Should we keep the ‘law’? What is the handwriting of ordinances and are they same as the Ten Commandments?

Colossians 2:14-17

To fully understand the Bible, we need to compare scripture with scripture to reach a holistic understanding – Is 28:10; 2 Tim 2:15.

When the New Testament uses the word “law”, what is it referring to? I’ll start explaining this using Col 2:14-17.

The main question is – What is the handwriting of ordinances and are they same as the Ten Commandments?

  • If you read 2 Chr 33:8, you’ll notice that there are two types of laws from the Old Testament. There is the ‘whole law’ (Ten Commandments) and there is the ‘statutes and ordinances by the hand of Moses’. 
  • When you read Deut 31:24-26 it clarifies what is the ‘handwriting of requirements that was against us’ is: it is the laws of Moses…the sacrifices, ceremonies etc. These were hand written by Moses (not by the finger of God) in a book and the book was placed outside the ark of the covenant. This is what was ‘nailed to the cross’ and were the shadows that pointed to the substance which is Jesus.
  • Col 2:16-17 talks about these shadows and you see it’s referring to the ceremonies, the sabbaths, sacrifices etc. NB: sabbaths there refers to the festival days which were often called sabbaths in the Old Testament and not God’s weekly Sabbath which was instituted since creation; included in the Ten Commandments starting with the word ‘Remember’ because it’s eternally important to God and He didn’t want us to forget; and kept by Jesus and His apostles. 
  • Some ask what is the Sabbath day? Check what the 7th weekday Saturday is called in multiple languages and you’ll find that they’re often variants of the word Sabbath. Specifically, keeping the Sabbath was Friday sunset to Saturday sunset which follows God’s original definition of a day as seen in Genesis. John 19:14 & 31 and John 20 v 1 clarify (NB: Preparation Day is the day before Sabbath i.e. Friday).
  • The Ten Commandments written with God’s finger (not Moses’) were placed inside the ark of the covenant itself which sat in the most holy place. Deut 10:2-5 and Heb 9:3-4 clarify this. The sanctuary God told Moses to build is a replica of the sanctuary that’s in heaven and when you read Rev 11:19, you see that there is the ark of the covenant also in heaven located right inside the temple of God. This is God’s moral code without which we don’t know sin and we’re still required to keep them all. Break one and we’re guilty of breaking all (James 2:10-11). 
  • We’re saved by grace through faith but that faith must be evidenced by our works otherwise our faith is dead. (James 2:17-18, 20-26). But what are we saved from? Does it mean that we make it to heaven simply by grace through faith? No! It means we are saved from the eternal consequences of sin. Better said, we sinners are redeemed to God by claiming through faith, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. This salvation is also known in the Bible as justification by faith.
  • After we’ve been justified, we must be sanctified. Sanctification refers to the works that need to be evident in the life of the believer as evidence that he’s been saved. You can’t say that you’re saved and still be living in the world. Success in the sanctification process comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. On our own we fail but by fixing our eyes on God, we can daily strive to gain the victory over sin. If we say we love God we are required to keep His commandments; if we don’t then we’re liars (1 John 2:3-4). In our own s
  • Also note that we will be judged by the law (James 2:12). He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does (James 1:25).
  • If there’s still a doubt, you see even in last chapters of the Bible, specifically in Revelation 12:17, that those called the “saints of God” who are saved, keep God’s commandments, not some of them. 🙏🏾
  • Finally, to fully understand the two laws that often get confused in the Bible, you should study this material.

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