The Commandments :: by Grant Phillips

Exodus 20:1-17

And God spake all these words, saying,

1 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.

5 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

6 Thou shalt not kill.

7 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8 Thou shalt not steal.

9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10 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 any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

How would you say we in the United States of America are holding up against these commandments of God today? The answer is obvious. Every commandment has been shattered and then trampled upon by a sinful, unholy people. As a collective society, we show absolutely no respect for anything God has to say. We are as a disrespectful child who goes off to college with the attitude, “Now that I’m away from the old man and old woman, I’ll do as I please.” We have kicked God out of our schools, our families, our businesses, and even our churches, with the attitude, “I’ll do it my way.”

1-Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Where do I start? We have so many gods. If I were to narrow it down to one, perhaps it would be the god of greed. Greed encompasses pretty much everything that draws us away from the one true God. Jesus says that He is the only way to the Father and that no man can come to the Father but by Him. He and the Father are one. (John 14:6) There is but one God, and there should be no room in our hearts for another.

Anything we place in importance before God is an idol, or other god. False gods can range from our obsession over our physical looks to awards and medals, from our car to our house, from even our children to our wealth, from the work we produce to our personal time, from sports to music, from celebrities to sex, from a crucifix to science ……. This list could go on forever. The point is if “it” is more important to us than God, it is our god we serve. God will not tolerate it.

2-Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

When reading this passage, we usually think of wood, stone or metallic idols that we get on our knees and bow before, but our graven images today may not be idols that we physically bow before, but are objects nonetheless that we put before God. I mentioned the crucifix earlier. I do not believe that God would approve of our having a crucifix, even though it may seem innocent to us. Why, because He said so, and it could be too tempting to transfer our “faith” from the one true God to a material object. Many have been seduced into violating this commandment by the likes of “holy water,” “prayer cloths,” etc.

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

In my opinion, there are at least two basic methods that the Lord’s name is used in vain. The most obvious is advocating false doctrine in the name of the Lord God. This can come from different groups of people, but in particular the pulpits of today. So much garbage is being handed out from those who claim to be Christians who then attribute their trash to God. For example; some of our churches and church leaders are in complete support of homosexuality and give God the “credit” for their “newfound wisdom.” They are not wise, and God accepts no “credit” for their sins against His Word, the Bible. They will be judged for associating the name of God with sin.

The other method I had in mind is using His name as a curse word. Isn’t it interesting that those who reject the notion of God, are so free to include His precious name in their perverted vocabulary. If only they would realize that using God’s name in a profanity laced onslaught is spewing the name of a Holy God from the lips of an ignorant fool and ignorant or not, they will not be held guiltless.

It may surprise some of you to know what comes from the mouths of even children today … very young children. It reminds me of the old adage, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Sadly, a child’s gutter talk often comes from their own parents.

4-Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

For the Jews, the Sabbath day fell on Saturday. This is the day God rested from all His labors, and they were to do the same, as a physical rest. Their thoughts were to be upon Him.

For the Church today, we commonly worship on Sunday. It is called the first and eighth day of the week, the day after the Sabbath. We celebrate this day to remind us of our eternal rest for the soul because of the work Jesus did for us upon the cross, and the empty grave He left behind. Actually, every day should be a day of rest, for the soul, for us (the Church) today. It being on the eight day also reminds us of a new beginning.

5-Honour thy father and thy mother.

When children honor their father and mother, they grow into respectable adults. Notice that it is the only commandment with a promise, that being, longevity upon the earth. Some may contradict this by saying that Godly people still sometimes die while of a young age, and that would be true. Consider though, this promise was made to Israel, and also that the longevity issue may refer to their influence on someone else’s life after they are gone. Their name will live on.

Thanks to every semblance of God being removed from our school systems, we are now reaping the rewards of children who grow up without ever hearing anything positive about the God who created them. Instead they are taught evolution, how to use a condom, and being “gay” is okay.

Without God in the lives of fathers, mothers, and children, the children have no respect for God and least of all their parents. Rebellion in the home has become an epidemic; encouraging a lifestyle right from the Hollywood scripts.

6-Thou shalt not kill.

