The Ten Commandments
Not long ago, cable TV mogul Ted Turner declared the Ten Commandments obsolete:"We're living with outmoded rules. The rules we're living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to 'em, because they are too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn't go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out."
Of course, Turner is dead wrong in calling the Ten Commandments outmoded rules, as we will see. The commandments are as relevant as ever. On the other hand, he is somewhat right in saying, "Nobody likes to be commanded." In fact, contemporary culture actually celebrates sin and mocks virtue. We are living in a time where wrong seems right, and right seems wrong.
The words of the prophet Isaiah are just as appropriate to our generation as they were to his: "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:20).Back to Top
A Case of Relative Absolutes
We as a society have strayed from absolutes. Moral relativism is the rule of the day. We have all heard one or more of the following statements:
- What's true for you may not be true for me.
- One person's art is another person's pornography.
- There are no objective morals, just differing opinions.
- If it feels good, do it.
- Anything goes.
- No culture is better or worse than another.
Many people today believe that you and I can believe in whatever truth we want, so long as you respect my truth and I respect yours. It grows out of the conviction that there are no universal standards of good or bad, right or wrong, normal or abnormal. All truth is relative.
Many Americans believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Worse still, many of those who claim to have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ also side with the national majority in believing that there is no such thing as absolute truth. The Ten Commandments have been banned from schools and from courtrooms.
The very foundations of our society are crumbling beneath our feet because we are no longer built on a solid foundation that distinguishes right from wrong. The moral foundation our country's forefathers established was based upon a solid faith in God and an understanding of His Word. Consider the words of James Madison, fourth president of the United States: "We stake the future of this country on our ability to govern ourselves under the principles of the Ten Commandments."
We all must have a set of absolutes that we live by. Otherwise, why is your definition of right or wrong any better than mine?
Through the Ten Commandments, God gives us a pattern to live by—a clear set of absolutes whereby we may know right from wrong, good from evil, and true from false.Back to Top
A Blueprint for Living
Exodus 20:1–17 clearly and simply lists the absolutes God has given us to live by. They are straightforward, concise, and to the point.
- Commandment #1: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (verse 3).
- Commandment #2: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image. . .you shall not bow down to them nor serve them" (verses 4–5).
- Commandment #3: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" (verse 7).
- Commandment #4: "Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy" (verse 8).
- Commandment #5: "Honor your father and your mother (verse 12).
- Commandment #6: "You shall not murder" (verse 13).
- Commandment #7: "You shall not commit adultery" (verse 14).
- Commandment #8: "You shall not steal" (verse 15).
- Commandment #9: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (verse 16).
- Commandment #10: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife. . .nor anything that is your neighbor's" (verse 17).
At the close of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reflects upon his wasted life and makes this final observation:"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all" (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Solomon himself had violated many of these commands, so he knew what he was talking about. He coveted. He committed adultery. And he knew that if you violate these commands, your life will be out of balance.Back to Top
The Relevance of God's Law
Some, falsely interpreting the biblical teaching about the law, would say that the Ten Commandments have absolutely no relevance or application to the lives of believers today. Yet, look at the words of Jesus:"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till Heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17–18).
Jesus did not come to abolish or do away with the law; He came to fulfill it. The word fulfill literally means "to carry it out; to make full; to get to the heart of it."Back to Top
Jesus' Fulfillment of God's Law
Jesus was made under the law.
"When the time was right, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" (Galatians 4:4).
Throughout Jesus' life on earth, He obeyed God's law explicitly and perfectly—and He was the only One who ever truly did! Why is this significant? The law required a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins: "And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).
Thus, by being born under the law and obeying it completely, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament types as laid out in Leviticus and Numbers: Jesus was the perfect, spotless Passover Lamb, the Scapegoat.
The law—as far as the individual is concerned—was never meant to make one righteous. It was given to show us that we could never be righteous in our own ability or works. The law shuts our mouths but opens our eyes.
- It condemns, but does not convert;
- It challenges, but does not change;
- It points the finger, but it does not give mercy;
- It leaves us without excuse, but it drives us to Jesus.
