The Ten Commandments

Although God gave His laws to humankind thousands of years ago, they have decisive relevance in your life today. Learn how.

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My friend Jon decided he could do it. He knew the road—he drove that highway many times. He knew the speed limit—not too fast because of the curves.

He knew the intersection—that familiar railroad crossing. But for some reason, he was sure he could beat the train to that crossing. So he gripped the steering wheel and he decided to go for it.

Has it ever seemed to you as if the rules of the road were more guideline than command? What would the world be like with mere suggestion and not law? Can you beat the train?

Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we examine the significance of law to your life, through the Ten Commandments.

Imagine if you chose not to follow the law. What would happen if you decided you didn't have to obey the road signs? If you thought normal rush hour traffic was bad, imagine what ignoring the traffic laws would bring.

Now what if you decided that the law was done away: government's rules, regulations—I don't have to follow them. They're not helpful but instead they're a hindrance to my freedom. What would happen to the world without law?

I think we get the picture. Pretty difficult place to live—a place without law. And of course, not all man's laws are so good or so helpful, but what about God's laws?

Did God give you laws to keep? Absolutely! Did you know that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of God's law for your life? So why did He give us law? Some think it was to take away all our fun. But Christ said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John:10:10). Now He meant right here, right now, as well as in the future. He gave us the best way to live and the Ten Commandments show the way to the abundant life.

Do you know the Ten Commandments? How many of them can you name? A couple of years ago a survey was conducted, and you know what they found? The vast majority of those surveyed could name the main ingredients in a Big Mac easier than the Ten Commandments.

8 out of 10 surveyed knew that the Big Mac has two all-beef patties. How many do you think knew the commandment to honor your father and mother? Less than half!

Even those who said they go to church at least once a week had trouble naming the Commandments. Less than 7 out of 10 remembered, you shall not steal, but on the other hand, the Big Mac's lettuce on a sesame-seed bun, people recognized that even more than that commandment.

Now if that doesn't surprise you, perhaps this amazing survey will: A while back they surveyed 200 Anglican priests and they asked them to name the Ten Commandments. Do you know how many did it? Surprisingly, only 34% of Anglican priests polled could name all Ten Commandments.

So what about you? Can you name the Commandments? Now some might say: No wonder they can't name them. It's because they're not relevant. They really don't have any meaning for my life today. Now wait a second. That's just not true.

You see, just like traffic signs, God gave His law to protect, to guide, to bless you.

My friend Jon, he didn't have any intention of causing anyone harm. He didn't imagine that pushing the speed limit would have brought such consequences. So when the red lights came on at that railroad crossing, he knew it was going to be close. But he couldn't resist. He had to beat that train. So he gave it the gas. He sped toward that intersection. His car began to cross the tracks and it seemed as though he'd make it. But by the time he realized his mistake, it was too late. The train crushed the back of his car and it caused it to careen out of control. It finally came to a stop, upside down. My friend was gone.

You see the road laws didn't care that he'd driven carefully so many times before and that normally he'd obeyed the speed limits. He didn't get the benefit of the doubt when he misjudged that train. His one mistake cost him everything.

And it's a stark reminder to me. I understand why speed limits and road warnings, they're so valuable—every single day, every single driver, every single situation. If he had just obeyed the signs that day, my friend would still be here.

So here's the connection to the Ten Commandments: Like the laws of the road, like those signs on the highway—they're here to protect you, to keep you safe. Keeping the law of God, developing a relationship with Him, that's really the only way to a long-term happy life for everyone.

Yet today, most of mankind has decided to reject God's commandments. And where has it led us? Has it helped us to discard God's standard? You know I think the answer is evident.

Many years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that just displaying the Ten Commandments on government property, well that's illegal they said. And you know what's ironic? There's a large depiction of Moses with the Ten Commandments in the center of the frieze on the eastern pediment of the Supreme Court building itself. And it may surprise you to know that a statue of Moses bearing the Ten Commandments is in the rotunda of the Library of Congress, right next door to the Supreme Court.

