Doug Batchelor - The Unchangeable Law
Welcome once again to Landmarks of Prophecy. We're so thankful that you're here. And tonight we're continuing our series with a very important study. It's the topic of the Unchangeable Law. Well, as we always do, we're going to use a Bible story sort of as a springboard into this subject. If you look into your Bible in Daniel chapter 6, you'll recognize the story there. It's about Daniel. One of the great stories we often save for the children, Daniel in the lion's den. You see, after the Babylonian kingdom fell to the Persians, the new Persian king, Darius, was so impressed with Daniel's ability and his wonderful spirit he had, that he thought about making him the prime minister of his new kingdom.
Well, you can imagine that didn't go over very well with the other members of Darius' cabinet because Daniel was a former servant of Nebuchadnezzar. That was the enemy. Daniel was a former captive from among the Israelites. Why would the king want to promote somebody who was both a foreigner and a member of the former kingdom to be the new prime minister? So they came up with a plot.
They went to king Darius and they said, 'Your highness, it's a new kingdom. We've conquered several other empires; in order to get everyone together - the best way to do that is through common worship.' That's true, the devil often does that. When you can't get people to join together because of common language or common culture, common religion is often the best way to do it. And so, they said, 'If you make a law - it doesn't have to last long, just 30 days - that nobody worships any god except for you, that'll solidify the kingdom.'
You can read in Daniel 6:8, he signed the decree - you can't pray to any God or man for 30 days and, by the way, there's a penalty if you break it: you go to the lion's den.' But the king never dreamed anybody would break it and he didn't realize what they were up to, so he signed it. And it says, 'According to the law of the Medes and the Persians which does not alter.' Once you sign the king's law, you can't change it.
So, the Bible - here's one of the great verses in the Bible: Daniel 6, verse 10, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God," - did Daniel know what the penalty was for this law? It says he knew about it and he's still thanking God. He did nothing to hide his light under a bush. But he thought, 'I’m not going to hide my faith from anybody.' And so he opened his windows.
Well, soon these enemies, they went to the king and they said, 'You know that law that you signed?' The king said, 'Yep, law of the Medes and the Persians - it cannot change.' They said, 'Well, there's someone in your kingdom that just doesn't care about your law, it's Daniel. He's praying three times a day.' King Darius said, 'Oh no!' The Bible says he labored til the going down of the sun to deliver Daniel but he couldn't because he couldn't change his own law. So right about the going down of the sun, he had Daniel brought to the lion's den. Daniel said - the king spoke to Daniel and he put him in the lion's den and he said, 'I know that your God that you serve continually, He will deliver you.' And they put a stone over the lion's den and they sealed it with a government seal.
And then the next day it tells us that early in the morning, the king came to the tomb and he said - they rolled away the stone - 'Daniel, has your God that you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions?' And Daniel said, 'My God has sent His angel and shut the lions' mouths.' And no form of harm or hurt was on Daniel, the Bible says, because he believed in his God.
Well, he had an interesting way of believing - he showed his belief, didn't he? That's what it says - he believed in God. Now this story tells us that Daniel said there are Ten Commandments and one commandment says, 'Thou shalt not have other Gods before me' - not even king Darius. Not even for 30 days. And he was willing to die rather than disobey.
What kind of faith and determination do God's people need in the last days? Is there going to be a law that says 'He who does not worship the beast and his image should be killed? First they can't buy or sell, but ultimately it says they should be killed. And worshiping the beast and his image is going to require breaking one of God's commandments.
Do you love the lord and his word so much that you would rather die - rather go hungry - than disobey? This is a test that we need to know that the Ten Commandments are not multiple choice and that's our subject.
Number 1: Can God's moral law be amended or repealed?
Answer: Jesus tells us in Luke 16, verse 17 - he says, "It is easier for heaven and earth to" - what? "Pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." Yhat's a Hebrew term - it's talking about the little crossing of a 'T' - it's even smaller than the crossing of a 'T' - even the slightest thing - a jot or a tittle is like a little period or a little crossing of a 'T' - it says heaven and earth will pass away before even that much of the law passes away.
You can also read in Psalm 89, verse 34, God says, "My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips." God is not going to break His covenant. It's forever and ever.
