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The Ten Commandments: Are They Relevant in Today’s World?

Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.

Some people say that we live under God’s grace and the ten commandments are obsolete. They call them outdated rules that have no bearing on today’s world. However, the apostle Paul stated that the purpose of the law is to point out the sins that will harm our relationship with God and other people. The law is holy, righteous, and good (Romans 7:7, 12).

What Jesus Said

At one point, an expert in Jewish law confronted Jesus by asking, "which is the greatest commandment in the law?" Jesus answered:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40).

When we look closely at the ten commandments listed in Exodus 20* and Deuteronomy 5:6-21, we find that obeying them is, in reality, our way of showing love to God, ourselves, our parents, and other people. If we follow them, we will be blessed. Jesus did not come to abolish the law; He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

God’s love is summed up in the principle that we should treat others as we want to be treated. We are to carry one another’s burdens. If we keep His commandments, we will be blessed (Matthew 7:12, Galatians 6:2).

Loving God

1. You shall have no other gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below, and you shall not bow down to them or worship them.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Throughout time, people have longed to connect with God. The first three commandments reveal how we can love and have a relationship with God. God wants us to worship Him. Many things can get in the way, such as loving money, fame, career, status, or possessions. These things can become idols that we put before God.

Christians seeking a relationship with God must repent for their sins and put Him first. They must also respect His name.

Loving Ourselves

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord.

Christians benefit from taking time out to rest and recharge their batteries.

Loving our Parents

5. Honor your father and your mother.

Most people miss the second part of this commandment which states that when we honor our parents, our lives will go well, and we will enjoy a long and prosperous life on the earth (Ephesians 6:2-3).

Loving Others

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

Imagine a world where everyone feels safe from abuse. People can trust that no one will harm them. In this place, no one will suffer the trauma of being robbed. People can trust that their belongings are always safe. They can pick up the phone without being subjected to telemarketers and scammers. Married couples can live in harmony and trust. Families can be like the happy bunches in Norman Rockwell paintings. The commandments can help us to live like that.

When these rules are broken, the results are devastating. Promising lives are cut short. Families suffer terribly from the loss of loved ones and grieve. They deal with complex emotions such as anger and a desire for revenge against the murderer.

Stealing has become a pervasive problem in our society. Organized crime and drug addiction have escalated theft in our world. Countless people suffer when their possessions are taken from them. Some are traumatized after facing a gun in a robbery. Stores must inflate their prices to cover their losses through theft.

These commandments are summed up in one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfillment of the law. Love in action means we do not harm other people (Matthew 22:34-40, Romans 13:9-10).

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Lying is on God’s top seven list of things He hates. In this case, lying ruins the reputations of innocent people. People with a bad name may be vilified by the public, gossiped about, and exploited (Proverbs 6:17).

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

The term “covet” means to lust over what over other people have. Wanting what other people have can lead to stealing, killing, exploitation, and other criminal acts.

Why People Break God’s Laws

If these rules are ultimately for our own good and the good of others, then why don’t we follow them? There are several reasons why.

Our Human Nature

Our human nature can keep us from doing the right thing. The apostle Paul recognized his sinful nature. He wanted to do good but struggled because he did not do the things that he knew he should be doing (Romans 8:21-24).

Being Evil, Not Valuing Others

Some individuals are evil and sadistic. They enjoy hurting, exploiting, and manipulating people. They have a murderous spirit that does not care about people. This type of spirit is angry, despises people, and calls them fools. They are subject to judgment under the law (Mathew 5: 21-22).

Selfishness

Selfish people will do just about anything to get what they want, no matter who they hurt. They feel entitled to the people or things they desire and do not care that they violate boundaries when they pursue them.

Covetousness and Lust

Coveting what other people have and jealously can lead perpetrators to steal, manipulate, and even kill to get what they want. They ignore obvious boundaries and stop at nothing to enrich themselves and take other people’s significant others and their possessions.

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The ten commandments are relevant because they play a vital role in the lives of Christians. God’s rules define the actions that are sinful. The law protects other people and us from harm. Most of all, they show us how to love Him and the individuals around us.

* This listing of the ten commandments is the commonly used Protestant version. Some denominations number the verses differently.

Reference:

The Holy Bible, New International Version

© 2022 Carola Finch

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