For years I’ve heard and believed that the Law of Sin and Death was the Ten Commandments or the Old Covenant Law in total. There’s enough Bible verses to support that idea –like Romans 8 that says “the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” And there are the well preached sermons that say that “God knows we would have all broken them, at least one –and it says in James that if you break one, you’ve broken them all.” These are convincing but now I realize that’s a misconception. (It’s probably still reflected here in the website somewhere –I’ll correct it soon.)
The Ten Commandments were only given to the Hebrews when they were being rebellious in following Moses on the way to the Promised Land. Jethro, his father-in-law, told him to quit sitting as the judge –it was too big of a task for one person. The line of people was seemingly endless, some from every family, coming to him to find out what “God’s will” was in their disputes.
The problem that the Hebrews had was common to us all. It’s being judgmental –believing that we are the best source of knowledge for what’s right and wrong. We’re sure that we’re always right; it’s the other person that’s wrong. That’s in the “DNA” we inherited from Eve. I can imagine those Hebrews saying childish things like: “My neighbor pitched his tent where my tent belongs. He snores all night and I can’t sleep. Their kids are disrespectful…”
Jethro told Moses that he should set up a system of judges to resolve the easy cases and he should only hear the difficult ones. And Moses should tell the people directly what God’s will was so that they didn’t need to come with all those needless complaints. That’s when Moses received the Ten Commandments. It was to show the people that they were all in violation of God’s will –they were all dead in their sins. And sure, we all have some form of those commandments within us at birth so that we know that God does indeed exist and that we are accountable to Him in the end.
It’s the law that was given to Adam (and Eve) back in the Garden of Eden. “If you eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will surely die.” That death is the spiritual death –a separation from God. She ate it and passed on spiritual death to us all. She violated that law –she sinned– and we have all died.
The good news to us is that God has put off the punishment. He could have wiped out humanity right then when she believed Satan and ate. Rather, He has given us a time on earth during which we have a opportunities to turn to Jesus for life –life as it was in the beginning with Him. “As long as Today is still called Today, do not do what your fathers did in the rebellion. Enter my Sabbath Rest –enter eternal life following My Son.”
It was their children who were allowed to enter that Land. The rebellious adults refused His ways and they died in the desert. Moses couldn’t take them, but Joshua could. Joshua means “Jehovah Saved” and it’s Jesus’ Hebrew name. It’s pronounced Yeshua. (We call Him Jesus; but that’s the Greek version of Joshua.)
Sin –not believing, trusting God–was judged in the Garden. Guilt was established and the punishment was handed down. Death.
The Ten Commandments and the law written on our hearts merely show us that we aren’t worthy of life with God –that we’re all on our way to eternal death. But Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. He is the life of men.