After Moses had delivered Israel from the oppressive rule of the Pharaoh, he was summoned to the isolation of Mount Sinai where the Lord gave him the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Over the next 40 or so years, Israel at times was obedient (and received blessings) and at other times was disobedient (and did not receive blessings). Much of their “success” in the wilderness was dependent upon their obedience to the Laws of God.
I want my children to know that the Ten Commandments are just that…commandments. They’re not suggestions, good ideas, or requests. They are commandments. Nothing in the history of the gospel has ever displaced these foundational laws of God.
I. Though shalt have no other Gods before me.
Nothing in our life comes before God. Not a job, a hobby, a vacation…nothing. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ teaches us to “…seek…first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).
II. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
Sometimes we fool ourselves by saying we have no graven images in our life when, in fact, we fail to see what is right before our eyes. So often we associate this commandment with the golden calf Israel forged during their wanderings. I believe the world is full of graven images today. To me, a graven image is anything that distracts my attention and devotion of worship from Jesus Christ. When we care more about our cars, homes, and clothes than we care for the poor and needy…we may have a graven image. When we skip church to attend a leisure activity…we may have a graven image. When we devour books of all kinds, but fall asleep as soon as the Scriptures open…we may have a graven image.
Spencer W. Kimball once said:
“There are unfortunately millions today who prostrate themselves before images of gold and silver and wood and stone and clay. But the idolatry we are most concerned with here is the conscious worshipping of still other gods. Some are of metal and plush and chrome, of wood and stone and fabrics. They are not in the image of God or of man, but are developed to give man comfort and enjoyment, to satisfy his wants, ambitions, passions and desires. Some are in no physical form at all, but are intangible.”
quoted in “Refusing to Worship Today’s Graven Images“
III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Of all the commandments, this is perhaps the most easily and frequently violated. I once heard a Christian talk radio host comment about the phrase “oh my —.” Someone had called him out for taking the name of the Lord in vain. He went on a rant justifying his action by leaning on his Christianity.
Do not use the name of God in vain, or, to reverse the commandment, do use the name of God only when you intend to speak to Him or about Him. Gordon B. Hinckley shared several examples of this commandment in a talk titled “Take Not the Name of God in Vain.”
IV. Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy.
I’ve written a previous blog on the Sabbath Day. This is the day of the Lord. It is a day when we are to set aside our pleasures and our work and focus on Jesus Christ and His work. It’s not a day to idle away doing nothing…it is a day to visit the widow and fatherless, administer to the sick, lift up the weak in spirit, and strengthen family bonds.
V. Honor thy father and mother.
The increased delinquency, disrespect, insubordination, and laziness in the world today has as part of its foundation a lack of respect and honor for parents. When children learn in the home that Mom and Dad aren’t the ultimate authority of right and wrong, they begin to believe that authority comes from within instead of from the common rule in society. In other words, by disrespecting Mom and Dad in their youth, children will be more likely to disrespect the authority of law later in life.
This is not the same thing as those who work within the legal framework of their city/state/country to incite change with a goal of creating a better world for all to live. I look in awe to those who have the courage to stand up against tyranny and oppression (even at the risk of property and life).
VI. Thou shalt not kill.
How can this be stated any more clearly? Of all the Ten Commandments, this is the one that is universally accepted by the natural man. If only we would accept the other nine with as much certainty.
VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
It’s interesting this comes right after “thou shalt not kill.” Once upon a time, it was as wrong to commit adultery as it was to kill. Today, marital fidelity is laughed at, mocked, and openly scorned. Men not only look at women with lust in their eye, they openly talk about things that should happen only between a man and wife who are legally and lawfully married. Christ made it clear that you don’t have to commit a physical act to be guilty of adultery: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
This is another interesting commandment. Most people agree that stealing is wrong, but at the same time, so many people take the attitude that if they can get away with it, it’s ok. I find it curious that so often those who are protesting against oppression find it acceptable to loot and steal.
IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
So many of the other commandments are covered up by breaking this commandment. So often we see a guilty party attempt to transfer the guilt of their crime to another by lying. We’ve all read the news reports of men cleared after serving years in prison once a false accusation came to light.
Tell the truth.
X. Thou shalt not covet.
If you want something in life, then work for it. If you want a better car, then save the money. If you want to take a trip, then plan for it. Set goals and work to achieve those goals. It won’t always be easy, but it is possible. Ben Carson overcame the odds. Nelson Mandela overcame the odds. You can be wildly successful through hard work.
The Ten Commandments are still very much in full force. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right. Say what you mean and do what you say. Remember God always and let His light so shine before you (Matthew 5:16).