You see that's a reminder that some of America's forefathers knew that good civil law should be based on the ultimate law of God.

God gave us His law. He gave mankind His law thousands of years ago and it should have life-changing relevance right now, right today. God told His people what He expected from them. The way in which they lived their lives, it would show whether they were really God's people or not. Their obedience to His laws would show that they were His, and that they would find favor in His sight and that God would bless them.

He revealed the heart of His standard, the Ten Commandments—long ago at Mount Sinai. But what sets them apart from man's rules? From man's guidelines? Do they really apply to your life today? What do they reveal about God Himself?

If you'd like a deeper understanding, I hope you'll order your free copy of our booklet, The Ten Commandments . This booklet will help you understand what they are and why they're important to you.

So request your free booklet. Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv. That's where you can download it. You can read it right online or order your free copy of The Ten Commandments . And as always, all of our publications are provided free as an educational service.

Do you know the meaning of the Ten Commandments? What's their intent? Do you know why it's necessary to live by them? Go online. Get your copy today.

I'd also like to tell you that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. We'd like to see you there. These are seminars where you'll learn more about the good news that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God and about His commandments.

You don't want to miss these seminars, so go to BeyondToday.tv and look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars " link to register to attend. These are live events and you can attend absolutely free.

Did you know that that the Kingdom of God is the focus of the message that Jesus Himself taught? Most Christian faiths don't recognize or even understand the significance of the Kingdom of God. But it's important for you to learn about Jesus Christ's original message and its meaning for you today.

Now space may be limited, so sign up for the seminars now. Go to BeyondToday.tv , click on the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars" link to register for those seminars.

Now think for just a moment about a different world. One very different from the one we live in right now. Imagine, what if no one ever lied to you or failed to keep their word, and on the other hand they showed real love to others and wanted what was best for you.

What if no one ever cheated on their spouse or walked out on their kids, but instead honored marriage and valued family.

You know, that's the kind of world that would be—if we were all to keep God's commandments.

Now take a look at this short version of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20. If you notice this list, you'll see some pretty amazing things. All 10 of these commandments show the way to live.

1. "You shall have no other gods before Me."

2. "You shall not make for yourself a carved image"  (idols)

3. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain,

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

5. "Honor your father and your mother .

6. "You shall not murder.

7. "You shall not commit adultery.

8. "You shall not steal.

9. "You shall not bear false witness

10. "You shall not covet"

Now, if you imagine the world, imagine what it would be like if everyone determined to follow just one of God's Ten Commandments. What would it be like? Imagine if no one stole— "You shall not steal" Exodus:20:15. What if the world really kept that command? There'd no longer be a need for locks on our doors. You wouldn't have to carry around keys for our houses or for our cars. How about your computer? Security programs, firewalls, virus protection, spam filters—you wouldn't need them anymore. It'd be quite a different world, wouldn't it? Nobody on the job would be embezzling; no one would be stealing things, no theft.

By just observing one of the Ten Commandments that would have a monumental effect on our world, and it would be for good!

So just how important is observing the Ten Commandments?

Well over in Luke:18:18, we read of a ruler who comes to Jesus and asks Him, "What shall I do to obtain eternal life?" Now what did Jesus tell this man about how to be a part of the Kingdom forever? Did He say, don't worry about it because I've done it all for you? No, He didn't say that. Did He say, well just take me in your heart and you'll be saved? No, He didn't say that either. Did He say, you don't have to worry about observing anything? No, He didn't say that either.

When asked how to obtain eternal life, look what Jesus said. He said in verse 20: "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother.'" You see Jesus was quoting the Ten Commandments!

So without a doubt, Christ is telling this young ruler that if he wants to enter into the Kingdom of God, if he wants eternal life, he must obey the commandments. Jesus Christ quoted five of the last six Commandments and then He summed them all up by quoting the command to love our neighbor as well.