And then you have one more in Psalm 111, verses 7 and 8, "All his precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever." The Ten Commandments did not suddenly appear in Exodus. The Ten Commandments have always existed because they are a reflection of God's nature. How do I know that? When the woman - Potiphar's wife - tempted Joseph to commit adultery in the book of Genesis, Joseph said, 'I can't do that. It's a sin.' Did they know, even in Genesis, that adultery was a sin? When Cain killed Abel, God told him, 'Sin lies at your door.' And sin is the breaking of God's law.
Was murder a sin even in the Garden of Eden? Or did murder - murder wasn't a sin until God wrote it down at Mount Sinai? Of course it was. Was it wrong to lie all the way from the beginning?
And so, see the Ten Commandments go all the way back. God simply codified it so that they would all know - very clear, no misunderstanding, approximately 300 words - this is My perfect will. That law is comprehensive for all man - it's not for one nation, it's for people everywhere. When you do away with the law of God, you're doing away with the nature of God.
Now, if you look in your lesson you'll see, for instance, the Bible says, 'God is good.' Do you know the Bible says also, 'The law is good'? The Bible tells us that God is holy. The Bible also says that the law is holy. You can read where it says God is righteous, God is truth, God is pure, God is spiritual, God is unchangeable, God is eternal. These are also all the same characteristics of the law so we've got to be very careful about trying to do away with the law because it represents the very nature of God. Jesus was the word became flesh. Christ said, 'He that hears these words of Mine is building on a' - what? - wise man building on... the rock.
What were the Ten Commandments written on? If there are any words important, it would be the words of God engraven in stone. Christ was the embodiment of the word. His life was obedience to the law of God. And then, as Christians, He says, 'Follow Me.' Now, according to the Bible, what is sin? I mean, Jesus came to save us from sin. What is it that He's saving us from? 1 John 3, verse 4 - the Bible says, "Sin is the transgression of" - what? Of the law. Sin is - it's like a dictionary definition: 'Sin is the breaking of - or the transgression of - the law.' Romans 3:20 said, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." We don't really know what sin is except by the law. God's law reveals what sin is.
Now, the purpose of the law, though, and this is a very important point I want to emphasize, is not to save us. The Bible says that the purpose of the law is to simply show us our need of salvation.
Now I’m going to just illustrate this. Now I just did something to change my appearance. I don't see anything different. You see something different. Would it distract you if I went through the rest of the program like this? It would. So what do I need? Ah, how convenient. So I feel fine. I don't see that there's a problem. I look in this device and I go, 'Ew!' It really is the first time I looked. That's kind of embarrassing.
So since the mirror showed me I’ve got a problem, it obviously should be the means of removing the problem, right? So if I just whack myself in the head with the mirror it'll all go away. Would that fix it? If I rub the mirror on the mark or the tape, will that take it away? This shows us the problem, but it's not supposed to take the problem away.
You are not saved by keeping the law, the law doesn't save you from anything. The law is there to show us our need of salvation. But then, if I take this and use the blood, it takes away the sin. Now the reason I mention this - it says in the book of James, 'Whoever looks into the perfect law that gives liberty and continues therein, being not just a hearer but a doer of the word, this man will be blessed.'
The law of God is compared to a mirror. It's not supposed to take away our sin, it's supposed to show us our need. Then you go to Jesus for cleansing. But, if it's not a sin to break the law - if there's no law, there's no sin, right? The Bible says, 'Where there is no law there is no transgression.' That's what Paul said, 'Where there is no law, there's no transgression.' So if there is no law there's no transgression.
If there's no sin, then who needs a savior? Can you see why the devil would be attacking the law? Because if there's no law then there's no sin. If there's no sin you don't need Jesus. And so, that's the logic behind it.
Number 3: To what law is John referring? Paul tells us in Romans chapter 7, verse 7 - he said, 'I had not known sin but by the law. For I had not known lust except the law had said, 'Thou shalt not covet.' Here he is quoting from the Ten Commandments, isn't he? He's saying, 'I become aware of what my sin is by looking at the law.'