The law is like a moral mirror, allowing you to see yourself as you really are—a guilty sinner before a righteous God (Romans 3:19). Yet, as you see your true condition, the law will drive you into the open arms of Jesus: "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
Christ's death fulfilled the law's requirements.
When Christ died on the cross, He took the righteous requirements of the law and paid the price we could never pay. "He has made [you] alive together with Him having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13–14).
Through Christ's death on the cross, we are no longer under the curse of the Law. Jesus' work on the cross satisfied the righteous requirements of God. We are not forced to obey it out of obligation; we are compelled to obey it because of the depth of His love for us.
As we accept Jesus into our lives, He takes that law and writes it in our hearts!
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel. . .I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33).
In effect, God is saying, "The difference between the old and the new covenant will be this: I will no longer write my law on tablets on stone, but on the fleshly tablets of your hearts."
Loving God: The First Four Commandments
A scribe came to Jesus and asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" Jesus replied, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There are no other commandments greater than these'" (Mark 12:30–31).
With that statement, Jesus neatly sums up the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments relate to our (vertical) relationship with God. The second six commandments relate to our (horizontal) relationship with others.
- Commandments 1–4 teach love for God.
- Commandments 5–10 teach love for others.
Augustine put this into perspective when he said, "Love God and do as you please." When you really love the Lord with all of your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength, you naturally want to do the right thing.
If I truly love God, I will not have other gods before Him, make graven images, or take His name in vain.
If I truly love my neighbor as myself, I will not steal from my neighbor, lie to my neighbor, covet what is my neighbor's, or kill my neighbor.
God gave us the Ten Commandments as a standard to live by. We cannot accomplish this through our own strength, but we can "do all things through Christ" (Philippians 4:13). He wants to give us new desires and to eliminate old ones. He wants us to obey God's law not because we have to, but because we want to.
Once that happens, we will no longer see God's commands as restrictions, but as barriers designed to guard and guide our lives.Back to Top
How to Love God
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1–11) is much more than a list of "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not." Upon closer inspection, we can see what should be the driving force behind our obedience to these commands: our love for God because of His love for us.
Remembering what God has done
Before God even lays down the first commandment, He reminds His people of what He has done for them: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage" (Exodus 20:2). God speaks these words to kindle a remembrance in the Israelites' hearts of all that He had done for them. They had lived in misery and slavery in Egypt. They called out to God for deliverance as their lives became more and more difficult. In answer to their prayers, God finally sent Moses to them and brought them out of that life.
In the same way, we lived under the bondage and power of sin. We faced a certain judgment. Yet God—in His mercy—loved us and forgave us of all our sin as we turned to Him.
If we really appreciate all that God has done, and if we know anything of His all-encompassing forgiveness, it should be our privilege and pleasure to seek to live a life that is pleasing to Him. As 1 John 4:19 puts it, "We love Him because He first loved us."
Our obedience should spring from love
At the end of the second commandment, we read that God shows "mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:6). God does not want us to obey these commands because we have to, but because we want to. In view of what He has done for us, we should want to reciprocate. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
Why? Because "Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17). If a person says that he has truly committed his life to Christ, yet he lives in open sin, it seems highly unlikely that he is really a believer."What is the value of the grace we profess to receive which leaves us exactly the same kind of people as we were before we received it? An unholy life is an evidence of an unchanged heart, and an unchanged heart is evidence of an unsaved soul."—C. H. Surgeon
Commandment #1: "You shall have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3)
This is one commandment most of us do not think we ever break. We tend to imagine an idol worshipper lying prostrate before a carved image. Yet, the command is much broader than that. An idol is anything or anyone who takes the place of God in our lives. It is anything—an object, idea, philosophy, habit, occupation, sport, or person—that is your primary concern, or that to any degree decreases your trust and loyalty to God."Our God is the person we think most precious, for whom we would make the greatest sacrifice, and who moves our hearts with the warmest love. He (or it) is the person who, if we lost him, would leave us desolate." —Alan Redpath
Nothing is to be placed before the Lord. If God is what He claims to be, then He must be supreme in our lives—before everyone and everything else.
What can be idols in our lives?
The god of oneself
"[They] exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).
