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Learn, Love and Live by the Ten Commandments

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Question: What’s the longest chapter in the entire Bible? Psalm 119 with 176 verses! Question: What is its subject? Love and reverence for God’s laws and teachings! 

This chapter also has the most complicated structure in the entire Bible, so this masterpiece required a huge amount of time and effort! The author worked long and hard to give top honors to the subject of God’s perfect laws!

The whole Bible emphasizes how God wants all His people, including young children, to learn, love and live by His commandments.

The Number 10

The subject of the Ten Commandments is of supreme importance. Authors have written hundreds of books on the subject. On a scale of 1 to 10, the Ten Commandments are a perfect 10!

The number 10 is a very special number, and it occurs quite often in the Bible. People ordinarily have 10 fingers and 10 toes! The word tithe means tenth. The prefix deca means 10. The prefix deci means tenth. Those prefixes occur in many of our English words. Our decimal numeral system is based on the number 10. The Ten Commandments are often referred to as the Decalogue.  

So the fact that the essential commandments of God, the practical and perfect principles for life, are 10 in number—no more and no less—is awesome.

Miracles Prove the Ten Commandments Are
Super-important!

God used spectacular miracles to emphasize how important the Ten Commandments are! To begin with, God used 10 plagues and many, many other miracles to liberate the whole nation of Israel from Egypt!

Then God led them to Mt. Sinai, the site of the burning bush miracle (Exodus 3:1-12 Exodus 3:1-12 [1] Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. [2] And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the middle of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. [4] And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the middle of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. [5] And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground. [6] Moreover he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look on God. [7] And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; [8] And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good land and a large, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. [9] Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come to me: and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. [10] Come now therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. [11] And Moses said to God, Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? [12] And he said, Certainly I will be with you; and this shall be a token to you, that I have sent you: When you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.
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; 19:1-15). In the morning of what was later called the Feast of Pentecost, there were thunderings, lightnings, a thick cloud and an extremely loud sound of a trumpet (verse 16). Then God descended in blazing fire and smoke as the whole mountain quaked (verse 18). Moses went up the mountain and stayed in the presence of God for 40 days, miraculously fasting from all food and water during that time (Exodus 24:18 Exodus 24:18And Moses went into the middle of the cloud, and got him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.
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; 34:28).

Then God loudly announced all the Ten Commandments so all the Israelites could hear God speaking (Exodus 20:22 Exodus 20:22And the LORD said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.
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; Deuteronomy 4:36 Deuteronomy 4:36Out of heaven he made you to hear his voice, that he might instruct you: and on earth he showed you his great fire; and you heard his words out of the middle of the fire.
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; 5:4, 24-26).

God then wrote all the words on the front and back sides of two tablets of stone—with His finger! (Exodus 32:15 Exodus 32:15And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
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). Probably all Ten Commandments were engraved on each stone. Since this covenant (a type of contract) was between God and Israel, one “copy” would belong to God and the other “copy” would belong to Israel.

When Moses came down from the presence of God, his face shone so brightly he had to put a veil over his face (Exodus 34:29-35 Exodus 34:29-35 [29] And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. [30] And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come near him. [31] And Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him: and Moses talked with them. [32] And afterward all the children of Israel came near: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. [33] And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. [34] But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel that which he was commanded. [35] And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
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).

Israel was later instructed to permanently keep those two “tablets of the covenant” inside the “ark of the covenant” (Exodus 31:18 Exodus 31:18And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him on mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
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; Deuteronomy 9:9 Deuteronomy 9:9When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I stayed in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
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; 10:1-5, 8).

These facts and miracles plus many more demonstrate how God views the Ten Commandments! To summarize, they are God’s royal rules for relationships and lasting success and happiness!

The Ten Commandments Show Us How to Love! 

The whole Bible is God’s love story. Here is an acronym that explains this love: This Book Instructs Believers: Love Everybody! First of all, it’s because God greatly loves us that He gave us His laws to guide and bless us and keep us out of trouble (Psalms 119:105 Psalms 119:105Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
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). Then the first four of the Commandments sum up how we should love God, and the last six of the Commandments sum up how we should love other people! 

We show love for God by not sinning, but what is “sin?” It is the breaking of God’s laws! (Romans 7:7 Romans 7:7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, You shall not covet.
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; 1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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).

When someone asked, “‘Which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-40 Matthew 22:36-40 [36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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).

God first revealed these two great commandments in “the Law and the Prophets,” a phrase that means the Old Testament! Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 Deuteronomy 6:5And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
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and Leviticus 19:18 Leviticus 19:18You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
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.

