The Ten Commandments Are More Relevant Than Ever
A recent article reporting on a YouGov poll showed that many British Christians believe that four of the Ten Commandments are irrelevant. The four “irrelevant” commandments are the first four: Thou shalt have no other gods before me; thou shalt not worship any graven image; thou shalt not take God’s name in vain; and remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
“Most Christians believe [these] four … commandments are not ‘important principles to live by,’” wrote Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent for the Telegraph. “But most Christians, in common with the general public, still believe that it’s wrong to disobey your father and mother, commit adultery, covet others’ possessions, bear false witness, steal and commit murder.”
Has God Become Irrelevant?
This is a fascinating study in current religious thinking. “Stealing and killing were the most widely condemned transgressions, with 94 percent of Christians and 93 percent of nonreligious people believing those commandments are still important and relevant,” continued Ms. Rudgard. It is both compelling and tragic that a majority of Britons see building a relationship with God as irrelevant in our increasingly dangerous world. We need God now more than ever.
“On Tuesday, the archbishop of Canterbury signaled support for a day of rest, tweeting that he was ‘encouraged’ by the chief rabbi’s campaign for people to spend time offline over the Sabbath,” wrote Rudgard. You need to understand the unique subtlety of this quote. Merriam-Webster defines the word sabbath as: “the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians.” The complete wording of the Fourth Commandment comprises four verses in Exodus 20:8-11. It contains the most detailed instructions of any commandment. Verse 10 is the key part of the commandment. It is from this verse that Merriam-Webster derives its definition: “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” God not only wants people to worship Him, He specifically states on which day He wants to be worshiped. It is not Sunday. Sunday, the first day of the week, is the chosen day of worship for Catholics and most Protestants. However, it is not the day God chose for all people to worship Him.
“While almost half of Catholics said they supported keeping the Sabbath day [Sunday] holy, just 29 percent of Protestants said they felt the same,” continued Rudgard. What does it say about society in general if people don’t see a need to worship God, even on the wrong day of the week? Religious fervor is in serious decline, not only in the British Isles, but in America too.
“According to a usa Today poll, ‘Sixty percent of Americans cannot name five of the Ten Commandments,’” reported the Family Research Council website. “Seventy-four percent of Americans can name all three Stooges …. Thirty-five percent of Americans can recall all six kids from the Brady Bunch. Twenty-five percent of Americans can name all seven ingredients of McDonald’s Big Mac. Here is the sad news: Only 14 percent can accurately name all Ten Commandments.” Who’s to blame? Certainly, every person must bear his own shame for not wanting to worship God and keep His Ten Commandments. Yet Christian leaders are falling down on the job.
Ten Commandments—Too Holy?
Priests, pastors, ministers and religious educators don’t emphasize the need to worship and obey God. “The bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, said: ‘In an age as busy, frantic and feverish as ours, I would have thought keeping the sabbath [Sunday], or at the very least observing a balance between work and rest and play, was more important than ever,’” wrote Rudgard. This is an astounding statement by a bishop. He doesn’t even mention that a “sabbath” day is a time set aside to worship God. “Sabbath is both a radical idea and a practically useful idea for it simply acknowledges that we need rest and we need to play. Indeed, it says this is what we are made for,” the bishop continued. Sounds like the bishop’s sabbath is a time to worship the self.
Modern Christians’ views of the Ten Commandments are confusing and contradictory. My wife and I recently had the opportunity to watch a Broadway-show type production of the story of Moses. For me, it was scintillating to watch the production. It was absorbing like a 3-D movie. However, I was greatly disappointed in the scene where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Moses took hold of the stone tablets, then immediately knelt down and cried out: “Oh God, this law is so holy, we’ll never be able to keep it.” Then a voice, symbolizing God the Father, assured Moses that His Son Jesus would take care of everything. How disappointing. How unbiblical. Yet more than one Christian denomination teaches that Christ got rid of the Ten Commandments. Then shouldn’t a thinking person ask: Why did Christ give them to Moses in the first place?
“Most evangelicals today are under the influence of dispensationalism, a doctrine that teaches that there have been seven dispensations, or time periods, through history during which God has made separate covenants with humanity,” wrote Austin Cline of Thoughtco.com. “One of these dispensations was during the time of Moses and based upon the law given to Moses by God. This covenant was superseded by the gospel of Jesus Christ that inaugurated a new dispensation which will last [until] Jesus’s Second Coming. The Ten Commandments may have been the foundation of God’s covenant with the Israelites, but that doesn’t mean that they are binding upon people today.” Dispensationalism is not a belief based on the Bible. It is a display of human reasoning to get around keeping God’s eternal, spiritual law (Romans 7:14).
