Imagine what our world would be like if there were no stealing, killing or adultery. The jails would be empty and your bicycle would be safe regardless of where you left it. People wouldn’t even have to lock their doors, and you could walk around town without an adult. That’s really what God had in mind when He wrote the Ten Commandments.
What are the Ten Commandments? God’s law contains ten rules or commandments. You can find them in the Bible in Exodus 20. “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
- You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
- Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your
neighbor’s ” (verses 1-17, NKJV).
These ten rules show us how God wants us to live in order to be happy and useful.
How did Jesus summarize the Ten Commandments? “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).
So you’re saying that if I love others, obeying the commandments is natural. Exactly. It’s in the Bible, “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10, NIV).
Are there other reasons for keeping the Ten Commandments? Yes! It’s in the Bible, “…through the law we become conscious of sin” (Romans 3:20, NIV). The law helps you know what sin is. In other words it teaches you the difference between right and wrong or good and evil. If the commandments are about love and goodness, what would the opposite be? You guessed it, evil and wrong doing.
Isn’t keeping the law a big burden? No, it’s the opposite. It gives you freedom. It’s in the Bible, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NKJV). Think about this: Who has liberty? The one who in prison for murder or stealing, or the one who loves God and his neighbor? Feeling guilty for doing something wrong is not freedom or happiness.
Can God’s law be changed? No. Not even Jesus came to change God’s law. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17, 18, NIV).
Is obeying God’s law really important? Yes. The Bible says, “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, NIV).
Is it necessary to keep all ten of the commandments? The Bible says, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker” (James 2:10, 11, NIV). The Ten Commandments are like the links of a chain; if you break one link of a chain, the whole chain is broken.
Are we saved by obeying God’s law? The Bible says, “Then what can we boast about doing, to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do. And does God save only the Jews in this way? No, the Gentiles, too, may come to him in this same manner. God treats us all the same; all, whether Jews or Gentiles, are acquitted if they have faith. Well then, if we are saved by faith, does this mean that we no longer need obey God’s laws? Just the opposite! In fact, only when we trust Jesus can we truly obey him” (Romans 3:27-31, TLB).
We cannot save ourselves by obeying God’s law. Only Jesus can save us; He’s the only Savior. When we accept Him and believe in Him and trust Him, He saves us from our sins.
Why should I keep the commandments? We keep the commandments to demonstrate our love for Christ. It’s in the Bible, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15, NKJV).