Certainly some people worship their own likeness, but it is not limited to their physical bodies. For all practical purposes, they simply feel that the world revolves around them. All they think about is what they are going to get out of life. They always want to come out on top. They want success at any cost—regardless if it is at the cost of faith, family, or friends.
The god of pleasure
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things" (Philippians 3:18–19).
The people who worship this god may be living for sensual or sexual pleasure. The problem with this is that once you have tried a thing, you soon tire of it and want more. It then becomes more perverse and deviant, an unholy appetite that cannot be satisfied legitimately (see Ephesians 5:12).
The god of possessions
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).
"If I have made gold my hope, or said to fine gold, 'You are my confidence'; if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gained much. . .this also would be an iniquity deserving of judgment, for I would have denied God who is above" (Job 31:24–25, 28).
Every man or woman has a god. For some, it is the one God of the Bible. Yet for others, it is something or someone they live for, or perhaps some passionate pursuit in life. It is terrifying but true: a person can worship in church every Sunday, yet be a full-time idol worshipper!
Commandment #2: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image." (Exodus 20:4)
The second commandment shows the natural outgrowth of an individual who has no longer loved "the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). Consider the account of the Israelites and their worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:1–14). Moses had left Aaron in charge of the people while he went up to Mount Sinai to receive the law and commandments from God. When he had been up there for some time, the people began to complain to Aaron, urging him to make a god for them to see and worship. So, Aaron took all their gold jewelry and made a golden calf.
How could the Israelites so quickly have forgotten the God who delivered them from Egypt? In reality, there were two phases to their idolatry. The first phase was more subtle and less obvious; the second phase was blatant and radical.
First, their hearts had departed from God.
The root of their idolatry was a previous departure of their hearts from God. Once that had happened, they leaned too much on the person God had chosen as His instrument—Moses. In effect, Moses was their first idol, and the golden calf was their second.
It is easy to make an idol out of a person God has greatly used in our lives, or even out of a spiritual tradition. We want something tangible to turn to. It is, of course, not always easy to worship an invisible God. Yet Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
Second, they rationalized their actions.
Incredibly, after Aaron built the calf, he built an altar in front of it, and told the people, "Tomorrow is a feast day to the LORD" (Exodus 20:5). It is amazing hoe some people can do something the Bible clearly warns us about, and then somehow rationalize their actions to the point that they think it is okay, or even good. The Israelites rationalized their actions by saying that this golden calf was a representation of the LORD.
God does not want us to have any image to assist up in our worship. A person who really knows God, who had experienced the new birth, and is living in fellowship with Him does not need an image or representation to help him pray. If a person needs such a thing, it proves that he has no inner spiritual life.
This is not to say that a picture or painting of Jesus is wrong. (It is most likely inaccurate, but it is not wrong in and of itself.) What is wrong is the belief that you need a picture, sculpture, or something else to help you worship God.
A false concept of God
We cannot create anything that will ever be a true representation of the living God, for it will give us a false concept of what God is really like. If the image is false, the thought of God is false, and that produces a false character.
"They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell. . .Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them" (Psalm 115:5–6, 8).
A man becomes like the thing he worships. If he puts anything in the place of God, he ultimately becomes like it. After all, what is it to be a Christian? It is to become like Christ. For that reason, God does not want us to cling to a false representation of who He is like.Back to Top
- First, their hearts had departed from God.
Commandment #3: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain." (Exodus 20:7)
This commandment is one of the most misunderstood, yet it is one of the most easily broken. One of the obvious ways it is broken is when God's name is invoked in profanity. Yet, His name is often taken in vain in church.
The phrase in vain describes that which is empty, idle, insincere, or frivolous. God's name must never be used in an empty, frivolous, or insincere way. When we say, "God bless you" or "Praise the Lord," we need to make sure that these are heartfelt and sincere statements.
Perhaps the most terrible and subtle form of breaking this commandment is through hypocrisy. In Luke 6:46, Jesus asked, "'Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?'" The hypocrisy of the church is far worse than the profanity in the church. To pray and not to practice, to believe and not to obey, to say "Lord, Lord," and not do what He says—this is to take His name in vain.Back to Top
Commandment #4: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8)
This is probably the most misinterpreted of the Ten Commandments. In essence, God was telling His people that they were to keep this day, the Sabbath, as holy to Him.
