The 10 Commandments
The 10 Commandments Still Matter
Contrary to what is perhaps a popular opinion in the Orthodox Jewish community, Old Testament law is highly esteemed in the New Testament. Note but a few of the references supporting this claim: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good (Romans 7:7, 12).
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully (I Timothy 1:8). In one of his epistles, Paul explains the relationship between law and grace: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24, 25). “In other words, the situation concerning Old Testament law [the Ten Commandments] is one of fulfillment in the New Testament and not one of abandonment.
Christ Himself was careful to summarize this aspect during the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill'” (Matthew 5:17) (pp. 20, 21)
What the 10 Commandments Mean (Exodus 20: 1-17)
The Ten Commandments are literally “ten words” (Exodus 34:28) and are repeated in Deuteronomy 5:7-20.
THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME (verse 3)
The first commandment stresses God’s complete uniqueness. There is no other God, and no false gods are to have place in our lives.
THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGE . . . (verses 4-6)
The command forbidding any graven image specifically demands thou shalt not bow down thyself to them. God is spirit and cannot be represented by statues or any likeness. The visitation of the iniquity of the fathers upon the children seems to indicate that several generations would be affected by learning and continuing to practice the contaminating sin of idolatry. But some find His mercy which is shown unto thousands.
THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD IN VAIN (verse 7)
Taking the name of the Lord thy God in vain has to do with using God’s holy name for purposes other than worship. Also, Christians ought to shun minced oaths such as the use of Gee, Gosh, and Golly.
REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY (verses 8-11)
Far from being the most important, as insisted upon by some sects, the fourth commandment is the only commandment not repeated for Christians to observe in the New Testament. The dispensation of the law ended with Christ’s death on the cross in which he took way such requirements as holy days, new moon observances and the Sabbath day restrictions (Colossians 2:14-17).
[Notice the first four commandments reveal our duty to God, and the final six commandments reveal our proper relations with man.]
HONOR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER (verse 12)
Honor thy father and thy mother is an obligation that endures as long as one’s parents are alive. They must always be respected and must be obeyed while under their direct authority in the home prior to a person’s marriage (Genesis 2:24 . . .).
THOU SHALT NOT KILL and THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY (verses 13-14)
Murder and marital infidelity, though seemingly only referring to outward acts, are in actuality based on far higher principles, as Jesus later set forth clearly in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28).
THOU SHALT N0T STEAL (verse 15)
Thou shalt not steal prohibits taking what does not belong to oneself. This includes small and great items and even relates to such things as the time clock at work, and how honestly one pays his taxes.
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS (verse 16)
Bearing false witness is another term for lying. God desires truth in the inward parts, which will be reflected in our outward speech (cf. Psalm 51:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19).
THOU SHALT NOT COVET (verse 17)
Thou shalt not covet forbids longing after that which belongs to another, and thus a list is added here.
Which Commandment is Greatest?
Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments when he was asked which of the commandments was the greatest; His reply is recorded in Matthew 22:37-40:
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.
Although it is impossible for us to perfectly keep the Commandments of God, Christ did keep them perfectly. Therefore, being in Christ, a Christian keeps the Commandments perfectly in the eyes of God.
When studying the Ten Commandments, we need to keep in mind that God is not as interested in the outward observances of rituals as he is in the condition of the heart. When the heart is in step with God, man’s actions will please God.