TEN COMMANDMENTS

The Ten Commandments

Sometime around 1300 B.C., with the help of God, Moses led the Israelites out of enslavement in Egypt to begin a 40-year journey to their Promised Land. Three months after leaving Egypt, while they were camped at the foot of Mt. Sinai, God delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites as guidelines for living as a free nation.

Virtually all the moral teachings and wisdom of the Bible have their roots in the Ten Commandments. Though these principles are more than 3000 years old, they still define the basis for a well-functioning society.

First Commandment: And God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:1-3) The First Commandment requires us to worship only God and no other deities. He demands total loyalty, total devotion.

Second Commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Ex. 20:4) The second Commandment follows from the first. The Israelites were fond of making and worshipping idols of various kinds that would detract from their worship of God. More generally, we must not let any of our pursuits take precedence over God and His Commandments.

Third Commandment: You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. (Ex. 20:7) Curses, false oaths, irreverent talk, etc., are forbidden. We must not use God's name in a way that demeans or trivializes Him.

Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. (Ex. 20:8-10) We should reserve one day a week for rest and worship, and allow our children and employees the same privilege. Jesus modified the traditional view of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27), saying "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath," and implying that it is acceptable to do work on the Sabbath, if necessary. Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath day, but early Christians began the tradition of worshipping on Sunday, and eventually abandoned the Saturday Sabbath.

Fifth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Ex. 20:12) Children should respect their parents and accept their instruction with grace, not rebellion. The protection, love, instruction and discipline of the family are essential parts of a healthy society, and the parents' authority to hold the family intact must be preserved. As our parents grow old, we must not abandon them physically or emotionally.

Sixth Commandment: You shall not murder. (Ex. 20:13) Murder is the ultimate crime against another person and is forbidden.

Seventh Commandment: You shall not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14). Adultery destroys marriages and injures innocent spouses and children. We must be faithful to our marriage vows.

Eighth Commandment: You shall not steal. (Ex. 20:15) Theft violates the peace and security of another person. We must attain all our possessions through legal, ethical means.

Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Ex. 20:16) False testimony, lies, false rumors, gossip and innuendo can ruin reputations. We must not use deception for revenge or selfish gain.

Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Ex. 20:17) We must not set our desires on anything or anyone that is not rightfully ours. Desire leads to temptation and the temptation may become too strong to resist.

"What are the Ten Commandments?"

The Ten Commandments are ten laws in the Bible that God gave to the nation of Israel shortly after the exodus from Egypt. The Ten Commandments are essentially a summary of the 600+ commandments contained in the Old Testament Law. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The second six commandments deal with our relationships with one another. The Ten Commandments are recorded in the Bible in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21 and are as follows:

(1)“You shall have no other gods before me.” This command is against worshipping any god other than the one true God. All other gods are false gods.

(2)“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” This command is against making a idol, a visible representation of God. There is no image we can create that can accurately portray God. To make an idol represent God is to worship a false god.

(3) “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name.” This is a command against taking the name of the Lord in vain. We are not to treat God’s name lightly. We are to show reverence to God by only mentioning Him in respectful and honoring ways.

(4) “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” This is a command to set aside the Sabbath (Saturday, the last day of the week) as a day of rest dedicated to the Lord.

(5) “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” This is a command to always treat our parents with honor and respect.

(6) “You shall not murder.” This is a command against the premeditated murder of another human being.

(7) “You shall not commit adultery.” This is a command against have sexual relations with anyone other than your spouse.

(8) “You shall not steal.” This is a command against taking anything that does not belong to us without the permission of the person to whom it belongs.

(9) “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” This is a command against testifying against another person falsely. It is essentially a command against lying.

(10) “You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” This is a command against desiring anything that does not belong to you. Coveting can lead to breaking one of the commandments listed above: murder, adultery, and theft. If it is wrong to do something, it is wrong to desire to do that same something.

If Jesus paid the price for all our sins, then why should we bother to keep the Ten Commandments? After all, the Bible says we can't be saved by keeping God's laws, doesn't it? 

A: You are right; the Bible does say that we can't be saved by being good or trying to keep God's laws - and the reason is because God's standard is perfection, and none of us is perfect. Jesus said that even our inner thoughts will condemn us: "I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment" (Matthew 5:22).

This is why we need Christ, for only He can take away our sins and make us pure in the eyes of God. He was without sin - but He willingly allowed the stain of our sins to be transferred to Him, and He took the judgment we deserved. It's as if you were taken before a judge and pronounced guilty for something you had done - and then the judge stepped down and paid your fine out of his own pocket. The difference is that Christ paid for our salvation with the cost of His blood.

We don't keep the Ten Commandments in order to be saved; we keep them because we want to please God and bring honor to Him by the way we live. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). The Bible also says, "Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do" (1 Peter 1:15).

Have you committed your life to Jesus Christ? If so, He now lives within you by His Holy Spirit, and His will is for you to turn your back on sin and - with His help - to live a life that honors God. Make this your goal - beginning today.