Can I Be Saved By Keeping The 10 Commandments?
Is it possible to be saved by keeping all the 10 Commandments? If one tries to live by keeping the entire law of God, can that person be assured he will enter heaven through his own effort to be a good person? Is it really possible for us to meet God’s perfect standard of obeying all the 10 Commandments?
The 10 Commandments appear in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-17. The 10 Commandments represent God’s perfect standard for meeting His standard of holiness and righteousness. Furthermore all other detailed or specific laws that were given by God to the Israelites, through Moses, are an extension or expansion of the 10 Commandments
These 10 Commandments are as follows:
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
5. Honour thy father and thy mother
6. Thou shalt not murder
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
8. Thou shalt not steal
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour
10. Thou shalt not covet
How Does Our Standard of Righteousness Compare With The 10 Commandments?
Is It Really Possible To Keep All The 10 Commandments?
According to the Bible, we have all sinned and we all miss God’s standard of righteousness. We all miss God’s standard of perfection because we have all done something bad in our life.
Many of us have heard or even spoken the phrase: “Nobody is perfect” or the phrase: “We all make mistakes”.
So within ourselves we recognize a sense of deprivation where we realize that we are imperfect people who are prone to make mistakes and also prone to wrong behavior. Furthermore we are prone to sinful behaviour because we were born with a sin nature which we inherited from Adam & Eve (Romans 5:12).
So whether we are Christian or not; whether we believe in God or not; and even if we believe in a completely different religion or not – there is a sense within us that we are not what we should be as humanity or as individuals. We fail to meet a perfect moral and spiritual standard for righteousness.
Romans 3:23 says: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 3:10-12 says: …None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
So the Bible clearly informs us that we are all sinners who lack perfect righteousness.
When we truthfully compare our standard of righteousness with the 10 Commandments, we will understand that we all fall short in trying to obey all the 10 Commandments.
At some point in our life, all of us have broken all of God’s 10 Commandments and this makes us sinners before a just, holy and perfect of God.
For example, in Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
So God’s perfect standard of righteousness is such that even if we do not commit the physical act of adultery – if we just even look at another woman (or man) with lust – then we have broken the 7th Commandment by committing adultery in our heart.
Another example is in Matthew 5:21-22 where Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Again in this Scripture, Jesus brings to attention the very fact that God’s standard of perfection goes above our outward behaviour – but it extends to how we think in our mind or heart. So a person who thinks evil of his brother is just like a person who has broken the 6th Commandment.
So Jesus is pointing to the fact that the sinfulness and depravity of man is not only found in our physical or outward behaviour – but also our very thought-life is also sinful.
So according to Jesus Christ – if one is going to even attempt to live and be saved by obeying the 10 Commandments then one’s standard of perfection should not only be expressed outwardly – but ones obedience to the 10 Commandments should be extended inwardly in how we think in our heart.
However, the unfortunate reality is that the human problem of sin extends to the heart. Our hearts are sinful even though we may outwardly attempt to be good or righteous.
If we are truthful to ourselves – our outward behaviour, does not always synchronize with our inward thoughts, no matter how hard we try.
In Matthew 15:19 Jesus says: For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
In Jeremiah 17:9-10 God says the following: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
So according to God – our hearts need salvation. Our minds need to be renewed. If we are to be saved we need a new heart.
Therefore can any person claim to be keeping all the 10 Commandments? Can any person claim that he/she has not sinned or broken any of the 10 Commandments?
1 John 1:10 says: If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
So since it is evident that we cannot keep the 10 Commandments, is it still possible to claim that we can be saved by keeping them?
If I am able to keep 3 or 4 or even 8 of God’s commandments does that meet God’s PERFECT standard of righteousness?
Biblically, God is perfect and holy and so if we are to be judged according to the law or the 10 Commandments, then God demands perfect righteousness and perfect holiness according to His perfect standards.
Unfortunately we cannot meet God’s perfect standard of righteousness by our own strength or abilities or works.
Therefore since we all fall short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness, in Isaiah 64:6 God’s word says the following about our feeble attempt at righteousness by our own effort or strength: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
James 2:10-11 says: For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”
So according to James 2:10-11, if we are guilty of breaking one commandment, then we are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws. The consequence of breaking God’s perfect law, even if we have broken His law only once – is death (Romans 6:23).
So What Is The Purpose of The Law? Why Did God Give Us The Law?
The law of God is good. However we cannot be saved by the law. The law of God only reflects God’s perfect standard for life. However because there is sin in us – we cannot obey God’s laws perfectly no matter how hard we try.
If we are honest with ourselves, we will discover that we cannot live a single week without sinning in word or deed or in our thoughts. We fall short of God’s perfect standard for righteousness. Our own strength to be good is not good enough.
Therefore the law is like a mirror which reflects our imperfect and sinful nature.
The purpose of the law is to bring us to the foot of the cross of Jesus who paid for our sins by His blood. The purpose of the law is to bring us to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. The purpose of the law is to bring us to the realization that salvation is found in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is not by keeping the law. Salvation is not by works. Instead salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ because of His finished work on the cross.
Galatians 3:11 says: Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”
The background behind why Galatians was written was because there were Judiazers who were declaring that for one to be saved or become a Christian, then one must also keep the Mosaic law.
