Do we need to keep the 10 commandments to be saved?


By BibleAsk Team

Legalism – Obedience Without Love

God’s people do not keep the 10 commandments to be saved, but instead they keep it because they are saved. Salvation is by grace alone:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith.”

Ephesians 2:8

There is nothing people can do to earn salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the heavenly Father who sacrificed His Son to save all. People can choose to receive this gift or refuse it. If they accept it, obedience is just the fruit of salvation. The rich young ruler obeyed the 10 Commandments, but without love for this reason, his experience was lacking (Matthew 19:16-19). Christians must love, and because of love, they will obey. Jesus said,

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

John 14:15

Love and Keeping the Ten Commandments

Jesus, in Matthew 22:37-40, commands us to love God and to love our neighbors. He concludes this teaching, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) hang from these two commands like the 10 fingers hang from the two hands. They are inseparable. Love to God makes keeping the first four commandments (which concern God) a pleasure, and love toward our neighbor makes keeping the last six (which concern our neighbor) a joy.

Obedience motivated by love is the only way believers can please God. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Jesus spoke of those who said, “Lord, Lord,” but did not do the will of the Father. Then He described many who would seek entrance to the kingdom claiming to be workers of miracles in the name of Christ. But He would sorrowfully have to say, “I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:21-23).

The apostle John confirms, “He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). To know Christ is to love Him, and to love Him is to obey Him. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Therefore, it is essential to love God and to keep the Ten Commandments. “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments” (2 John 1:6).

The Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Keeping God’s commandments is the real test of love. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). This is why they are so necessary in the experience of a true believer that has been justified by faith alone. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Faith and works go hand in hand. Works are the evidence of God cleansing the believer from sin in the life.

Just as a married couple keep certain boundaries, so it is with God and His people. The Lord likens His people to His bride (Isaiah 62:5, Revelation 21:9). In order to maintain a healthy relationship, both parties must keep within certain laws or boundaries. The Ten Commandments are the boundaries that God calls His people to keep (Exodus 20:2-17). These laws are eternal, as He performed a special act in communicating them. He spoke these words Himself to His people and He wrote them on tables of stone with His own finger (Deuteronomy 9:10).

Which Law Was Nailed to the Cross?

Some say that the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross. They quote the following verse, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Colossians 2:14). However, a study of the context is needed.

In Old Testament times, the earthly sanctuary service was carried out to prepare God’s people for the coming Messiah. The Most Holy place in the sanctuary had the ark of the testament where God’s Ten Commandments were placed inside (Deuteronomy 10:2-5). In addition to the Ten Commandments was written the law of ordinances. This was also called the law of Moses. These included services and holidays related to the temple or sanctuary that taught spiritual lessons. The law of Moses was referred to in Colossians 2:16.

The handwriting of ordinances nailed to the cross are those written by the hand of Moses. These were written on paper and placed beside the ark. This is clear because it was against them. “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you” (Deuteronomy 31:26). Therefore, this book of the law is made of paper, which can be nailed to the cross. But the moral law written by God’s finger on stone cannot be done away with. For more on this, check:

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Matthew 5:18


God’s people are saved by grace through faith alone. However, this grace does not give us a license to sin. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2). Sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Therefore, because we are saved by grace we desire to live in harmony with God’s holy law, the one He wrote Himself. God’s grace actually gives us victory over sin (Titus 2:11-12). God’s law is perfect and converts our soul (Psalm 19:7). 

God calls His people to keep His commandments by His enabling power until Jesus comes. Those who are faithful will overcome the enemy and not receive the mark of the beast. We simply demonstrate our faith in Jesus by living out His commandments (Revelation 14:12; 12:17). Our thoughts, words and actions in keeping with God’s commandments are a reflection of the love of God in our hearts. 

“I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.”

Psalm 119: 32

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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