Did Jesus keep the Ten Commandments? John 15, verse 10 He said, "I have" - what? - "I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." we've got to have - 'Thy word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin.' We need to have the law of God in our heads and in our hearts or we're going to get mixed up in this culture, amen?
Number 5: What is the punishment for living a life of sin?
Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death." Pretty serious. Sin is a deadly, contagious disease and God has to use drastic measures. We've seen in the news lately what happened when someone even thought someone else might have Ebola because it's a deadly disease - roughly 50 to 60 percent, depending on what country you're in when you get it - that they quickly quarantine people. Well, sin is even more deadly than Ebola. And so God says, 'We can't allow it to spread through the universe.’ The penalty is death. Unless we get a transfusion of the blood of Jesus, we're in trouble.
Some say the Ten Commandments are not binding for New Testament Christians. What does Jesus say about this? Matthew 19, verse 17 - He said, "But if you will enter into life, keep the commandments." Well obviously, for a starting point, He would be talking about the Ten Commandments.
You can read in John 14, verse 15, Jesus said, "If you love Me keep My commandments." A lot of pastors say today, 'We don't have to keep the Ten Commandments anymore because Jesus fulfilled the law.' Well, what does 'fulfill' mean? When Christ came to John the Baptist to be baptized, John said to Jesus, 'No, You need to baptize me because You're the Messiah.' Jesus said, 'No, John, allow it to be this way now for thus it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.'
So when Jesus said, 'Fulfill all righteousness,' does that mean do away with all righteousness? Some people read that verse: 'Think not that I’ve come to destroy the law.' They change it where Jesus says 'Think not that I’ve come to destroy the law, I’ve actually come to do away with it.' That wouldn't make any sense. He obviously wants us to keep the Ten Commandments.
How is it possible to keep the commandments? Now, sin is the transgression of the law. I don't know about you, but I am tempted every day. Am I alone? Every day I have opportunities to do the wrong thing. And every day I have opportunities to follow Jesus and make the right decisions.
Is it possible for us to do what God asks us to do? Romans 8, verse 3 - God, sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us which walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. It is possible. Philippians 1, verse 6, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
You know, a few years ago, matter of fact, John Lomacang was with me. We were doing a debate - a friendly debate on television with John and I and two other ministers and the subject of the debate was the law of God and the ministers were saying that the Ten Commandments was part of the old covenant and nobody could really keep the law and God didn't expect us to. And so I asked, 'Can the devil tempt us to sin?' They said, 'Well, of course.' And I said, 'So you believe the devil has the power to get us to sin, but you don't believe that God has the power to keep us from sin? So in effect, you're saying your devil's more powerful than your God.' Isn't that what - I mean, that's where that goes. How much can I do through Christ? Without Him how much can we do? Nothing. Through Christ, all things are possible.
What is the old covenant and why did it fail? Alright, first let's look and find out what that was. You go to Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 13 and you'll find the old covenant mentioned there. "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, even" - how many?
"Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone." And so it tells us that the old covenant was the Ten Commandments written on these two tables of stone - written by the finger of God. Now, right after the Lord made the covenant with the people - you know what a covenant is - it's an agreement. God spoke the Ten Commandments, there in exodus 20. Moses later brings down the written copy, but while he's up on the hill getting the Ten Commandments, what do the children of Israel do? And so the Bible says in Hebrews 8, verse 8, "Because finding fault with them." Now was the fault of the old covenant with the covenant and the law or was it with the people who made a promise?
You see, the new covenant is based on better promises. The old covenant was based on the promise of the people. 'All the Lord has said, we will do it.' The new covenant is based on the promise of the Lord. It says, in Hebrews 8, verse 10, "For this is the covenant that I will make with them says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts."
Inherent in every command of God is built the power to perform what He's asking. That is a simple - if God says, 'I want you to walk across that ocean there.' Don't argue. You'll either walk on water like Peter or He'll part the ocean. I mean, when God asks you to do something, you do it. And that's called obedience and we're living in an age where, even in some churches, they're acting like obedience is legalism. Obedience is not legalism.
