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Plastic surgery is a branch of surgery that deals with the remodeling of any portion of the human body that has been damaged or deformed. The word “plastic” is derived from the Greek word plastikos, which means “to mold.” Hence, it is the remolding and reshaping of body tissues—bone, fat, muscle, cartilage, and skin. It is largely concerned with the reconstructive work of the face and exposed parts of the body.
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In Exodus 19, God called Moses up to Mount Sinai and told him that if the children of Israel would obey Him and keep His covenant, they would be His special people. He then gave them “The Law,” which is also commonly known as the “Mosaic Law” or the “law of Moses.” Although the name was attributed to a man, we must be mindful that the One who gave it was God Himself. Moses was merely the “messenger boy.” James 4:12 makes it very clear that there is really only “one Lawgiver”—God.

The law consists of various parts. The most important portion is the Ten Commandments, also known as the “moral law,” as they express the morality, values and character of God. The commandments were engraved on stone tablets and are recorded in Exodus 20: 2-17 and Deuteronomy 5: 6-21. Because there are ten of them, they are also commonly called the “Decalogue” (Gr. dekalogos), which means the “ten words” or “ten pronouncements.”

Traditions differ in the numbering of the Ten Commandments. The standard listing according to Protestant Reformed tradition is as follows:
  I. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  II. You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
  III. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  V. Honor your father and your mother.
  VI. You shall not murder.
  VII. You shall not commit adultery.
  VIII.  You shall not steal.
  IX. You shall not bear false witness.
  X. You shall not covet.
 

Apart from these commandments, God gave Moses further instructions that governed the ethics and rituals of the Israelites. Augustine (354-430) divided the law of Moses into two parts: the moral and symbolical. For example, “you shall not covet” is a moral law; “you shall circumcise every male on the eighth day” is a symbolical law. To Augustine and the early Church fathers, the moral law of the Ten Commandments is still binding while the symbolical law is no longer binding. Besides circumcision and the sacrifices, Augustine categorizes as symbolical law the tabernacle regulations, the dietary laws, the feasts, etc. Because they are non-binding, he interprets the rules against blended clothing (wool and linen) and the mixed yoke (ox and ass) allegorically.

TenCommandments01

As always, Scripture must be compared with Scripture to avoid misinterpretation. It is clear that Jesus brought to an end the observance of the symbolical laws by His redemptive accomplishment. The entire sacrificial system and ceremonial washings were “external regulations applying until the time of the new order” (Heb. 9:10). These symbolical or topological law was “only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves” (Heb. 10:1), its regulations were set aside once the realities had arrived in Christ (Heb. 7:18-19, 22). Jesus ushered in the new order that made the ceremonial rituals redundant: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. 8:13).

This moral/symbolical distinction eventually gave way to the more precise three-part analysis first worked out in detail by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Aquinas says that the law of Moses is made up of moral, ceremonial and civil precepts. From the days of Aquinas to the Reformation, to our time, the Church has been consistent in teaching that only the moral law is still binding, all ceremonial and civil laws are no longer applicable to believers.

Yet, there is always the vocal minority who feel that since we are in the age of the Gospel, when we are justified by faith alone, the law is now “abolished,” or in theological jargon, “abrogated.”

  • In the June 21, 2009 issue of The Age, Cleric Francis McNab, the executive minister at St. Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne, Australia, says, “The Ten Commandments is one of the most negative documents ever written.”
  • In a recent May 11, 2009 blog entry, a prominent megachurch pastor says, “When you come under the law by trying to keep God’s commandments in order to be blessed, it will lead to death. There will be deadness in your marriage, ministry, health, career.”

The message is clear: the Ten Commandments are unnecessary, oppressive, and maybe even downright evil.

Then there are those who wrongly speculate that the Old Testament teaches “salvation by law” while the New Testament teaches “salvation by grace through faith.” Nothing can be further from the truth. Justifying faith originates in the Old Testament. The phrase, “the just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17), which became the rallying cry of the Reformers in the 16th century, is really a concept that first appears in Habakkuk 2:4, an Old Testament Scripture. In Romans 4, Paul went through extraordinary length to explain that both the greatest Old Testament patriarch, Abraham, and the greatest Old Testament king, David, were themselves saved by faith, not by the works of the law.

