The Ten Commandments
July 7, 1996
Scripture: Exodus 20:1-17
Murphy's Law seems humorous to us because of its adverse viewpoint on how things sometimes seem to always work against us, almost to the point of being natural principle. It would be sad if that were really true. We would have no hope. But God's laws actually work for us even though they may condemn our behavior and attitude. They were given by God for the following reasons:
1. The Law shows us our guilt before God and stops us from attempting to justify ourselves:
# Rom 3:19 ¶ Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
2. The Law brings us to the knowledge of sin:
# Rom 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
3. The Law defines sin and shows us the depth of sin:
# Rom 7:7 ¶ What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet."
4. The Law was designed for the very purpose of being a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ:
# Gal 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
John Wesley said, "Before I can preach love, mercy, and grace, I must preach sin, Law, and judgment." In writing to a young friend, he went so far as to advise, "Preach 90% Law and 10% grace."
Charles Spurgeon, the 'Prince of Preachers,' also used the Law of God to bring conviction toward repentance and salvation. He preached, "But more, there is war between thee and God's Law. The Ten Commandments are against thee. The first comes forward and says, 'Let him be cursed, for he denies Me. He has another god besides Me, his god is his belly, he yieldeth homage to his lust.' All the Ten Commandments, like ten great cannons, are pointed at thee today, for you have broken all God's statutes, and lived in daily neglect of all His commands. Soul! thou wilt find it a hard thing to go to war with the Law---What will ye do when the Law comes in terror, when the trumpet of the archangel shall tear you from your grave, when the eyes of God shall burn their way into your guilty soul, when the great books shall be opened, and all your sin and shame shall be punished?'
Such preaching is not popular today. It seems that people demand to be wooed into submission before Almighty God and that the Church has no right to tell it like it is, that we are all sinners---woeful, hopelessly lost, pitiful sinners---reserved for the burning fires of hell except for the matchless love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. But our condition drives us to Him to cry out, "What must I do to be saved?" The Bible says in Rom. 10:13 that, "All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." With all his strength and emotion, a drowning man calls for help---he doesn't whisper. If he doesn't realize he is drowning, he won't call out. In the same way, only those who see themselves drowning in their sins cry out, "God have mercy upon me!"
Spurgeon said, "They must be slain by the Law before they can be made alive by the gospel!" D.L. Moody said, "The Law was given not to save men, but to measure them. The Law was never meant for men to save themselves by, but to show us ourselves in our true colors."
It is this Law which Ezra read in Neh. 8 before the hearing of all the people as they stood assembled as one man in the square before the Water Gate inside the newly rebuilt walls of Jerusalem that Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king, returned from exile to rebuild against impossible odds. There the people wept with both repentance and joy as they experienced revival under the reading, and the conviction, of the Law. Neither should we ever forget these "words spoken by God" to His people. They are as valid today as then for any people who would please God and know peace. The whole purpose of the Law was to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:19-25) for the forgiveness of sin through faith and repentance because none of us are able to keep the Law without Him.
The Ten Commandments were proclaimed about three days after Israel's arrival at Mount Sinai in the third month after their departure from Egypt. Historically, the Jews celebrate this giving of the Law at the time of Pentecost, which for N.T. Christians was the birth of the Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is significant because through the Holy Spirit, the Law is now written on our hearts rather than on tablets of stone, 2Cor. 3:3. For the N.T. Christian, love is the highest expression of the Law whereby by willingly obey God primarily because we love Him rather than just because we fear Him (1John 4:18, 5:3; Rom. 8:4) as predicted by the New Covenant promise of Jer.31:33.
# Jer 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
The N.T. frequently draws on the Ten Commandments for its moral teaching, whether as a quotation or as a framework, and treats it as fulfilled, but not set aside, by love. The Mosaic ritual laws which attended the Ten Commandments are shown to be superceded and the administrative details of the O.T. are not carried over into the New Covenant. So the Ten Commandments retain their force but stand clear of their supporting regulations.
The voice of God announced these words in the hearing of the whole assembly and the finger of God inscribed them on both sides of two stone tablets which Moses received on the mountain, forty days after the making of the covenant. The original tablets were broken by Moses upon discovery of the people's quick return to idolatry, but God reaffirmed the covenant, inscribing the Ten Commandments again Himself on two fresh tablets prepared by Moses. In time, the tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant.
In this "Sinaitic Covenant," God gives a conditional pledge to be Israel's God if they will totally consecrate themselves to Him as His people who live by His rule and serve His purposes in history, Ex. 19:5-8. In this passage, God poses the question and the people answer affirmatively.
# Ex 19:5-8 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,
6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.
8 The people all responded together, "We will do everything the LORD has said." So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
The Ten Commandments summarize all the requirements of the Law given to Moses by God. All the commands are spoken to the individual. As to their demands on the person addressed, the 1st, 5th, and 10th concern our inner commitment and attitudes, and the remainder safeguard the practical expression of them in the spheres of worship and society.
