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Should We Ignore The Ten Commandments?

Vanessa Luu

Contributing Writer
Published Jul 05, 2023
Should We Ignore The Ten Commandments?

I think I was in high school when my mom told me that our nation was attempting to remove God from our schools and government buildings. Being raised in a Christian home, I thought this was a stupid idea, but I also knew that physically removing the Ten Commandments wouldn’t remove God. This once great nation under God has grown more foolish over the years. Many professing Christians believe the Ten Commandments are outdated because of the new covenant given to us by the blood of Christ Jesus. When asked what the greatest commandment of the Law is, Jesus responded with quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 (both books from the Old Testament). 

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and He used scriptures from the Pentateuch (or Torah), otherwise known as the Law, to do so. The new covenant, with only two commands, was taken from the original ten commandments. So, to disregard them is not the best idea.

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Man holding a Bible; The Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments

In chapter 20 of Exodus, we are given the ten commandments for the first time. As you will soon see, the ten commandments are not just a simple list of rules. God gave great detail and numerous examples in a single commandment for the good of the sons of Israel. God has called me to show people the relevance of His word in our modern world. The Old Testament (in particular) is not to be thrown out the window. The two main areas of focus in everything I write intend for the reader to get to know God better (to find the character of God between the pages of the Bible) and to see the relevance of the scripture in our lives.

God shines through every page of the Old Testament; we need to know Him to love Him truly. How can you love someone you don't know? My goal is to highlight the core of each Commandment and how our obedience to these commandments is for the good of all mankind. In Exodus 20:1 and 20:22, God followed the same format. He reminded Moses (and the people) of who He was and what He had done before giving them their next set of commands to help them keep their promise. God always follows this format if you flip back through this entire story. His consistency builds my confidence that He is the God I can trust.

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Hands raised in worship outside; the first and second commandments.

The First and Second Commandments

The first command is to have no other gods. Coming from Egypt, the sons of Israel were aware of many gods because they lived under the rule of the Egyptians, who worshiped several gods. God was making it clear that He was the only God worthy of praise. The second command sounds very similar to the first. 

"You shall not make for yourself an idol, "or any likeness of what is in heaven above, on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth." (v.4). 

Idols and false gods seem very similar. Anything can be made into an idol, whereas false gods had already been established. So, God spent time ensuring they understood what He meant so that no one had any wiggle room. Idols can be false gods, but they can also be anything God has created, and God was clearly saying no to this. Surrendering yourself is the first step in honoring God. I believe that's why God delivered the command to worship only Him and have no other idols first. God knows we can't love Him with other gods or idols in our way. There's no point in worrying about the rest of the commandments if we can't even do the first two. Remember, the new covenant with Jesus is similar to these first two commandments.

If we can follow the first two commands of the Old Testament, we are more inclined to follow the rest because our focus is on God and nothing else. It's the same with the new covenant. If we can follow even the first command (Matthew 22:37), "to love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND." Then we are positioned in the right place to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). It makes so much sense!

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Woman reading her Bible; the third commandment.

The Third Commandment

How often have you heard people use the Lord's name in vain? Have you done it yourself? This third command, you shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, comes with a promise. The Lord promises that those who use His name in vain will be punished. God's name is not to be used improperly or insincerely. You are not to make promises by it, especially promises you do not intend to keep. Movies and TV shows use God's name in vain at an increasing rate, which boggles my mind. Hollywood loves to push God out of our lives or mock Him claiming He doesn't exist, yet they can't stop saying His name! It's always rubbed me wrong, perhaps because the Holy Spirit lives inside me. The things that bother God bother me. 

Too often, we disregard God's ten commandments and appeal to His loving-kindness, but to my heart and ears, that sounds like taking advantage of someone we're supposed to love. We've all done this to someone, I'm sure. I know I have. Perhaps you have a friend or loved one who is always kind and forgiving, so you push the boundaries and use their kind heart to practice self-indulgence.

God is patient and kind, but He will also not be mocked. He is just, and His words are pure and true. His promise to punish those who use His name in vain is real. Most likely, it's easier for us to push the boundaries with God because He is invisible. Spending more time with Him in His word and prayer is the best way to start recognizing Him, even in His invisible form.

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Woman relaxing on park bench enjoying sabbath; the fourth commandment.

The Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it Holy. In verses 8-11, God explains why and how it should be observed. One reason God commanded the Sabbath was by modeling it after the creation of the earth. Another reason not written here is that God created the Sabbath for us. It isn't a suggestion; it is a command. The ten commandments are a big deal, and God listed a Sabbath rest as number four. So far, every command we've discussed has fostered closeness with God. He knows that if we keep Him close and remember all He does, we will stay on the right path, and that path is good!

A Sabbath rest is not a suggestion (even though we live as if it is). It’s not a treat to be earned after you’ve exhausted yourself. Keeping the Sabbath is the fourth commandment! We don't have great detail into what that looks like in Exodus 20, but God does share the Sabbath guidelines later. I can tell you now that the Sabbath is not a day only to relax but to reflect on God. He must be a part of your rest. In all honesty, I still struggle with a proper Sabbath rest. Our culture makes it challenging to be still and know that God is God, but with His help, we can do it. God gave every Commandment to keep us close to Him. Our loving Father wants to bless us with these commands. As we move on, I'm sure you'll continue to see this theme. God's commands are good for our soul and our living. 

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Parents with child; the fifth commandment.

