See also: The Moral Laws of Leviticus 18-19
In light of my last article on this subject, let me call to memory that “the law is good if one uses it properly” (1 Timothy 1:8). An improper use of God’s law would be: (1) To teach Christians to keep the ceremonial law of Moses–such as kosher foods, Jewish festivals, the Sabbath Day, circumcision, Jewish manners of dress, etc (Colossians 2:16; Galatians 5:6). (2) To teach Christians to keep the moral law of Christ as a means of earning God’s forgiveness of sins (Romans 3:20; Galatians 5:4). (3) To teach Christians that God is so inflexible and intolerant, that His saving graces will instantly depart from them, and He will cast them into Hell, if they break the smallest of God’s commandments–especially if they are unclear about a certain ethical issue (Romans 14). To call these three things “improper uses” of the law, no doubt, John Wesley would be in full agreement (“The Law Established Through Faith, I,” 3.2).
But, as for the proper use of God’s law, let it suffice to say that it is still good for: (1) Convicting Christians of sins that they are not aware of (Romans 3:20; 7:7). (2) Showing Christians their sinfulness, their spiritual inadequacy, and their need for God’s grace found by faith in Christ crucified (Romans 5:20; Galatians 3:24). (3) To define the love of God, which is the fulfillment of all the law and the prophets, so that a living and saving faith may be experienced as that which produces the fruit of good works (Matthew 22:36-40; Galatians 5:6; James 2:26). (4) Training Christians how to live a holy and saintly life, developing purity, love, humility, obedience to God, self-control, a knowledge of God’s likes and dislikes, personality traits, and character–so that we may “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13; cp. 1 Corinthians 7:19; 9:21; Hebrews 8:10; Revelation 12:17).
Christ’s Commandments in the Gospel of Matthew
1. Do not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God (4:4).
2. Do not put the Lord your God to the test (4:7).
3. Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only (4:10).
4. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand (4:17).
5. Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men (4:19).
The Sermon on the Mount
6. Be poor in spirit, and yours will be the Kingdom of Heaven (5:3).
7. Mourn, and you will be comforted (5:4).
8. Be gentle, and you will inherit the Earth (5:5).
9. Hunger and thirst for righteousness, and you will be satisfied (5:6).
10. Be merciful, and you will receive mercy (5:7).
11. Be pure in heart, and you will see God (5:8).
12. Be a peacemaker, and you will be called a son of God (5:9).
13. Be persecuted for righteousness, and yours will be the Kingdom of Heaven (5:10).
14. Rejoice when you are persecuted for your faith in Christ, because you are being treated the same way the prophets were treated, and you will have a great reward in Heaven (5:11-12).
15. Do good works, in such a way, that will make other people glorify your Father in Heaven (5:16).
16. Do not think that I came to abolish the law and the prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill (5:17).
17. Live by and teach all of My commandments to others, and you will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven (5:19).
18. Live more righteously than the scribes and Pharisees, or you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (5:20).
19. Do not be hatefully angry with your brother, or you will be guilty before the court (5:22).
20. Do not say, “You dummy!” to your brother, or you will be guilty before the supreme court (5:22).
21. Do not say, “You idiot!” to your brother, or you will be guilty enough to go to Hell fire (5:22).
22. If you are in church, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave church and go get right with your brother, and then you can go back to church (5:23-24).
23. Make friends with your legal opponent, so you won’t get thrown into jail (5:25).
24. Do not look lustfully at a woman–that is adultery of the heart (5:28).
25. Do not divorce your wife, unless she has committed adultery against you (5:32). Note: Paul added that the circumstance of desertion also justifies a divorce (1 Cor. 7:15).
26. Do not marry a divorced woman–that is adultery (5:32).
27. Do not swear by any oaths–simply say “Yes” or “No” when questioned (5:33-37).
28. Do not resist those who insult you (5:39).
29. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek (5:39).
