The Ten Commandments (or is it ten suggestions)
Though the majority of members in churches claiming to follow Jesus Christ know there are Ten Commandments when asked what they are, many probably couldn’t tell you what each one was. There is also confusion as to what the Christian’s obligation, if any, is to follow them.
In the Holy Bible in John 5:39 Jesus said:
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Jesus was speaking of the Old Testament; no books of the New Testament had been written at that time.
The Holy Scriptures are the revelation of God’s will for His people on this earth. As such, they are a type of contract. Any religion that correctly claims to be a Christian religion must agree with the whole revelation of correct doctrine revealed in the Scriptures. In Malachi 3:6 God said, “I change not.” The Ten Commandments written by the finger of God on stone are not going to change.
In 1 Corinthians 10:4 the Apostle Paul said regarding the children of Israel that “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
If the Holy Scriptures are meant to guide Christians into safe paths it goes without saying that Satan would try to corrupt them. In Acts 20:29-30 Paul said:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
Unless otherwise noted, all texts are taken from the King James Bible.
By way of review, the Ten Commandments as found in Exodus 20:3-17 are as follows:
1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
If asked, most Christians would agree that one should keep all of the commandments but think that God changed the day of worship from the seventh day to the first day of the week. It is commonly thought that the fourth commandment was only for the Jews.
2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or in the earth beneath or 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 to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”
3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
4. “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 maidservant, nor thy 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.”
5. “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”
6. “Thou shalt not kill.”
7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
8. “Thou shalt not steal.”
9. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
10. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
There is a distinction between the moral law found in the Ten Commandments and the ceremonial law also found in the Old Testament. I don’t know how to put it any simpler than this. The ceremonial laws pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin. After Christ’s sacrifice, there was no longer anything that the sacrifice of a goat or calf needed to point forward to. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the ceremonial law but you will find no place in the Holy Bible where there is approval to keep on sinning and transgressing the Ten Commandments or any other part of the moral law. If you transgress the moral law, i.e., the Ten Commandments, confess the sin to God and repent. Christ’s blood completely pardons you from sin but you are also to be converted (born again) and cease from violating God’s law.
You are saved by grace through faith and kept by grace through faith, but if you love the Lord, you will keep His commandments. John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Some are of the opinion that the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets were done away in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:7-14) and that they are not a part of New Testament salvation. Since some believe the Ten Commandments only apply to the Jews we need to consider Scripture written to Christians after Christ’s sacrifice. James 2:11 says, “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” The Apostle James believed there was still a “law” to be obeyed. Romans 5:13 says, “(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed where there is no law.” In 1 John 3:4 it says, “Whosoever commiteth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Without question there is a “law” Christians are expected to obey. Revelation 21:22 says regarding the holy city that “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Under the “gotten saved” theory, once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can work abomination or even lie and still be admitted to the holy city; the Bible does not support that theory.
Some have been confused by Romans 13:9, which lists some the moral commandments of the Decalogue which are still incumbent on a Christian. Since the Sabbath isn’t mentioned, some claim it’s not part of the moral law. In Romans 13:9, there is also no mention of commandments 1, 2, 3 and 5 so following that logic, those could be ignored as well.
Colossians 2:16 is sometimes quoted to prove that there is no moral obligation to keep the Sabbath holy. Colossians 2:16 says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” The Israelites were given the Passover and various “holydays” that had specific application to them and the coming of the Messiah. When the Messiah came and was sacrificed, these remnants of the ceremonial law were no longer in effect. They also had various rest days that were called sabbaths in addition to the seventh day Sabbath. Those additional sabbaths were part of the ceremonial law and are not days Christians are commanded to keep holy; they were not part of the Decalogue written on stone with God’s own finger.
For the history of the change of the Lord’s day of worship from the seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday (the venerable day of the sun), go to the next page on this site.
Genesis 2:2-3 says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” God sanctified the Sabbath and would surely have told Adam he did that. After 2,513 years God reminded the Children of Israel to “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
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© Martin J. Lohne 2018.