Loving our neighbor, that's a summary of the last six of the Ten Commandments. The first four of the Commandments tell us how to love God. This law is the perfect expression of God's eternal spiritual values.

Now some might think, wait a second, I can love Jesus, I can know God without being tied to some old law. Well is that true?

Well in 1 John:2:3 it tells us, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

Now to some, this may be a shocking statement that comes right out of the pages of the Bible. If we don't keep His commandments, a relationship with Jesus Christ will not, it cannot, exist. You cannot know Jesus without keeping His commands. It's not possible.

So in verses 5-6 we read, "By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought [to] himself also to walk just as He walked." And of course, we know how Jesus walked because of what He told that ruler about how to enter the Kingdom. Christ said that there is only one way, and He came and set that example. It's through Jesus Christ. Christ set that example for us to follow and Christ kept the Commandments.

Do you know these 10 amazing laws, Christ even reduced them down to almost a sound bite? In Matthew:22:37, Christ said the first great Commandment—which summarizes the first four Commandments of Exodus 20—is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. And the second—that's a summary of the last six—is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Now this is important: Love is the fulfilling of God's spiritual law. That kind of love expresses itself in worship and proper fear of God and it's an outgoing concern for the welfare of our neighbors.

So if you wanted to summarize what the Commandments are all about, would you say: Restriction? Oh it's about legalism? Control? The Old Covenant? No none of those.

In 1 John:5:3 we're told, "For this is the love of God..." Okay what is the love of God? Well it tells us, "that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." You see that word for "keep" means to attend to carefully, to take care of, to guard, to observe, to preserve. So no wonder we're told that the "doers of the law will be justified" (Romans:2:13).

So you see love defines God's nature, who He is, and the Commandments define love. The Ten Commandments teach us what should be our greatest priority in life because they show us how to love God and how to love people. They're practical. They are a key to having a relationship with our Creator. They provide us a foundation for success, for life. They define right and wrong. They teach us that life is a precious gift and we have to practice that truth of God as our way of life.

The Ten Commandments teach us God's way and we have to keep them.

Now in a moment, we're going to get in-depth with Gary Petty and Darris McNeely about a serious challenge to the Ten Commandments. You won't want to miss it, because there's much to learn about the law of God and how it applies to our lives. And of course we'd like to help you understand in-depth about God's Commandments by offering you The Good News magazine.

The Good News magazine will help you understand what the Bible teaches about love, about relationships, about the Commandments. Every issue contains many articles about questions, vital questions that you've wondered about; marriage and the family, true success. These things are important to you and how you can develop a relationship with your Creator.

The Good News will help you get a handle on what's going on in this crazy world around us and what God has planned for humanity and for you personally.

That's why you need your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632.

Or you can visit us online at BeyondToday.tv . So get your free subscription now.

Well our topic has been the Ten Commandments. How important are they for us? There has been many challenges to the Ten Commandments, so we're going to discuss this a little bit with our fellow hosts of the program Darris McNeely, Gary Petty.

Now when you look at the challenges to the Ten Commandments, most people wouldn't argue with the fact that Jesus came, He showed us how we're supposed to worship God. But the catch then, one of the challenges, is that most Christians would argue with the fact that to follow Jesus, to honor God, you really don't have to keep the law. So how would you answer that?

[Darris] I think it's very simple, the answer Steve. One need go no further than their own Bible to look at Christ's direct statements about the law. Christ never passed up an opportunity to uphold the law of God. He said, in what is called the Sermon on the Mount, He said that, think not that I have come to destroy the law. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill the law. And reputable Bible scholars understand that that is not in anyway talking about doing away with our obligation to keep the law.

On another occasion, a rich young ruler came to Christ and said what must I do to inherit eternal life? And Christ said, if you'll enter into life, keep the Commandments. So Christ's teaching went from there. He upheld the Sabbath. He upheld all aspects of the law of God especially the Ten Commandments. They were not done away with by anything that Christ said, anything that He taught or by any aspect of His personal example. They upheld them completely.