I. Right Relations With God (Godward commands #1-3)
[Love toward God - First great commandment, Mk. 12:30]
1 ¶ And God spoke all these words:
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Positive)
The first command, indeed the whole series, rests on this statement about the Lord: who He is, whose He is, and what He has done. "I am" precedes and underlies "You shall."
A. The First Commandment (Negative)
["Love the Lord your God with all your heart." God must be pre-eminent in our desire.]
3 "You shall have no other gods before me.
1. This commandment discusses the object of worship as Yahweh alone.
2. God is saying that we shall not prefer other gods to Him, and that He will not give His glory to another (Is. 42:8).
3. All that Yahweh is, says, and does is embodied in this one affirmation, "I am Yahweh." The rest of the statement, "who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery," is one of the great formulas of Scripture used 125 times to describe the character and graciousness of God.
B. The Second Commandment (Negative - with a warning)
["Love the Lord your God with all your soul." God must be pre- eminent in our devotion.]
1. This commandment discusses the manner of worship.
4 "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.
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,
2. The precept: we are commanded not to offer religious worship to false deities because God is jealous. This means that He demands exclusive devotion, will direct anger against all who oppose Him, and reveals the energy of His character He expends in setting His people apart for His own glory. All idolatry is spiritual adultery to the honor, glory, and esteem due unto God and will excite His zealousness for the consistency of His own character and being. Every form of substitution, neglect, or contempt, both public and private, for the worship of God is rejected in this commandment. Absolutely anything we could worship besides God would be a created thing (Rom. 1:25).
punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. The penalty: children who repeat the sins of their fathers evidence it in personally hating God, so they too are punished like their fathers. The effects of disobedience last for some time, but the love of God, "to a thousand generations," endures far beyond the effects of disobedience by drawing toward Him all those who would realize His love and love Him in return by obeying Him.
C. The Third Commandment (Negative - with a warning)
["Love the Lord your God with all your mind." God must be pre-eminent in our depiction.]
7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
II. Right Relations in the Worship of God (Godward command #4)
[Love toward God - First great commandment, Mk. 12:30]
A. The Fourth Commandment (Positive - with exposition)
["Love the Lord your God with all your strength." God must be pre-eminent without distraction.]
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 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.
11 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.
1. This connects the two great commandments, showing that what is God's due is also our neighbor's blessing as they rest along with us, also having opportunity to worship God and to receive blessing.
2. The Sabbath is the sign of this Sinaitic Covenant, Ex. 31:13.
3. Dt. 5:15 also bears witness of the context of slavery which God delivered Israel from when they had no freedom from work in which to worship God.
III. Right Relations With Society (Manward commands #5-10)
[Love toward others, - Second great commandment, Mk. 12:31]
A. The Fifth Commandment (Positive - with a promise)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by honoring the primary earthly authority He created to be placed over us.]
12 ¶ "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
B. The Sixth Commandment (Negative)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by not taking human life that He created into our own hands.]
13 "You shall not murder.
C. The Seventh Commandment (Negative)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by not violating the pattern and privilege He gave us for reproducing His created order.]
14 "You shall not commit adultery.
D. The Eighth Commandment (Negative)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by not failing to trust that He will provide for the needs of us whom He has created.]
15 "You shall not steal.
E. The Ninth Commandment (Negative)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by not failing to foster trust in the government He instituted for His created society.]
16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
F. The Tenth Commandment (Negative - with exposition)
["Love your neighbor as yourself." God must be pre-eminent in our participation with the community of His created order. We must honor God by not failing to believe that He Himself as our Creator will fulfill our deepest desires more than anything He has created.]
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."
1. The Ten Commandments begin and end with matters of the heart.
2. The Law was put into place to reveal sin as a matter of the heart before God, Rom. 5:13; 7:7-13. (Illus. about parking meter installed after car was parked and a ticket was incurred.)
3. To break one law is to break them all, James 2:10. There can be no favorites. (Illus. about ten link chain - break one, break the whole.)
4. In context with the Ten Commandments, to break any breaks the greatest which is to have no other gods. They all come down to following selfish interest rather than Godly devotion.
5. The Rich Young Man in Mt. 19:18 asked "Which ones?" to Jesus' statement that the commandments must be kept in order to obtain eternal life. He answered affirmative to all the commands toward others but was exposed on his love for another god, the god of possesions. His concern for others was merely a front for his selfish interest.
6. The Ten Commandments are to the Law as the Lord's Prayer is to prayer. There were many laws given by God just as there are many things to pray about, but God gave us a summary into which all else fits. Jesus distilled it even further into two laws of which the first was the greatest without compromising or leaving out any of them. They all fit under having (and loving) no other god but God. Anything besides God is not God for God created all things.
7. The NT indwelling of the H.S. supercedes all law as believers, through faith in Christ now have His law on their hearts to obey in love. Without the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, the requirements of the Law would consume us before the holy zeal of God's righteousness. The Law is a brushfire that quickly and mercilessly bears down on us for destruction, but Christ is the "burned over" place that disarms it.
40 Q What did God reveal to man for the rule of his obedience?
A The rule which God first revealed to man for his obedience,
is the moral law,
# De 10:4 Mt 19:17
which is summarised in the ten commandments.
