evangelism and how we can also apply the same today in our evangelical work:
Psalm 19:7 (KJV) – “The law of the Lord is perfect in converting the soul”.
The moral law clearly shows us why we need a savior. In evangelism, the law can serve as a ‘KEY’ that opens the door of the heart and prepares it to receive the grace offered by the cross. The effectiveness of this principle is seen in that; it leads to genuine conversion of the soul. Every time we witness to an unbeliever, we are faced with a dilemma to deal with. Normally, when we walk up to an unbeliever and present the Good news to them, they don’t immediately see any reason why they need to accept Christ, but if we explain to them that we all need Christ because without Him, we are all sinners headed for damnation. Only by us repenting from our sins and trusting in the grace offered by the death and resurrection of Jesus can we be saved, this revelation would give them more than enough reason why they need Christ. If we do not first show them their inadequacy, it is very likely that they would get offended because we are insinuating that they are sinners, when as far as they are concerned, they don’t see themselves as that bad.
Proverbs 20:6 (NKJV) – “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?”
At this point, it becomes imperative that we show the unbeliever that they are not as good as they may think. In fact, just as Jesus told the rich young man, “no one is good”.
Romans 3:10 (KJV) – “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one:”
This is where the moral law comes into play and does its work. At this point, we should take a cue from Jesus and examine the person using the ten commandments and see how he or she fares. I can guarantee you that like the rich young man, nobody passes the moral law test.
Romans 3:19 (NLT) – “Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. Therefore no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.”
The moral law (Ten Commandments) is like a mirror that sees deep into our heart and we have all at one point in time broken God’s law. When we follow in the footsteps of Jesus by pointing them to the ten commandments and showing them precisely what they have done wrong, then they become like James the Apostle says; “convicted by the law as a transgressor” (James 2:9 NKJV), only then would the Good News of Jesus paying the fine for him on the cross not sound foolish or offensive to them, rather it would be “the power of God unto salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Therefore, it is evident that we are not justified by the law but it serves as a reminder that we simply cannot reach the holy and moral standard of God. The law just tells us what sin is (Romans 7:7 KJV), it doesn’t justify us from sin (Romans 3:4), and the Scriptures define sin as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
It is quite unfortunate that we have almost totally consigned this (moral law) principle to the trash bin, probably because we don’t want to offend people by pointing out their sins. What we have failed to realize is that the moral law is like a school teacher that leads its students to Christ because it lays bare our shortcomings and show us without any disguise, our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24). Like I explained earlier, the law does not justify us, it just leaves us guilty before a Just and Holy God. If we are able to point this fact out to those we evangelize to, then there is a good chance that they would see the true reason they need Jesus and his saving grace.
Evangelism is a very important part of the Christian faith. We would not have known or heard of Jesus Christ and the Good News of salvation culminating from the sacrifice made on the cross of Calvary had it not been for the tireless evangelical mission of the early Disciples fueled by the Holy Spirit. Now it is up to us to continue the ‘Jesus movement’ by spreading the Good News to every part of the world. Christ called us all to be evangelists when he said “Go yea into the world and preach the Good News…” (Mark 16:15), so let us do our best to honor this calling in whatever walk of life we find ourselves. Starting with family members, to friends, colleagues, business associates and even total strangers. We shouldn’t hold back because our salvation and theirs depend on it.
So beloved! with that, we have come to the end of the Evangelism Series, thanks and God bless you for reading to the end. If you haven’t read the first and second parts of the series, I strongly recommend that you do (you can check them out among my previous blog posts), there is so much you can learn from both. Meanwhile, I hope that I have been able to get my message on this topic across without any sort of controversy and I will gladly welcome your thoughts and comments on this particular post.
Finally, as a reward for reaching the end of this post, here is a link to watch how this principle is practically and effectively adopted in a real life evangelism situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhcY7q66odk, you will be amazed to see how people are humbled by the Moral law and instantly realize their need for a Savior. Praise God! The law isn’t useless after all.
PRAYER: Heavenly father, thank you for the Good News that has been passed down for centuries all the way down to our own time. Lord your word is truth and as we have heard the truth of your words today, send upon us your Holy Spirit so we can boldly proclaim the truth you have revealed in the Gospel to the depths of the earth. Father we can only do our part which is to witness, but the power to convict and convert ultimately lays with you. Therefore, we pray that as many as we share the Good News with, they shall be convicted by the power of the Holy Ghost to turn away from iniquity and come to know and worship you in truth and in spirit, through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, AMEN!
I was inspired to put this in writing after watching an episode of “Way of the Master” titled; “Hell’s Best Kept Secret”. “The Way of the Master” is a Christian evangelism television series hosted by New Zealander American based Televangelist and founder of ‘Living Waters Publications’, Ray Comfort, alongside American Actor/Evangelist, Kirk Cameron. I must say that watching that particular episode gave me a deeper understanding of not just the moral and divine law of God, but also the saving grace of God offered to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who paid the fine for our transgressions that we may have eternal life. I highly recommend that anyone who reads this post to check out and subscribe to ‘Living Waters’ channel on YouTube where you can watch all episodes from the series. You would also find other helpful videos that tackle several social issues like Evolution, Depression and Suicide, Abortion – (Pro life vs Pro Choice) and many others. You can visit http://www.livingwaters.com to get lots of other amazing Christian contents that would equip you for evangelism.
Ray Comfort is also the Author of 2009 amazon best seller; “YOU CAN LEAD AN ATHEIST TO EVIDENCE, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE HIM THINK” and has dedicated most part of his life to not just preaching the Good News but also equipping Christians in practical ways to talk about and share their faith to skeptics, unbelievers and even fellow Christians. I am honored to have the opportunity to learn from his ministry and I pray that God continues to provide and strengthen both the man and his ministry, Amen.