[Steve] So they didn't say pick and choose the ones you like and just keep those ones…

[Darris] No.

{Gary] No. It's interesting. Jesus said, they asked Him, which was the most important laws in the Old Testament—what we call the Old Testament. And He said love God with all your heart, and all your mind, might, and all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself. Well when we look at the Ten Commandments, the Ten Commandments actually give us a detailed outline of how to begin to do those two things: love God and love our neighbor.

Now most Christians don't have a problem with the six of them; don't steal, don't murder. People aren't going to argue that. It's the first four they have problems with, how to love God; taking God's name in vain, using idols, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. Christians want to reject that as a way that God wants to be loved and so what we really have here is when Christians start rejecting the Ten Commandments, they're actually rejecting the first four which has to do with their personal relationship with God.

[Steve] So in a way it almost comes down to if you love God, this is what you do.

[Gary] This is how you do it. That's right.

[Steve] And so if we reject those Commandments, are we taking that responsibility ourselves saying, well I'm going to decide how to love God because...

[Darris] ...Which is something God never gives to us. Never is given to any man the prerogative to decide for himself how he will worship God, how he will obey Him. It's just not in God's, in the Bible at all.

[Steve] Yeah, I think people forget, He's the Creator. He has the right to say how He wants to be loved. How He wants to be honored and how He wants to be worshiped. And I think we forget those direct, plain statements. If you love me, keep my commandments. How do you deal with that if you try to ignore it? You're saying well, He's not my savior. He's not my king. He's not my ruler. He doesn't rule my life because I don't want to do those things. And yet He set that example that that's what we need to follow. And yet so much of the time, we don't see that direct connection between following God, obeying what He says, because that's the best way to live. That's the best way to live and so it's amazing that we forget that.

And I think part of that is that other big challenge. That other big challenge to the Commandments is this term grace. Because so many Christians and so many denominations teach that we're under grace and so I don't really have to obey any law. I don't have to follow law. And so how would you explain that? That connection there?

[Darris] Well that's a big subject. Grace is...we could almost do a whole program on grace. Maybe someday we will. But, what trips people up is they get into this conundrum that it's either grace or law.

[Steve] One or the other.

[Darris] One of the other. Grace verses law, and it's really, they both work together. Grace has to do with God's favor, His pardon, His relationship with us. Paul, the apostle Paul, always would write may the grace of God be with you. And we read of that in many different contexts within the Scriptures. Grace is this condition of our relationship with God that is, that is His favor, and His love for us, but what people don't realize is that relationship and that grace is based upon principles and it's like the Commandments, or the wheels and the cogs that within this overarching relationship of grace, that make that grace work in our relationship with God, in our relationships with one another. And that law of God is what really makes it work and helps to create the conditions of that grace and that relationship we have with God.

[Gary] You know one of the easiest ways to look at the relationship between grace and law is that they're not opposites. Look at this it this way. We're in a pig sty and we don't know how to get out of it. We don't even know we're supposed to get out of it. And there we are and we're living in this muck, and we're eating with the pigs and God comes along, sticks out His hand and says, I can get you out of this. Now that's grace. Because we don't even know how to get out ourselves. He takes us out. He cleans us off. That's total grace. That's favor from Him. And then He gives us a set of rules and says this is how to keep you from getting back into the pig sty and which that case we begin to understand that the Ten Commandments,  the giving of those, was an act of grace. It was an act of favor from God because those things keep us from going back into the pig sty.

[Steve] And that way we can stay out of it. We're not going to get near it again because God is saying this is the way. This is the way to be happy. This is the way to live.