The devil is trying to intimidate Christians. As soon as you talk about the law, you know what you get called? A dirty word among Christians - legalist, Pharisee - and so what happened is people in the church have been so intimidated by those terms, the pendulum has swung to the other side and now everybody is so afraid to be accused of being a Pharisee or legalist, nobody talks about the law. Jesus did.
Doesn't living under grace by faith make keeping God's law non-essential? Romans 6:15, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?" - What does he say? "God forbid!" And again, in Romans 3, verse 31, "Do we then make void the law through faith?" - again, he uses that phrase - "God forbid! Yea, we establish the law." Paul says, in Romans chapter 2:13 - "It's not the hearers of the law that will be just before God, but the doers of the law will be justified." That's what Paul said.
Are people saved by keeping the law? Remember my illustration? Is anyone saved by keeping the law? No. Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9, it says very clearly, "For by grace are we saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." We're not saved by our obedience, but if we love the Lord we'll want to obey Him.
You know, if you go to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website, he answers questions there. I just copied this off the website because Dr. Graham still has this right. Question: Does God expect us to keep the Ten Commandments? Answer: The Ten Commandments are just as valid today as when God gave them to Moses over three thousand years ago. Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the law."
And he's got a number of other statements like that. There's not a lot of preachers that are still saying that. They're all saying, 'We're not under the law.' And that is a really strange thing because it makes it sound like sin is being endorsed. Are there some Old Testament laws no longer binding upon New Testament Christians? Yes. And it tells you which ones they are. You can read in Ephesians 2:15, "Having abolished...the law of commandments contained in ordinances." And it explains what these things are. This is talking about your, like, your yearly Sabbaths, meat offerings, drink offerings - it's talking about things like the Passover ceremony, circumcision - these are all ceremonial laws.
The Ten Commandments are of an eternal nature. Now don't forget this: Ten Commandments, written by God's finger. Ceremonial law, written by Moses. Ten Commandments, spoken by God's voice. Ceremonial law, spoken by Moses or the voice of other judges. They are two completely distinct - or separate - laws. And so the laws that were nailed to the cross were the ceremonial laws, not the Ten Commandments.
What are some of the glorious rewards of keeping God's law? Proverbs 29, verse 18 - this is as simple as it gets. How can you misunderstand this one? He that keeps the law, happy is he." Anyone here want to be happy? The Bible says there's joy, there's blessing, there's happiness, there's abundance. This doesn't come from disobedience, it comes from trusting the Lord and obeying Him. And that's what I want to do. That's where I want to be. Furthermore, Psalm 119, verse 165, not any kind of peace, but what kind of peace?
"Great peace have they that love thy law. Nothing will offend them." Don't you want to have that kind of peace? When you say - and you know, if you're struggling, as we all do, you just tell the Lord, 'Lord, I want to obey You. I want to be Your child. I want to be willing to do Your will. You know, God sends this message to us because He wants to save us, but He can't force us.
Back in 1995, a young man did something awful - just immature jealousy. There were a couple that were parked out in an isolated spot in a car and, I guess, this young man, Allen - Andrew Allen Cook - felt jilted but he shot to death these young college students and - the girl - and nobody knew what happened. It was a mystery. The FBI got involved. They couldn't figure out who did it or who was responsible. But at one point, the Bureau - the Bureau of Investigation in Georgia - began to ask some questions and they called a guy named John Cook and they said, 'Could you have your son Andrew give us a call? We want to ask him some questions and see if he knows anything about that murder that took place.'
And so John called his son. He said, 'Andrew,' he says, 'they're - the Bureau of Investigation in Georgia is wanting to ask you some questions about that murder and' - he said, 'Yeah, dad, I did it.' Now I didn't tell you that his father was an FBI agent. They had no evidence on him. There were no witnesses. The only one who knew was the father. The father was a Christian - loved his son - he had to make a decision. He knew he'd get the death penalty. And he said, 'Do I put the law above the love for my son?' And he realized there is no love if there isn't law. And what about the parents that lost their children? And he said, 'Son, you know what I have to do.' The primary witness during that trial was John Cook, witnessing against his son that he desperately loved. And - 2013 - Andrew was executed for his murders.
God wants to save you. He's desperate to save you, but He also is a just God and He cannot save you if you will not come to Him and ask Him to save you from your sins.