Sabbath in the Old Covenant
Sabbath was originally given to the Jewish people. It really pointed to a future day when Jesus would die on a cross. In the Old Testament, man approached God on the basis of animal sacrifice. He fell short.
Sabbath in the New Covenant
When Jesus came, however, a new covenant was established:"There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his" (Hebrews 4:9–10 NIV; see also Matthew 11:28).
Those who are struggling for God's approval and trying to be righteous in their own strength need to rest in the finished work of Christ, realizing that God loves them unconditionally. Therefore, to keep the Sabbath day in modern times is to trust not in what we do for God, but in what He has done for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross in our place.
That does not mean that we should neglect setting aside time to remember God and to thank Him for all that He has done. In our modern society, where we work so hard for success, many just don't have time in their busy schedules for spiritual things—until a crisis hits. A time of spiritual refreshing and renewal with the Lord should be a priority, not an occasional event.Back to Top
Loving Others: The Last Six Commandments
A blueprint for happy living"You cannot break the laws of God—you break yourself against them. Might as well try to attack Gibraltar with a popgun as to go up against the laws of God. It will not work. You jump off a skyscraper and you do not break the law of gravitation. You break your neck, but not the law of gravitation." —Vance Havner
God has given us the blueprint for a fulfilled life through the Ten Commandments. You could call it a blueprint for happiness: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. . .but his delight is in the law of the LORD" (Psalm 1:1–2).
A love for God affects our love for others.
Why did God put the commandments in this order? God knew that when we love Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind, we will better be able to "love our neighbor as ourselves."
If we love God with all our being, a supernatural love will overflow to others—even those who are difficult to love. The deeper our love for God is, the greater our capacity to love others will be."When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased." —C.S. Lewis
Commandment #5: "Honor your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12)
It is interesting to note that the first command having to do with our relationship with others relates to the family. In essence, this is a root commandment. Here God underscores His purpose and plan for the family. This is the only commandment that promises a blessing when we obey it.
The strength of a nation is directly related to the strength of its families. Most social problems today can be traced to broken homes—and specifically fatherless homes. Today, half of America's children live apart from one or both of their parents. Never in our history has there been more of an absence of fathers. This could be our country's undoing. It has been said, "A family can survive without a nation, but a nation cannot survive without the family."
For that reason, God reminds us of the importance of honoring our mother and father. The Hebrew word for honor comes from a verb meaning "to be heavy." In other words, we are to give weight, or importance, to our parents. We are to respect and esteem them.
Colossians 3:20–21 echoes this thought: "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged."
The honorable parent
Respect for parents is certainly something we have lost sight of in this culture. In fact, Scripture states that this lack of respect and disobedience towards parents is a sign of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2). Yet, perhaps one reason children do not honor their parents today is because their parents are not very honorable.
God has placed parents as the authority in the life of a child. In many ways, we represent God to our children. This means that what the Lord is to us, we are to our children. A child who responds to that relationship will find it far easier to respond to the claims of Christ. Alan Redpath once said, "Happy is the child who learns from honoring his parents to honor the Lord. And happy are the parents who so honor the name of Jesus; it is easy for the children to honor them."
The reason why the children of some Christian, church-going families rebel against the faith of their parents is that they see their parents contradicting what they say they believe. We as parents need to be witnesses in our homes to our own children. As Andrew Murray said, "The secret of home rule is self rule, first being ourselves what we want our children to be."
The respectful child
Regardless of how honorable a mother or father is, God tells children to obey and honor their parents. The fact is, most parents have their children's best interests at heart. Most of us would not be here today if it were not for our parents' warnings and protection.
It brings a parent great joy when the lessons they have taught to their children have been learned and followed, and even more so, when the God of the parents also becomes the God of their children. King David, while on his deathbed, gave these parting words to his son Solomon:"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever" (1 Chronicles 28:9).
Commandment #6: "You shall not murder." (Exodus 20:13)
This commandment forbids the taking of another human life for no justifiable reason. Tragically, this commandment seems to be ignored more and more.
