The difference between the Law and the Commandments

Picture of an old manuscript

Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.






The Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments




There is a difference between the law and the Ten Commandments



The first article in this series showed that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week. The second article showed that the Sabbath was made for all mankind and even the animals. This article will look at the "Law" and the commandments of God.

What is the "law"? What are the commandments of God? Is there a difference between the two? The "law" generally refers to the law of Moses, written by the hand of Moses. The commandments of God are the 10 commandments and a summary of those 10 commandments which are contained in the two great commandments. However, the ten commandments are also sometimes called the law. We also have man's laws. All of these different laws are written about in the Bible, and we must be careful not to incorrectly apply a verse which is speaking about the law of Moses to the law of God or to the law of man. This article will focus on distinguishing between the law of Moses and the Ten Commandments.

Exo 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Exo 32:16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.


These verses tell us that there is something different about the ten commandments. They were written in stone by the finger of God. They are the work of God. There is extreme power in the phrase: "written with the finger of God". The fact that they were written in stone, sends a strong symbolic message that they are permanent.

Ecc 3:14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

What God does is permanent.

Gen 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

God blessed and sanctified the seventh day and again what God does is permanent.

Exo 25:16 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
Exo 25:21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.
Exo 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
Exo 26:34 And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.


These verses tell us again that there is something different about the commandments of God. They are placed in the Ark below the mercy seat. The mercy seat is symbolic of Jesus. The foundation for worship is the commandments on which the mercy seat is placed. The mercy seat is symbolic of Jesus acting on our behalf between the commandments and the Father, when we fail. That doesn't mean that we should intentionally fail just because we have a "back up". We are warned about this in Hebrews 10:26.

Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

The commandments of God were placed in the Ark. Where was the Law of Moses placed?

Deu 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

The law was placed in the side of the ark showing that it is separate from the commandments. The law was written by the hand of Moses, not the finger of God. The law of Moses was placed in the side of the ark. The commandments of God were written by God and placed inside of the Ark. The ark will be seen again on judgment day as seen in Rev 11:18 and 19.

Rev 11:18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.

Those commandments are still there in the ark, and will be the standard by which we are judged.

God made the commandments twice as seen in Exodus 34:1.

Exo 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.

What is symbolized by making the commandments twice? Perhaps, once for the old testament and once for the new testament. Perhaps it is to show that man may choose to break these commandments, but God stands fast behind them.

Did Jesus tell us that the commandments were no longer in effect? On the contrary, Jesus repeatedly told us that they were in effect. The sermon on the mount tells us:

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Mat 5:18 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. Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

What is Jesus talking about when he says he came to fulfill? He came to fulfill the sacrifices made for the law. The ceremonial law. He was the sacrifice, instead of the sheep and goats etc... Jesus is the living sacrifice. Jesus is the lamb whose blood covers our sins when we fail. Jesus did not remove sin from the world. Look around. Sin is every where. Jesus paid the price for sin. That does not relieve of us of our obligation to flee from sin. We have already seen that we are not free to willingly sin. See Hebrews 10:26. The sermon on the mount actually goes through the commandments and tells us they were not done away with, but were actually strengthened. Here is a link to the Sermon on the Mount. Read it for yourself, Jesus was clearly talking about the ten commandments during that sermon. He lists many of them and shows how they are strengthened by his coming, not done away with. Jesus actually says, do not break the commandments or teach others to break them.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is giving a very clear warning to any who might decide to teach others that it is OK to break any of the commandments. The majority of pastors today seem all to willing to ignore this warning. It is common place to hear them teaching that the 4th commandment is no longer applicable or that it has been changed.

Jesus tells us point blank to keep the commandments.

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.


We are told many times in the new testament that we are to follow the 10 commandments.

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

1Jn 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

2Jn 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.


Take a look at these verses:

Heb 10:28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

The first verse is telling us that those who despised the law of Moses were put to death. The point here is that a lamb was the sacrifice for sin under the law of Moses. If a person despised this law and continually sinned, they were put to death without mercy. The second verse then asks a question. How much worse a punishment do we deserve, if we know of the sacrifice that Jesus made for our sins, and then we willingly sin because we are under grace?

What is sin? If it were true that the 10 commandments were done away with, then by what standard are we to judge ourselves morally? If there are no commandments in force, then we are free to murder, rape, covet, lie, cheat and steal. There are pastors across the planet teaching in vain, if the commandments are not in force. How should we judge if we have committed a sin if there are no commandments? What other standard is there? There are the two great commandments.

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

A quick look at these two great commandments reveals that they are simply a condensed version encapsulating all of the 10 commandments. The first one reflecting the first four commandments and the latter reflecting the last 6 commandments.

We know in our hearts that the 10 commandments are still applicable. The reformers new it. The pastors of today regularly preach that we should not wilfully sin. They will often list the sins, adultery, theft etc... How do they know these are sins if not for the 10 commandments? The idea that the 10 commandments are null and void is only a recent invention. People will often have a copy, or a modified copy of the 10 commandments in their homes. Why is that? If the 10 commandments are null and void, why have them in our homes? We have them in our homes as a reminder, and to teach our children right form wrong. They are the standard by which we judge ourselves morally. Most people don't have a problem with them, except for the 4th one.


What exactly was nailed to the cross?


We often hear people saying something was nailed to the cross. This comes from Colossians 2:14 which states:

Col 2:14 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;

The handwriting of ordinances that were nailed to the cross are the same ordinances that Christ continually taught against. These are the ordinances written by religious leaders to try to enforce their particular doctrine. These ordinances are the doctrines of men, not the Ten commandments or Law of God written by God's own finger. Paul specifically tells us that he is referring to the commandments and doctrines of men, if we simply continue reading to Colossians 2:20-22.

Col 2:20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
Col 2:21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Col 2:22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?


We must be very careful if we decide not to follow the commands of God. After all, they are His commands. We do not choose what is acceptable to Him. He chooses what is acceptable. It is our responsibility to obey.

Here is a link to the The 10 Commandments.

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