And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:1-17, ESV)
As has so often been said, these are the Ten Commandments, not the “Ten Suggestions”. Though as Christians we often neglect the Old Testament and feel that since we’re now under grace ( if we think at all) and have no need to pay heed to the Law, yet we too should listen and obey, for like the Israelites, we’ve been delivered from the slavery of sin. Each of us who comes to Christ is delivered from Egypt, from bondage to the world.
Though much was added to the Law by many rabbis since the time of Moses, Jesus himself said that he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. At the very least the Law, as stated here, should be foundational to our lives. If we truly love Christ, we will obey his words, and as the eternal Word, he spoke these to Israel, and to us, through Moses. As he said, not one jot or tittle will pass away…
We ignore this teaching to our peril. There is true freedom in the practice of these commandments. If we say that we’re not under the law and do not take these to heart, we deliver ourselves up to bondage once more. Christ didn’t condemn the rich young ruler for disobedience to the Law (“all these I have kept since my youth”), but rather for his unwillingness to give up everything and to follow him. In fact, Jesus didn’t condemn him at all, for the Gospel says that the man went away sad, while also saying that Jesus loved him.
It seems that as modern Christians, we’ve embraced the heresies of the past, living lives that are short on obedience, long on pleasure and self, but giving up little for him. Will we pass on to our children wispy, unsteady faith, or bedrock belief founded on doing what is right to both God and our neighbor, living in holiness? The people of Israel, when confronted by God on the mountain, could not bear to listen to him speak, and begged Moses to mediate between God and them. They had reverent fear, but lost relationship with God. As prophesied by Moses, we now have another Mediator, Christ, but have gained relationship at the expense of reverent fear and awe. In so doing, our relationship with God has grown casual, and in our disobedience, we show disrespect.
Lord God, please help us to live a life of love for you and others, founded upon obedience to your Word. Father, please be gracious to us and forgive us, for much of the ills of modern society stem from ignoring these commandments and failing to pass them on to our children. Each of us does what is right in his own eyes, even those who profess faith in your Son. Please forgive us, please heal our hearts and our minds and help us to obey. Amen.