The Commandments

    The Ten Commandments are listed below, quoted from Exodus 20:3-17. They present specific examples of how to love God and our neighbor; they are physical examples of exercising the spiritual intent - loving God and man - that Jesus outlined in Matthew 22:37-40.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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 fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

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.

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.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

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.

 

Did the early Christians keep the Commandments?

    The following collection of New Testament verses answer the question:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Jesus, in Matthew 5:17,18)

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 19:16-19)

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (Jesus, in John 14:21)

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3)

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight (1 John 3:22)

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:3,4)

The faithful are they "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." (Revelation 12:17)

The faithful "are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." (Revelation 14:12)

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

    Jesus sternly warned against changing the commandments, or substituting tradition for them:

Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:6-13)

    We can not worship God without obeying Him. Obedience to God, "in spirit and in truth," is the foundation of worship.

And why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Jesus, in Luke 6:46)

My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. (Jesus, in Luke 8:21)

    We can all appreciate the social and personal benefits of keeping most of these commandments. Not murdering, not stealing, not lying etc all contribute to a stable and healthy society. But the fourth commandment, to set apart the seventh day of the week - Saturday - as a day of rest, is different: it seemingly bears no direct social benefit, yet it still stands as a commandment from God. Should we still keep it?

   If God is real to you the answer is an obvious yes. It is God who decides what is right and wrong, and it is God who put all ten commandments in place. Remember what Jesus said:

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18, 19)

   Jesus gave a stern warning about putting man-made tradition and doctrine above the Word of God:

Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:6-9)

     Can we claim to worship God while knowingly disobeying Him? Of course not. In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" Sometimes we have to "step out of the boat" - out of our comfort zone - to do what God says to do. Peter would never have walked on water with Jesus if he hadn't stepped off the boat (Matthew 14:22-33).

     To those who choose to obey, God will give His Spirit: "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him" (Peter, in Acts 5:32; also see Hebrews 5:9). Our willingness to obey says volumes about our real attitude toward God, and speaks louder than all our words. Paul reminded the Ephesians that a rationalizing, disobedient mind comes from Satan, the "prince of the power of the air":

... in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2)

    God considers keeping the seventh day as a day of rest, a sabbath, as a special sign between Him and His people:

I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. (Ezekiel 20:19,20)

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