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The Ten Commandments
The Most Recognised Document

The Ten Commandments would have to be the most recognized document anywhere in the world. It has been described as the most concise and yet most comprehensive code for living in a society.

There are millions of people who seek to apply and follow the Ten Commandments while millions of others reject them as no longer relevant to the society of today. Christianity is deeply divided over the place of the Ten Commandments. Some claim that Christ nailed them to the cross and that we are free from the "legalism of the law" others try their best to keep the commandments but constantly fall short and fall into despair or focus on other people's "sins" to distract themselves from their own problems.

How should we understand it?

What is the point of the Law? Can we keep it? Should we keep it? How does it relate to the gospel? These are all important questions. A good starting point is a response Jesus gave to a lawyer concerning how we obtain eternal life.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" Luke 10:25,26

Jesus links eternal life to the law but he asks a very important question. "What is your reading of it?" How do you understand it? This question opens up the whole question of context. Notice the following scripture:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isa 55:8-9

When we read the commandments – what do we see? What context do we bring to those 10 famous commands? If God's thoughts are not our thoughts and our ways are not His ways, then do we read the commandments the way He intended them to be read?

The Bible refers to the Law of God as the Law of Liberty – James 2:12. David says in the Psalms that he loves God's law and it is his delight. Psalms 119:97,70. How can this law bring freedom when it constantly shows us where we are making mistakes? Even the Bible tells us that we can't find righteousness by trying to keep the law. Romans 3:19,20. How do we harmonize this? To answer this question we need to step back a few steps and lay some ground work. We need to look at the foundations of God's kingdom and what they are based upon to try and grasp God's ways and read the commandments from His ways and not our ways. Then I believe we begin to see how the Law is in fact liberty and something we can love and delight in like David.

God's Kingdom is about Relationships

One of the best scriptures that reveal that God's thoughts are not ours and our ways are not His is found in Jeremiah 9:23,24:

Thus says the Lord: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the Lord.

This scripture clearly reveals that the heart of God's kingdom is value by relationship to Him as opposed to finding value in achievements and things. For a deeper look at this point, I encourage you to read the book Identity Wars. (Opens in new window)

Just knowing that God loves us and we are special to him, makes our desperate need to be accepted by others and valued by our achievements seem insignificant. Knowing that we are loved regardless of what we achieve in life can take away our fear of failure and enable us to be creative and do things just because we enjoy it rather than to be accepted.

The Commandments are about Relationships

What does this have to do with the commandments? Well if God's kingdom is about relationships rather than achievements then these commandments should be about relationships rather than achievement.

If we look closely at the Ten Commandments, the first four are about our relationship to God and the last six about our relationship to each other. From heaven's point of view, the commandments are about protecting our relationships not a tool to show God we are acceptable to him by trying to perform them.

Intimate Relationship Needs Clear Identity of both Parties

So how do the commandments protect our relationship with God? Let me explain with an illustration. It involves a radio communication between the Amercians and the Canadians. Notice how true Identity affects the communication.

Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid collision.
Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
This is the captain of a U.S Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
No, I say again, you divert YOUR course.
This is the Aircraft Carrier USS LINCOLN, the second largest ship in the United states Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied with three Destoyers, three Cruisers and numerous support vessels. I DEMAND that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again that's one-five degrees north or counter-measures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
This is the lighthouse. Your call.

The communication of the Americans towards the Canadians was based on a belief that the Canadians were in a ship. A wrong understanding of their identity caused a wrong form of communication to take place and caused major problems in the relationship. This principle of wrong identity leading to bad communication is happening on many levels.

Millions of husbands and their wives have disagreements because they have not clearly defined their roles in the relationship and therefore their communication will often be confused. This also happens with parents and children. When children forget the role of their parents to train and lead them, disobedience always takes place. When parents forget their responsibility to care for and train their children, neglect and abuse often takes place.

Our Relationship with God defined by the Ten Commandments

This brings us back to the Ten Commandments. The human race, like the story of the Americans, has forgotten God's real identity and mistakenly thought that God is a ship not too different from themselves, not realizing that He is the light house. This fact causes great problems in communication between God and man. The Ten Commandments clearly define who God is and who we are and provide the basis upon which we can communicate.

If we would summarise the Ten commandments, we find that they tell us the following:

1. God is our Creator – (In Six days the Lord made Heaven and Earth)
2. God is our Redeemer – (I brought you out of bondage)
3. God is our Source of Life - (In Six days the Lord Made Heaven and Earth)
4. God is about heart to heart relationships – (No idols, Don't take my name in vain, Don't Kill, Don't commit adultery, Don't Steal, Don't lie, Don't Covet.
5. God is about Family – (Honour your Parents)

Let's look at each of the ten commandments in detail with this idea in mind.
God's Character
His Commandments His Characteristics
1. I brought you out of Bondage. You will have no other God's Besides Me Relationship Based -
(Redeemer, Saviour, The Only God)
2. You shall not make any carved Image Relationship Based -
(Focus on relationship, not visible things)
3. You will not take the name of God in Vain Relationship Based -
(Integrity, Transparency, Respect)
4. Remember the Sabbath for in Six days the Lord Made the Heavens and the Earth Relationship Based -
(Creator, Source of Life)
5. Honour Father and Mother Relationship Based -
(Family Paternal)
6. You shall not Kill Relationship Based -
(Life is Precious, Relationships are forever, I am the Source of Life)
7. You shall not Commit Adultery Relationship Based -
(Valid Intimate Relationships are Forever)
8. You Shall not Steal Relationship Based -
(Relational, not material focus)
9. You shall not lie Relationship Based -
(Integrity, Transparency)
10. You shall not Covet Relationship Based -
(Creator, Source of Life)

To help understand the principles outlined in this table, as well as the rest of this page, you may download the video file titled Identity Defined - The Ten Commandents from our resources page.

Because the Commandments are addressed to the human family they also reveal our identity.

1. We are Created beings – (In Six days the Lord made Heaven and Earth)
2. We are Redeemed – (I brought you out of bondage)
3. We are totally dependent on God for Life – (the Lord Made Heaven and Earth)
4. We are designed for heart to heart relationships – (No idols, Don't take my name in vain, Don't Kill, Don't commit adultery, Don't Steal, Don't lie, Don't Covet.
5. We are designed to live in families – (Honour your Parents)

Once we accept what the commandments are saying we can begin to have effective communication with God. We must never forget that the only reason the human race is even interested in having a relationship with God is through the amazing demonstration of God's Love through giving his son to die for us on the cross. That is another complete subject but suffice to say that we can only begin to communicate with God when we accept God's sacrifice.

Ten Commandments Protect our Life Source

David makes an interesting comment in the psalms in regard to the commandments.

I will never forget Your precepts, For by them You have given me life. Psalms 119:93

This scripture from Psalms 119 uses commandments, law and precepts interchangeably. So how does the law give us life? Let's Follow the sequence:

1. God is our Life source. We live every breath by His power. Acts 17:25,28; Colossians 1:17
2. We receive this life through a relationship with Him. John 17:3
3. That relationship is defined by the Ten Commandments. Matt 22:36-40
4. To break our relationship is to break the commandments
5. Therefore an observance of the Commandments protects our relationship and therefore our life.

When people talk about the Law of God being a dead letter or being nailed to the cross or something we can't keep, they are speaking out of our natural human experience to perform and achieve to be accepted. Paul certainly addresses this human problem in the New Testament and warns us against trying to earn acceptance with God by keeping the law, but once we look at the commandments from heavens point of view, we can say with David "O how I love your law" and understand what Jesus meant when he said.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbor as yourself.' "And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." Luke 10:25-28