The ten commandments = Old covenant

A Christian should know what really are the 10 commandments. The bible states that the 10 commandments are the words of the covenant. (The old covenant when compared with the new.)

Exodus 34:27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

A covenant is an agreement. A contract. The 10 commandments express what has been agreed upon or entered into between God and the children of Israel who were delivered from the bondage in Egypt. 

As in a contract one enters into, negotiations took place between the parties, God and Israel with Moses mediating. 

God respects freewill. God made a proposal for Israel to accept. If Israel would obey God, God will make Israel “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. 

Exodus 19:3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 

Moses then relayed God’s proposal to the children of Israel who considered the proposal and decided to accept it.

Exodus 19:7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.”

As mediator, Moses relayed Israel’s acceptance of the proposal to God.

Exodus 19:8…So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.

At this point, a meeting of the minds, a contract or covenant was perfected.

What followed was the enumerating of the words of the covenant, the 10 commandments, which God thundered to the Israelites as recorded in Exodus 20:1-17. 

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The 10 commandments are not the same as, but are in contrast to, Jesus’ commandments (“but I say to you”)

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: 

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…

While “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is a great starting point for a Christian, he should reach for the bar Jesus raised

The ten commandments (old covenant) are summed up by the saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Romans 13:9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

But Christ raised the bar level of love from a man’s capacity to love his neighbor as himself to Christ’s love to man. And Christ commands Christians to so love as he loved us.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

The old and new covenants

To an Israelite who becomes a Christian, the old and new distinction is applicable. The Israelite who becomes a Christian becomes bound to the new covenant as he is released on his obligations in the old.

The Israelite is bound to the covenant God entered into with Moses and his Israelite ascendants and will continue to be so bound if he does not become a Christian in this age. The covenant he is bound to does not become old but remains binding to him. In his case, there is no such thing as a new covenant.

To a Gentile who becomes a Christian, the old and new is also not applicable because there is no previous contract or covenant to speak of.  He merely enters into a covenant with God.

Differences between the old covenant (10 commandments) and new covenant:

1. The parties – God & the Israelites in the old; God and the Christian in the new.

2.  Mediator – Moses in the old; Jesus Christ in the new.

Hebrews 12:24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant…

3. The promise – physical in the old (special treasure, kingdom of priests, holy nation); spiritual in the new (eternal life) to the overcomer.

4. Blood shed – “blood of bulls and goats” in the old which doesn’t wash away sins; blood of Jesus in the new which wash away sins.

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

5. “Equipment” to be able to observe the covenant – own power in the old; Holy Spirit in the new.

6. Where written – in tablets of stone in the old; in men’s hearts in the new.

Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts… 

7. Binding force on an Israelite who becomes a Christian – the new made the old obsolete.

Hebrews 8:13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.

“So how is this (ten commandments) not for Christians??”

The Israelites were not Christians. Christians are not parties to the covenant. Being not a party to the contract, a Christian is not bound by its terms.   

A person is bound only to a covenant he is a party to. 

The 10 commandments – or the words of the (old) covenant – are for those who are bound by the said covenant to observe. These are the Israelites and their descendants which are composed of the Jews and those who are of the other ten tribes of the Israelite nation. 

Christians are out of the picture in the old covenant. So God would not hold Christians accountable if they don’t observe the 10 commandments.

Christians have entered into another covenant. As parties to it, they are answerable for any breach of the contract or covenant.