- Every 13 seconds, someone in the USA is beaten, stabbed, shot, robbed, raped, or killed.
- Every 12 seconds, an abortion occurs in America. Twenty-two percent of pregnancies today end in abortion. Since the passing of Roe vs. Wade in the early '70s, 50 million babies have been aborted. (That is five times the number of civilians who died under the Nazis in the Holocaust.)
Why the increase in violence? Jesus predicted that the last days would be as "the days of Noah" (Luke 17:26). Genesis 6:11 describes that turbulent time: "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence."
Such violence has undermined the sacredness of human life. We call unborn babies such things as fetuses, embryos, globs of cells, or products of conception. This goes directly against the teachings of Scripture, where we read:"You [God] made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:13–16 NLT).
When killing is appropriate
While all murder is killing, not all killing is necessarily murder. According to Scripture, there are times when death is acceptable, though not desirable. For instance, the Bible seems to make allowances for self-defense and capital punishment:
- "Whoever sheds blood, by man his blood shall be shed" (Genesis 9:6).
- "For [the governing authority] is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:4).
When murder takes place in the heart
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the idea of murder a step further:"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.' But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (Matthew 5:21–22).
Many people have anger and hatred in the depths of their heart to such a degree that their true desire is for the hated person to be dead. This is clearly forbidden in Scripture: "Whoever hates his brother [Christian] is a murderer" (1 John 3:15). The word used for hate in this verse means "to habitually despise"—not just a transient emotion of the affections, but a "deep-rooted loathing."
Paul, in Ephesians, gives us the remedy for this hatred: "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31–32).
Only through Christ can we change our hearts—and we must!
- As parents, let us seek to be good examples of followers of Christ for our children.
- As children, let us seek to obey and honor our parents as God commanded.
- As believers, let us not harbor hatred or bitterness in our heart toward others.
Commandment #7: "You Shall Not Commit Adultery." (Exodus 20:14)
Jesus described the time in which He walked on this earth as a wicked and adulterous generation. If that was true then, how much more would it be true of our world today?
Historians looking back at our present generation will have to state that it was an age characterized by an obsession with sexuality.
The destructive power of adultery
If we simply obeyed this one commandment, imagine what a different world we would see today! Many divorces would be avoided, many families would still be together, and many fathers would still be at home to raise their children.
Consider how many lives have been devastated by the breaking of this commandment. Sadly, every one of us knows at least one person, if not more, who have fallen into this sin.
Immorality is the fruit of idleness.
America was once characterized by its work ethic, which produced a robust, productive, and overall powerful force for good. It was a shining example of faith, family, and freedom.
However, our nation has followed the ways of the ancient city of Sodom. The Bible tells us, "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit" (Ezekiel 16:49–50).
Immorality is the root of social ills.
In a study of over eighty ancient, primitive, and modern societies, Cambridge University sociologist J.D. Unwin found there was an unvarying correlation between the degree of sexual restraints and the rate of social progress. He states, "Cultures that were more sexually permissive displayed less creativity, intellectual development and individualism, and a slower general cultural ascent."
Given the increasingly permissive views towards sex today, researchers Gilbert Nass and Roger Libby have predicted that between one-half and two-thirds of all husbands will have an affair before they reach 40! Their studies show that 40–50% of all married men have had extramarital affairs and that 41% of married women have been unfaithful.
This has a direct effect on teenagers who are not finding an example of fidelity to follow. One fifth of our nation's children have lost their virginity by the age of 13!
Is it any wonder that our society is plagued with unwanted pregnancies, abortion, AIDS, and a surging rise in venereal diseases?
Sin in the camp
Unfortunately, statistics regarding adultery are just as bad within the church as they are in the secular world.
The magazine Christianity Today did a random sampling of 1000 subscribers asking if they had committed adultery or acted inappropriately:
- 45% acted inappropriately
- 23% committed adultery
Billy Graham said a recent poll claimed that 40% of the young people in evangelical churches are sexually active. Furthermore, 60% of single adults, including those who attend church regularly and participate in Bible studies, are not only sexually active, but half reported having sex with multiple partners!"Immorality is as epidemic in our churches as it is in the secular world at large."—Billy Graham
A pervasive and powerful sin
The Mosaic Law portrayed adultery as one of the most serious sins, punishable by death!"Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth: do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to Hell, descending to the chambers of death" (Proverbs 7:24–27).
