Lesson 13 -The Ten Commandments

    Suggested Bible Reading: Exodus, Chapters 19-20

    God Makes a Covenant.

    God guided the Israelites out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, to Mount Sinai, the place where God appeared to Moses in Arabia. He was going to make a covenant with the Israelites. This covenant would be a serious agreement between God and Israel. The main point was that Israel must obey God perfectly. The people of Israel agreed to obey everything that God had said. However, they were not serious when they made that statement.

    During their journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai they ran out of water and food. This was not a small problem, because there were approximately 2 million people that needed to eat and drink. Do you think God could provide water and food, for 2 million people, in the desert? Yes, of course! But the Israelites did not think so. They complained to Moses and said they would rather go back to Egypt! They did not believe God could take care of them, but God provided water and food in spite of their complaining.

    Do you think these people could obey God perfectly? No. Did God think these people could obey Him perfectly? No. Then why would God make an agreement with these people when He already knew they could not live up to its demands? He wanted to show them how Holy He is and how evil they were. They were full of pride! They thought they could always obey God and keep his commandments every moment. He wanted to teach them that they could not be accepted by their own efforts. They would recognize their sin through their own failures. God gave the Law to show them that they were sinners, so they would realize their helplessness and begin trusting God for the coming Savior. We will read a part of the covenant God made with the Israelites. This portion of scripture is often referred to as the 10 Commandments.

    The Ten Commandments

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The very first commandment forbids us from worshipping any other gods, besides the One True God. In other words, nothing else is to take God’s place. Can you say that from a child until now you have always loved God with all your heart and with every part of your life? There is not a person anywhere that can honestly say they have always loved God more than anyone or anything else. God must have the highest place in your thoughts and you must give Him praise and thanks for everything. When your family, social status, work, money, recreation, retirement or anything else is more important to you than God, you have broken this commandment.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:4-5, “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…” Since God is a Spirit, we really do not know what He looks like. God does not want you to worship any statue or idol. Only God is worthy of our worship. He does not want you to put your affection on anything or anyone else.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:7, “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.” God is telling us that we should speak about Him carefully and respectfully. People frequently abuse His name today. Many even use His name as a curse word. God deserves reverence and our utmost honor.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:8-11, “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.” God says the seventh day is a day for rest and remembering Him. We should make every Sunday a day to set aside the normal labors so we can worship and praise Him.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:12, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” God said that children must respect and obey their parents. Talking back, ignoring, arguing, pouting, and criticism are all ways of being disrespectful. What child has obeyed this command perfectly every moment, every day, every year?

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:13, “Thou shalt not kill.” God meant more than just the action of murder. Jesus said, that if you are angry with another person in your heart, you have committed murder in your heart. If you ever have been angry with someone else, then you have broken this commandment.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:14, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” God was saying that the only acceptable time to have sex is after you are married and only with your spouse. He explains that if you ever lusted after another person or even so much as thought about sex with another person who is not your spouse, then you are guilty of breaking this commandment.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:15, “Thou shalt not steal.” God said you must never take anything belonging to someone else. God gave each person the right to keep his own property. Most people would not think they are a thief, but ask yourself, “Have I ever taken anything of even small value that did not belong to me?” If you have then you are guilty of breaking this commandment.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:16, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” God condemns lying and misrepresenting the truth. Satan is the father of lies, and anyone who tells a lie is following Satan. There is not one person alive who can truthfully claim they have never broken this commandment.

    The Bible says in Exodus 20:17, “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.” God does not want you to desire what other people have. He wants you to be satisfied with what you have and not become greedy and jealous over other people's money, possessions, or abilities.

    What Is the Purpose of the Ten Commandments?

    God's law is like a mirror. A real mirror shows us what we look like on the outside, but God’s commands show us what we look like on the inside. When you look into a mirror and see the dirt on your face you desire to get cleaned up. Similarly, when God’s law shows you the “dirt” (sin) in your heart, you should have a desire to be cleaned up from your sin. The only problem is that we cannot ever perfectly keep God’s law or clean ourselves from our own sin. God’s law teaches us that we need a Savior. Just as the mirror exposed the dirt, so God’s law makes us aware of the sin in our heart.

    God’s law is also like a chain. How many links need to break for the whole chain to break? Only one. If we break only one command (link), then we have broken the entire law of God. He required Israel to keep all of His commands, or they would die for their disobedience. These commands show us how impossible it is for us to be accepted by God based on our own effort. If the Israelites understood this, they would be more inclined to look for the Savior. He wanted to show them their only hope was through the coming Savior.

    God's Law silences those who say their lives are good enough to be accepted by God. No one can honestly study these ten commands without realizing their own sinfulness before God. The Law teaches us that we are sinful, but God is holy. The Law could not bridge the gap between man and God. The Law is only given to show you that you can never be accepted with God by your own good works.

    Most people would admit they are sinners. However, few will admit they are helpless sinners, and there is a big difference. Many know that they are sinners, but they also believe that they can do something to make themselves acceptable to God. A person who believes that their good works can outweigh their bad works and make them accepted with God is deceived by Satan. Doing good works is commendable, but none of these deeds can restore our broken relationship with God. A helpless sinner knows there is nothing he can do to make himself acceptable to God. God wants us to admit that we have broken his Law, and we cannot save ourselves. God wants us to admit that we are helpless sinners. He wants us to look to the Savior, who alone can make us righteous and acceptable to God.

    Study Questions

    1. A covenant is a serious between God and man.
    2. How many people were in the nation of Israel at the time when God led them out of Egypt?
    3. God really believed that the people of Israel would be able to keep His laws.
    4. What are some false gods that people often worship, instead of the One True God?
    5. How many of the Ten Commandments have you broken?
    6. It is possible, if you try hard enough, to clean yourself up and be accepted with God.
    7. God’s law makes us aware of the in our .
    8. The Law of God can be a bridge for you to come to God.
    9. Most people are willing to admit that they are helpless sinners.
    10. The is the only one who can make us acceptable to God.

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