Question: Are Christians as well as Jews equally obligated to obey the Ten Commandments? And what about those of other religious beliefs?
God gave the Ten Commandments to the Hebrew people, specifically the descendants of Israel, during the 13th century B.C. (Exodus 20:1-23). These statutes formed the foundation of the entire legal, judicial, military, religious and social system that God established through Moses in creating the nation of Israel. In that sense, then, the Ten Commandments were designed specifically for the Jewish people.
However, God’s purpose in creating the nation of Israel was to have a people set apart from all the other people groups on the planet who would serve as God’s representative to the nations, and as an example to all mankind of a lifestyle in keeping with God’s will and design for humanity. In fact, God’s promise to Israel was that a future day would come when that divine purpose would become a permanent reality:
Is. 51:4 Listen to me, my people;
hear me, my nation:
The law will go out from me;
my justice will become a light to the nations.
What this reveals is that the Ten Commandments are more than ten laws; the Ten Commandments reflect God’s character and His standard for human desires and human conduct. The Ten Commandments target what we love as well as what we do. So in that sense, the Ten Commandments are universal. What God gave to Israel on tablets of stone He has also imprinted in the human conscience:
Rom. 2:14-15 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
So the Law acts as a spotlight on the person who breaks it. It exposes sin in a very public way, because those who publicly identify themselves as people of the Law come under its judgment when they break it. Either way, Jew and Gentile—no matter what their religious views—all must answer to God for breaking His commandments. And by that holy standard, all mankind stands condemned:
Rom. 3:10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one…
A true follower of Jesus, however, has died to the sinful nature and has been reborn by the Holy Spirit. Such a person is no longer condemned but—under the control of the Spirit of God—willingly obeys the Law.
Rom. 8:6-9 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.