The Fifth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother. This Commandment is the second one with a promise attached to it. God promises that if you honor your parents, "your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you." (v. 12). The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, "Cursing one's parents, tantamount to repudiating their authority, was a capital offense (Ex. 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Prov. 20:20)." Imagine how much different the world would look today if we all honored our parents and kept the first four commandments. I'd settle for a world that observed the first two commandments! 

I am convinced the way to change this world is by professing Christians seeking their answers not in each other (or the world) but in God's word. If we ask God to help us obey the first two commandments, our world will turn right side up. I know it seems impossible, but we know that with God, all things are possible, and a whole world surrendering their fallen ways and putting their eyes on Him is 100% in God's will, and He will answer YES! (1 Timothy 2:4). His ways are perfect and need no correction. His wisdom is higher than any man or woman on earth.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” -Isaiah 55:8-9

Every Commandment has a trend. Not only is breaking a Commandment putting you at odds with God, but it's negatively affecting your life and the people who do life with you. The adverse outcomes of sinning against God aren't just consequences for disobeying; they logically make sense. I hope you'll see that by the time we finish the Commandments.

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Upset woman cheating affair in marriage

The Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Commandments

The Sixth Commandment
The taking of human life is what constitutes murder. God made every human in His image, and to murder someone is an act against God and the community. I would say that murder is probably the only Commandment most people agree is horrific. (Obviously, there are exceptions.) God is the author of every life. I think you'd agree it's in everyone's best interest that we don't murder one another, not just because God says so.

The Seventh Commandment
Committing adultery breaks the sanctity of a home. Being unfaithful to your spouse, physically or emotionally, is an act against God and the family unit. God did not create this command to be a buzz kill; He did it because adultery breaks people. No matter which side of adultery you're on, you cannot escape being broken by it. The damage stays. You can move on, but the broken commitment will always be a part of you. Adultery is not beneficial for anyone.

The Eighth Commandment
You shall not steal. For me, this one is loaded. Stealing means so many things. Stealing comes from greed and a lack of gratitude, negatively affecting your heart. Stealing is evidence that your perception is funky, and you don't trust God knows best. God made, thou shall not steal, a Commandment because stealing hurts people. Stealing hurts both the person who steals and the victim. Stealing is an attempt to fill a void that only God can satisfy. When something is stolen from you, you suffer a loss, and dealing with loss feels like a betrayal. It makes it challenging to trust. We can overcome betrayal and loss with God, but it is wrong to inflict this pain knowingly. God knows this (like He knows all things) and created a command around it to protect us because He loves us!

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Woman being talked about; the ninth commandment.

The Ninth Commandment

To bear false witness means to talk about someone untruthfully to damage their reputation. One of my biggest frustrations is people speaking falsely about me (or anyone else). When it happens, I find solace in remembering what other people think about me has no bearing on what God thinks about me.

I was a bit shocked to realize this is one of the Ten Commandments because people always break it. Some people actually make a living breaking this Commandment! God knows how damaging it is for someone to bear false witness, which is part of why He commands us not to do it. The other reason is that God is Truth; it's His foundation. He speaks it and reveals it. It's what He does. God is never part of a deception, so it's become easy to spot good from evil in our world. I know anyone out in the media lying to me repeatedly or cheating me is not working on the side of God, and therefore I don't give my time or attention to their words. Giving them my ears is the same as giving Satan a foothold in my life. No, thank you.

Liars don't like being around me because I call them out. I've known a handful of pathological liars who never remain friends for too long because they don't like their lies being held up to the light. All Christians should reveal a lie and shine a light on the truth. That's what Jesus and His disciples modeled. Ultimately, God will reveal the truth (make no mistake), but while I'm here, I will fight for God's team.

 “Therefore, do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.” -Matthew 10:26

Paul agrees that we must stand for the truth. 

“For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” - 2 Corinthians 13:8

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Woman looking into glass store window, envy vs. jealousy; the tenth commandment.

The Tenth Commandment

"You shall not covet...anything that belongs to your neighbor." (v.17). God provides examples of what He means. Don't covet your neighbor's wife, house, servants, ox, donkeys, or anything! To covet means to desire passionately or intensely. To want something so severely hurts our souls. God wants us to live in humility and gratitude. Coveting may be normal, but God commands us to avoid it because it hurts us.

Never passionately desiring something someone else has is easy to say, but sometimes it happens before we even recognize what's happened. So, what can we do about it? Talk to God immediately! Come before Him. Apologize for coveting and start praising Him for all He has given you. We can come before God with any sin we’ve committed, and He will forgive us. Practicing gratitude is one of the most impactful things you can do. Gratitude has the power to shift and transform your perspective, and that is life-changing! I'm sure you've heard about the power of gratitude, but have you ever experienced it? I highly recommend it. The more gratitude you practice, the less you’ll covet. 

God wanted the gratitude of the Israelites, not just because He’s worthy of praise, but because it’s good for us! Jesus taught these shifts in perspective, teaching us to focus on the Kingdom of God and the things we can't see rather than letting the things we can see (in this world) distract us and weigh us down. (Matthew 6:33). Paul reminds us of this teaching in Colossians 3:2

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (NASB).

The theme continues, God’s commandments are good for us. The Ten Commandments were never given to restrict our freedom. They were given so we could thrive. Imagine how beautiful our world would be if we kept these Ten Commandments. The sin that rules our lives now would not be permitted, but it’s only holding us back from what God has prepared for us. His pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2).

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Vanessa Luu is a wife, mother, and faith-based writer. She speaks and writes to believers to encourage them to live authentically with God.

Originally published Wednesday, 05 July 2023.