Grace Communion International Church (formerly the Worldwide Church of God) states on its website: “What then are Christians to do with the Ten Commandments? Can we approach it as scripture inspired by God, ‘useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness’? (2 Timothy 3:16).” Sounds clear, right? “Yes—we should approach it exactly as it is written—as a report of what God gave His people in the time of Moses. We read it as a story first, before jumping to conclusions that we are to obey every command within it,” the website continued. Now that’s confusing. It says the Ten Commandments are part of Scripture. It says Christians should use it for teaching, reproof (meaning correction) and training in righteousness. But it is just a story and we don’t need to obey it. This teaching is deceitfully confusing.
A Slave People Need Law
Exodus chapters 19 and 20 are more than just a story. They are vital history recorded for those of us living in these tragic end times. Consider the historic scene. Using 10 massively destructive plagues, the Eternal God set 2.5 to 3 million Israelites free from the tyrannical slavery of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. As the Israelites traveled toward the Promised Land, Pharaoh and his troop of charioteers and soldiers pursued after them. Escaping through a miraculously divided and dried Red Sea bed, the Israelites witnessed Pharaoh and his army drown in the sea (Exodus 14:27). God had the ragtag mass of people camp at Mt. Sinai.
Along with Moses, these likely somewhat dirty, haggard, road-tired former slaves saw Mt. Sinai ablaze, were physically shaken by the mountain quaking, deafened by the trumpet blast, and frightened out of their wits by thunder, lightning and the voice of God (Exodus 20:18). “Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die,” they told Moses (verse 19). Accompanied by dramatic miraculous events, the people heard God speak the Ten Commandments, word for word. The Israelites understood quickly they now had an all-powerful supreme ruler.
That day was both incredible and terrifying. The experience remained with Moses for the rest of his life. “I am trembling with fear,” exclaimed Moses as he stood before Mount Sinai (Hebrews 12:21). The Eternal God had come down to the mountain. He had displayed his awesome power. Fire raged on the mountaintop as hot as a smelting furnace. A swarm of earthquakes vehemently shook the mountain and rumbled across the plain where the Israelites stood. Smoke billowing from the flames formed a dark cloud hiding Sinai’s peak. To add to the experience, a loud blast from a trumpet continuously grew louder until Moses spoke to God. Then God spoke back! (Exodus 19:18-19). Can you imagine yourself there?
Remember, the Israelites were enslaved by pagan Egyptians. The Ten Commandments had been in force before this time (Genesis 6:5; 17:1; 18:19). Yet the Egyptians had not allowed them to keep God’s way of life as defined by His law. The Israelites had obeyed the whip, but now they were to obey a code of laws. Theirs was now a different life. This was probably more frightening than the fire, lightning and thunder.
“Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not,” Moses told the people. God personally coming to this Earth and reteaching His great and glorious law to His chosen people was the greatest gift God could have given them. God uses Egypt as a symbol of living a life of sin today (Hebrews 11:24-26). If we live a life in disobedience to the Ten Commandments, then spiritually we are living as a slave in Egypt. No one can live as a slave to sin and expect to receive eternal life.
Freedom Comes by Obedience
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever (John 8:34-35; English Standard Version). The Eternal God, in the person of Jesus Christ, taught this to the Jews of His day. Through the Bible and His faithful ministers, He still teaches this same truth to all faithful Christians today. What is sin? The Ten Commandments show us what sin is (1 John 3:4). Jesus Christ lived a sinless life (verse 5). He never committed one sin. Why on Earth would He abolish the Ten Commandments at His crucifixion? Even a little child can understand this doesn’t make sense.
Don’t allow false ministers to teach you a false Christ (Matthew 24:4-5, 24). Here is what the true Christ had to say about the Ten Commandments: “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,” (Matthew 19:16-17). This man then asked Christ, Which commandments? Christ then repeated to him the last six commandments, or the second great commandment—love your neighbor as yourself (verses 18-19). This man told Christ he had been keeping those commands since his youth.
Then he asked Christ what he still lacked. Christ answer was compelling: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (verse 21). The young man left Christ very sorrowful because he had great wealth. Do we understand the deep problem here? This man was not fully obeying the first four commandments, which prove our love for God. He coveted his wealth. Paul teaches us that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). This man put his wealth before God.
Our nightly news tells us that the people of this world are deeply enslaved to sin—this includes people claiming to be Christian. We repeatedly see headlines about alcoholism, child abuse, child pornography, divorce, drug abuse, murder, stealing and sexual perversion. That is a short list.
“Jesus said to the religious people of His day, ‘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’ (Mark 7:6),” wrote Mr. Gerald Flurry in his booklet No Freedom Without Law. “Christ condemns a lot of people with this statement! Many people talk about God and Jesus Christ; they act religious. But in truth, their hearts are far from God! They are actually enslaved to a false religion, and think they are obeying God” (emphasis added). Our world is about to explode with calamity. God promises to protect to all those who obey Him.
It is worth your time to read and study No Freedom Without Law. You may receive this booklet without cost or follow-up. In addition, you may also request our booklet The Ten Commandments. Both of these publications will help you on your way to developing a loving relationship with God and your neighbor.