Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet: The Ten Commandments of the Bible
By Betty Miller
What importance is there for a Christian, or anyone else, to know the Ten Commandments? How much validity and relevance can they have in our lives today? Does God expect us to follow them? Will we go to Hell if we do not keep them? Are these Laws for everyone, or are they only for those who hold the Old Testament as sacred?
If you have ever asked these questions, we think that you will be blessed by this in-depth look at the Ten Commandments. How did they come about? The Ten Commandments are the 10 basic laws that God commanded Israel to obey in the Old Testament. The laws were given to Moses by God, Himself. Moses was called of God to go up into a mountain and there God gave him these commandments so he could return and give them to the Israelites. They were written in tablets of stone by the finger of God. The story is recorded in Exodus 24:12-13: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.”
Here are the Ten Commandments that God spoke and wrote for Moses to give to His people:
The Ten Commandments
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 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, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
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. 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.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 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. Exodus 20:1-17
Condensed they would read as follows:
- I am the LORD thy God, Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Beside Me
- Thou Shalt Not Worship Any Graven Images
- Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain
- Remember the Sabbath Day to Rest and Keep it Holy
- Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
- Thou Shalt Not Kill
- Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery
- Thou Shalt Not Steal
- Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness
- Thou Shalt Not Covet Anything That is Thy Neighbor’s
The Ten Commandments Offer Guidance
Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:104-105
If we want holy guidance we must study the word of God and find out what God has to say about life and human experience, so that we can be guided by His Word. Neither my opinion, nor anyone else’s opinions are sufficient to solve the problems of humanity. The answers can only be found in God’s Word. He is the creator of all things, and He has the answers for His creation. He is the Judge and final authority on every subject.
By keeping His Word and His commandments we will not stumble, but will have light on our pathway of life; therefore, we should make it a priority to understand His ways. If you do not know the Ten Commandments, you are among a big company. Recent statistics state that the average Christian scored very low when tested for knowledge of the Ten Commandments. Most of us do not know the Ten Commandments, and many cannot even name three of them. That’s really a sad commentary for Christians.
Old Testament Law vs. The New Covenant
The 10 Commandments are the 10 basic laws that God commanded Israel to obey in the Old Testament. Since all believers in Christ make up “spiritual Israel,” these laws are still valid for us to live by. Some people think that these precepts do not apply to Christians today as they are the Old Testament law. I have heard people make this statement, “Well that’s the old law, we don’t have to keep the old law.” The Bible teaches that the Old Testament law is the foundation for the New Testament commandments.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-19
We actually are called to keep a higher law under the new covenant. In the Old Testament, they were judged on their deeds and their actions. The New Testament we are judged by what goes on in our hearts. The Bible deals all the way through the New Testament about what goes on in the heart of man. Jesus dealt with the heart attitudes of men. He always put His finger right on the motives of men. In the Old Testament, men were commanded not to commit murder. In the New Testament, the Bible tells us if we have hatred in our hearts for a brother we are guilty of murder even if we do not commit the actual deed.
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
God’s Commandments Are Life To Us
Let us see what the Bible says about the importance of knowing and keeping God’s laws.
Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law…. Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many. I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths…. My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:1-2, 10-11, 20-23
In above verse, the Lord instructs us to “attend to” or to “pay attention” to His words. The commandments of God are His Words to us. They are life! The Bible says if we put God’s Word into our hearts it will produce the blessings of life.
In computer language, we understand the expression, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out). If we put garbage into our spirits, that is what will come out. Likewise, if we fill our heart with the good things of the Spirit, that is also what will come out. Spiritually, as well as physically, “we are what we eat!”
What Did Jesus Say About the Law?
In Matthew 12:34-37, Jesus lays out an important principle. Speaking to the Pharisees, He says: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by their words they shall be justified and by their words they shall be condemned.”
Jesus said that we will either be justified or condemned by the words that we speak. Therefore, it is extremely important that we watch what comes out of our mouths. God wants His words of life and truth to come out of our spirit. For this to happen, however, we must read, study and receive the Word of God in our hearts. It can only come out of our hearts, if it has been planted there! If we do not take the time to study and know His commandments and His words, they will not come forth in our life.