The Hebrew word (ratsach) used for “kill” does not mean “kill,” it actually means to “murder.” God is not every person’s Father, but He is every person’s Creator. Except in areas of war, self-defense and capital punishment, no one has the right to take another person’s life. However, the murder of innocent victims overwhelms our police agencies. Within families and toward total strangers, murders are commonplace today, not to mention the murder of babies who have been slaughtered before they even have a chance to be born.

7-Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Adultery is so common place in the 21st century; it is a disgrace to the wedding vows one makes to another.

Don’t tell me that Hollywood does not influence the morals of a nation. Whether we speak of movies at the theaters, programs on the television, “glamorous” magazines or some other avenue, the sexual addiction of Americans is off the charts. We have forgotten the word “commitment” and think marriages should be fairy tales with no wrinkles. Any good marriage requires an attitude of non-selfishness from each spouse and a loving, patient work ethic. In other words, it requires work.

8-Thou shalt not steal.

Thieves are lazy, selfish people who choose to rob from others rather than work for what they have.

Some may make the excuse that theft is increasing because of the failing economy. I don’t buy it. There is no excuse to take anything that does not belong to us.

Breaking into someone’s house or stealing from your employer are not the only ways of stealing however. For example, those collecting money under false pretenses are stealing. Cheating on a test is stealing. Whatever the method, God says don’t do it.

9-Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The neighborhood fence knows no strangers, and neither does the office water cooler. This is usually called “gossip.” For many, it is considered a harmless pastime, but God sees it differently. My Mother used to tell us children, “If you can’t say something good about someone, then don’t say anything at all.”

10-Thou shalt not covet.

This commandment addresses the god of greed that I mentioned in the first commandment. As much as I have tried, I can’t think of a sin that doesn’t involve greed in some way. Greed is either right up front or at least hiding in the shadows. Why is that? Greed and covetousness are the same. Greed is all about me. I want to be satisfied. I put “me” first. No one else matters, but me.

Through greed:

1.     I’ll have any god I choose.

2.     I’ll worship any idol that suits me.

3.     I have no respect for God’s name, and will use it to be “cool.”

4.     I have no time for God.

5.     My parents just hold me back.

6.     They deserve to die. They offended me.

7.     I have a right to fulfill my desires.

8.     I’ll take it. They won’t miss it.

9.     They offended me, so I’ll destroy their name.

10.   I deserve what you have.

That’s greed, covetousness. With greed, I can easily break all Ten Commandments and not break a sweat, because I only care about “numero uno.”

A smart aleck Pharisee lawyer asked Jesus which was the great commandment in the law? Here’s how it went:

“34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 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. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Only God could come up with that answer. Think about it. If we love God with all our heart, soul and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves, that is the Law. Truly, on this statement of Jesus hang all the law and the prophets. (By the way, when He said “the law and the prophets” He was referring to the entire Old Testament. The New Testament had not been written at that time.)

Okay … are we feeling overwhelmed yet? We have briefly looked at ten specific commands that God says we must keep. He goes on to say, that if we break just one, we are guilty of all (James 2:10). Then Jesus recaps these commands by saying, “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 neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Obviously none of us are able to keep the Law. Is there any hope for us? One reason that God gave us the Ten Commandments is to show us that we cannot keep them. We all have broken them and have been found guilty by God’s Law. The penalty is death, physically and spiritually. The final point of incarceration is the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15). We need a Savior. We cannot keep Exodus 20:1-17 and we cannot keep Matthew 22:37-40.

“Okay, I can’t keep these commands. So what do I do now?” I didn’t think you would ever ask.

The only way for mankind to be free from the judgment and penalty of the Law is to be judged innocent by the Law. That will never happen. It is impossible, unless someone who is absolutely perfect, has never broken the Law but has kept the Law to perfection would take our place. Only God Himself could do that, and that is exactly what happened on the cross.

If you will believe in Jesus, He will save you. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The Law, which is good, nevertheless reminds us of our sinful unworthiness, but Jesus paid for our sins upon the cross and cleanses those who come to Him. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” (Colossians 2:14)

Once you are His, born again, He will seal you with His own Spirit.

“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 1:22) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Having sealed you as one of His own, He guarantees you, by His own Spirit that you will always belong to Him. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

Now that we are His, for those who have come to Him in faith, He wants us obey His commands by, “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” and our neighbor as our self.