A question you may ask is, “what are some of the Bible’s key teachings and why the Ten Commandments are still important today!” It is quite extraordinary that people who are not Christians yet have Anglo Saxon heritage and lived in Western cultures their entire lives, when asked, “Are the Ten Commandments important to Christians?” They would reply “Of course Christians believe this, everyone knows that!” But many are staggered even shocked to discover that when they become connected to a church they are taught they don’t have to worry about the Ten Commandments any longer, they are old hat, out dated, anachronistic etc. This is a quandary much to be lamented of, it is unbelievable the Ten Commandments are no longer a priority held by Christians, even worse they claim they are no longer relevant, but how can this be?
Our policy for accurate Bible study is we allow the Bible to explain itself, in fact when we turn back to the book of Isaiah which was written 700 years before the time of Jesus Christ we find this instruction in chapter 28:10
For precept [must be] upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.”
A precept is a principle, a doctrine, a teaching, a subject, and the Bible says precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little. In other words you compare subject with subject and you see what the entire Bible has to say on that topic, and as you gather the accumulated wisdom of God’s Word the Bible on any one subject, the result being we then have a full understanding of what God wants us to understand on any subject. So allowing the Bible to interpret itself is the golden rule as we study the Bible. In the book of Matthew 28:18-20 we read the mission statement Jesus gave His disciples.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go £therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” £Amen.
In these two verses Jesus not only gave the disciples their work, but gave them their message. “Teach the people” He said, “to observe all things that I have commanded you.” The disciples were to teach what Jesus taught. That which He had spoke, not only in person but through all the prophets and teachers of the Old Testament. Human teaching is shut out. There is no place for tradition, for man’s theories and conclusions, or for church legislation and laws ordained by ecclesiastical authority. But sadly that is the case today with many churches embracing teachings that do not have any support in the Bible.
Throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation God presents his Law, the Ten Commandments, as that which will bring societies moral compass pointing in the correct direction again. The Ten Commandments are like a wall of defense for every individual, a wall of defense for every family and a wall of defense for society as well.
With that in mind let’s turn to Exodus 20 , and we will go through each one of the Ten Commandments, because, it is here I believe we have the remedy for our societies problems. Before we commence though, many people believe the Ten Commandments are all negative and remove the enjoyment from life, but that is absolutely false as we shall see, because God wants you to have full, successful, happy and wholesome lives which are the very reasons God gave us the Ten Commandments. Let’s begin in verse one of chapter twenty
(Exo 20:1-3 KJV) And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
God wants us to know Him, He wants us to see Him as our closest, dearest and most reliable Friend. The One who loves us with a love so deep, that by comparison a parents love for their child is but a faint reflection. God wants us to know we can rely on Him above all others, so the first commandment reflects His desire that we would know and trust Him, and that there would be nothing or no one which would interfere in our relationship with Him.
(Exo 20:4-6 KJV) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:
What we see here is a portrait of God who jealously longs to preserve and protect His friendship with us, who wants nothing to get in the way of us knowing and delighting in Him. He wants us to understand that He is not made by human hands from stick or stone, but He lives, He is a corporeal Being, who hears and answers our prayers, who cares when we are hurting and gives hope for the future.
(Exo 20:7 KJV) Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
God is concerned about His name and the way it is used. He is just not another person the road, but He is the Creator of the Universe, He is God Almighty who answers prayer, because He loves us , He wants to protect us, He wants us to be happy and wants us to know Him as our truest and trusted friend. He wants us to be careful the way His name is used and not use it as a swear word or common slang. Furthermore this commandment challenges all followers of the one true God not to take His name in vain. In other words by your behavior, by your actions by your attitude do not bring shame to the name of Christ, don’t publically declare yourself as a Christian if in so doing you cause others to scorn Christianity and to mock God. Let’s move on to the fourth commandment.
(Exo 20:8-11 KJV) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
What a beautiful picture of God in this commandment, because in this commandment God is saying, “I want to be with you so much so that I have set aside one day of the week. A full 24 hour block of time so that you can get to know me better”. Oh yes we meet and pray with God every other day of the week, but the Sabbath is His special day. The fourth commandment also explains to us why we should worship God and it is because He is our Creator and the Sabbath is the memorial to Creation. That is why it is the only commandment that begins with the word remember, because God knew it would be forgotten or ignored all together.
There you have it the first four commandments and you notice that each one of them deals with our relationship with God. In these four commandments we see how we as followers of God can protect, preserve and prioritize our relationship with Him. Now lets look at the last six, and interestingly these deal with our relationship with those around us, family, friends, work companions and strangers. As you will see there is no one who values human relationships more than God.
