With nearly 1,700 dos and don’ts in the entire Bible, have you ever wondered if they all still count? Don’t we live under grace and not the law? Jesus affirmed the 10 Commandments but I thought the gospel was about love, not keeping commandments?
These are some questions I had. To be honest, it was because I didn’t fully understand them. I was once asked to name the 10 Commandments in order and couldn’t. As a faithful follower of Jesus, that was embarrassing. Then I found God’s Blueprint for Life, Liberty, & Property: A Bible Study of the Ten Commandments by Stephen McDowell, a condensed yet insightful study of each commandment.
If you have ever begun to study a topic in Scripture, you know it does not take long before you have opened four or five other books. If you are like me, this is only the beginning of a cluttered way to study. Some people can learn this way, and their ability honestly impresses me, but it causes me to forget more than I learn. McDowell’s study guide is 96, easy-to-read pages with the only additional book being your Bible. Through his approachable style, McDowell provides questions that force you to think about the implication of each commandment.
And those commandments, the Law given by God, provide a guide in which to govern our lives to maturity as Christians. The blueprint God has been so gracious to give in the Bible is to bring Him glory and bring us biblical prosperity. Obedience to God brings blessings in all areas of life. Most importantly, the Law exposes our sin, which points to our need for a Savior. This is why it can be difficult to read because it forces us to see ourselves as sinners who need forgiveness from a perfect God.
McDowell writes, “God showed His love to mankind by giving us His Law-Word and sending His Son, a living demonstration of His Word. We in turn show our love to Him by obeying His commands. Jesus said 'If you love Me, keep my commandments' (John 14:15). To summarize, we are not justified by the Law (Romans 3:28), but we are sanctified by the Law (Ephesians 5:26), in the sense that we grow in maturity and become more and more conformed to His image as we obey His will as revealed in His Law- Word (understanding that the Spirit of God works in us enabling us to obey His commands).”
McDowell helps us understand that the moral law is essential for our spiritual growth. Some say we do not need the commandments because we are not under the law but grace. This statement comes from Romans 6:14 and is absolutely true, but this does not mean we ignore what Jesus affirmed. Furthermore, Romans 6:15 continues “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but grace? By no means.” It was during this study I learned that if it were not for the Law we would not know what sin is. The Law exposes our sin and brings us to Christ. It is out of gratitude that we as individuals obey His commands.
While the book helps explain and understand the Decalogue, it also provides explanations of each commandment. This is a helpful resource to fleshing out each commandment in a biblical approach. With the included questions and fill in the blanks, God’s Blueprint for Life challenges us to use Scripture to help answer the question. It also challenges us think deeper and apply more of what God has given us.
So if you can’t remember the 10 Commandments - like I couldn’t before I read God’s Blueprint for Life, Liberty, & Property- A Bible Study of the Ten Commandments - or if you wonder why we need the Law if we are under grace, this book is essential. McDowell is in good company discussing the importance of the Decalogue. Throughout his entire book, he echoes Martin Luther who said, “The 10 Commandments [are] a summary of divine teaching on what we are to do to make our whole life pleasing to God” and that “Anyone who knows the 10 Commandments perfectly knows the entire Scripture.”