See Yourself in the Story
A lot of people think that the Ten Commandments are some grumpy declarations that God made to those terrible Israelites back in the Old Testament who never got anything right. It’s as if they needed these really basic laws because they were such colossal morons when it came to knowing the way that they should live.
But comparing ourselves to them is one of the most useful interpretive tools that New Testament believers can learn when reading the Old Testament. We might be tempted to look at Moses and that storyline and say, How am I like Moses? or look at Aaron and think, How am I like Aaron? But a far more reliable reading of the Old Testament texts—if we want some personal application—is to ask, How am I like the Israelites? because that's really who we're supposed to identify with in the story. So if it was good for Israel back in the day, there's a good chance that it's good for spiritual Israel here in the present. In fact, the Commandments are vastly beneficial to us.
God’s Character in Law and Grace
Some of it also has to do with the fact that many of us have spent way more time in the New Testament and have been sort of studiously ignoring the Old Testament because it makes us uncomfortable or feels too big for us to deal with. So when it comes to the Ten Commandments, we just don't understand how they can connect to the God of the New Testament because he seems different to us. That's a surface-level misunderstanding.
Law and grace are both products of the character of God.
I think it's understandable, given the way that passages are sometimes preached or the way that grace is sometimes actually set in opposition to the law by some teachers about the New Testament, but the reality is that law and grace are both products of the character of God. In fact, I would say that the way that Jesus speaks of the law in the New Testament is to show us that in the life of the believer, the law is in fact a means of grace because it shows us what pleases God. The children of God want to please their Heavenly Father.
Jen Wilkin is the author of Ten Words to Live By: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands.
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