The 10 commandments are a part of the old covenant law given to Moses. Jesus satisfied the requirements of the law on our behalf – so where does that leave us in regard to the commandments?
Even back as far as Isaiah 64:6 (“When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags”) – it was understood that our best attempts at righteousness were worthless. It would be like us collecting our dirty laundry and dropping it at the foot of the cross and asking Jesus to add it to His spectacular righteous work on the cross – it would be a joke, worse an insult.
Paul tells us in Corinthians that “all things are permissible to him” – surely that doesn’t include theft, murder, unfaithfulness. Of course Paul is not telling us to go out and sin, so what is he getting at.
In my view, I believe Paul is saying to us that we have entered a new phase of relating to God that is based on Christ’s good works, not our own – that’s not to say we shouldn’t live decent and good lives but that our perspective of these good works is now seen from a completely different vantage point.
In one respect my initial question is the wrong question; instead of ‘do the 10 commandments apply to me?’ maybe what we should ask is, ‘now that Christ has fulfilled all righteousness on my behalf, how should I live?’.
I like to think of it this way – my life is a song – let’s say “have I told you lately that I love you”. I can perform this song as a member of a brass band, playing the song strictly from the music sheet, playing my part at the allocated time so that I contribute to a pre-set composition. Alternatively, I can perform this song as a member of a jazz band, playing the song from the joy in my heart, improvising around the melody that is written in my spirit and not on a piece of paper, contributing to the song not because I have a pre-determined part to play, but because I have been set free, and energized by the beauty of the song to play spontaneously.
In some respects the outcome might sound quite similar, but the contribution of the musician is completely different.
The vantage point from which we relate to life is that the blood of Christ has set me completely free. Free to live out magnificently and joyfully our personal song for God.
We can live from the letter or the Spirit, but not both. Christ set me free that I might present to Him a beautiful melody – (in a sense a new commandment) – never before heard on earth, my own tune with Jesus.