Well, yeah! I think God is the same yesterday, today and forever; that his definition of sin and righteousness is unchanging because His character is unchanging; and that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin, not so that I could live a life that is characterized and defined by sin.
Immediately, I can see it in their eyes. They try to think of the worst, incomprehensible, obscure command that they can take out of context and misapply to my situation. "You mean you can't eat at Burger King because there's fat in the beef?"
Umm, there's a lot of good reasons for not eating at Burger King; but that's stretching the pharisaic hedge laws even beyond biblical proportions. Let me make it easy for you.
Let's look at the last of the 10 Commandments.It says, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." It's repeated twice: once in Exodus 20:16, then again in Deuteronomy 5:20. Messiah quotes it in three of the four gospel accounts: Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, and Luke 18:20. Paul quotes it in Romans 13:9.
In many modern translations, it is rendered, "You shall not lie;" but that's not what it is saying. In fact, lying is covered in Hebraic terms under, "You shall not steal." Bearing false witness is more about the hearer, or observer, or third-party bystander than it is about the one who might be telling or the one might be the subject of the telling.
We're commanded not to "bear" or "carry" or "keep for ourselves" a false witness. That means, when you hear something bad about someone else, you don't tuck it away so that you can hold it against them later. It means that when you see something someone does that makes you feel uncomfortable, you don't allow your mind to wander into imaginary realms of accusation. It means that you don't allow yourself to be prejudiced against someone because they have similar beliefs to someone that frightens you. It means that you don't assume something bad about someone because of the way that they dress, the color of their skin, the way that they speak, or the people that they know.
When God commands us not to "bear" a false witness, He's talking about our baggage. He's literally commanding us to let it go, to lighten up, and not live in fear or hatred or hypocrisy.
People assume that, because I believe that the Old Testament laws are what defines sin for everyone, I look at everyone around me as sinners. Well, we're all sinners. We all fail to live up to God's perfect example of righteous behavior. But, if I walk around with that kind of judgmental attitude, I am in direct violation of the tenth commandment. I'm "bearing" a false witness. And, to be perfectly honest, I've got enough baggage of my own.
In the New Testament, there is one word that used to describe a false witness. It's pretty generic. It means pseud-testifier; or, more literally, a testifier who is not but looks like one. In Hebrew, in the two places this command is given, there is a different word for "false." In Exodus 20:16, the word means "deceitful". In Deuteronomy 20:5, it means "destructive." This suggests that even if the information that I am bearing is true (and that I've accurately assessed it), it is not something that I need to burden myself with. By taking on the baggage of another person's sin, I find myself encumbered in my own pursuit of a better life. The wickedness that I see in the life of other people literally becomes a weight around my neck, if I allow myself to focus on the wrongness in that person's life. It's not my job to go around fixing everybody (or live in frustration because of all the people who won't let me fix them). It's my job to do what is in front of me today, to live the moment I have in a way that is most honoring and glorifying to God.
So, the Tenth Commandment is God's instruction for me to lighten up.
Unfortunately, when I read the news and see the rhetoric of hatred in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, I get really discouraged. These same ten commandments are taught by the three major religions of the world; but, in practicality, we feed on the false/damaging witness concerning those around us. Our teachings are so flooded with contempt for what others think, we don't even know what truth is anymore. We just know that what is right must be different than what all those other people are saying. We've literally built our empire on the burden of false witness. It's no wonder that we don't seem to be getting anywhere.
Thank God for the goodness that He has placed in your life today. Find ways to use that goodness to help those who are around you. And see how you can be an example for what is righteous, and not a hater, a condemner, or a bearer of bad tidings.