You know there's so much meaning, spiritual, deep meaning in the Ten Commandments. So I hope you'll remember our free offers because this will help you really dig out that deep meaning. They're designed to help you as you study. So this booklet, The Ten Commandments will really help you grasp the truth, the deep meaning of the law of God and our amazing Creator and why you need a relationship with Him. It's something you'll definitely want to learn about.

And don't forget to request your free subscription to The Good News magazine. This unique magazine will help you recognize what's going on in our world, how it relates to the Bible and to your life. It will truly help you understand God's purpose for you.

So here's how to order. Get your booklet, get your subscription online BeyondToday.tv . You can go there, download it, request your hard copy, use our online form. Or you can call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632 and request both these publications.

And we provide them all free of charge as an educational service. So go online and request your free subscription.

And remember, that the United Church of God is holding free Bible seminars in cities across the United States and around the world. You won't want to miss these seminars about the good news that Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God.

So I'd like you to go to BeyondToday.tv , look for the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars" link to register to attend. These are live events and you can attend absolutely free.

They are important! Very important sessions that you won't want to miss because the Kingdom of God is the focus of the message that Jesus Himself taught. It's your opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ's original message and what it means for you today.

Go to BeyondToday.tv . Click on the "Kingdom of God Bible Seminars" link.

Now when you're online, you can also leave us a comment or you can ask us a question. In fact, we received a question from Rob who wrote us from our Beyond Today Web contact page and he asked the question: "What did Christ mean when He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets...but to fulfill?" (Matthew:5:17).

Well thanks for the question Rob! What exactly did Jesus mean? It's an interesting subject because when you look into what that word "fulfill" means, it's translated from the Greek, and it can actually mean to complete or accomplish. But did you know it can also mean to fill to the full. So which of those is correct?

Well I think you can answer that question by looking at Jesus' complete statement. He said, "I did not come to destroy but to fulfill."

The meaning of the word "destroy" is to abrogate; to deny Divine authority; to set men free from the obligation to obey them. Or in other words, Christ didn't mean to set men free from their obligation to law (Barnes' Commentary) .

So when you interpret "to fulfill" to mean that Christ came to end the Law or the Prophets, when in the same breath, He said that He didn't come to end them, that doesn't make any sense! But, the meaning fill to the full does make sense.

So Jesus' complete statement in Matthew:5:17, it really means, I didn't come to do away with the Law or the Prophets, but rather I came to uphold them in everything I say and do.

You see Christ came to give full meaning to the Commandments, their spiritual meaning, and to show how they should be obeyed.

So remember, for more insight, remember to order our booklet The Ten Commandments. It will really help you with practical insight of how God's law relate to your everyday life.

Love—that's what it's about. Love is the foundation of the character of God and the law of God. Jesus told His disciples, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love." 

So if you want a different outlook, a new perspective on life—start by living this kind of love—observing the Commandments of God. Learn about them. Show your love to God. Put them into practice.

Thanks for joining me today. If you missed some of today's program, you can go online and catch the entire program at BeyondToday.tv. Don't forget our free offers and be sure and tell your family and friends about us. And may we all continue to pray, "Your Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Steve Myers.


David L. Nunn

David L. Nunn's picture

Too many so called "Christian" churches erroneously teach that grace excuses repentance/commandment keeping. Yet, the Truth is that God's grace is given (only) to those who repent from sin. Grace follows repentance. Acts 3:19; Ps. 84:11. Thanks for an excellent program setting the record straight.

Another excellent United Church of God publication on this subject is the free booklet: "The New Covenant: Does it Abolish God's Law?"




Derek Strauss

Derek Strauss's picture

I love the Grace analogy of us living in the pig sty and God offering us a way out: also, the notion that God giving us the 10 Commandments is in itself an act of His Grace! It's Grace and Law, not Grace or Law!!
Next, we need to learn to live like Jesus did and extend grace to others; living graciously should be a hallmark of all Christians.




Denise Crosby

Denise Crosby's picture

Just want to say this is an excellent program about the Ten Commandments. Keep up the good work of telling it like it really is.



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