The Judiazers were falsely insisting that justification or salvation was by keeping the Mosaic laws including circumcision.
Paul then writes to the Galatian churches to refute the false gospel of salvation by works. Paul reminds them and emphasizes that justification or salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone and not by keeping the Mosaic law.
Hence Paul writes the following in Galatians 2:16: Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. [Emphasis Added]
Galatians 3:24-26 says: So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. 26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis Added]
In Galatians 3:24-26 Paul uses an illustration to describe that purpose of the law. He compares the law to a pedagogue which in Greek was a slave entrusted with protecting and caring for the children from the age of 6 until late adolescence. The pedagogue was not exactly the same as a parent or teacher, but he acted as a temporary moral tutor. The pedagogue would also discipline the children and even corrected them or rebuke them when they misbehaved. However, when the kids became old enough they left the pedagogue behind.
So in Galatians 3:24-26 Paul illustrates that God’s law provided temporary protection, direction and discipline for Israel until the time was right for Jesus Christ to come. The law was not the permanent teacher, and the law could not save Israel. The law simply provided direction and discipline until all people could be justified / saved / reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
The law exists because we are disobedient (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but the law cannot save us. Only Jesus Christ can save us when we place our faith in Him alone.
Salvation Is By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone
John 1:17 says: For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Moses was given the law which man cannot fulfill – but through Jesus Christ we have access to God’s grace and salvation.
In Galatians 2:21 Paul says the following: I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
So if it were possible that man could save himself by keeping the law – then Jesus Christ did not need to come to die on the cross for our sins.
We cannot keep the 10 commandments and this is why we need a Saviour. We cannot keep the 10 Commandments and this is why the love and grace of God is so important.
Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Therefore even though we are lawbreakers who have broken the commandments and laws of God, there is the love and grace of God because of the price that Jesus paid on the cross.
Salvation is not by our own works of righteousness or by our own effort to be a good person. The salvation of God is a free gift received by the grace of God through placing our trust or faith in Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [Emphasis Added]
Titus 3:5-7 says the following about Christ: He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [Emphasis Added]
John 3:16 says: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [Emphasis Added]
Therefore salvation is by grace alone through faith alone and in Jesus Christ alone.
Keeping the law is not a requirement for salvation because it is impossible to keep it by our own effort or works. We are sinners and therefore we are guilty of breaking God’s perfect standards. Jesus Christ alone is the only way for salvation and not our own attempt to keep the law.
John 14:6-7 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
It is only through Jesus Christ that we can become born again and receive a new heart and become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It is only through Christ that we can receive forgiveness of sins and have our assurance that we will enter Heaven.
It is only through Jesus Christ that we can become children of God and citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20).
John 1:12-13 says the following about salvation through Jesus Christ: But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. [Emphasis Added]
So even though we are lawbreakers and sinners – the price for our sins was paid by Jesus Christ because of His love and grace.
Jesus paid the debt for sin that we could not pay through the blood He shed for our sins on the cross. Our response to what Jesus did on the cross should be to receive Him in our life through faith in Him as our Lord and Saviour.
We are not saved by our own works of righteousness – but instead we are saved because of the righteous work of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:8 says: But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us
It is only Jesus Christ alone who lived on the earth and was without sin. It is only Christ alone who lived on the earth and fulfilled the whole law. It is only Jesus Christ alone who was able to keep all of the 10 Commandments.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Therefore it is important to understand that Jesus Christ became our Substitute when He paid for our sins on the cross. He paid the price that we should have paid. He paid the debt that we should have paid.
In the process righteousness is found in Him alone. We are saved and we will enter Heaven not because of our own works – but we are saved because of Jesus Christ who met the righteous requirements of the law on our behalf. We are saved because Christ is our righteousness when we believe in Him and receive Him as Lord and Saviour through faith.
Only Jesus Christ is our Saviour, our High Priest and our Mediator. Jesus reconciles us to God. It is only Christ alone who can bring us in right relationship with God because of the sacrifice that He made on our behalf to pay our debt for sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
So What About Obedience?
So if we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, does this mean that we do not have to do good works? Does it also mean that we should no longer obey God’s word because we are saved by grace?
Certainly not! Grace is not a licence to sin. In fact, if we are truly saved by faith and if we truly appreciate the grace of God, then Titus 2:11-12 says that the grace of God which brings salvation for all people will train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.
So the evidence that we are truly saved will reflect through the fruits that we bear and the sanctification process that we will go through. In Galatians, Paul also emphasizes that we should walk in the Spirit because those who are led by the Holy Spirit are not under the law (Galatians 5:18).
We are not saved because we do good works. We do good works because we are saved and have fully trusted in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour through faith.
We no longer rely on our own effort for salvation, but instead we trust in Christ for salvation and believe that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [Philippians 1:6].
Are you trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour through faith? Do you believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, through Jesus Christ alone? Trust in Jesus Christ today.
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
PLEASE NOTE: You can choose to pray in your own words. This prayer is a sample prayer and it is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus. Salvation is by GRACE through FAITH or BELIEVING in Christ Jesus as your Lord & Saviour.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
Today I repent and have decided to follow you. Thank you for forgiving all my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I trust You as my Lord and Savior – Amen”
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