41 Q What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A The sum of the ten commandments is to love the Lord our God
with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and
with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves.
# Mt 22:37-40
42 Q Which is the first commandment?
A The first commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods
43 Q What is required in the first commandment?
A The first commandment requires us to know
# 1Ch 28:9
and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God,
# De 26:17
and to worship and glorify him accordingly.
# Mt 4:10
44 Q Which is the second commandment?
A The second commandment is, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any
graven image, or any likeness of any thing 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."
45 Q What is required in the second commandment?
A The second commandment requires the receiving, observing,
# De 32:46 Mt 28:20
and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances
as God has appointed in his Word.
# De 12:32
46 Q What is forbidden in the second commandment?
A The second commandment forbids the worshipping of God
# De 4:15,16
or any other way not appointed in his Word.
47 Q Which is the third commandment?
A The third commandment is, "Thou shalt not take the name of
the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless
that takes his name in vain."
48 Q What is required in the third commandment?
A The third commandment requires the holy and reverent
use of God's names,
# Ps 29:2
# Re 15:3,4
# Ec 5:1
# Ps 138:2
# Job 36:24 De 28:58,59
49 Q Which is the fourth commandment?
A 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 they 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."
50 Q What is required in the fourth commandment?
A The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such
set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole
day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself.
# Le 19:30 De 5:12
51 Q How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that
day, even from such worldly employments and recreations
as are lawful on other days,
# Le 23:3
and spending the whole time in the public and private
exercises of God's worship,
# Ps 92:1,2 Isa 58:13,14
except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
# Mt 12:11,12
52 Q Which is the fifth commandment?
A The fifth commandment is, "Honour thy father and thy mother:
that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
53 Q What is required in the fifth commandment?
A The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honour, and
performing the duties belonging to every one in their various
positions and relationships as superiors,
# Eph 5:21,22 6:1,5 Ro 13:1
# Eph 6:9
# Ro 12:10
54 Q What is the reason annexed to the fifth commandment?
A The reason annexed to the fifth commandment is, a promise of
long life and prosperity -- as far as it shall serve for God's glory,
and their own good -- to all such as keep this commandment.
# Eph 6:2,3
55 Q Which is the sixth commandment?
A The sixth commandment is, "Thou shalt not kill."
56 Q What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life,
# Ac 16:28
or the life of our neighbour unjustly,
# Ge 9:6
or whatever tends to it.
# Pr 24:11,12
57 Q Which is the seventh commandment?
A The seventh commandment is, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
58 Q What is forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A The seventh commandment forbids all unchaste thoughts,
# Mt 5:28 Col 4:6
# Eph 5:4 2Ti 2:22
# Eph 5:3
59 Q Which is the eighth commandment?
A The eighth commandment is, "Thou shalt not steal."
60 Q What is forbidden in the eighth commandment?
A The eighth commandment forbids whatever does or may unjustly
hinder our own,
# 1Ti 5:8 Pr 28:19 21:6
or our neighbour's wealth, or outward estate.
# Eph 4:28
61 Q Which is the ninth commandment?
A The ninth commandment is, "Thou shalt not bear false witness
against thy neighbour."
62 Q What is required in the ninth commandment?
A The ninth commandment requires the maintaining and promoting
of truth between man and man,
# Zec 8:16
and of our own,
# 1Pe 3:16 Ac 25:10
and our neighbour's good name,
# 3Jo 1:12
especially in witness-bearing.
# Pr 14:5,25
63 Q What is the tenth commandment?
A The tenth commandment is, "Thou shalt not covet thy
neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,
nor his manservant, or his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass,
nor anything that is thy neighbour's."
64 Q What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own
# 1Co 10:10
envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour,
# Ga 5:26
and all inordinate emotions and affections to anything that is his.
# Col 3:5
65 Q Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A No mere man, since the fall, is able in his life perfectly to
keep the commandments of God,
# Ec 7:20
but does daily break them in thought,
# Ge 8:21
# Jas 3:8
# Jas 3:2
66 Q Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
A Some sins in themselves, and by reason of various aggravations,
are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
# Joh 19:11 1Jo 5:15
67 Q What does every sin deserve?
A Every sin deserves God's wrath and curse, both in this life
and that which is to come.
# Eph 5:6 Ps 11:6
68 Q How may we escape his wrath and curse due to us for sin?
A To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, we
must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
# Joh 3:16
trusting alone to his blood and righteousness. This faith is
attended by repentance for the past
# Ac 20:21
and leads to holiness in the future.
69 Q What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace,
# Heb 10:39
whereby we receive,
# Joh 1:12
and rest upon him alone for salvation,
# Php 3:9
as he is set forth in the gospel.
# Isa 33:22
70 Q What is repentance to life?
A Repentance to life is a saving grace,
# Ac 11:18
whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sins,
# Ac 2:37
and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ,
# Joe 2:13
does with grief and hatred of his sin turn from it to God,
# Jer 31:18,19
with full purpose to strive after new obedience.
# Ps 119:59