The Ten Commandment’s Influence On Society & Culture
God is doing many wonderful things in this hour; however, Satan is countering with his deception and counterfeits. Our world is becoming more volatile and changes are occurring rapidly. There are huge waves of satanic corruption coming against our culture. All over the world, we are faced with demonic filth that is paraded before us with very little shame.
A recent statistic, at the time of this writing, showed that in the United States, a crime is committed every three seconds and a murder is committed every half hour. Millions of children are victimized by kiddie pornography. There are hundreds of magazine titles dealing with child pornography, let alone the filth that is available through the Internet. Every year, there are a quarter of a million child abuse victims. An estimated 10% of the U.S. population is addicted to cocaine. There are millions of alcoholics in the U.S., and thousands of people die on our highways each year because of liquor, not to mention the other alcohol related deaths. Teen suicide and pregnancy are major problems as well as sexual abuse and rape. Millions of women around the world will be sexually abused this year.
I share the above statistics because there are some people who believe that the Ten Commandments are out of date, and are not relevant for today. If the Ten Commandments had been kept, we wouldn’t have committed these sins in our nation and there would be no statistics to report such as this. Therefore, the Ten Commandments are not out of date today. They are very much in date and are needed today so that healing and wholeness can come to our world.
Two Parts to the Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments are actually broken up into two basic sections. The first four commandments deal specifically with our relationship with God. The last six commandments deal with our relationship with other human beings. It is important to note that the commandments that focus on God come first. If we keep the first four commandments, the next six will be easier to keep as well. Much of the world focuses on keeping the last six commandments; and they believe that because they are leading a “moral” life, they are acceptable before God. Treating our fellow man in a righteous manner is extremely important to God. However, the first four commandments are more important than the last six. They are the foundation of the law. God wants us to treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated. However, we can only do that to the extent that we are like God, and we are only like Him to the extent that we know Him and love Him. The knowledge and love of Him is obtained through keeping the first four commandments.
In the time of Christ, there was much discussion in Israel about the law and how to fulfill it. Jesus made the answer very simple by focusing on two verses from the Old Testament that sum up the entire law.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus’ answer was based on two scriptures from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. According to Jesus, these are the verses that summed up the whole of the Law.
The first command deals with our relationship with God and second command deals with our relationship with others. Therefore we might say that the first four commandments are summed in the phrase that we are to “love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength.” The next six commandments are also summed up in one phrase; that we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
The Ten Commandments can be very simple for us to remember, if we know the concepts behind them: Love God and Love everyone else. If we keep these commands in the proper order and at the forefront of our heart and mind, we cannot go wrong. Love is the highest command and love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8). Love is the essence of the Law.
The Old & New Covenants
One may wonder why a study of the Ten Commandments are in order, if the Law has already been simplified to these two basic commandments. Why should we complicate the matter by adding a list of do’s and don’ts to such a beautiful and simple law of love? The answer is this: Do you already know how to love God perfectly? Do you know how to love others perfectly? Of course we don’t without God showing us–although we eagerly anticipate the day when we will be just like Christ and then, having such love will come naturally to us. Until then, we must let the Spirit of God work within us and learn His ways and follow them. The essence of the Law is love, but it is the Ten Commandments that show us how to love. Without these commandments, the instructions to love would be very difficult to keep as everyone has a different idea about love. These commandments show us not only what love is, but also how we are to live by it in our everyday life.
His desire has been consistent from the beginning of the creation of man, and has been plainly stated in the Old Testament:
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:6-7
Again, in the following verse we see that God’s desire was for His law to be in our hearts, and not just an outward action. This verse speaks of the future covenant that God would make with His people, which was established in Christ.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31:31-34
There were many who lived under the Old Covenant, such as King David, who approached God with a New Covenant mentality. He knew that God desired more of him than merely keeping a list of rules. He wanted more than just a checklist to measure his righteousness and acceptability before God. He knew that God desired him to be an intimate friend and he wanted to know God in the same way.