The passages concerning this sin are just as clear in the New Testament as they are in the Old Testament."Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites. . .will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9–10; see also Hebrews 13:4).
The apostle Paul wrote, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality" (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
When you cross the line of protection that God has put around you and your spouse, you do so at your own peril. The repercussions of adultery can last months, years, and even a lifetime!
Six Reasons to Not Commit Adultery
You do incredible damage to your spouse.
The apostle Paul declared that you have violated your oneness with your mate by entering into this bond with another person, "Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For 'the two,' He says, 'shall become one flesh'" (1 Corinthians 6:16).
The factor of trust has been destroyed. The seriousness of this offense is why Jesus gave a release clause from marriage for it.
You do incredible damage to yourself.
Adultery is a byproduct of a backslidden state. You have been rationalizing for so long that you have forgotten which way is up.
When you commit adultery, a vulnerability is created and the enemy will continue to attack you in this area. It's much easier to commit the sin the second time around. Radical measures must be taken to prevent this from happening again.
There is also the risk of contracting the AIDS virus or some other venereal disease as a result of committing adultery. King Solomon wrote, "For a prostitute will bring you to poverty, and sleeping with another man's wife may cost you your very life. Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet? So it is with the man who sleeps with another man's wife. He who embraces her will not go unpunished...But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys his own soul. Wounds and constant disgrace are his lot. His shame will never be erased" (Proverbs 6:26–29, 32–33 NLT).
You do incredible damage to your children.
When you commit adultery, your position as spiritual leader in the home is undermined. No longer are you providing a godly example for your children to follow but rather setting the stage for them to repeat your sin.
Remember that King David's children repeated his sins. Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar; another son, Absalom, killed Amnon.
You do damage to the church.
We are all interconnected as believers. When we experience victories and defeats as an individual it affects the entire body of believers. "When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26).
It was for this very reason that Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to remove the immoral man from their midst, because "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6).
You do great damage to your witness and the cause of Christ.
We need only to cite the damage that has been done by so called "televangelists."
Nathan said to David, "By this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14).
You sin against the Lord.This should be the primary reason why we want to avoid sin. Joseph's motive was correct when he said, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9). Sadly, this is usually the last reason we think of when trying to resist sin.
Three Preventive Steps to Protect Yourself and Your Family
Walk with God.
The Bible tells us, "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). Walking with God will give you the power, will, and resources to stand in the evil day—to resist the temptation to sin. David failed to walk with God, and he became spiritually idle and vulnerable to fleshly lusts.
Don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
Avoid relationships and friendships that are flirty as well as friendships that would encourage such activity. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners. . .but his delight is in the law of the LORD" (Psalm 1:1–2).
Count the cost.
Remembering biblical warnings and reasoning, along with an intense love for God and your spouse, will see you through the rough waters of sexual temptation.
Perhaps you have fallen into the sin of adultery. You may be asking if there is any hope left for you. Can you be forgiven and find a second chance? Of course the answer is a resounding yes!"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
The Trouble with Premarital Sex
Just as the sin of adultery has destroyed so many lives, there have been devastating consequences among adults and youth who have engaged in the sin of fornication (pre-marital sex).
We don't fall suddenly.
We don't fall overnight into sin. Many times those who commit the sin of fornication or adultery have:
- Contemplated it carefully and constantly
- Left themselves open and vulnerable
- Gone out looking for it
- Allowed their mind and imagination to be polluted with impure thoughts
Jesus tells us, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
This does not mean just a casual glance. In the Greek, it refers to the "continuous act of looking." In this usage, the idea is not that of an incidental or involuntary glance but an intentional and repeated gazing.
This is why Job said, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. . .if my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted" (Job 31:1, 7–8 NIV).
King David was not at fault for happening to see Bathsheba bathing. His sin was a continuous look and the following action of bringing her to his chambers. One must also wonder if Bathsheba knew the king would be there and intentionally put herself in a place where she could be seen. If lustful looking is bad, then those who dress and expose themselves with the desire to be looked at lustfully are just as guilty.
