What Are the 10 Commandments

 In Christian Faith

Whether or not you’re a Christian, I’m sure you’ve heard about the term ‘the ten commandments’ before. You may not know what they exactly are, but most people seem to connect them to Christianity.

So what are the ten commandments? Well, the ten commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai on two stone tablets. It’s the first instance of four where the Bible records God/Jesus writing with His own finger. The Bible says: ‘And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God…’ {Deuteronomy 9:10 KJV}.

The other moments God wrote with His own finger can be found in Daniel 5:5 and John 8:6. When the end has come and we have overcome, Jesus will write God’s name upon us together with the name of the city new Jerusalem, and His new name as well {Revelation 3:12}.

Since the 10 commandments were written by the finger of God Himself, they must be very important to know.

What Are the 10 Commandments?

The 10 commandments were given to Moses on mount Sinai, and are listed in Exodus 20:3-17.

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing 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 a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, 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 heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Although most of these commandments may be short, they reveal a lot more depth to them than you might think.

>> You may also like ‘Are the Ten Commandments Still Valid Today?’ <<

What Is the First Commandment

‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ {Exodus 20:3}

There’s only one true God – Jehovah – who’s the uncreated One and the Creator of all. He alone is entitled to supreme reverence and worship.

‘Man is forbidden to give to any other object the first place in his affections or his service. Whatever we cherish that tends to lessen our love for God or to interfere with the service due Him, of that do we make a god’ {PP 305.4}.

What Is the Second Commandment

‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth’ {Exodus 20:4}

This second commandment forbids the worship of the true God by images or similitudes. Trying to represent God by material objects lowers our conception of our Father. In such, we’d be attracted to the creature rather than the Creator {also see PP 306.1}.

‘Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me’ {Exodus 20:5}

The close and sacred relationship between God and His people is represented under the idea of marriage. This makes idolatry a spiritual adultery. ‘The displeasure of God against it, is then fitly called jealousy’ {PP 306.2}.

Although it seems here that children are punished for their parents’ sin, God wouldn’t do this… except if they participate in these sins as well.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the case that children walk in the example of their parents. As such, they become partakers of their sin. This thought by itself should already be enough to look at Christ for our example, not our parents. For there’s only One who was perfectly righteous and sinless while walking on this earth! {also see PP 306.3}

‘and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments’ {Exodus 20:6}

Just as the sinners will inherit their parents’ iniquities, so the righteous will be shown mercy. And this mercy isn’t just shown to the third and fourth generation! No, it’s given to thousands of generations that love the Lord and keep His commandments. What a beautiful promise! {also see PP 306.4}

What Is the Third Commandment

‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain’ {Exodus 20:7}

The third commandment includes a bit more than just the use of false oaths and common swear words.

It forbids us to use God’s name in a careless way without really regarding the significance of His name. Psalm 111:9 states that God’s name is holy and reverend. Everyone of us should meditate upon His majesty, His purity and holiness. His holy name should only be spoken with reverence and dignity. {also see PP 306.6}

What Is the Fourth Commandment

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy’ {Exodus 20:8 KJV}

The Sabbath is introduced in the beginning of creation. The Bible states clearly that ‘God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made’ {Genesis 2:3 KJV}.

So, Sabbath isn’t a new concept introduced to Moses. We need to remember and observe God’s holy day as a remembrance of the Creator’s work.

Six days shalt thou labour, 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’ {Exodus 20:9, 10 KJV}

God has given us 6 days to do all our work. He requires from us that all this work is done within this time frame. Although we can’t do our own work, acts of necessity and mercy – caring for the sick and suffering – are permitted on the Sabbath.

In Isaiah 58:13 we can find even more information about keeping the Sabbath holy. It says: ‘If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words’.

So really, keeping the Sabbath holy also means refraining from speaking your own words. We can’t discuss business matters or lay plans on the Sabbath as these are regarded by God as though engaged in the actual transaction of business. We shouldn’t even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character {also see PP 307.3}.

This is most likely a tricky one for many of us, but with God’s help, we will prevail.

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it’ {Exodus 20:11 KJV}

Again this verse reveals the importance of the Sabbath being linked with creation. God completed His work in 6 days, and He rested on the 7th day, just as He requires us to do.

The book of Ezekiel adds: ‘Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them’ {Ezekiel 20:12 KJV}. Those who keep His Sabbath holy, show with this act that they’re worshipers of the One and True God {also see PP 307.2}.

What Is the Fifth Commandment

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee’ {Exodus20:12 KJV}

The fifth commandment requires children to not only show respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness. They need to help lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to comfort them in their old age {also see PP 308.2}.

What Is the Sixth Commandment 

‘Thou shalt not kill’ {Exodus 20:13 KJV}

This commandment doesn’t only include the literal act of killing someone. It also refers to:

All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life; the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others, or causes us even to wish them harm (for “whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer”); a selfish neglect of caring for the needy or suffering; all self-indulgence or unnecessary deprivation or excessive labor that tends to injure health — all these are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment’ {PP 308.5}

What Is the Seventh Commandment

‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ {Exodus 20:14 KJV}

Many Christians might believe this commandment to be a literal statement. However, Christ Himself made it very clear that just thinking about another woman/man in a lustful manner, is classified as adultery as well.

He said: ‘But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’ {Matthew 5:28 KJV}.

What Is the Eighth Commandment

‘Thou shalt not steal’ {Exodus 20:15 KJV}

The eighth commandment also involves more than just the literal act of stealing.

It condemns ‘manstealing and slave dealing, and forbids wars of conquest. It condemns theft and robbery. It demands strict integrity in the minutest details of the affairs of life. It forbids overreaching in trade, and requires the payment of just debts or wages. It declares that every attempt to advantage oneself by the ignorance, weakness, or misfortune of another is registered as fraud in the books of heaven‘ {PP 309.1}

What Is the Ninth Commandment

‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’ {Exodus 20:16 KJV}

The ninth commandment includes lying and every attempt to deceive our neighbour. Even withholding the truth that could harm another person, belongs in this category {also see PP 309.3}.

What Is the Tenth Commandment

‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s’ {Exodus 20:17 KJV}

This is probably the most common sin: wanting what another has. Jealousy and envy are violations of this commandment. It prohibits all selfish desires. Coveting strikes at the very root of all sins {also see PP 309.5}.

Something to remember: ‘The 10 commandments are not 10 suggestions’.

And these are the ten commandments, also known as God’s moral law.

Some people say the 10 commandments don’t apply anymore today, or not all of them anyway.

However, even Revelation {Rev 12:17; Rev 14:12} speaks about the remnant that keeps the commandments of God. I’m sure every Christian agrees that we haven’t reached the end of the Bible just yet. That means that God still requires us to keep the ten commandments.

Have you ever considered the ten commandments in such detail?

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