Just as some under the Old Covenant lived with a New Covenant mentality; today, it is possible to have an Old Covenant mentality, even through one may be a Christian, and technically living under the New Covenant. Obeying the Law is not the end of the matter. It is only a vehicle to get us to the end of the matter, which is to enter into a mutual relationship of love and trust with God, where our hearts are consumed with love for Him. If we look at the law as the end of the matter, we will have the mentality of what we look like toward others, while God looks at our hearts and motives. However, if our hearts and motives are pure, certainly our actions will line up with our hearts. Those who walk to be seen of men as good, while inside they are not, are hypocrites. God way is to write His law on our hearts and make us holy from the inside out.
Receiving the Word of God With the Proper Attitude
I feel that it is necessary to interject a very important point here. God commands us to study His word. However, it is how we receive the word of God that makes all the difference in our lives. The Pharisees were known for their strict observance of the Law. They were very zealous for knowing and keeping the commandments of God, far more than the average Israelite. Yet, we find Jesus constantly rebuking them for their evil hearts.
Therefore we can see that it is possible to know the laws of God, but to no avail. We can study His word in-depth and still bear no harvest of righteousness. This is a sobering thought for all who wish to know the law and ways of God. We must be aware that the more we understand of His ways and righteousness, the greater the temptation we have to judge and condemn those who are not where we are. This is the temptation that the Pharisees fell into. They kept the outward law better than anyone in Israel, and yet they missed the entire point of it. Their lives were consumed with keeping the tiniest detail of the law and yet they broke the greatest commandments of love. Their self-righteous behavior indicated that the one thing they loved most was not God or even other people, but themselves. Let us learn from the mistake of the Pharisees. If we strive to obey these laws so that we may feel righteous and better than others, we have already broken them. If we strive to keep these commandments in an outward manner, while neglecting the inner principles of them, we are worse than a lawbreaker–we are a hypocrite.
What is one of the most despised and unattractive qualities that a human can possess? Wouldn’t we all agree that we hate interacting with someone who has a superior attitude towards us and the rest of the world? Whether they are right or wrong in their position matters little when all they have for others is criticism and condemnation. Those who treat others with contempt and arrogance are among the least liked people on the planet! This attitude is distasteful to God as well. He would rather be with one sinner who has a little humility, than one hundred “righteous” people who are prideful and intolerant of others.
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:10-14
Self-righteousness always blinds us to the truth. The more self-righteous we are, the less of a true understanding we will have concerning who God really is. How else could it be that those who studied Scripture more than any others were the greatest stumbling blocks to those who sought the truth? How could it be that those who were most diligent in the Word, missed the author of the Word as He walked among them? Not only did they not recognize Him, but they violently opposed Him!
The Pharisees and lawyers of the day knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards. Yet, for all their study, they never saw the figure of Christ within the Scripture. In the following Scripture we see the accusation that Jesus makes against them. As we begin this study of the Ten Commandments, let us also take these words to heart, lest we also fall into the same trap as them.
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? John 5:37-44
I want to make a few quick points from this verse. First, we can see that though the Pharisees diligently read the Word, and believed that they had eternal life through it, they were deceived. The word of God did not actually abide within them. They knew the Word, but it did not live in their hearts. If it did, they would have recognized the Lord when He came amongst them. Jesus also pointed out that it was impossible for them to believe in Him, as long as they were seeking honor from each other, rather than God.
Let us decide, therefore, that we will not seek after the honor and praise of men, whether they be of the world, or within the walls of religion. Seeking such praise will always hinder our faith. We must never read the Scriptures in an attempt to discern how we may obtain glory or praise, but rather how God alone may be glorified. It is not merely knowing the Scriptures, but rather it is living by them that saves us.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. Matthew 7:24
It is noble to commit the Bible to our memory, as long as we do it for the right reason. But we must remember that playing with Scripture is like playing with dynamite. There is power in those words! The same Scripture that has the power to work for our life can also work for our death. If it is received wrongly, the very words that are intended to bring light, bring blindness instead. As soon as we mix our Bible Study with self-righteousness, we begin to have blurred vision. If we continue to mix these two, we will eventually be as blind as the Pharisees, who did not even know that they were blind.
Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Matthew 23:24-26
And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Luke 6:39-41
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John 9:39-41
The more exposure to the Bible that we have, the greater responsibility we have to walk in truth. If we use our knowledge wrongfully, we are worse off than if we had never heard it in the first place. Someone may ask, “Well then, wouldn’t I be safer never reading the Bible at all? That way I won’t have to be held responsible for my actions.”
