Andy Stanley, in a sermon titled, “Aftermath, Part 3” said that the 10 Commandments were not to be applied to Christians because we are under the new covenant, not the old covenant. He said that the Gentile believers were not asked to keep the Law of Moses. He is right that pastors have been mixing the old covenant and the new together for a very long time, creating confusion.
On the other hand, nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the New Testament either by Jesus or one of the apostles. Which commandment doesn’t make the cut? Keep the Sabbath holy. So, the point that Andy makes is mostly inconsequential since nine of the commandments are repeated. But, the principle is important and the principle is that the New Testament is NOT a continuation of the Old Covenant. Stanley argues that Jesus fulfills the Law and therefore Christians are not required to keep the Law. He says Jesus fulfills the Law to launch a new law, to love one another.
Nowhere in the New Testament are Gentiles told to keep Moses’ Law. The New Testament makes a big deal in saying that they were NOT required to be circumcised, the primary identification of someone who is following Judaism. Therefore, the Gentiles were not grafted into Judaism and not placed under the Law of Moses.
One might wonder why not keep the Sabbath? Many Christians have incorporated Sabbath-keeping into their religious practices, mostly by changing it from Saturday to Sunday. Who authorized them to change the day of the week to keep the Sabbath holy? They will argue that since Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday, Sunday has replaced Saturday as the most holy day. But, the Bible does not support this change anywhere. So, why is it that the NT does not speak of obeying the 4th command? In fact, it tells us not to let anyone judge you about whether or not you keep the Sabbath (Col 2:16). In the OT, God is very serious about keeping the various aspects of the Sabbath. He exiled the Jews for 70 years so that the land could take 70 years of Sabbath years that the Jews had not done in the 490 years they were living in Israel supposedly under the Law of Moses (even David did not keep this commandment?). The Bible does not tell us why the Sabbath apparently is not important for Gentiles to keep; its absence in the New Testament sticks out like a sore thumb. Therefore, arguing from silence (not a good idea) one may conclude that the Sabbath is not mentioned since Gentiles are not under the Law of Moses. It surely would be confusing if Gentile Christians were told that the Law of Moses was not for them, except for the Sabbath-keeping. So I reject the notion of a Christian Sabbath; it is not a biblical concept. I do believe resting one day out of seven is a good principle and that is because the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. God wanted His people to enjoy rest and relaxation one day a week. You could also argue that for Christians it isn’t one day that is holy, but all seven days are holy.
Another area that Christian leaders should be ashamed of their bad theology is the theology of tithing. The tithe also is not mentioned in the NT, yet pastors everywhere love to teach their congregations that they should nevertheless be committed to giving a tithe to the church. I think it is self-serving and a lack of faith and/or bad theology. The tithe was meant for the nation of Israel for the Levites, the poor, and a celebratory sacrifice before the Lord.
In Stanley’s sermon, he covers the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 and explains how James and the elders came to their conclusion to NOT require the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses. James concludes that they will not put a heavy burden on these new believers that even the Jews could not bear. Instead he writes a letter stating four requirements only that he wants the Gentiles to follow. Stanley states that one might think James would pick the most prominent of the commands of Moses: Do not steal, do not lie, do not covet. No, the Law of Moses is expressly absent from the list they generate. What’s on the list?
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:19-21)
Command 1: Abstain from things polluted by idols
Command 2: Abstain from sexual immorality
Command 3: Abstain from what has been strangled
Command 4: Abstain from blood
Three of the four are requirements about eating food. Many commentators conclude that the list was put into place to maintain the fellowship between Jew and Gentile believers since Jewish believers would still hold to the dietary requirements of the Law of Moses and by submitting to these rules, it would keep the peace. Verse 21 can be taken a number of ways, but I take it to mean that if a Gentile believer wished to keep the Law of Moses, he could learn about it by attending one of the synagogues. However, this interpretation may not be likely because elsewhere Paul makes it a major point that Gentile believers are not to add the Law to their faith (See Galatians).
So, yes, Andy Stanley is technically correct that the Ten Commandments are not applied to Christians, yet their universal nature means in effect that keeping the Law of Jesus incorporates the principles of the Ten Commandments.