Guarding our minds
Surveys have shown that nearly 100,000 sexual references are broadcast on all major television networks during prime-time every year. This means that the average American TV viewer watches tens of thousands of references to sex in the course of a year!
We must guard our minds to the best of our abilities. This means:
- If an offensive scene appears at the movies, get up and walk out!
- If something sexually suggestive is on TV, turn the channel or turn the set off!
- If your newspaper or magazine has an offensive article or photograph, turn the page!
Always check out something before you watch it or read it."Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8).
One could easily say that it's impossible for a man or a woman with a sex drive to not fall! But, that's simply not true. What we must recognize is the combustible aspect of human nature. The Bible tells us, "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14–15).
When we get tempted, and when we give into it, we like to place the blame on someone or something else. We often say, "That person trapped me. I'm not responsible." Or, "The devil made me do it." But the fact of the matter is we are responsible for our actions. Realizing this is the first step to averting sin."If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Hell" (Matthew 5:29–30).
In the Jewish culture, the right hand represented a person's best skills and most precious faculties. The right eye represented a person's vision. Jesus' point is that we should be willing to give up whatever is necessary to keep us from falling into sin. Anything that morally or spiritually traps us, causes us to fall into sin, or causes us to remain in sin should be eliminated quickly and totally from our life!"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Commandment #8: You Shall Not Steal. (Exodus 20:15)
Stealing is a widespread problem in our culture today. In fact, it has become far more commonplace than we may realize. When we think of stealing, we often picture car thieves or professionals that steal jewelry and other valuables from stores and homes. But, stealing also includes:
- Inflating the price when we sell a house or car in order to make a little more money.
- Receiving too much change at the store and keeping it.
- Taking office supplies home for personal use.
- Taking government help when you don't need it.
Working rather than stealing"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28).
The idea in this passage is not simply ceasing to do what is wrong (stealing), but to do what is right (working). Not working when you are able is stealing. Like it or not, a man is to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow."Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'Whoever does not work should not eat.' Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people's business. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to such people—no, we command them: Settle down and get to work. Earn your own living" (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 NLT).
Stealing from your employer
According to employee-screening company Guardsmark, employee theft costs more than $120 billion a year.
There are many ways in which people steal. According to USA Today, 48% of U.S. workers admit to taking unethical or illegal actions in the past year. Some of the ways employees steal include cheating on an expense account, paying or accepting kickbacks, and secretly forging signatures.
Stealing from God"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, 'If I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it'" (Malachi 3:8–11).
None of us has a right to all he earns. God's portion under the Law is one-tenth of our earnings, even though grace can demand more. Yet many steal from God by not tithing their earnings as they should.
Stealing from God refers not only to our money, but to our lives in general.
Everything we have is the Lord's. We owe our very life to Jesus Christ. He purchased our lives at the cross of Calvary and now has rightful ownership. But many times we steal our life away from Him, denying Him ownership and lordship over our lives.
Also, in each of our lives, the Lord has graciously instilled talents and gifts. To neglect to use them for His glory, rather hoarding them for our own benefit is nothing short of stealing.
Instead of living immorally, stealing from men or God, let us seek to live pure lives. "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
Remember, your life is a gift of God to use and invest for His glory.Back to Top
Commandment #9: You Shall Not Bear False Witness. (Exodus 20:16)
Though this commandment was originally focused against perjuring oneself in a judicial trial, it certainly applies to lying in general. With the teaching of situation ethics in our public schools (the teaching that there is no such thing as absolute truth), it's no wonder that 67% of Americans don't believe in absolute truth. With this kind of outlook, it's easy to see why lying and deception are so much a part of our culture.
According to the book, The Day America Told the Truth:
- 91% of us lie regularly
- The majority of us find it hard to get through a week without lying
- 1 in 5 can't make it through a single day without lying.
God hates lying"These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16–19).