30. If anyone wants to take your shirt, give him your coat also (5:40).
31. If anyone forces you to walk one mile, be willing to walk two miles (5:41).
32. Give to those who ask from you (5:42).
33. Do not turn away from those who want to borrow from you (5:42).
34. Love your enemies (5:44).
35. Pray for those who persecute you (5:44).
36. Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect (5:48).
37. When you give to the poor, do it secretly (6:1-4).
38. When you pray, do not do it publicly to be seen by people (6:5).
39. When you pray, go into your room alone secretly, and close the door (6:6).
40. When you pray, do not keep on talking like the pagans (6:7).
41. Pray like this (6:9-13):
Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
42. Forgive other people when they sin against you, and Your Heavenly Father will forgive your sins (6:14-15).
43. When you fast, do not look depressed or wasted away, like when a religious hypocrite tries to show other people that he is fasting (6:16).
44. When you fast, be sure to wash yourself, so people won’t know you’re fasting (6:17-18).
45. Do not store up for yourself treasures on Earth, but in Heaven (6:19-20).
46. Have generous eyes, then your whole body will be full of light (6:22).
47. Do not be stingy, or you will be full of darkness, and enslaved to money (6:23-24).
48. Do not worry about your life–what you will eat or drink or wear (6:25).
49. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness–and all the food, drink, and clothing you need will be given to you (6:33).
50. Do not worry about tomorrow (6:34).
51. Do not be nitpicky, or people will find fault with you (7:1).
52. Do not preach to anti-Christians, or they will mock you, and hurt you (7:6).
53. Pray for God to give you the Holy Spirit’s presence, fruit, and spiritual gifts (7:7-11).
54. Treat people the way you want to be treated: with God’s righteous love (7:12).
55. If you want to make it to Heaven, then live your life by faith in Christ, and obedience to His commandments (7:13-14).
56. Beware of false prophets; they are the people who prophesy and work miracles in Jesus’ Name, but do not live by His commandments (7:15-23).
57. If you live by Christ’s commandments, then you will be wise, and your faith will endure the trials and tribulations of life (7:24-27).
Commandments for Heavenly-Mindedness
58. Follow Christ, and let the spiritually dead worry about earthly things (8:22). Note: the “spiritually dead” to the ancient Jews were “sinners”; or people who did not live by God’s commandments.
59. The disciples will fast when Christ is in the grave for three days (9:15). Note: Adam Clarke comments that the early Christians mourned the death and burial of Christ every Easter with a forty hour fast. This is probably what is meant by Christ’s saying, “The days will come when the Bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast.”
60. Pray for God to send out true healing evangelists into the world, who will preach the Gospel with signs following, and work hard for the salvation of souls (9:35-38).
Commandments for Apostolic Ministry
61. As you go, preach, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near” (10:7).
62. Do not charge money when you heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons–because you received these spiritual gifts for free from God (10:8).
63. On your journey, do not bring any money with you, or any extra clothes; also, don’t bring any shoes, or a walking stick: because God will provide people to support you (10:9-10).
64. Whatever city you enter, find someone who lives for God, and stay at his house until you leave the city (10:11).
65. As you enter the house, give it your greeting, and bless it saying, “Peace be to this house”; but if it turns out the family does not live for God, then take back your blessing of peace (10:12-13).
66. Whoever does not receive you, or listen to your words, as you leave that house or city: shake the dust off your feet (10:14).
67. Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (10:16). John Gill comments: “The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them; and, at the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.”
68. Beware of men, because they will hand you over to courts of law, scourge you in their religious buildings, and bring you before governors and kings for the sake of the Gospel (10:17-18).
69. When such men hand you over to the authorities, do not worry about what you will say to them, because the Holy Spirit will give you revelation about what to say (10:19-20).
70. The Christian who endures persecution until the end of his life, and holds to his faith in Christ, and keeps His commandments with a clear conscience, will be saved from the eternal punishment of Hell (10:22).
71. If people persecute you in one city, then flee to the next (10:23).