(Exo 20:12 KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
God’s law protects the human family, because children are asked to give honor to their parents, but by their behaviour parents must be by their behavior be worthy of that honor. Nevertheless because God values the family, He asks us too honour our parents.
(Exo 20:13 KJV) Thou shalt not kill.
God’s law protects human life, we are all of value, we have not simply evolved billions of years ago when lightening struck a muddy lake bed as evolutionists would have us believe, no no we are made in the image of God, and God asks us to value those to whom He has given life too.
(Exo 20:14 KJV) Thou shalt not commit adultery.
God’s law protects the sacred and intimate relationship between a husband and a wife, and in so doing protects the health of the family and ultimately society. The health or problems of a society can be revealed by the health or problems in that societies families. God’s law protects the family unit asking each of us to respect the institution of marriage given by God as recorded in Genesis chapter 2, and affirmed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament in Matthew 19:4-6.
(Exo 20:15 KJV) Thou shalt not steal.
The eighth commandment deals with our material relationships, God’s law protects human ownership, we are not free to take from someone else, just because they have something you want.
(Exo 20:16 KJV) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
The ninth commandment deals with our ethical relationships, nothing else stabilizes our relationships more than trust. When trust is broken the relationship is forever marred. No matter who you are and where you are from, you shall not bear false witness, God’s law upholds peoples reputations the corollary being, a person’s integrity.
(Exo 20:17 KJV) Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
The tenth commandment deals with our relationship with ourselves. You see long before any of the previous nine commandments could be broken the act is always preceded by the thought. This commandment says guard even your thoughts. Do not covet, be content with what you have. Do not desire what is owned by another man or woman.
As we consider the Ten Commandments we see clearly there is no one in the universe more deeply and totally committed to preserving relationships than God. The Ten Commandments begin by prioritizing and protecting our relationship with Him, and then He shows us how to prioritize and protect our relationships with others. He says to you and me, make Me first in your life and all the other relationships will fall into place.
Some of you may not know, but the Ten Commandments are the only part of the entire Bible which God wrote Himself, and He wrote them in stone signifying there perpetuity, that they were never to be done away with, as it says in Exodus 31:18
(Exo 31:18 KJV) And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
The Ten Commandments written by God Himself in tablets of stone. They weren’t written on the sand to be washed away. They were written on stone. Permanent. Everlasting. Eternal. Of course that is exactly what Jesus taught of the Ten Commandments emphasizing their supreme value throughout the entire history of this earth, lets look at Matthew 5:17-19.
(Mat 5:17-19 KJV)
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Mat 5:18 KJV) For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Jesus specifically asserted that He did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill (or keep) it, it means to live it to the full. Then Jesus tells us how long the law the Ten Commandments were to stay in force by saying “till heaven and earth pass one jot or one tittle shall in no way pass from law.” Now in the Hebrew alphabet a jot is the smallest letter in the alphabet, and the tittle refers to the crossing of a ‘t’ and the dotting of an ‘i’ in the English, and Jesus said that not even those things the smallest letter, the tiniest identifying character would be removed from God’s law. In fact Jesus said “till heaven and earth pass away” nothing could be removed from the law. That means as long as you go outside, and you can kick the ground, and see the sky, God’s law is still in force, and we know that Jesus was talking about the Ten Commandments there He quotes from the Ten Commandments in the following verses, therefore the Ten Commandments are the context.
There was an occasion when a man asked, what he must do to have eternal life, lets pick up the story in Matthew 19:16-19
(Mat 19:16 KJV) And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?(Mat 19:17 KJV) And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
(Mat 19:18 KJV) He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,(Mat 19:19 KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Jesus said it simply, if you want to have eternal life keep the commandments, which ones? Well Jesus is clearly quoting from the Ten Commandments because He says, do not commit adultery, honour your mother and father etc. And the truth is that the Ten Commandments are just as important to us today as they were in Jesus ‘ time, no matter what some men and women try to teach you!
As we study Jesus’ life we know that the religious leaders and authorities were continually trying to trap Jesus to say something that they could use against Him. In Matthew 22:36-40, a lawyer comes to Jesus trying to trick him and asked Him, “what is the most important commandment in the law?” Lets read it now.
Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
This lawyer asked Jesus what is the most important commandment, why? Because if Jesus had said “remember the Sabbath day”, the Jews would have accused Him of neglecting one of the other nine commandments. If Jesus had said “do not make unto thee any graven image, or thou shalt not commit adultery”, they would have tried to defame and embarrass Jesus by saying, so “thou shalt not kill” is not important or it is ok to slander the names of others. You see if Jesus had of identified one particular commandment they would have attacked Him, but what Jesus simply did was summarize all of the Ten Commandments by saying “Love God with all of your heart mind and soul” which encompasses the first four commandments which deal with our relationship with God, and “love your neighbor as yourself” which summarizes the last six commandments which focus on our relationships with those around us. To put it another way the first four commandments deal with our vertical relationship with God, the last six commandments deal with our horizontal relationships of those around us.
Many churches today teach that these are two new commandments that Jesus gave, and replaces the Ten Commandments, but solid Bible students know these were not new they were simply old commandments that had been forgotten by the Jews. Turning back to Deuteronomy 6:5 we read this,
(Deu 6:5 KJV) And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
You see when Jesus said” love the Lord your God with all of your heart mind and soul” He was quoting from the writings of Moses in the Old Testament, turning now to Leviticus 19:18
(Lev 19:18 KJV) Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.
Love your neighbor as yourself was nothing new when Jesus said it to the lawyer ,He was merely repeating what had been recorded by Moses in the Old Testament, 1500 years earlier by God in the book of Leviticus. The thing you need to understand is that these two commandment actually summarize all of the Ten Commandments, If you love God …..If you love your neighbor as yourself………
You see that is why Jesus said in Matthew 22:40, “Upon these two commandments hang the all law”, because in these two commandments we find the Ten Commandments summarized. All of New Testament writers believed that the Ten Commandments should still be kept even after the death of Jesus. Lets read from the Apostle Paul in Romans 13 :8-10
(Rom 13:8 KJV) Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.(Rom 13:9 KJV) For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.(Rom 13:10 KJV) Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
The references to the Ten Commandments indicates that the Apostle Paul saw the validity of God’s Ten Commandments in His day, in fact there are many references to the keeping of the Ten Commandments throughout the New Testament. Further to that, the letter to the Romans probably written around 56AD, that is 25 years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (31AD), and the disciples are still underscoring the importance of God’s Ten Commandments, turning now to John 14:15.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
That’s clear isn’t it, Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments, and can I tell you love always leads to obedience. Jesus didn’t say wave if you love Him, Jesus didn’t say smile if you love Him, Jesus didn’t say toot your car horn if you Him. Jesus said “if you love me keep my commandments”, this idea that you can please God by waving or smiling is absolute nonsense. You see love is a verb, it is an action word and Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments, be obedient. Let’s go to the last book in the Bible Revelation 14:12
Here is the patience of the saints; here [are] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
This passage projects us forward into the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ and here God’s people are identified as those “who keep the Commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” Please understand these people are not keeping the Ten Commandments to be saved, but because they are saved. You see while they are obedient to God’s law, they understand that salvation can only happen by faith in Jesus Christ, because we are saved by grace not by works. It is the loving response to Jesus Christ for all He has done for them, and being prompted and led by the Holy Spirit, being convicted of that Biblical truth that God’s law is still in place even till the end of this world as we know it, they demonstrate their loyalty to Jesus Christ by their obedience to God’s law of Ten Commandments. In fact in the last chapter of the Bible we see that obedience is rewarded with eternal life, in Revelation 22:14
Blessed those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
Heaven is going to be filled with commandment keepers, and God’s law the Ten Commandments offers you and your family a wall of protection, that if embraced will be the glue that keeps your family from disintegrating in this lawless society. God’s laws, the Ten Commandments are not based on rules but are bathed in relationships. The greatest mistake in Christianity has been to replace the teachings of the Bible with the ideas of men, and so weaken the authority of the Bible in people’s minds. But listen, Jesus said in Matthew 15:9 Matthew 15:9, But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Jesus is warning everyone, when a person replaces the clear teachings of the Bible with the traditions of man, or accepts the traditions of men in preference for the Bible – their worship of God is in vain, the word vain means useless, producing no result. Therefore if a person intentionally ignores the truth and continues in willful disobedience, their worship means nothing in the sight of God. Remember these are not my words these are the words of Jesus Himself.
God has given us the Ten Commandments not to restrict us, not to remove fun out of lives, but so that you would have a better life, a happier, more satisfying life as you live according to God’s plan for you. You see He loves you and wants the best for you. He is the God who forgives you your mistakes when you ask Him, and as you reflect on all that Jesus Christ has achieved for you, He ask you to be obedient to Him, but more than that, He gives you power to obey, no matter how insurmountable the problems may appear when you first commence a life of faithful obedience, God helps you through the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Stretched out on that cross, –Jesus told the whole universe what He thought of you, and how will respond to that love of Christ.
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Seventh-day Adventist Church Melbourne
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