10 Things We Learn from the Ten Commandments
Spirituality is all the rage these days. “I’m spiritual, but not religious!” is a common phrase, even if this kind of saying is impossible to achieve in practice. Even if you practice isolated spirituality, you are still following a religion of your own making. This kind of individualized religion is widely practiced in America, so it is a religion in its own right. Instead of seeking out our own commands to follow, we should listen to what God has already set down for us. In the Ten Commandments, we learn from God what true spirituality actually is.
The first commandment is that we worship “no other gods.” We are to fear, love, and trust in God alone above all other people and things. Sin is a refusal to trust in the one true God who has revealed himself in the Bible.
The second commandment teaches us to worship the right God in the right way. That way is set down for us also in the Bible.
The third commandment shows us that God’s holy name matters. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of this when we pray, Hallowed be thy name. God’s name is sacred, and he is not only to be worshiped but also revered.
The fourth commandment reminds us that we are only human. We need to hit the pause button on our life movie and reset it by sitting under the preaching of the Word. It’s not our story—it’s His. We are to attend the public ministry of the word often and make use of this for our sanctification. We also get to rest one day in seven.
The fifth commandment is all about respect. For our parents, yes, but also for all whom God has placed in authority over us. This includes governments, bosses, and people in our lives who deserve our respect and obedience.
The sixth commandment forbids unjust killing, and it goes even further by requiring our inner motives to seek the good and welfare of our neighbor. Jesus says that hatred is murder. If we want to please the Lord, we should regard our neighbor as sacred—cherishing other people as we would ourselves.
The seventh commandment reminds us that God wants us to be sexually pure. The good news is that this command doesn’t require us to be celibate/single. God has given the gift of marriage for those who are unable to remain sexually pure—and what a wonderful gift this is!
The eighth commandment forbids theft and jealous desire. We are to protect and preserve the possessions of others, and should recognize that every good gift has come not from our own hands—but from the Lord. It also teaches us that we should be willing to share with others who are in need. If we have an abundance of something (money, goods, time), we should give to others who stand in need.
The ninth commandment tells us not to lie. We should be more eager to cover up our neighbor’s blemishes than to publish their sins and faults to the rest of the world, as the cover of tabloid magazines often do. God does not like gossip, even if it is tolerated in some of our churches as an acceptable sin. We should try to give our neighbors the best reputation possible, even if they are not worthy of it.
The tenth commandment reminds us that God requires not only outward conformity to all of his law, but also inward righteousness and obedience. This is the command that exposes our idolatrous hearts in the clearest fashion. We can come up with a list of acceptable sins and really bad sins, but this final commandment teaches us that every sin is deadly. None of us has kept all of God’s commandments. If we thought we were doing pretty well with the first nine, the last commandment slays us in our sin. No one is righteous, no not one.
Just when we are about to be driven to total despair by the law, Scripture assures us with the gospel that God has sent his one and only Son to keep the Ten Commandments for us. Even though we can’t keep all of these rules, Jesus has kept the law—all of it—for us by living a perfect, holy, righteous, obedient life. He never broke a commandment—not for a second—not even once.
The root of true spirituality lies not in our keeping of these commandments but rather in putting our trust, our faith, and our hope in the only one who has. God forgives you in Christ, and through his forgiveness he enables you to begin to keep not only one commandment—but all the rest too. Go in peace!
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