January 12, 2016

The Ten Commandments; Why We Got it All Wrong!

Why We Got it All Wrong!

I ask, have you ever wondered why God gave these 10 rules? What was God's purpose in giving these commandments? Did God really think that we could obey them?! Perhaps God just intended them as a betterment to society in general? Then again, maybe God was bringing down His angry fist, and saying, “You better stop sinning and do what is good, or else I will bring down my rod on you in fierce anger!”
Well, I'm afraid that many well meaning, and maybe some not-so-well-meaning folk, have made a monumental error in applying these 10 rules! We must get to the bottom of the real reason for the giving of these commandments!


Let us first, list the 10 rules, that we can see what they are.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I am the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.
    Exodus 20:3-17


The first reason that God gave us these rules is that we might get to know Him. You see, these rules show us the character of God. They let us know that He is perfectly holy. That is, He is without sin and does that which is good without fail. In fact, in rule #2, we see the incredible love of God! We also see how God protects people. Can you imagine a world were people could steal your stuff, take your wife, daughter, mother, and use them as they want, murder, and lie, without any repercussions whatever? I ask, what would you think of God if He would permit such things with no consequences? We see then, that God has people's best interest in mind. In the end, all people will be judged fairly by God.


Now, we must look at the question, “Did God really think that we could obey them?” The short answer is, no. “What?!” you say. “Why did He give them to us then?!” That, is an excellent question! You see, this is where most people go wrong. They think that God wants us to keep these rules. They think that we must follow them if we want to go to Heaven. They think that we must obey them as Christians, either, as a “moral law” to follow, or to maintain our salvation. Yet, both are devastatingly wrong! Both will lead to utter failure. There will be failure to reach Heaven, and failure to live as a Christian ought. Let me explain.

Let's say you enter a new road. What is one of the first things you look for? You look for a speed limit sign, right? Why? So that you can do the right thing, by driving the correct speed, and avoid doing the bad, because you don't want to get penalized! Now, what if God had given no rules? How would you know what was acceptable and unacceptable to your Creator-God? Paul the apostle, himself says that, “Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'” (Romans 7:7) These rules, then, alert us to danger: the danger of offending a holy Creator-God!

“So then,” you ask, “What is the point in knowing what these rules are, if we can't obey them like we should?!” I say, do you always obey the speed limit signs? No?! Either intentionally or otherwise, we have all broken these set limits at times. This then, makes the point, that even though we know the rules, that they themselves don't have the power to cause us to obey them! Neither do we in ourselves always have the strength to listen to them!


You say, “But surely, all God requires, is that we do the best we can, right?” Wrong. For James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” I ask, how many laws do you have to break in the country you live in before you're held accountable to the authorities? Maybe ten or twenty? “Oh no,” you say! “All you have to break is one law and you're in deep trouble!” Then why, I ask, would God who is holy be any different than an imperfect judicial system on Earth? You must understand, then, that God demands 100% perfection from us all. “What!” you exclaim, “Impossible!” If that is your conclusion, then I am most delighted! “Why?” you say. Well, because you have come a long way in understanding the purpose for which God gave these 10 rules!


I wonder now, have you ever tried to convince a child, or adult for that matter, that there was some kind of dirt on their face? Ever have them argue that they didn't? What did you tell them when they made that argument? “Go, look in a mirror, and then you'll see it!” Isn't that right?! Of course, a mirror does a fantastic job in reflecting the unwanted grime on our faces! This, then, is another purpose for the 10 rules. They act like a mirror, they show us God's perfect holiness, and our shortcoming of that holy standard. You see, we tend to compare ourselves with other people, usually with those less perfect then ourselves. However, God compares us with Himself! The question is not, how do I compare with so-and-so, but how do I compare with the perfectly holy Creator-God?! The simple answer is, that we have miserably failed! The mirror of the law has shown us that we are filthy! It shows us that we need a good scrubbing!

Sadly, many people think that the rules are to be used to try scrub ourselves clean, either as Christians, or otherwise. Yet, I ask, have you ever tried to wash yourself with a mirror? “Oh,no!” you say, “That would never work!” You're right! The truth is, that it would make an even bigger mess than what you had in the first place! That is why it is written, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) So, if the 10 rules can't make me clean: if I can't make myself clean, then what or who can?!


Well, at long last, we have finally come down to the core purpose for God giving us these 10 commandments! For the law is “Not laid down for the just but for...sinners, for the unholy.” (1 Timothy 1:9) These rules then, not only show us that, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” but that we need someone to save us, because we can't save ourselves!

It can be extremely difficult for us to admit that we have failed, and that we can never be good enough on our own to become acceptable to God! Yet, it absolutely critical that we “give up”! That is, that we stop trying to make ourselves good enough for Heaven! God simply says that by “The law no human being will be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20) Look, even if you get a grade of 99%, it is not good enough! The reality is that you are still a sinner! Neither can our good outweigh the bad! For God says, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags.” (**Isaiah 64:6)

Look, God gave the 10 rules that we might know that we can do nothing to save ourselves! He gave us these laws, that we might know that we are in an utterly hopelessly lost condition! The real point is that we need HELP! We need to recognize that we are in quicksand up to our armpits and we can do absolutely nothing to help ourselves get out of our predicament and into Heaven! Listen! Just as a drowning man needs a lifeguard, so we need someone to save us from our sins! Also, just as a criminal needs a pardon, so we need someone to pardon us! Yet, God says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness [or pardon] of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22)

This then, totally puts salvation beyond our reach! For can I die for my sins? Well, yes, you can, but the price is extraordinarily steep! It means spending eternity in the Lake of Fire! For we read, “The Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10) This then, brings self to a “dead-end”! This then, is the reason that God Himself, has given us the remedy! He has shown us the way that we can be forgiven our sin and have our friendship with our Creator-God restored! This is why we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (**John 3:16) Jesus Himself, also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)


How does Jesus save us? Is it by his birth or good life He lived? No. Rather, it is written that we, “Are justified by grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [or satisfaction] by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:24-25) Another scripture puts it like this, “God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Look, Jesus took the full punishment of God for 100% of your sin! He in turn gives you His righteousness! This, my dear reader, is your only hope! The Bible says that “The LORD has laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Listen, the only real question remaining is, will you trust Him as your Savior? Do you truly believe that Jesus took the full wrath of His Father for all of your sin? Will you rest fully in Jesus as your own Savior? And yes, he did make full “satisfaction” for your sin, for God the Father raised His Son back to life on the third day, showing that He was fully satisfied with what had taken place on that cruel cross!

Listen, God promises, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I say, take a look in the “mirror,” and you'll know that you are indeed a sinner – just admit i!. For the Bible says, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17b) Again, “This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

I repeat, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) Please! Don't chose to go to Hell. Cry out to God right now to save you! This that you might “know that you have eternal life”! (1 John 5:13)

Victor J. Reimer

    *Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), copyrighted © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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