The Ten Commandments


I. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother.

VI. Thou shalt not kill.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

X. Thou shalt not covet.

These laws, given to Moses by God, are a universal, timeless expression of God's holy purpose for man. Theft, adultery, murder, profanity, are acknowledged everywhere by man's conscience to be contrary to the moral law. These laws are an expression of God's love to man. When his laws are disregarded, there follows conflict, confusion and waste.

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT is: "I am Jehovah thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:2-3 Every man needs a god. The very composition of man's nature demands a centre of worship. And if man does not have the God of heaven, he will have an idol. The question is not whether or not man worships - we all do. The question is whether we worship the true God or a false one. It has been said that when man dethrones God, he substitutes himself. There are men today who worship themselves with all their heart and with all their strength and with all their mind. The lust for gold and for fleshly indulgence is the consuming passion of many. Many peoples' business or profession takes the place reserved for God only. Eating, drinking, clothes, amusements, comforts, are the centre of multitudes of lives. Ask yourself the question: "What is my god? To what is my life devoted?"

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT is: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything 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: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments." Exodus 20:4-6 The second is not a repetition of the first in greater detail. The first commandment absolutely forbids worship of anything and everything whatsoever but Jehovah Elohim of Heaven. The second commandment, if you read it carefully, forbids using anything as a representation of the one true God of Heaven as an aid to worship Him. Are you using a crucifix, a relic, a statue or a picture as an aid in worshiping God? God forbids, upon pain of judgment to the third and fourth generation, the use of any of these aids in worship.

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH." John 4:24 No relic, no crucifix, no image can adequately or properly represent the infinite and utterly holy God. When I use something to represent God or make God real to me, I am left with a distortion of my conception of God, which is inadequate and misleading. How are we in danger of breaking the Second Commandment today? 1. By the revival of priesthood; 2. By the passion for ritual; 3. By the elevation of the ordinances of the Christian religion into a place of undue prominence and importance; and 4. By the professed worship of God in nature. God would have every man approach Him directly and simply face to face. Proxy worship is no worship at all. The Second Commandment says: WORSHIP GOD DIRECTLY, PERSONALLY, AND IN SPIRIT.

THE THIRD COMMANDMENT says "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." Exodus 20:7 This third commandment is much more than a warning against profane and blasphemous cursing. It forbids any use of God's name unless in truth and righteousness. "Hear ye this, O House of Jacob....which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel but not in truth or righteousness." Isaiah 48:1. This means that God's name should not be used frivolously (meaning in jokes and stories), profanely (which includes cursing), and hypocritically (if you profess to be a Christian but refuse to obey God's commandments). Are you guilty of breaking the third commandment? Then you are a blasphemer and will not enter the Kingdom of God.

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT is "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." Exodus 20:8-11 Just as God rested after creation, so man is to take time at regular intervals to recover his strength, to renew his spirit, to lift his eyes from the material to the eternal. The seventh day sabbath in its regular interval provides for the maintenance of man's communion with God. It is an appalling fact that whenever men choose to forget God, they oppose and revolt against His law concerning the sabbath. And the converse is also true, that whenever the sabbath is ignored, atheism and every other evil grows with greater speed. When Communist revolutionaries chose to stamp out Christianity, they outlawed the seventh day of rest and worship. When France, in the bloody days of Revolution, prohibited the Christian sabbath for 14 months, there were 20,000 divorces more than in any previous five-year period in France's history. It makes little difference whether the day be Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday. In sober fact, who knows what day is the seventh and what day the first, after the various calendar changes through the centuries? The important and timeless law of God is that men must observe a day of rest and worship after every six days of toil. To ignore this law is to invite spiritual, social and physical tragedy. Use God's day to stand upright amidst your toil, to lift your eyes to heaven. Use it to remember that you were made not for time only, but for eternity. Use it to recover an awareness of purpose and direction. Use it to commune with God, to sit at His feet, to meditate on His Word.

THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT is "Honour thy father and mother; that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." Exodus 20:12 If a child is never taught to respect his parents, he will neither respect the laws of men or God. In early life, a child's father and mother stand for him in the place of God as lawgivers, lovers, providers and controllers. When parental authority is cast off, and a child finds he can defy the law of the parent and get away with it, he grows up to think he can also outsmart the police and even the God of Heaven. In our western society we face no problem more terrifying than that of juvenile delinquency. In brazen defiance teenagers say to parents, "It's my life, I'll live it as I please." The word "honour" means much more than obedience. In fact, in adulthood, I may not be obliged to obey my parents, but I am always obliged to honour them. This involves respect, which expresses itself in courtesy and kindly deeds, and where necessary, in provision being made for the comfort in the declining years. To be honoured, parents must be worthy of honour. The fifth commandment is a two-edged sword cutting two ways at once. If children are to give honour, parents are to be worthy of honour. Children are moulded by what they see in their parents. If parents are profane, loud, irritable, self-indulgent and pleasure-loving, surely it will be hard for children to respect and honour them. Parents also need to set the example for their children by treating their parents with respect. But more than that, give the Heavenly Father the love and obedience you owe Him.

THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT is "Thou shalt not kill." This commandment is the second of the six dealing with my relation to my fellow man. The Bible teaches the sanctity of the human personality and the sanctity of human life. Man is not an evolved ape from the jungles. He is not a fortuitous concurrence of atoms. Man is the "offspring of God," made in the image of God. We need to be reminded of this gigantic and basic truth, for it lies at the root of the Christians's view of politics and society. In 1 John 3:15 we read: "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Not only is actual physical abuse wrong, but a heart attitude of bitterness is in the sight of God just as guilty as though the crime were actually committed. A murderer is not only the man who in cold blood has taken his fellow man's life, but hatred makes a man guilty of the sixth commandment. Perhaps the fear of the hangman's noose or the fear of being caught keeps many a man from killing, but the desire is there festering in the heart. That man is seen by God to be a murderer just as much as the criminal on death row.

THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT is "Thou shalt not commit adultery." It doesn't matter what society thinks; morality is not determined by a public opinion poll. God says that all sex perversion, that is, all sex outside of marriage is a damning sin. We are engulfed in our day not only by a decay in moral standards, but by a militant campaign by educators, advertisers and entertainers to cheapen and vulgarize what God has ordained to be beautiful and sacred. The Bible teaches that our bodies belong to God and that we should glorify God with them. Furthermore, Jesus said "I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery already in his heart." Matthew 5:28 Even temptation to impurity is a horrid sin, if it is not rejected and confessed to God. Jesus said that the desire of the heart is equal to the deed. Punishment for transgression of this Commandment is the death penalty.

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT is "Thou shalt not steal." God's law forbids thievery, regardless of the circumstances involved. It is always wrong to possess anything which has not come to you as honest reward for labour or as a freely given gift from another. I scarcely need to talk about house-breakers, shoplifters, bank robbers, pickpockets and common garden-variety thieves. We all recognize such overt theft to be sinful and wrong. But there are other ways of breaking the eighth commandment than by overt theft. The man who gives 15 ounces for a pound is a thief. The salesman who takes advantage of the ignorant in a bargain is a thief. The financier who takes advantage of need to extort extravagant interest rates is a thief. The employer who refuses to pay an honest wage for an honest day's work is a thief. And the man who cheats on the boss and gold-bricks on the job is a thief also.

