17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Notice that "fulfill" and "destroy" are opposites. Not only did Jesus not "come to destroy the law," but He also commands us to avoid thinking that thought. "Fulfill" means to "fill full" or "fill up" in completeness. A few chapters earlier Jesus said He would "fulfill all righteousness" by being baptized (Matthew 3:15). Did His baptism abolish baptism because He "fulfilled" baptism? No. Rather, His baptism is an example for us, and we should be baptized too (see Acts 2:38). It's the same with the law. Jesus fulfilled the Ten Commandments by keeping them as our example. He never murdered, stole, lied, or dishonored His parents. Not only that, but at the end of His life He died on the cross to atone for our sins of breaking them.
Did this abolish the law? Definitely not. Right after Matthew 5:17, Jesus continued by stating, "till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the law til all is fulfilled" (Mat. 5:18). Heaven and earth are still standing, therefore, according to Jesus, not a jot or tittle of the law has passed away. Furthermore, in the next verse He said we should not "break one of the least of these commandments," or "teach men so," but should "do" and "teach" them (verse 19).
Which "commandments" was Jesus talking about? A few verses later He referred to the 7th commandment, "You shall not commit adultery" (Mat. 5:27), and then declared that even the lustful look was committing adultery in the heart (verse 28) and may send a person to hell (verse 29). Thus Jesus plainly taught that we should keep the Ten Commandments, should teach them to others, and that breaking even “one” is dangerous and potentially soul damning.
That's what Jesus Christ said.
Matthew 22:37-40 (The Two Commandments)
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Many refer to this passage as proof that our Savior replaced the Big Ten with the Big Two. But what they don’t realize is that Jesus was merely quoting the Old Testament (see Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18) and that the "two" simply summarize the Ten Commandments. To "love God" is to keep the first four commandments, and to "love man" is to obey the last six. Jesus also said that on "these two [commandments] hang all the Law and the Prophets." Thus the Big Ten hang on the Big Two. Don’t let them fall.
Matthew 26:28 (The New Covenant)
28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Many assume that the New Covenant means that the Ten Commandments no longer apply, but this is false. First, the New Covenant means that Jesus has shed His own blood (in contrast to the blood of animals) to atone for our sins of breaking the Ten Commandments (see Romans 7:7 and 1 John 3:4).
Second, God elaborates, "This is the [new] covenant that I will make with them ... I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them…" (Hebrews 10:16,17). Thus the New Covenant is: 1) Forgiveness of our sins through the shed blood of our precious Savior and, 2) the Ten Commandments written in the heart by the power of God Almighty.
Therefore when sincere people say that the New Covenant means, "No more Big Ten!" they’re sincerely wrong.
John 13:34 (A New Commandment)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Our Savior’s command "to love" was not entirely new, for Moses wrote, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev. 19:18). But the new part was, "as I have loved you." How has Jesus loved us? First, by keeping the Ten Commandments in our behalf, and then by unselfishly dying on a cruel cross for our sins of breaking them! (see 1 Cor. 15:3 and 1 John 3:4). Thus Christ’s "new commandment" should never lead us to break the Big Ten, for this He Himself never did.
Romans 6:14 (Not Under the Law)
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
What does this mean? Look closely. In Romans 3:19 Paul clarified that to be "under” the law really means to be under the law’s condemnation as a lawbreaker, and therefore "guilty before God.” Figuratively, it means that the law is ‘on top’ of the sinner. When we repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ and His grace, we are immediately forgiven and counted no longer as "guilty before God." Thank the Lord! But then the question is: are we then free to break the law? In the next verse after Romans 6:14, Paul continues, "What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid (Romans 6:15). Thus God Himself has forbidden us to conclude that our new status of being “not under the law” means that we are free to violate His commandments without consequences. Read also Romans 3:31.
“Grace” covers our sins of breaking God’s law, but it is not a license keep doing it.
Romans 13:10 (Love Fulfills the Law)
10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Paul wrote, "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Romans 13:10). Notice carefully. Through grace, love for Jesus will lead us into the “fulfilling of the law,” not the breaking of it. A man who truly loves his wife will fulfill the commandment that says, “Do not commit adultery.” True love never breaks God’s law, for that would not be love, but sin (see 1 John 3:4).
2 Corinthians 3:6 (The Letter Kills)
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The entire chapter of 2 Corinthians 3 is regularly misused. Because Paul wrote that "the letter kills" (verse 6), that the "ministry of death [was] written and engraved in stone" (verse 7), and is "passing away" (verse 11), many conclude that the Big Ten are out-of-date. But this is not what Paul meant.
First, there are many other New Testament passages (including others written by Paul) that refer to the Ten Commandments as being in full force today (see Romans 3:20; 7:7,12; 8:4; Ephesians 6:1-3; James 2:8-12; 1 John 3:4; Revelation 14:12). Second, a careful reading of 2 Corinthians 3 reveals that it is not the law itself that has passed away, but rather that its "ministry of death" (verse 7) and "ministry of condemnation" (verse 9) has now ceased for the believer only. But before this happens, we must first be convinced that we are condemned, doomed, and lost lawbreakers, which is all part of the Holy Spirit’s "ministry" to rescue our souls from the pending sentence of eternal death. And then, once we receive Jesus Christ and trust Him only, the same Holy Spirit who first convicted us of sin through the law (see Romans 3:20) now writes that same law "not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart" (verse 3). Thus the end result of "the new covenant" (verse 6) is the same as the Lord’s statement, "I will put My law into their hearts" (Hebrews 10:16).
Bottom line: those who are truly born again will become commandment keepers, not commandment breakers, after "the letter kills" and "the Spirit gives life" (verse 6). This is the "fruit" of the gospel.
Galatians 2:16 (Not Justified By the Law)
16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
This is 100% true. No amount of obedience or law keeping can remove one stain of sin. Forgiveness and salvation come through faith in Jesus Christ alone, not works (see Ephesians 2:8,9). But after we receive His forgiveness, the question is: what about the law? Has it been abolished? The biblical answer is no. In the New Covenant, God promises, “I will put My laws into their hearts” (Hebrews 10:16). When this happens, Christians will love God’s law and keep it by His grace (for proof, read Romans 8:4, Revelation 12:17 and Revelation 14:12).
Galatians 5:3,4 (A Debtor to the Whole Law)
3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
This is 100% true. Those who seek to be "justified," which means "set right," with God by the law remain condemned as lawbreakers (see Romans 3:19,20) for the simple reason that "all have sinned" (see Romans 3:23) and broken the Ten Commandments in the first place. When people trust in the law, or in their own efforts to keep it, they invariably remain under a crushing “debt” to God Himself they can never pay. The only deliverance from such bondage is by repentance and simple faith in Jesus Christ alone.
But once again, the question is: now what about the law? Are we free to keep breaking it? In Galatians 5:19-21, Paul then lists "the works of the flesh," which include "adultery" (breaking the 7th commandment), "idolatry" (breaking the 2nd commandment), and "murder" (breaking the 6th commandment), and then he shockingly warns that "those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (verse 21). In other words, no, the law doesn’t save us, but neither can we continue to willingly violate it and expect to go to heaven.
Then in verses 22 and 23 Paul lists "the fruit of the Spirit" specifically, and summarizes by saying, "against such there is no law" (verse 23). In other words, there is "no law" of God that is against love, joy and peace, but His law is still against idolatry, adultery, and murder.
Thus a careful reading of Galatians 5 lends no support to the false notion that we are now free to violate any one of the Ten Commandments. On the contrary, those who are truly filled with the Holy Spirit will keep them. Read Romans 8:4.