10 Commandments: The Origin of God's Law
The 10 Commandments are first recorded in the book of Exodus. They were given by God at Mt. Sinai following the Israelites escape from slavery in Egypt. The 10 Commandments were moral statutes given by God, through Moses, so that the Israelites could enjoy fruitful and holy lives. The Commandments were significant in that they formed the basis of Jewish life, law and faith. Inscribed on stone tablets, the 10 Commandments were initially broken by Moses in anger over the flagrant sins of the Israelites. They were then re-inscribed and kept in the Ark of the Covenant at the command of God. Four of the Commandments deal primarily with man's relationship with God and the other six deal primarily with man's relationship with one another.
10 Commandments: God's Standard of Holiness
The 10 Commandments were also known as the Law. For ancient Israel, breaking the Law was a serious offense. To deviate by any degree from the 10 Commandments was to sin and fall short of God's standard of holiness. Knowing that it was impossible for any human being to perfectly follow the Law, a sacrificial system mediated by the Levitical priesthood was established. Through this system, God permitted ancient Israel to make reparations for the sins they committed. As an example, an appropriate sacrifice would involve the slaughtering of a young lamb that is found to be without any blemish. The sacrifices continued endlessly, as did the sins. This system of blood sacrifice was not meant to be barbaric, but rather, symbolic of the gravity of sin. The annual Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur is a day of atonement that is set aside for the reparation of sins.
Although God gave the 10 Commandments to the Israelites, they do not apply to Jews alone. The 10 Commandments reflect God's standard of holiness for everyone. Since God is the universal authority of moral conduct, all of humanity is subject to His standards. According to the , no one is exempt from God's Law. Some say that the 10 Commandments do not apply to them, since they did not grow up with "religion." However, the scriptures reveal that the requirements of the Law are written on our hearts (Romans 2:25), and thus, our conscience ultimately confirms our guilt. Wait a minute. Since most of us, to some degree, have tried to live good lives, contributing positive things to our families and communities, how can God fault us if we have tried our best? Based on God's standard of holiness, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In addition, God is not only concerned with our actions, but also the condition of our hearts. In the New Testament, Jesus referred to the Law when He emphasized that hatred is tantamount to murder and lust is tantamount to adultery. We have all had these thoughts. Indeed, we have all sinned according to God's standard.
10 Commandments: Revealing Our Need for a Savior
After reviewing the 10 Commandments, some argue that God is unjust for imposing a standard upon humanity that He knows we can't fulfill. Doesn't it seem awfully cruel for a loving God to condemn man for the evil that is inherently part of the human condition? The response to this perplexing question lies in . In fact, Jesus came to earth in order to reconcile this dilemma. Like the perfect lambs that were constantly sacrificed for the sins of Israel, Jesus was perfect and without blemish, because he was sinless. Like the lambs, He was for the reparation of sins. Unlike the lambs, however, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ redeemed the sins of all humanity for all time. Unlike the lambs, Jesus Christ from the dead and conquered the power of sin for all humanity for all time. The Bible tells us why Christ had to become a sacrifice: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
10 Commandments: Love Without Condemnation
For many, the 10 Commandments are symbols of condemnation that point to our faults and mistakes. Some feel so guilty that they believe God will never accept them. Others simply choose to reject God because His Law is impossible to obey. Ironically, the 10 Commandments were never given by God to condemn humanity, but rather, they were given to convict humanity. The 10 Commandments act as a mirror to "reflect" the condition of our souls. When we examine our life in light of the 10 Commandments, we realize our shortcomings and our need for redemption. Jesus Christ is our redeemer. Therefore, God gave the 10 Commandments not to condemn humanity, but to show us His love for us. For, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).