My dear friend, thank you so much for this excellent question. The good news for Christians today, and the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that in Christ, we are no longer under the law, but under Grace: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace,” (Romans 6:14). And why does the law exist in the first place? It is to show man that he is a sinner in need of salvation. We read in Romans 3:19-24: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…”.

Now, by way of delving a bit further into this, I want to make the point that the Ten Commandments are not to be ignored-these set before us God’s perfect standard (see Romans 7); but alas, as to righteousness, we have none in and of ourselves. Isaiah 64:6 brings this out very clearly, and Romans 3 and 4 expand further on this theme. And now consider the very spirit of the law, according to the Lord Jesus, which takes the expectation of the Ten Commandments to an even higher level. We read in Matthew 5:21- 28: “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire…Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.

The bottom line is this: all have sinned, either in our hearts, words or deeds, but before the Law, there must be either perfect obedience or judgment. Thus, the Law cannot save us, but it only demonstrates that we are all condemned sinners—we are in need of a Savior.  Again, a prayerful reading of Romans 3 through 10 will clarify very nicely about the law.

Now, just a few words about the Jewish ceremonial laws, and your question about which of these we must keep and which we do not. The ceremonial laws, as you have pointed out, are quite numerous, and cover a broad range including circumcision, special days and sacrifices to be honored, clean and unclean foods, and a host of other matters, all designed to help Israel, through obedience, to walk in the blessing of God. But, again, we are not under law, but under Grace; and we are not under any circumstances to return to the old covenant. This is clearly brought out in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also in several of the other epistles or letters. A good example is found in Galatians 2, where we read in verses 14-16 regarding the matter of eating with those who are uncircumcised: “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?…Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW SHALL NO FLESH BE JUSTIFIED”. In Galatians 4, the argument against returning to the law, including the ceremonial elements of the law is continued: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years… (Galatians 4:9-10). Then in Galatians 5:1 we read, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” I’d invite you to read each of these chapters. In Acts 10:11-14, we see at once the reversal of the prohibition of eating unclean animals such as swine, and also a reversal of considering the gentiles as unclean and not to be associated with.  Finally, Hebrews 10 speaks to the inability of the sacrifices of the Old Testament to take away sins, and how this is accomplished only in the sacrifice of Christ, offered once for all time: “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect,” (verse 1, and do please read on in this chapter).

To conclude this, I believe that the Ten Commandments outline the manner in which we in the earth should live, and these outline God’s perfect standard for our lives. In this, they are all good, and they must be regarded. But, since we as humans can never be justified by the law, being that we are unable to keep the law perfectly, we are instead judged by the law and thus, we need a Savior to deliver us from condemnation. That Savior is Christ Jesus the Lord, who once gave Himself on Calvary’s cross in order to purchase our pardon. It is through faith alone in the shed blood of Christ Jesus on our individual behalf that we can be saved from wrath-the judgment of the law. Now, as to the ceremonial laws, there are indeed very many in the Old Testament. But for those who are in Christ, we are not only not obliged to follow these ordinances, but indeed, if we try to earn our salvation in observing these, we deny the true Gospel of Christ Jesus. We read in Ephesians 2:8,9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”. My dear friend, are you a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have placed your total trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross at Calvary, and not on keeping the law or the ordinances, then you are saved from wrath, and one day you’ll be with the Lord Jesus where He is. Just know that while the law is good and right, we cannot use the Ten Commandments, nor the Jewish ceremonial law, nor any works of our own righteousness in order to be justified before God. We read in Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness”. We, as Christians, must hold tightly to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m praying for you, my friend, that the Lord will confirm your heart with the pure knowledge of Christ-salvation by Grace through faith alone; , and I would beseech you to search the Scriptures I have outlined, and others to which the Lord might lead you, to see if these things be true. Thank you so much for writing, and I am praying for you!  (SF)  (492.5)