What good are the Ten Commandments for today?

God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to pass on to the Israelites in ancient times. Are they still relevant now? Well, God’s purpose for giving them then are similar to the purpose they are given now. If the Israelites wanted God to remain in their midst and protect them, prosper their farming, and keep them healthy, then they would show it through obedience to His commandments. Much of the historical portion of the Old Testament shows us what happens to a nation when it strays from God; then God sent prophets to show them the way back (such as by following God’s commandments); he then sent them prosperity when the nation returned to God. Is this something we need to learn of in our land?

Today, the Ten Commandments tell us whether we are loving God His way or not. They show us where are living in disobedience, and thus limiting God’s ability to bless us. The Ten Commandments are excellent to use on the one who does not know God, and to the Christian who has strayed from God to help bring them to repentance in a meaningful way. You can see Jesus using the commandments with the rich young ruler to help show him his covetousness in Mark 10:17-22.

So when we tell the unbeliever some of the Ten Commandments, we show them that they may be righteous in their own eyes, but before God they are fallen in sin, since they are not following God’s laws, and they have nothing to look forward to but eternal punishment. Just as the ancient Israelites brought a lamb to the priest to put away their sin, even so we invite the unbeliever to Jesus, the Lamb of God, who will forgive their sins. The death of the lamb showed us the extreme penalty we deserve for breaking God’s laws; but it also showed us that God accepts a substitute which dies in our place.

If we say that we can’t help but go against these laws because of our very nature, then we should realize the need for a new nature! We need to turn our lives over to God and receive the Holy Spirit, who would then change us into people who willingly follow the commandments of Jesus.

If we Christians find ourselves breaking any of these commandments, then we have found an area in our lives where we are loving ourselves or others more than God. In the same way that a man loving another woman more than his wife commits adultery leading to divorce, even so, loving others or things more than God leads to idolatry and separation from His presence.

First Timothy 1:8-11 tells us that the law is for the rebellious, not for those who are walking in faith and love. When we are living our lives for God in love to him, showing mercy to others, then we are fulfilling all the laws (Galatians 5:14, James 2:13).

Look at the list of commandments, taken from Exodus 20, and see if you are righteous before God:

20:3  Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

20:4  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

20:7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain

20:8  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother.

20:13  Thou shalt not kill.

20:14  Thou shalt not commit adultery.

20:15  Thou shalt not steal.

20:16  Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

20:17  Thou shalt not covet … any thing that is thy neighbor’s.

What do you think?

a. If you went to a foreign land, would you expect to live by its laws, or by your native country’s laws? In the same way, if you were in God’s kingdom, which laws should be upheld most? If you were interested in Heaven, should you be interested in these laws?

b. These laws emphasize how we are to behave before God and people. Therefore God values what above all: our wealth; our recreation; our career; our character.

c. If God required death as the punishment for the sinner, then how great must your punishment be for breaking these laws? How seriously does God take their violation?

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About Steve Husting

Steve Husting lives in Southern California with his wife and son. He enjoys encouraging others through writing, and likes reading, digital photography, the outdoors, calligraphy, and iced coffee. He has written several books and ebooks, and hundreds of Christian devotionals. Steve is also having a great time illustrating God's Word with calligraphy.
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