Notice the word “hang” in Matthew 22:40 Matthew 22:40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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. I imagine you are familiar with mobiles. Imagine a wire labeled “Love” coming down from God that holds a wire cross piece. At one end of the cross piece, a wire hangs down that is labeled “Love God.” At the other end, a wire hangs down labeled “Love People.” Under “Love God,” a cross piece has four wires hanging down that hold the first four of the Ten Commandments. Under “Love People,” a cross piece has six wires hanging down that hold the last six of the Ten Commandments. Then hanging under each of the Ten Commandments is a whole bunch of other spiritual laws. This “mobile” is a good illustration of how God views His commandments.

False Religious Teachings Are Illogical!

God says His precious laws are blessings, not burdens, but because human nature tends to be stubborn and rebellious, many people come up with all kinds of excuses for not obeying God. Furthermore, Satan the devil hates God’s laws, and he does all he can to deceive and destroy people.

Some people have the idea that the Ten Commandments were merely Ten Suggestions! Or that they were only temporary, just meant for Israel in the Old Testament. Or that God changed His mind and decided the Ten Commandments are unnecessary! Those are crazy ideas. Malachi 3:6 Malachi 3:6For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.
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says, “For I the Lord do not change!”

What is logical—what makes sense? God created everything including the laws of science. Everything in our awesome universe—from a giant galaxy to a tiny atom—“obeys” God’s laws of physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, mathematics, etc. If laws are good for everything else, why would laws not be good for human beings?

Think of a parent saying the following to his child: “Because I am loving and merciful, I’m not going to give you any rules. I’ll give you suggestions, but I won’t make you do anything and I won’t stop you from doing anything that is bad.” That would be an awful parent! A wise and loving parent has rules and discipline, but is merciful and forgives when the child is truly sorry for disobeying. Likewise, our heavenly Father has the perfect balance of justice and mercy, of discipline and forgiveness (Hebrews 12:1-11 Hebrews 12:1-11 [1] Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, [2] Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. [3] For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. [4] You have not yet resisted to blood, striving against sin. [5] And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, despise not you the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him: [6] For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives. [7] If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chastens not? [8] But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons. [9] Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they truly for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. [11] Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.
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).  

Some people complain that God’s Commandments are “restrictive,” although there are only 10 of them! The million-plus federal laws and regulations of the United States are collectively way, way more restrictive! And if people would obey the Ten Commandments, we wouldn’t need the countless other laws to try to stop bad behavior! Actually, the Bible calls the Ten Commandments God’s “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25 James 1:25But whoever looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
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; 2:12). People have the greatest freedoms—physically, mentally and spiritually—when they obey God.

Some people complain the Ten Commandments are “negative” because some say, “You shall not . . .” Actually, the commandments are very positive! “You shall not steal” implies that you are free to choose and do zillions of good things that don’t involve stealing!

Some people think, “Jesus kept the Ten Commandments for us so we don’t have to keep them.” That’s ridiculous! Think of a policeman stopping me for running red lights. What if I say this: “Officer, my friend Joe has been stopping at all the red lights in my place so I don’t have to stop for them.” The policeman would think I’m nuts!

It’s true that forgiveness, eternal life and other blessings are gargantuan gifts from God so we cannot earn them by keeping God’s laws. (God offers us “grace,” of which a primary meaning is “gift” and “gifts.”) To illustrate, I can’t expect my city to give me a financial reward because I’ve been obeying the city laws. But if I refuse to obey the city laws, I’ll lose my freedom. I’ll go to jail. Likewise, obeying God won’t earn salvation, but if I kept stubbornly refusing to obey God’s laws, I would end up losing my opportunity for eternal life.

The New Testament Also Teaches Obedience to the Ten Commandments

Jesus Christ taught obedience to the Ten Commandments (Matthew 5:17-28 Matthew 5:17-28 [17] Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. [18] For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. [19] Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. [20] For I say to you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. [21] You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [22] But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [23] Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has ought against you; [24] Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. [25] Agree with your adversary quickly, whiles you are in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver you to the judge, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. [26] Truly I say to you, You shall by no means come out there, till you have paid the uttermost farthing. [27] You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: [28] But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
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; 19:17-19; 23:23; John 14:6 John 14:6Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.
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, 15, 21; 15:10). He also came to earth to be our role model so we can “follow His steps” (Matthew 16:24 Matthew 16:24Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
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; John 10:4 John 10:4And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
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; 1 Corinthians 11:1 1 Corinthians 11:1Be you followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
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; 1 Peter 2:21 1 Peter 2:21For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:
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). We are to be followers and imitators of Christ.

John is known as the “apostle of love,” and he frequently emphasized the true love that includes obeying God’s commandments. For example, see 1 John 2:4-6 1 John 2:4-6 [4] He that said, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [5] But whoever keeps his word, in him truly is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. [6] He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
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; 3:3-8, 22, 24; 5:2-3; 2 John 6; 3 John 11.

