The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are very well-known. In fact, many religious battles have been fought over the language of the Ten Commandments. Also known as the “Decalogue,” the Ten Commandments are the laws that God gave to Israel after they departed from Egypt (Exodus 20:1-17). R.C. Sproul writes, “The Ten Commandments, or ‘Ten Words’ of the covenant, are expressions of the eternal moral values of God that transcend the OT and the NT.” Notably, these Ten Commandments, or rules and laws, are meant to protect and give direction. Author and pastor Kevin DeYoung say, “Whatever we call them, the Ten Commandments are certainly commands- more than that for sure, but not less.”
Most people do not care what these commandments are called, rather, but how they are applied to everyday living. Of course, we like to “pick and choose” which ones we like and which ones we don’t like. In this regard, Kevin DeYoung says, “Studying the Ten Commandments reveals the very heart of human rebellion: we don’t like God telling us what we can and cannot do.” Most of us like to do things the way we want to do them, but God has instructions that are good for us, regardless of our desires or wants. Undoubtedly, rebellion is something we are tempted to do each day. Essentially, rebellion against God is sin and has been going on since Adam and Eve’s sin in Genesis 3. In Genesis, the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve sinned against God, thus not listening to His instructions to “not eat the fruit.” They fell to temptation and ate the fruit against God’s wise instruction, and the consequences that followed were devastating. In fact, due to sin’s consequences, we are all separated from God. However, God provides good news for us through Jesus Christ. The law reveals our sin, however, Jesus made atonement for our sins by His death and resurrection on the cross.
Why Study The Ten Commandments?
Some may balk at the Ten Commandments. We live in a society where people want to remove them from classrooms and buildings, essentially giving them no attention or credence at all. If one will think about it, ignoring God’s instructions is what, consequently, got us in our mess. Meaning we messed up by not following what God required. Philip Graham Ryken says, “Good teaching on the law and the gospel has never been more badly needed than it is today. We are living in lawless times when disrespect for authority has led to widespread disdain for God’s commandments. People are behaving badly, even in church. Part of the problem is that most people don’t know what God requires.” Assuredly, not knowing what God requires and striving for those things has contributed to society’s ills. Just imagine what our culture and society would be if we were striving to love God and love people in accordance with God’s Word. Our culture would most definitely be different from our contemporary landscape, meaning that people would worship and love God instead of rejecting God. Because of that, people would then love their neighbors properly and treat them respectively. Kevin DeYoung writes, “Have you ever thought about how much better life would be if everyone kept the Ten Commandments…we wouldn’t need copyright laws, patent laws…We wouldn’t need locks on our doors or fraud protection.”
Therefore, understanding what God’s rules, instructions, and laws are would be wise. In other words, it is good for us to know God’s instructions. Kevin DeYoung lists five reasons why studying the Ten Commandments is good for us. They are a culture, and we need to know them; they are historical instruction, and many creeds and traditions have their historical emphasis. Also, the Ten Commandments are central to the ethics of the Mosaic covenant and are central to the New Testament’s ethics, meaning they have a basis within the New Testament. Lastly, and simply stated, they are good laws from a good and perfect God. Philip Graham Ryken writes, “If the law comes from God, then it must reflect his divine character…God is the Lord; He is the great I AM, the sovereign and Almighty Lord. He is the supreme, self-existent, eternal, and unchangeable God.” Therefore, His law is perfect, as He is perfect. The law is good, holy, and righteous, as Romans 7:12 states. Further, it reveals reveal sin and gives God wise instructions. He has not left us alone to wander without His guidance and wisdom. We have not only His laws and commands, but we have the whole counsel of God’s Word. May we as believers live unto God and honor Him by adhering to His guidance in our lives.
How many commandments can you quote from memory?
Have you ever taken time to reflect on what God’s commandments mean and apply them to your life?
The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them by Kevin DeYoung
Written In Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Graham Ryken
Keeping the 10 Commandments by J.I. Packer
The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version