From the top of Mount Sinai God spoke the Ten Commandments to the 2.4 million Israelites He had rescued from slavery in Egypt. The entire law can be summed up in one word: Love. The law was given to the Israelites out of love and a response of love towards God and each other fulfills the law. If we love God we will worship only God and if we love each other we will seek only what is best for others and not seek after their harm or their possessions.
"Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?" Jesus replied, "'You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." - Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
1. No Other gods:
During their time in Egypt the Israelites learned how to worship from the Egyptians, but this was not how God wanted to be worshiped. There are over 2,000 ancient Egyptian gods, but there is only one true God.
"I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. "You must not have any other god but me. - Exodus 20:2-3 NLT
Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say, 'You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'" - Luke 4:8 NLT
2. No Idols / Graven Image:
God’s nature is higher than anything humans can create, mold, paint or conceive. He did not want to be portrayed by any image the people could make like the Egyptian gods were. He wants to different than any other god and He does not want to tempt His people to worship His image or any part of His creation instead of Him.
"You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected--even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. - Exodus 20:4-5 NLT
So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. - 1 Corinthians 10:14 NLT
3. Don’t Misuse the Lord’s Name:
God’s name should instill in the people a deep sense of awe and reverence. God is to highly valued, He is worthy of the highest honor. To take God’s name is not only about speaking it, it is about carrying it, being identified with it. People who claim to follow God need to live in a way that honors Him and brings glory, not shame, to His reputation. We must not use His name casually, deceitfully, or live in a way that would reflect badly on God.
"You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. - Exodus 20:7 NLT
All slaves should show full respect for their masters so they will not bring shame on the name of God and his teaching. - 1 Timothy 6:1 NLT
4. Remember the Sabbath:
Following the pattern of God in creation, the people were to set aside one day of the week, the Sabbath, as an act of devotion and worship to God. God is to be our role-model, the one we are to look up to. According to PsychologyToday.com “We all need role models to motivate and inspire us”. Instead of choosing an athlete, actor or musician to be our role model we need to follow the example God has set for us.
As my friends in the Seventh Day Adventist church will be quick to point out, the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week because that is the day of the creation week when God rested, in other words, the Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday. The modern church has come to worship on Sunday instead of Saturday in celebration of the resurrection of Christ which occurred on a Sunday.
Incidentally, this is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is not repeated in the New Testament. Instead of instructing the church to keep the Sabbath we find Jesus “working” on the Sabbath, Jesus states the Sabbath is for man, not the other way around and Paul tells us that every day is of equal value, but we are instructed to follow the example of Jesus and keep Him as our role model to emulate. So in a sense the spirit of the law is still in place if not the requirement of a specific day of rest.
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. - Genesis 2:2-3 NLT
"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. - Exodus 20:8-11 NLT
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. - Ephesians 5:1 NLT
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. - Romans 14:5 NLT
5. Honor Your Parents:
The first four laws focus on our relationship to God, worship God, worship no other gods, bring glory to His name and follow His example. The next six laws focus on how on our relationship with other people. The first relationship God addresses is our first relationship in life, that of a child with a parent.
"Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. - Exodus 20:12 NLT
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. "Honor your father and mother." This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, "things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth." - Ephesians 6:1-3 NLT
6. Do Not Murder:
We are to love everyone around us, including our enemies. We are not to seek to harm or kill anyone.
God does allow for self-defense, capitol punishment, and even commands His people in war which sets a standard for lawful vs. unlawful death.
"You must not murder. - Exodus 20:13 NLT
Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don't have eternal life within them. - 1 John 3:15 NLT
7. Do Not Commit Adultery:
While this law clearly includes the physical act of adultery Jesus expands its meaning to include a person’s thoughts and desires as well. Just as hating someone in the previous law makes us as bad as a murderer so to does lusting after someone make us an adultery, be that a lingering second glance as we walk down the street or actively seeking out pornographic images. Such excuses as “I can still look, I’m married not dead” fall short of the standard Jesus sets forth in Matthew 5. To lust after, who is not your spouse, in any way is adultery and clearly prohibited by the Bible.
"You must not commit adultery. - Exodus 20:14 NLT
"You have heard the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.' But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. - Matthew 5:27-28 NLT
8. Do Not Steal:
"You must not steal. - Exodus 20:15 NLT
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. - Ephesians 4:28 NLT
9. Do Not Lie:
"You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. - Exodus 20:16 NLT
So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. - Ephesians 4:25 NLT
10. Do Not Covet:
Be careful you do not fall into the trap of keeping up with the Joneses.
"You must not covet your neighbor's house. You must not covet your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor." - Exodus 20:17 NLT
And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." - Luke 12:15 ESV