Notice that three of the seven things the Lord hates revolve around the ninth commandment: "Thou shalt not bear false witness" (Exodus 20:16). From this, we can conclude that God hates lying in any form."It is impossible for God to lie" (Hebrews 6:18). The Lord hates lying because He is the source of truth—and truth describes His very character. In drastic contrast, Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
When we lie, we are behaving more like children of the devil than children of God. God says of the liar, "He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence" (Psalm 101:7)."Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds" (Colossians 3:9).
Why do we lie?
Considering we know that lying is wrong, why do we do it? Oftentimes we lie because we have been caught doing something wrong. An example of this was when Moses came down from Mount Sinai and found Aaron and the rest of the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. When Moses confronted Aaron with this, Aaron responded, "We threw the gold in the fire and this golden calf came out." (See Exodus 32:17–24.)
According to the Washington Post, "People lie 92% of the time to save face and 98% to keep from offending someone else." We have all been faced with those situations when telling the truth is not easy.
Forms of Lying
You may feel you don't lie—but do you slander someone or spread gossip? What about flattery and exaggeration? The following four items are all forms of lying and are sin before the eyes of God.
Slander and gossip
Slander is a sin that is far too common in the church today. Many times we engage in slandering the character of others or simply saying things that we know are not true, yet we repeat them and even go out of our way to spread them with the intent of hurting the person we are speaking of. In the same way, gossip is the unnecessary bearing of information that may or may not be true, but is always harmful to the subject. Gossip is easy to dish out, but far harder to take."He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him" (Proverbs 18:13)."The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body" (Proverbs 18:8).
If you wonder if something is gossip and whether you should repeat it, keep in mind the following points:THINK
- Is it True?
- Will it Help?
- Is it Inspiring?
- Is it Necessary?
- Is it Kind?
Among the subtlest forms of deceit is flattery. Flattery is saying things to a person's face that you would never say behind his back. Many people flatter someone to get something from them. They tell the person things that they don't really believe themselves. This is a form of lying.
Exaggeration is very easy to do. We exaggerate stories to make them more interesting, exaggerate statistics or numbers to impress people, and one of the most common forms of exaggeration is to exaggerate our skills or experience in order to get a job or a promotion. Exaggeration is stretching the facts, and is another form of lying.
Sometimes we hear somebody say something that we know for a fact is not true and we remain silent. This is slander by silence. And sometimes we conceal activities or things we know we should confess or admit, but remain silent to protect ourselves. This is a form of lying also.
Commandment #10: You Shall Not Covet. (Exodus 20:17)
What is coveting? It means to eagerly desire that which belongs to another and to set the heart on it. The eyes look at an object, the mind admires it, the will goes over to it, and the body moves in to possess it—this is coveting.
The sin of coveting is behind the fall of man. The Bible tells us, "So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (Genesis 3:6).
The inward sin of coveting
While most of the Ten Commandments deal with things we do outwardly, the tenth commandment deals with what we do inwardly and our state of mind. Though it can be a subtle sin, it is a sin that can lead to far worse if not stopped.
A seed sin
The sin of coveting can lead to other sins. For example, it is not wrong to admire a neighbor's car, but if you look at it, admire it, desire it, and then move in to possess it—you have committed the sin of stealing!
Coveting is a powerful and underestimated sin. It can cripple you spiritually and ultimately destroy you. Covetousness and greed often go hand in hand. For 30 pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus. The Bible tells us, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Timothy 6:10).
The Heart of the Ten Commandments
Jesus emphasizes the heart, or essence, of the Ten Commandments when He sums them up in Mark 12: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30–31).
What is your highest priority in life?
What are your goals and objectives? You should have some, lest you waste your life. As the saying goes, "If you aim at nothing, you're bound to hit it."
Without a moral compass to guide us, we can become hopelessly lost. That is why an understanding of the Ten Commandments is so important today. We seem to be in a culture that exalts relativistic thinking, following the perilous precedent set by the Israelites in the Book of Judges, where we read, "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).
The Ten Commandments are God's absolutes of how to live. In these commands, God lays out what our priorities should be, as well as what standards we are to follow. In essence, He shows us what is right and what is wrong. Are you following God's priorities, or are you doing what seems right in your own eyes?Back to Top
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version™. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ™. NIV ™. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by biblical, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.