And what about misrepresentation in advertising? The honest man will tell the truth and not make unjust claims just to make a sale. This, too, is theft. To delay payment of a debt when it is due is robbery; you are getting use of your creditor's money unfairly. Those who are careless in the matter of incurring debts beyond the reasonable possibility of paying them. Is that not a form of robbery? And what about living beyond one's income and then taking dishonest profit from bankruptcy laws? And dare I mention evasion of government taxes as a form of theft? Lazy dependance upon the good graces of charitable organizations (when a bit of initiative and honest effort could change the picture) is, in the sight of God, theft. Those who pad their expense accounts may fool the top company brass, but God in heaven calls it ugly theft. The formation of price-fixing monopolies is a sin against God and men; such combines become organized robbers of society.

THE NINTH COMMANDMENT is "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." To bear false witness simply means to carry an untrue report, not to stick to the facts, to perjure oneself, to lie, to misrepresent. It is a sin against God to tell untruths about anyone and rob a man of the confidence of others and so of a clean reputation. All my dealings and words should be based upon transparent sincerity. I must never either help or harm any man by statements not exactly in accordance with the facts. I have also no right to withhold facts or to hide testimony with a view to change a decision. Whenever I speak, I am to be exact and true. Slander is the invention of a lie to injure a fellowman's good name. Talebearing is also an infraction of the ninth commandment. To repeat a story without being certain of its truth is to harm your neighbour. False witness may also be committed by silence. The failure to speak up and correct a wrong story may imply agreement. The ninth commandment is broken when I flatter. When I say what is exaggerated and insincere and untrue because I want to please and perhaps gain in the end myself. Flattery, which is so much a part of superficial society, is an infraction of God's laws. Who amongst us can say that they have never knowingly told an untruth, have never yielded to the cowardly temptation to shade the truth, or have never spoken of a fellow man except in terms of fact? The Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire.

THE TENTH COMMANDMENT is "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 anything that is thy neighbour's." This commandment is different from any of the others. It deals with the inner life in contrast to external conduct. A man may be guilty of breaking this commandment and no one around be aware of it, for it is a sin of the thought life and the heart. We are not forbidden to desire a wife or a house or an ox or a manservant. But we are forbidden to desire the possessions of our neighbour which can not become ours legally. This commandment is the last of the ten and it is the most searching of them all. Men break this last commandment because they are guilty of breaking the first commandment, which bids us to worship the Lord Jehovah and Him only, and then the inevitable result is that men are tempted to break all the other commandments. Covetousness is restless feverish discontent. It is a burning craving for satisfaction. Because of an aching void within the heart, men covet or desire power, riches, social amenities, popularity, and so on and on. But this insatiable thirst is a result of being out of proper relation with God. The restless searchings of the human soul are satisfied when the God of Heaven has first place in the life AND THEN ONLY.

We read in Psalm 23 " The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not WANT." It is the failure to make the Lord your Shepherd, to give God first place, to obey the first commandment, which leads to an emptiness of soul and results in the coveting forbidden in the tenth commandment. And in turn all the other commandments are broken in a vain effort to quench the thirst of a soul out of touch with God, the true and only source of satisfaction. Theft, murder, adultery, desecration of the Sabbath, disrespect to parents, blasphemy, idolatry, false witness.....flow out of the restless dissatisfied heart of the man who does not really know God and so is deeply unhappy and empty.

Who of us can say we are not guilty of breaking these Commandments? All of us have sinned, and just as with civil law, you don't have to break ten laws to be a law-breaker, so the Bible warns, "For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." Not only have we broken God's holy laws, but our natures are defiled. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way....; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Romans 3:10 "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Isaiah 53:6 Do you pride yourself that you have not committed any very big sins? God sees you as guilty as a murderer if you have hatred in your heart. Oh, how guilty all of us are in His sight!

My friend, let me talk to you about the gospel, the good news, which is the power of God to save everyone who believes it. The good news is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save them that are lost. It is just because you and I did not and could not keep the law of God, that Jesus Christ came into the world. How much we need the washing of the Saviour's blood and the transformation of the New Birth. Jesus said: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." I invite you, right this moment, to trust in Christ for your salvation. Hide in His atoning blood. Confess that you are a lost sinner. "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9



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