Last Updated on May 6, 2023 by Scriptures for Today
Today’s “modern” society is in conflict over the Ten Commandments. Have they been “done away” with by mankind’s march toward scientific knowledge? Should they be displayed in public places, or reserved for the church? Are they a burden to “enlightened” people, or a blessing to those who obey them?
King David said, “Oh, how I love your law!” and called it perfect; the Apostle Paul called it holy. Just and good; Jesus honored, magnified, obeyed, and commanded obedience to the Ten Commandments. But to most people, the Ten Commandments remain an enigma that has never been understood.
Which is the Greatest Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
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The Pharisees, who had classified over 600 laws, often tried to distinguish the more important from the less important. So one of them, an “expert in the law,” asked Jesus to identify the most important law. Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. By fulfilling these two commandments, a person keeps all the others. They summarize the Ten Commandments and the other Old Testament moral laws.
Jesus says that if we truly love God and our neighbor, we will naturally keep the commandments. This is looking at God’s law positively. Rather than worrying about all that we should not do, we should concentrate on all that we can do to show our love for God and others.
The following review of the Ten Commandments includes brief explanations of how they continue to apply in our lives today:
#1 – Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Put God first! Today a “god” may be anything a person allows to rule his life: deities of other religions, superstitions, horoscopes, bad habits or addictions, friends, heroes, desire for money, fame, power.
#2 – Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Put your faith in God only. Worshipping or serving any manmade thing that is thought to have supernatural power: statues of gods of other religions, crystals, pictures, jewelry, amulets, charms, rabbit’s foot, or objects thought to have power or “good luck.”
#3 – Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
Treat God’s name with respect. Don’t use God’s name lightly in making promises or in any other way. That is the name that raised people from the dead, caused blind to see, and made the paralyzed to walk It is a powerful name and needs to be used with the right attitude.
#4 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
In Jesus’ time, very religious people obeyed this commandment, refusing to do any kind of work – even to the point of not helping people in need. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man’s benefit. People should rest from their normal work, but also be available to do good to others. Today Christians set aside the day to worship God and meet with other Christians.
#5 – Honor thy father and thy mother
Treat your parents with respect no matter what. Your parents have made many sacrifices to raise you. They have changed diapers, lost sleep, bought food, toys, and clothes, paid doctor bills, and changed their schedules to help you. Even if you don’t get along with your parents, they deserve your gratitude. If your parents ask you to do something wrong, respectfully tell them no and suggest a good alternative they might consider.
#6 – Thou shalt not kill
Personal revenge belongs to God. God will make things right in the end. God has set up governments and rules to deal with murders. Life and death are in God’s hands. Jesus said we should love our enemies and pray for them.
#7 – Thou shalt not commit adultery
Stay true to your husband or wife. Marriage vows made before God should be kept in spite of difficulties. Sex only within the marriage relationship. No rape or incest. Avoid sexual temptation: provocative videos, movies, television, magazines, computer games or programs, pictures, and books. Jesus said that even thinking about another person lustfully is wrong.
#8 – Thou shalt not steal
Respect others’ possessions. Don’t take things that don’t belong to you. Examples: shoplifting, (taking candy, toys, or anything from a store), taking money or valuables from others, cheating on tests and taxes, photocopying music or any printed material without permission.
#9 – Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
Be trustworthy. Don’t falsely accuse or blame someone else. Don’t lie about them or to them. Don’t gossip. Don’t lie to God and to yourself by believing you are perfect. Keep your promises.
#10 – Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house
Be content with what you have. Don’t long for things that belong to others. Example: their house, car, job, bike, toys, jewelry, clothing, or friends. Ask God to give you what you need. He promises that He will take care of your needs. Seek wisdom and good character, not riches.
The Commandments Joined Together
And so at this point, the last commandment joins hands with the first. For whatever you seek contrary to God’s will, you covet. If in your mind and heart you lust and covet something more than to obey God and receive His blessings, that thing becomes an idol to you. “Covetousness is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Then, whatever you idolize you put in place of the true God. And you break the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). The Apostle Paul said: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves, slaves, to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
When you begin to covet material things, you “serve” them. You spend your time, your energy, your money on these things. In such a situation, you have neither time nor energy to really study the Bible or to spend an hour in earnest prayer before the One who gives you life and breath. By this simple process, the material things you lust for and covet become your actual “god.” For you truly serve and worship them – and find in your life little time, strength, and wealth with which to serve the true God with all of your heart, strength, and mind.
In learning to lovingly, sincerely, and intelligently serve your fellow man, and to serve and worship the true God, you will find the only real sense of fulfillment and joy in this life. And in tomorrow’s world, you will be given eternal life and glory in a divine government literally based on the Ten Commandments – the true way of love, of giving and serving your fellow man, and of worshiping and exalting the living God who gave these commandments for our eternal good.
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