Ten commandments, one life. God is the Lord. He wants His people to know that, and to respond to His Lordship from the bottom of their hearts, and with all that they are. The Ten Commandments are therefore the declaration of His Lordship, and the call to wholehearted, committed obedience. These commands are stamped with the wisdom of our Great God, as His laws probe all that we are as they draw from us a response from every area of our lives. Let’s remind ourselves of the call that they make:
Let God be God (v.3). God is the only True and Living God, and the Redeemer of His people (vv.1-2). Well may He demand to have first place in our lives. And He does. Worship is embracing the reality of who He is, and of who we are, as His creatures, and as His redeemed.
Nothing must be substituted for God (vv.4-6). We must fight against our idol-making hearts, which continually want to make things as replacements for God. In our sin we long to run away from the claims of truth for the false claims of our God substitutes. God sees, and He warns that He judges such faithlessness.
God is the holiest of all (v.7). Honouring His Name means honouring all that He is as the Lord, the One in the highest place. We set Him apart in how we speak about Him, and in how we speak to Him, and in how we live as His servants and ambassadors.
We remember His day (vv.8-11). God has woven one day in seven into His creation for us to keep as we rest, worship and fellowship. Now we remember God’s power to create and to recreate by honouring the Resurrection Day, Sunday. What we do with this day shows how we trust in our Lord and want to enjoy Him with others. Keep the faith, and keep the day.
Honour those who matter most (v.12). That’s your parents, and it’s all those in authority. Our age may want to challenge all authority, but the mark of believers is that we’ve discovered the authority of God, so we honour Him as we honour those in authority over us, however imperfectly they may use it, and however difficult it may be for us to honour them. We do it by God’s grace.
Murder kills everything (v.13). Murder is murder, whether it’s killing with deeds, words, attitudes, or even avoidance of others. We are to love, serve, respect and protect life and our neighbour. Anything less is, well, murder.
Your heart, your promises (v.14). This is clear – God loves marriage, and commands us to guard marriage and its promises. Marriage is the cornerstone of a society reflecting God’s purposes and character. Break it, and you face its Creator, the Lord God.
Hand off (v.15). God loves you, and orders your life. He never puts you in situations where you need to steal. Trying to wangle a higher salary for your own selfish ends; trying to rob a person of more help and time than they can give; putting yourself beyond the needs of your family by a new time-consuming hobby? It’s all prohibited by this commandment.
Keep your words pure (v.16). Speech is one of God’s highest and crowning gifts. How dare we use it to hurt, belittle and attack others, whilst serving our own agendas? Shame on us. God speaks truth, and we learn to love truth and to speak it, by His help.
The World is never enough, so discover that God is (v.17). The world is a greedy, grasping place, just like my heart, and yours, too. Can we live contented with what we have? Is that ever possible? If we have the treasure of Jesus, and the power of the Spirit, we can know that grace is enough. We are the richest people.
So these are the Ten Commandments. They are beautiful, liberating, and totally binding on the followers of Jesus. They are straight from God, and that should be overwhelming (compare vv.18-21). Their authority should scare us, their beauty should captivate us, their practical, life-affirming wisdom should amaze us. Obey them, as your discipleship and by the Spirit’s power. Any worship less than this will make a fool of you (vv.22-26). And any worship more than this? Well, there is no such thing.
“This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5.3).