Ministry Resources

The Law of God

The Law of God

Worship no god but me.
Do not make for yourselves images of anything.
Do not use my name for evil purposes.
Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Respect your father and your mother.
Do not commit murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not accuse anyone falsely.
Do not desire anything another man owns.

Meaning and Purpose of the Law

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Cut two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke’ (Exodus 34:1).

In Exodus 20 the Ten Commandments that God wrote are written for us. He gave them as laws and guidelines for His children to follow. Let’s look at each law individually

Worship no god but me.

As we learned in Lesson 2, we are to give God first place in our lives. This commandment is repeated in Matthew 4:10: “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!”

Do not make for yourselves images of anything.

Our allegiance is to God—we cannot have divided loyalties. Jesus said that no man can serve two masters (Luke 16:13), for he will love one and despise the other. We want to be true to the Lord, loving Him with our whole heart.

Do not use my name for evil purposes.

People break the third commandment by cursing and using God’s name in vain. We will always give that Name which is above all names a place of love, honor, and respect.

Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you. (Ephesians 4:29).

Do not swear by heaven, because it is God’s throne; nor by earth, because it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King (Matthew 5:34-35).

Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy.

This is the only commandment not repeated in the New Testament. Most Christians do not observe the Hebrew Sabbath. They keep Sunday instead because it was on the first day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead. Every Lord’s Day can remind us of the Resurrection! It is important
that we set aside a day for rest and worship, but which day we choose is secondary. Colossians 2:16 says, “So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon Festival or the Sabbath.”

One person thinks that a certain day is more important than other days, while someone else thinks that all days are the same. Each one should firmly make up his own mind (Romans 14:5).

Respect your father and your mother.

Exodus 20:12 gives a special promise to obedient children: “Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.” The New Testament reinforces the commandment.

“Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do” (Ephesians 6:1).

Do not commit murder.

The first murderer was Cain who killed his brother Abel. Perhaps Cain thought no one saw what happened, but God did. He said to Cain, “Why have you done this terrible thing? Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground, like a voice calling for revenge” (Genesis 4:10). Murder is a sin with chain reactions—it hurts the families and friends of both the murderer and he who was murdered. It is also a grave offense against God who made man in his own image.

Do not commit adultery.

Adultery is the sin of breaking the marriage vow by having sexual relations with someone other than the marriage partner. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit
adultery.”

Do not steal.

It is wrong to take anything that doesn’t belong to you, even if the person you took it from is rich and doesn’t need it. The man who used to rob must stop robbing and start working, in order to earn an honest living for himself and to be able to help the poor (Ephesians 4:28).

Do not accuse anyone falsely.

The ninth commandment includes all lying in word or deed. God does not make a difference between “good” lies and “bad” lies—all false accusations are wrong. Psalm 101:7 says, “No liar will live in my palace; no hypocrite will remain in my presence.” But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars—the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

Do not desire anything another man owns.

To wrongly desire what belongs to another is often called coveting. Luke 12:15 puts it this way: “Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.” God gave us these laws to teach us right from wrong, to guide us when we make decisions. What, then was the purpose of the Law? It was added in order to show what wrongdoing is, and it was meant to last until the coming of Abraham’s descendant, to whom the promise was made… So the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with God through faith (Galatians 3:19, 24).

Obedience to the Law

The Lord asks that we keep His commandments not only in action, but in attitude as well an attitude of love, of preferring others above ourselves.

The commandments, “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not desire what belongs to someone else” all these, and any others besides, are summed up in the one command, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Romans 13:9).

“For our love for God means that we obey His commands. And his commands are not too hard for us” (1 John 5:3).

We already know that keeping commandments won’t save us. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8-9 confirms it!

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift so that no one can boast about it.

However, we do obey the Lord because as His children we want above all else to please Him. If we do break one of His commandments, we should immediately ask God to forgive and cleanse us from sins.

I am writing this to you, my children, so that you will not sin; but if anyone sin, we have someone who pleads with the Father on our behalf—Jesus Christ, the righteous one. And Christ himself is the means, by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but the sins of everyone (1 John 2:1-2).

Have you sometimes felt weak and maybe even disobedient? The Lord Jesus can give you the help and strength that you need. Would you like to bow your head and ask for His help right now?

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