The Ten Commandments – 2021

The world keeps churning out more and more laws. I was at a meeting recently where we were told that there are over 1,300 laws being proposed by the Minnesota House of Representatives during the 2021 legislative session. That is just the House. Then you have the Senate. Then you have the other 49 states and then the Federal Government. How many laws do we need?

Now granted, most of the laws that get proposed are never passed, especially if they are proposed by members of the minority party. And I understand that an elected officials have to have something to show for their time in congress. They can’t go back to their constituents and say, “I didn’t do anything.”

Sometimes laws sound like a good idea at the time but then as time goes on we find out they were not such a good idea. It’s known as the law of unintended consequences.

Christian still just go with the Ten Commandments. They have aged well. They don’t need to be tweaked. They are found in Exodus 20:

[1] And God spoke all these words, saying,

[2] “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

[3] “You shall have no other gods before me.

[4] “You shall not make for yourself a carved 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. [5] You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, [6] but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

[7] “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

[8] “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. [9] Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, [10] but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. [11] For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

[12] “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

[13] “You shall not murder.

[14] “You shall not commit adultery.

[15] “You shall not steal.

[16] “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

[17] “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:1-17, SV)

1. You shall have no other gods.

Notice here the word god is spelled with a small G and is plural. This means that there are many gods so first we must ask “What does it mean to have a god?

Luther answers this in the Small Catechism by saying, We should fear love and trust in God above all things.

In the Large Catechism he writes, “Anything on which your heart relies and depends, that is really your God. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart.”

In Deuteronomy the First Commandment is stated this way: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

In Matthew 22 when someone asked Jesus what was the first and greatest commandment he quoted from Deuteronomy and not from Exodus.

This first commandment has us all guilty because we have all trusted in things other than the one, true God.

2. In the second commandment the word for God is capitalized and is in the singular; We are not to take the name of the Lord our God in vain. Our name is our identity; so it is with God. To misuse God’s name is to bring insult to God himself.

This means that we are to honor and respect God’s name. We are not to speak God’s name uselessly or carelessly but to treat his name with respect.

This also means teaching God’s Word properly and avoiding all false teachings, including the teachings of the devil and those who practice satanic arts.

Jesus teaches us to pray “Hallowed be thy name,” in the Lord’s Prayer, which means calling upon God’s name in all times of trouble, praising God’s name for the many blessings he gives us, teaching God’s word properly and living a godly life according to his Word.

3. Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. In the Old Testament this commandment was about resting on the Saturday, the Sabbath Day, the seventh day of the week, the day God rested from creating the world. No work was to be done and they were to keep the day holy by worshiping God and hearing his word.

In the New Testament this commandment is all about Jesus. Jesus is our rest, as he says in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Jesus also taught that he was the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Worshiping Jesus and hearing his word is a Sabbath day no matter what day of the week it falls on. Those who don’t take time to hear about Jesus will never be at rest no matter how relaxed and easy their lives are.

The people of the New Testament chose Sunday instead of Saturday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday and his resurrection from the dead is the foundation of our faith. If Christ has not been raised, Paul says, our faith is worthless and we are still in our sins.

And in I Corinthians 1:30 the Apostle Paul writes: “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (ESV)

So that is a summary of the first table of the Ten Commandments, the commandments that deal with our relationship to God. Commandments four through ten, the second table, have to do with our relationship to other people.

4. Three of the commandments of the second table have to do with protecting the human family. First there is the fourth commandment, Honor your father and your mother. This commandment comes with a promise: that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

This commandment also includes honoring and submitting to all those that God places in authority over us in the home, in church, in school and in the government.

(6.) The sixth commandment also deals with families; You shall not commit adultery.” Marriage is one of God greatest gifts to humankind but we have not honored marriage as we should. Some have even tried to redefine it. While there is no exact statement in the Bible that marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman, it is clearly the way God intended it.

The way God set things up is that he created marriage and gave the secular authorities the right to administer it. That’s why things related to marriage get messed up so often.

In Malachi it says that God hates divorce and Jesus says the same in Matthew 5 and yet our divorce rates remain high.

But marriage was created by God and so his word will always be our guide. All those who harm the institution of marriage as the lifelong union between one man and one woman, whether it is through divorce, through promoting same sex marriage or sex outside of marriage or any other misuse of the gift of marriage, are sinning against God’s law.

The last commandment also deals with the human family: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” We’ll talk more about coveting in a little while.

5. You shall not murder. Life is a gift from God and is to be ended only by him. Lawful government may execute criminals and fight just wars but we are to help and support our neighbor in every physical need.

We are to protect all human life from conception to death. We are not to abuse our bodies with drugs or other substances. Not only is murder prohibited but we are not to do anything that would shorten or embitter our neighbor’s life. Suicide is also forbidden.

7. In the seventh commandment God forbids stealing. In our modern world we now have to deal with identity theft. There are also many scams to watch out for. It seems that every new technology that is developed to help make our lives easier also gives thieves one more way to steal from others.

It is very common that when someone sets up a Go Fund Me page for someone in need that scammers will set up similar Go Fund Me pages hoping to get donations that will never go to support the person in need.

8. You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor. Lying is the sin that usually follows and intensifies others sins. We sin against one of the other commandments and we are not proud of what we have done, but instead of confessing our guilt and asking forgiveness we try to cover things up by lying about it. Lying about our sins only makes them worse. God knows what we have done and usually other people find out about them too.

9. & 10. Coveting is addressed in the last two commandments. Coveting is the only sin that is done completely in our hearts. Coveting leads to commit outward sins but coveting happens in our hearts.

The antidote to coveting is contentment. Instead of having a sinful desire for things that belong to others, God wants us to be content with what we have. He wants us to be content with our bodies, our minds, our talents and abilities. He wants us to be content with our families, our spouses, parents and children, our in laws and extended families. He wants us to be content with our church and school and community.

When we look honestly at all these commandments we find that they make sense. They are truly the best way to go in every situation. What does not make sense is that even though we have broken these holy, God-given commandments, God still loves us and forgives us.

God’s forgiveness that he gives us in Jesus is the foolishness that Paul talks about in I Corinthians 1:

[22] For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, [23] but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, [24] but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (I Corinthians 1:22-24, ESV)

Jesus is our righteousness and because his righteousness is 100 percent perfect, through faith in him we are forgiven and righteous in God’s sight.

If you had a lot of time on your hands you could sit down and figure out how each of the 1300+ laws that are being proposed in Minnesota this year fit in with the Ten Commandments. Since I’m sure none of the 1300 laws relate to our relationship with God, that leaves just commandments 4-10 that would need to be correlated to the 1300 proposed laws.

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