This may come as a shock to you, but the whole purpose of the New Testament is to establish the law—the moral law of the Ten Commandments. Jesus says so Himself: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17). This statement does not mean that Christ has come to merely fulfill the messianic predictions contained in the old covenant. The Greek for “fulfill” is pleroo which means to expand, establish, strengthen, make firmer and fuller. Jesus wants us to have the true meaning of the law so that our understanding of it is not shallow or erroneous. And He demonstrates that masterfully in the Sermon on the Mount when He broadens and deepens what the commandments really mean when they say “you shall not murder,” or “you shall not commit adultery” (Matt. 5:21, 27).

Like Jesus, Paul says faith and law are not mutually exclusive. One doesn’t invalidate the other. Paul affirms the words of Christ by saying, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law (Rom. 3:31). And how is the law established? It is established “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). Herein lies the difference between the two covenants. In the old covenant, the Ten Commandments was a set of external code written on stone tablets. But in the new covenant, the Holy Spirit writes those commandments in our hearts, and gives us the grace to live them out in our daily lives. This is not an afterthought of God but His original plan for the law from its very inception.

  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jer. 31:33).
 

The New Testament repeatedly confirms this. One such example is:

  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Heb. 8:10).
 

This is really what the new covenant is—to have the law written in our hearts. And the way God does that is through the Holy Spirit, who Himself gives us the power to obey them.

  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezek. 36:26-27).
 
  You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart (2 Cor. 3:2-3).
 

Think about it, if the moral law is unimportant to us in the new covenant, why then would the Holy Spirit even bother to write it into our hearts?

This is the whole argument of Paul when he says, “So now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 8:4 TLB). So in the new covenant, we are still serving the law, but we are serving “in the newness of the Spirit” because we want to, not because we have to! We serve not out of fear because the law is our burdensome master, but out of love because Christ is now our Lord. It is no longer a hope of obedience leading to salvation but rather, salvation leading to obedience.

To confirm their validity, all the Ten Commandments are expounded time and again throughout the epistles:
     Commandment I   1 Corinthians 8:6
     Commandment II   1 John 5:21
     Commandment III   1 Timothy 6:1
     Commandment IV   Hebrew 4:3-11
     Commandment V   Ephesians 6:2
     Commandment VI   1 John 3:15
     Commandment VII   Galatians 5:19
     Commandment VIII   Ephesians 4:28
     Commandment IX   Romans 13:9
     Commandment X   Colossians 3:5
 

The Reformers made it a point to emphasize the need for the Ten Commandments in Christian growth and discipleship. John Calvin (1509-1564) says that “even the believers have need of the law.” Calvin teaches that the moral law helps the believers in two ways: (a) to make daily progress in doing the will of God, and (b) to encourage the believer how to live a life of obedience. Calvin quotes Psalm 1:2 that a Christian’s “delight is in the law of the Lord” and Psalm 19:7 that “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”

Martin Luther (1483-1546), the original pioneer of the Reformation, fought with those who despised the Ten Commandments. He coined the term, “antinomianism,” which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “a belief that Christians are released by grace from obeying moral laws.” This was the first major theological controversy in Protestant history. In 1577, to counter the antinomians who were rubbishing the Ten Commandments, the Lutherans wrote in the Formula of Concord the following statements:

  “Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is ‘the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God’ (Rom. 12:2) and ‘what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk in’ (Eph. 2:10).”
 

To the Reformers, the Ten Commandments was an absolute necessity for sanctification and discipleship. As such, its validity and importance was repeatedly emphasized in documents like:

  • Helvetic Confession of the Reformed Church of Zurich (1566).
  • 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England (1571).
  • Irish Articles of Religion of the Church of Ireland (1615).
  • Methodist Articles of Religion (1784).
  • Westminster Confession of Faith (1647).
  • Savoy Declaration of the Congregational Churches (1658).
  • Baptist Confession of Philadelphia (1688).
  • French Confession of Faith (1559).
  • Belgic Confession (1561).
  • Scottish Confession of Faith (1559).
  • The Wittenberg Confession (16th Century).

As you can see, the Ten Commandments are viewed as vitally important to practically all mainstream, orthodox, Bible-believing churches—Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Congregational, Baptist, Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal churches.

The truth be told, supporters of the Ten Commandments are in the abundance. In his June 21, 2009 interview with Seattle Post, Dr. Billy Graham gives his view on why we need the Ten Commandments. Dr. Graham says, “We don’t keep the Ten Commandments in order to be saved; we keep them because we want to please God and bring honor to Him by the way we live. Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15).”

Well said. I rest my case.

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