Actually, there is no safety in ignoring the Word of God. Ignoring it is even more dangerous. It contains the instructions to life, and tells us what will take place in the future. If we do not read those instructions, and understand those prophecies, how can we make wise decisions that will lead us to life? Lack of knowledge leads to destruction.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6
The wise person will take to heart the lessons of the past and consider the message that pertains to the future, so that he or she may find their own place and purpose in the world right now. The Bible is meant to bring light to our daily existence. It is the rod by which we may measure our heart. It is the message that shows us how to both overcome in this world, and to live in the next one as well.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. Isaiah 40:8
Therefore, we can see that the answer to this dilemma is actually quite simple. The only possible path that we are left with is to read and study God’s Word, with a humble and open heart to hear from God. We must be willing to drop all preconceived ideas, and acknowledge that the words we are reading are meant specifically for us (so often we apply the words of the Bible to others, when God wants us to look inside our own heart). Many have read the Bible, but have not been able to understand the message because their hearts were closed and dull.
If you want understanding, we are confident that the Lord will give it to you. He never holds Himself back from the one who truly desires to know Him. Before we go any farther in this study, let us pray for the guidance of the Lord:
Father in Heaven,
We come before You at this moment with a humble heart. We desire to know your ways, O God, that we might serve you correctly. We acknowledge that the ways of man are flawed and that we have missed the mark of walking with You in friendship and holiness, as You originally created us to do in the Garden. Now, God we ask for your guidance as we study Your commandments. Give us understanding and revelation of Your eternal principals. Open our eyes and heal us from all spiritual blindness. We invite Your Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us in the way of wisdom, for the purpose of knowing and loving You. May we receive Your love into our heart, and may Your great mercy make us into merciful people. Father, I ask that every person who partakes of this study will be changed. Let the life of God be awakened and revived within them. I pray this in the name of Your Beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.
The Law Shall Be On Our Hearts
All the way through the Bible, God deals with what goes on in the heart of man. Jesus especially focused His teaching on this issue. He always put His finger right on the motives of men. In the Old Testament, men were commanded not to commit murder. In the New Testament, Jesus further explained what this meant, by getting to the heart of the issue: hatred.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. Matthew 5:21-22a
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15
Because the heart issue is so important to God, in this study we will attempt to examine both the outward commandments, as well as the principals behind the commandment. We will also examine the internal motives that cause us to break them in the first place. God is calling us out of the world of slavery to sin, into a world of absolute freedom in Him.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads righteousness. But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:16-18 (NIV)
And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Exodus 1:1-2
In these verses, it says that God brought His people out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of slavery or bondage. Egypt is a “type” of world and the devil. God will bring anyone who chooses to follow Him out of the bondage of sin and into God’s freedom. Some of us have lived in bondage so long that we have a hard time adjusting to our new freedom. We are used to being in a cage, in a prison. Even after God brings us out it takes a while for us to operate in the freedom of Christ and learn the new laws of God and His ways.
The Story of the Caged Chickens
Several years ago, we bought some chickens from a poultry farm. They were chickens who had lived their entire lives in a cage. We took them out to our ranch and turned them loose to freely run in the chicken yard and go in and out of the chicken house at will. As we placed them on the chicken house floor they didn’t move. The poor little things had lived in cages all their life so they just stayed right in the chicken house. They didn’t even know how to roost. They didn’t even get up on the roost at night. They stayed huddled together on the floor. They were used to sleeping under a light because the poultry farmer kept a light lamp on them to make them lay more eggs. Men have devised ways to get the most out of everything, no matter if it’s good for the animal or not. Because they were used to the light, they would sleep outside huddled under the moon on the ground.
They didn’t even know how to drink water the regular way because they had only known to drink water out of a little bottle with a little red tip on it. They had always gone over and pushed that little tip and gotten their water out. Now, they had fresh running water yet they didn’t even know how to drink. One of them almost drowned trying to learn how to drink. These chickens didn’t know what freedom was. I don’t know if they would have ever enjoyed their freedom without someone to teach them what to do. But we had some older chickens that were already there and after the new ones watched them for awhile they discovered a new way of living. Living with the older chickens for a time and learning from them they got liberated. Hallelujah! They found out that they could go anyplace in the barnyard. But it took them a while.
