The 10 Commandments Gets A Bad Rap

(This post was written by Gina McClain, Director of Children’s Ministries)

I think the 10 Commandments get a bad rap.  Non-believers view them as restrictive.  Believers view them as outdated.  The ACLU views them a downright violation. 

You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself any carved image…
You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…
Observe the Sabbath day…as the Lord your God commanded you…
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you…
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

We read about people in the Bible that lived a life of radical adherence to the 10 Commandments (+700 other rules that were added. A.k.a. “the Law”).  These were men Jesus called out in the scriptures referring to them as white-washed tombs… pretty on the outside but dead on the inside.  We read in Matthew 22 where a well-educated man asks Jesus of all the Commandments in “the Law” which is the most important.  Jesus responds by saying, “Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… And love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus didn’t even quote one of the direct Commandments.  It’s almost as if He was negating the whole thing!  This well-educated man (and the crowd around Jesus) knew “the Law”.  He knew all of the Commandments.  And it’s almost as if Jesus disregarded the Commandments entirely by not quoting one of the 10.

But interestingly, that’s not the case.  Understanding the purpose of the 10 Commandment is critical to understanding why God gave them to us in the first place.  From the outset, the Commandments were intended to redirect our attention toward God.

Don’t steal!  I am the Lord, your God, and I will provide for you.  Don’t take from someone else.  Come to me.  I am your provision.

Observe the Sabbath.  Take one day in seven, focus on Me, rest in Me and I will give your spirit rest.  I will renew your strength.  Don’t attempt to do this without me.

You shall put no other gods before me.  Make Me the priority.  I am that I am.  And you need nothing else.  I created you to need only what I provide.

You shall not bear false witness… Don’t lie!  You are created in my Image.  You have my Character.  I am Truth.  I don’t just tell the truth.  I am Truth.  Telling a lie is contrary to who I created you to be.

The 10 Commandments were given to us to remind us to focus on God.  To look to Him for everything.  To make Him the priority in our lives and not to depend on anything else.  In other words…

Love Me with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.  Love Me with all that you have.

And (btw) love your neighbor as much as you love yourself… Tell them about Me so they too can do what they were created to do.  Love Me with everything they have.

I think the 10 Commandments still have a place in our lives as something that helps us see the areas of our lives where we fail to make God the priority.  The Law cannot redeem us from our sin, but it certainly helps us to recognize our sin.  When we recognize our sin, then we can call on the saving grace of Christ for redemption.