Christian Witness

The Ten Commandments

   I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

You will notice that this commandment states the theme of the entire first tablet. Because of the fact that God has brought us all out of bondage, He is simply asking us not to honor other gods before Himself. The word "before" in the Old Testament comes from a word which actually means "against". In a sense, God is stating that if you honor other gods you are doing it against His will.

We find an example of this word "before" used in the case of Nimrod as a "mighty hunter before the Lord" in Genesis 10:9. Yes, even Nimrod, a man, was considered so great that he eventually was honored as  a god to his people. The true God feels He should be honored above any and all gods, manmade or otherwise. It only stands to reason that creatures of Earth should honor the Creator and not the created, especially after all that He has done for us.

II    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me; And show mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

This commandment, like the first, follows the theme of the first tablet but expands on the seriousness of honoring other gods. The Father even helps us understand what He means by honoring other gods. God wants a relationship with us and He knows that Satan is always trying to distract us from getting closer to Him.

Anything that you pay homage to or respect more than honoring the Creator becomes an idol. In other words, if we make or use images, idols or people as objects of worship to replace God or as mediators to get to God, we have broken this commandment. God also states here that the sins of the fathers will be seen in the third and fourth generations of those who shun Him and look for their own way. On the other hand, God says He will bless those who honor Him and keep His commandments.

III    Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who taketh his name in vain.

This commandment can be looked at in two ways. First, we should never use the name of God in a way that shows irreverence toward Him. His name should be honored above any an all names. Breaking this commandment in this way is probably the most common as people use God's name to show anger or in some defiant manner. A person would do well to use other terms to express their feelings. Secondly, when we take the name of the Lord, meaning accepting Him as creator God, Lord and Savior, we become representatives to the world. This responsibility should never be taken lightly. God has a moral standard that He wishes people claiming to be Christians to uphold. It only makes sense that if we claim to be Godly or Christ-like, we have "taken" the Lord's name. God says He will not hold him guiltless who claims to be a Christian but continues to live as if the sinful nature still controls their life. The devil would like nothing more than for people to claim to be Christian but live like the devil, thus giving Christianity a bad name and leading others to the loss of eternal life.

IV    Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six day shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 The Fourth Commandment starts out with the word "Remember" not only because many seem to have forgotten but also because He wants us to always remember the seventh day in honor of Him and what He had created. This memorial established at the end of the creation week is the only known basis for the seven week cycle we know today. When God decided that He was satisfied with what He had created, He set the seventh day apart as a perpetual, weekly appointment to celebrate the creation with Him and He asks us to rest  from all our work as He did from His.

As the longest of all the commandments, this one contains what many believe is God's Seal. Much like a Presidential Seal, this commandment contains three important parts. We have underlined the portion where you can see His Name (Lord), His Title (made, Creator), and His dominion (Heaven and Earth). It should be noted that this claim by God makes the devil very angry and jealous and he has worked very hard to have this portion, or even the whole commandment removed entirely. There is something else to note here, many today are unaware that the seventh day of the week has always been Saturday and not Sunday.

V    Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

With the beginning of the second tablet which involves our relationships with people, we have a call out to honor our father and mother. This may seem rather obvious to most, however, many of us fall hopelessly short in keeping this commandment. Because God created us and knows best how things should operate, He established a certain order based on honoring those in authority over us. Anyone who has been involved in situations where many people wanted to be the leader can see the need for a sort of "chain of command" for keeping order.

We must understand that when we take it upon ourselves to honor only those who we deem worthy, our attitude may come from an unchanged heart still in rebellion. Honoring our parents is part of honoring God.

VI    Thou shalt not kill.

This commandment seems straight forward enough but actually goes deeper than we may think. Some believe God doesn't mind killing and He even allows killing if it is for good reason. Although God has allowed people to be killed for outright rebellion throughout the ages, it was never pre-meditation with murderous intent. God is God and we are not. Even though we are made in the image of God, we do not have the authority to decide when someone should be killed. God knows if everyone kept this commandment it would not be necessary for other to have the burden of having to decide to use killing as punishment.

Many believe that just because they haven't killed anyone they are keeping this commandment. For those people, the words of Jesus Himself may help to shed some light on this subject. In Matthew 5:21,22, He stated that if you have anger for someone, then you can be judged as a murderer because you have the type of spirit which is not of God.

VII    Thou shalt not commit adultery.

There has been some debate about what constitutes adultery. Is it simply a physical act of infidelity where a married person chooses to have sexual relations with someone other than their spouse? Jesus made this one very clear also when He said, "If you look upon a woman with lust in your heart you have already committed adultery". In the same way that God knows the intents of the heart with regard to killing, He also knows that the spirit of discontent can be made manifest in the animalistic passions of an unconverted heart.

We must understand that with all these commandments, God is not trying to spoil all of our fun, but helping us to see our true state. He is very wise and knows that a married person who loves their spouse, would be very upset to find that some other person had tempted or convinced their loved one to become unfaithful. Think of the tears and the heartache and maybe the feelings of children or other family members that will be affected by careless acts of selfish passion. Our Father is very sad when He sees those He loves blindly and selfishly cause pain to others.

VIII    Thou shalt not steal.

As we continue to study the second tablet we see yet another relationship commandment. Many do not recognize this as a relationship issue because seldom will the ones doing the stealing concern themselves with anything but getting what they want. However, just because the thief is not thinking about the other person, does not mean that the person is not affected by the sin. It is interesting to note that those who steal often find themselves compounding the problem by lying to cover up their misdeed. This again stems from a selfish and prideful fallen nature.

God makes it plain that He does not want us to steal. Simply put; if we decide to steal, we are either separating ourselves from Him out of ignorance or outright rebellion.

IX    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The Bible tell us that God  hates lies and all liars will be judged as unfit for Heaven. This commandment emphasizes the fact that it is especially wrong when we lie about someone else. When we bears false witness against another, many terrible things can happen. The one being falsely accused could experience the loss of time, job, money, friends, family loyalty, freedom and even life itself. Obviously, the one who does not consider the possible consequences of their actions lacks the fruits of God's Spirit.

X    Thy shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.

In the last commandment, God reveals his feelings regarding coveting, or desiring something that belongs to another. Instead of counting their blessings, a person who commits this sin seems to think they deserve something more than what they have. Their bent on making up for where they believe God was deficient can easily consume them affecting the lives of others.

In the same way that Lucifer was unhappy with his situation, the prideful, unconverted heart will naturally believe the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. God knows that discontent with what we've been given will ultimately leads to sin against Him and others.

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