Why Did God Give Us the Ten Commandments?
“Oh, how I love Your law. It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97).
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS:
“And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make for yourself a carved image
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
- Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not murder
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
- You shall not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17).
There is a great deal of misunderstanding today as to the purpose of God’s holy law, as summarized in the Ten Commandments. Some people think that we need to obey all of the 10 commandments if we want to get to Heaven. Other people think that only the Jews in the Old Testament had to keep the 10 commandments, but Christians today don’t need to. I think it would be of benefit to take a look at the nature and purpose of God’s law.
“It is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, It is through faith that a righteous person has life…Well then, is there a conflict between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not. If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it.” (Gal. 3:11,21).
The Bible makes it very clear that no one could ever attain right standing with God by trying to keep the law. “For the Scriptures tell us, Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous.” (Romans 4:3). Old Testament believers – just like New Testament Christians – were saved by grace through faith, just like we are.
“Well then, why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God’s promise was made…But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God’s promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Until faith in Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law…Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God.” (Galatians 3:19,22-24).
One main purpose of the law was to make people consciously aware of their sin. It is only when people recognize that they are sinners that they will realize their need for a Saviour – Jesus. So, does this mean that we don’t need to keep the 10 commandments then? No. But it does give us a better reason and motivation for keeping the 10 commandments, best illustrated by this story by Charles Spurgeon…
The case reminds me of the story of the half-a-dozen boys who had severe fathers, accustomed to beat them within an inch of their lives. Another boy was with them who was tenderly beloved by his parents, and known to be so. These young gentlemen met together to hold a council of war about robbing an orchard. They were all of them anxious to get about it except the favoured youth, who did not enjoy the proposal. One of them cried out, “You need not be afraid: if our fathers catch us at this work, we shall be half-killed, but your father won’t lay a hand upon you.” The little boy answered, “And do you think because my father is kind to me, that therefore I will do wrong and grieve him? I will do nothing of the sort to my dear father. He is so good to me that I cannot vex him.”
God has given us the Ten Commandments. They are not a means of getting God to love us more, for He loves us totally and unconditionally. Rather, obedience to the Ten Commandments is a way of showing our Heavenly Father how much we love Him. For as Jesus Himself said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Pastor Chris Jordan