Well, we’ve spent 10-plus weeks on the Ten Commandments. How do you feel? Maybe you are a little irritated with me by now. Every week I’ve been meddling in your business. You feel like I’m that mean, stern-faced, old teacher that used to wrap you across the knuckles with a ruler. And that’s exactly how you’re supposed to feel! The laws of God—the Ten Commandments—are supposed to make you feel like you’ve just been worn out with the principal’s belt again! (He really wasn’t the princi-pal was he?).
Paul says in Galatians 3.24 that the Law is a “tutor” or “school-master” to lead us to Christ. The law is like a moral tutor who teaches us what is right. And though we may like what we’re learning, we keep failing the test. So we leave the classroom every week feeling worse, and worse, and worse. And that is exactly what God wants.
Why does God want us to feel bad about ourselves? Not because He wants to make us miserable, but because it is true. All have sinned and fall short—far short—of the glory of God. No one has ever (or will ever) received a passing grade. And God wants us to realize that so that we will come to Jesus for grace! And it is really a good trade, you know! Even if you were to start passing right now; even if you never sinned again beginning right now, you’d still be carrying around a back-pack full of F’s from years gone by. But if you give up on yourself; if you stop trying to pass on your own, you get to trade your sin-filled backpack for Jesus’ light and sinless back-pack!
Therein is the goal of the “schoolmaster.” To force you to see that you cannot do enough good to save yourself. To force you to see how much you need Jesus.
So yeah, the Ten Commandments are difficult. Intentionally so. God has written a list of ten simple rules that cut to the very core of our selfishness. And He has done so on purpose—to drive us to the Savior. Have you met the Savior? Or are you still trying, in vain, to prove that you can pass God’s test on your own?
If you’ve met the Savior, then you have realized that He alone measures up to this list. And you’ve stopped tying to use the Ten Commandments as a stairway to heaven. But if you’ve met Jesus; if you’ve seen His unique ability to obey God perfectly, then you also have come to have a great admiration for the Ten Commandments that He obeyed. They are not simply the ruler that busts your knuckles. They are also the ruler that shows you how to make a straight line. And though you’ve come to realize you’ll never make the line straight—for Jesus’ sake, you want to try.
If you’ve met Jesus, you want to be like Him. And you know that to be like Jesus is to love and obey God. So, though you have ceased using the Ten Commandments as a ladder to try to get to heaven, you have not thrown out the Ten Commandments altogether. You still want to obey them—not because you think you can, but because you know you should—for Jesus’ sake!
So learn these two important uses of the Ten Commandments. First, let them show you how far you fall short and how badly you need a Savior. And second, once you’ve embraced the Savior, let them show you the path that leads to God’s best for your life—the path of imitating Jesus.