Revelation 14:12 Revelation 14:12Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
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identifies the saints as “those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” One of the last verses of the Bible, Revelation 22:14 Revelation 22:14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
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, says, “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life.”

The author of that longest psalm, Psalm 119, wrote: “Oh, how I love Your law!” and “I love Your commandments” (Psalms 119:97 Psalms 119:97O how I love your law! it is my meditation all the day.
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and 127). What a great example for all of us to follow! May each of us become increasingly dedicated to learning, loving and living by God’s wonderful, wonderful Ten Commandments!

In this series the next article will explain the First Commandment of God. Look in the next United News for the next article in this installment. 

Note to Parents Regarding: Ten Commandments Series

With this issue of United News, we begin a series on the Ten Commandments. With the introductory article and a concluding article, we expect 12 installments. To accompany this series, we also highly recommend our United Church of God booklet, The Ten Commandments.

A primary goal is to word each article in ways that are especially clear and easy to understand so young people—teens and children—will find them interesting, memorable and motivational.

Many people have regarded the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy as the most important chapter in all the Old Testament. Why? Because it is mostly about the most valuable treasure you can bequeath to your children—passing the legacy of God’s precious truth to the next generation—about diligently teaching our children to learn, love and live by God’s Word and laws. They are the foundation of knowing right from wrong. They are the fundamentals of good character and godly wisdom. See Psalms 19:7-14 Psalms 19:7-14 [7] The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. [8] The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. [9] The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. [10] More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. [11] Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. [12] Who can understand his errors? cleanse you me from secret faults. [13] Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. [14] Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
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; 111:10; Proverbs 4:1-13 Proverbs 4:1-13 [1] Hear, you children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. [2] For I give you good doctrine, forsake you not my law. [3] For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. [4] He taught me also, and said to me, Let your heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. [5] Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. [6] Forsake her not, and she shall preserve you: love her, and she shall keep you. [7] Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding. [8] Exalt her, and she shall promote you: she shall bring you to honor, when you do embrace her. [9] She shall give to your head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to you. [10] Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of your life shall be many. [11] I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. [12] When you go, your steps shall not be straitened; and when you run, you shall not stumble. [13] Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is your life.
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; Luke 2:52 Luke 2:52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
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.

Your children are your disciples, and God clearly wants you to use the many opportunities each day—on the Sabbath and every day—to teach, model, clarify, apply, illustrate, remind and praise God’s commandments. This is learning by immersion—children being immersed in a family focused on God’s Word. Our ardent desire is to assist you as parents and other family members as you pursue this highest of high priorities.

Deuteronomy 6 follows perfectly after chapter 5 in which Moses repeated the Ten Commandments to remind them to “learn them and be careful to observe them” (Deuteronomy 6;1). And notice God’s passionate plea in verse 29: “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”

Deuteronomy is an awesome sermon in which God places great emphasis on parents—both fathers and mothers—teaching His commandments to their children and grandchildren. See Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Deuteronomy 4:9-10 [9] Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons' sons; [10] Specially the day that you stood before the LORD your God in Horeb, when the LORD said to me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
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, 40; 11:18-21, 26-28, 32; 12:28-32; 31:12-13; 32:45-47; and all of chapters 5 and 6. Children are like sponges. Childhood is the best time to learn and absorb anything. See Proverbs 22:6 Proverbs 22:6Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
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.  

Exactly how parents use these articles depends on the age of each child and other factors. With a very young child, you can use each article as an outline to help you in explaining each commandment in your own words. When the child is a little older, you can read it word-for-word to the child and add your explanations. With a little older child, you can take turns reading it together and discuss it. With a teenager, you can urge him or her to read it, and hopefully you and your teen will spend some time discussing it. See also “The Rewards of Reading Together” at www.ucg.org/the-good-news/the-rewards-of-reading-together.  

Memorizing scriptures is highly valuable for adults and children! See “Your Word I Have Hidden in My Heart” at www.ucg.org/beyond-today/your-word-i-have-hidden-in-my-heart. And family prayer is priceless for several reasons including the reinforcing of family Bible study. See “Teach Your Children How to Pray” at www.ucg.org/the-good-news/teach-your-children-how-to-pray.  

Also, you may reference the Family Study Guides featured on the members’ site. These Family Study Guides just recently went through the Ten Commandments and can help further your discussions with your children. You can access the Family Study Guides here: www.ucg.org/members/family-study-guides.

Of course, we hope that all of our United News subscribers will want to read the articles to better comprehend, contemplate, cherish and commit to God’s holy commandments.

God says, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
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). God’s plan is to rely on parents to help engrave those laws on the hearts of their children. 

This article is part of a series. To read other articles that focus on the Ten Commandments in this series please go to the following website: https://www.ucg.org/tags/the-ten-commandments-series.

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