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What are the Ten Commandments

QUESTION: What are the Ten Commandments?


What are the Ten Commandments? The Ten Commandments are ten primary laws God gave humans to follow and obey. Jesus referred to these Ten Commandments in Matthew 22:37-40. In response to a question asked by one of the Pharisees, "Jesus replied: ' Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

The Ten Commandments can be found in a couple different places in the Bible: Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, of the Old Testament. We will be referencing the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20.

The first - Exodus 20:3: "You shall have no other gods before me." In Exodus 20:2, God states who He is and why He would permit no other gods before Him. He is the creator of life, and He brought the Israelites (our ancestors from whence creation started) out of a land of slavery. God does the same today through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus offers us deliverance from slavery, or bondage, to self-indulgent, self-destructive behavior (sin). Those who freely choose Jesus find real life here and eternal life with Him.

The second - Exodus 20:4-6: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments." God, who is all wise and all knowing, realizes what happens to us when we worship anything other than our Creator. Because He wants the very best for us, and because He alone can handle being the object of worship, He adds this critical instruction.

The third -Exodus 20:7: "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." God tells us it is imperative to be truthful and honest at all times. Many biblical scholars point to the example of a witness in a court case. As God's witnesses, we are not to swear by God's name falsely or under any false pretenses. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus discusses oath taking. Our answer, He states, should always be either yes or no. We must strive to be known for our honesty, instead of the need to take an oath.

The fourth - Exodus 20:8-11: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." On the seventh day of creation, God rested. Does God need to rest? Of course not! He did this as an example for us. In our contemporary, 24/7 society, we tend to think the Sabbath rest is optional. God does not! Jesus tells us in Mark 2:27 that: "The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Which day of the week may not be important, but one of the seven needs to be devoted to godly rest.

The Fifth - Exodus 20:12: "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you." Whether or not our parents have been respectful toward us, the Bible commands that we honor them. Note that this commandment comes with a reason why: honor your parents SO THAT you may live long in the land.

The sixth - Exodus 20:13: "You shall not murder." Intentionally taking someone's life is murder. In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus tells us that anger and hurtful words are like murder. Romans 13 discusses Christian behavior regarding obedience to civil authority and patriotism. Scholars believe, and Old Testament sources support, that protecting one's country as in civil defense or during a time of war is not the same as murder.

The seventh - Exodus 20:14: "You shall not commit adultery." Adultery is engaging in a sexual relationship outside of one's marriage. Jesus takes this further when he tells us in Matthew 5:28 we commit adultery when we even look on another person with thoughts of desire.

The eighth - Exodus 20:15: "You shall not steal." Do not take anything that is not yours. In today's culture, one of the most prevalent forms of stealing involves copyrighted material. We may think it is OK to download music we don't pay for or gain access to software we did not purchase a license for...but the Bible says it is stealing.

The ninth - Exodus 20:16: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." In court, false testimony is called perjury and is punishable by law. Our testimony, whether before a judge or in the courtroom of life, should be true and accurate -- free of false information.

The tenth - Exodus 20:17: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." God wants us to learn to be content with what we have and not to desire what our neighbor has. He knows where jealousy and envy lead; His desire is to spare us the consequences of coveting.

Learn More about the Ten Commandments!

What do you think?
We have all sinned and deserve God’s judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, "Jesus is Lord," you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.

What is your response?

Yes, I want to follow Jesus

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