Humans are the same way. We are creatures of habit. We don’t realize it, but we do things out of habit. God wants to break old habits and old things out of our lives that do not glorify Him. As soon as we become born again, the Holy Spirit will deal with various issues in our lives. We immediately begin to know and understand by the Spirit that certain things that seemed acceptable yesterday no longer can be tolerated. The Lord begins to mold us into the image of His Son and we see that our old habits are not fitting for God’s kingdom or His house.
Moving Into God’s House
If somebody comes to visit our house and they have bad habits we will tolerate them on short-term basis. Out of the graciousness of our heart, we won’t say anything. We will just put up with it and once they leave we will clean up behind them. However, if somebody comes to live with us, the rules are different. We may say, “Wait a minute. We have rules in this house. This is how we live here. We do not do these things in this house.”
It’s the same way with our Heavenly Father. When we come to God’s house with some bad, filthy habits, He begins to show us the way out of bondage. Now that we are living in His house, the rules are different. God gives us commandments and rules so that we know what is acceptable in His house. If someone came to live in our own home with us, there would be certain rules they would be asked to follow. It would not be acceptable to throw the towels down on the bathroom floor. There would be certain things that we would expect of them. We would expect them to make up their beds when they got up in the morning. They would help with cleaning up the dishes, because we like our house to be neat and clean.
God likes His house neat and clean too. He says that those filthy things that we used to do are not acceptable in His house. That is the reason He gives us rules. The laws and commandments of God are given so that we might live a blessed life in this earth. God gives us these rules out of His love for us. As we study each of them, we will see how God designed them to be a blessing. His commandments come from His love for us.
When we first come into the kingdom, many of us don’t know how to respond to this new freedom from sin. We have walked the old way for so long. We have bad habits and bad thought patterns. We are used to the old ways but God wants to show us a new way. This new way is by faith, walking in the Spirit and trusting God to break the old habits. He will certainly do it for anyone who desires to change. His power and grace are enough to transform us all.
As we begin this study of the commandments, let us remember that none of these come naturally to fallen human beings. These are not things that we all naturally do. That is why God repeatedly tells us to remember these commands. He knows how easy it is for us to forget them! We automatically respond to things in a certain way. However, God is saying to us, “I want to show you the new way by the Spirit, I’m going to give you My Spirit to break the old habits.”
As we go through this study and see the principles of God behind these commandments, I believe that we will gain a greater appreciation of not only why these commandments were written, but also how to keep them in a way that pleases God. Jesus is our model in this endeavor, for He above all men, has kept the commandments of God in absolute perfection. He was the sinless One, the perfect sacrifice for our sin. His death and resurrection has opened a “new and living way” into the Holy place of God. This place is open, not to just a few saintly few, but to anyone who desires to enter therein.
Many, in their fear of becoming like a Pharisee, have thrown out much of the law and live with very low standards of holiness. Surely this reaction against legalism is not the answer. Self-righteous legalism and unholy liberty are both equally defiling and evil in the sight of God. Both send the wrong message to those who do not yet know God, and neither of these extremes can lead us, or anyone else, to Life. Both of these extremes oppose the work of the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Despite the failure of many who have gone before us to obtain the path of life, let us not be discouraged. God is calling us to press onward, in humility, holiness, and a burning fire of love for Him. The tools He has given us are more than abundant, and God’s power works strongly in behalf of those who seek Him with a pure heart. In fact, we will find that the more of ourselves that we give to the Lord, the greater ease we have in living and walking in His ways. As we yield to the dealings of the Holy Spirit in our life and as we seek to know and obey the word of God, we will achieve the most precious gift in the universe: eternal life with Lord of Life. His righteousness will be truly written on our heart, and we will share in His joy and freedom. Great peace awaits those who diligently give all that they are, that they may know the Lord of Glory, and obtain the priceless treasure of these few words taken from Matthew 25:21: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
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Betty Miller has written several books on other topics as well. To view titles or purchase those books visit our bookstore.