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Why the Ten Commandments

Christians and others often reference the Ten Commandments. For many, these ten laws are essential guides to living, while for others, the laws are out of date, done away, replaced by a "law of Christ." Yet Christ himself referenced the Ten Commandments as a basis for the basic law of love that he himself preached (Matt. 19:16-21, 22:37-40), so the ten commands must play some kind of central role in Christian life. Although many regular Bible readers can quote the ten basic commandments, few really stop to ask why the Bible lists these particular ten commands. What follows is a list of scriptures and a short summary of what each scripture states that, I believe, may help clarify each commandment's purpose, as explained by the Bible itself.

Overall Purpose: Deut. 6:20-25 For our good

1. Why No Other Gods: Ex. 20:3, Deut. 5:7 No other gods before God; Ps. 50:8-12 God owns all; Deut. 6:14-15 God jealous & will destroy; Deut. 13:6-18 Death for those who entice to other gods, for such leads away from God; Deut. 8:19 Serve other gods = forgetting God; Acts 17:24-28 Command not for God's need but man's because we are his offspring; Josh. 24:14-25 Can't serve more than one god; Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:13 Can't serve 2 masters; Rom. 6:16 Who you obey is who you serve; Matt. 6:19-21 Where treasure is, there heart is; Ex. 23:33 Other gods lead to sin; John 8:34 Servant of sin if committing it; 1 John 3:4 Sin = breaking law; Deut. 11:28 Law tied to following God; 2 Kings 17:34-39 No fear of God = no obedience to law; 2 Kings 17:38, Judges 2:17, 19, 6:10 Fearing other gods = forgetting law/covenant; Ps. 106:36-40 Other gods lead to following one's own ideas & sin; Gen. 3:5 First sin was following own ideas; Matt. 22:37-40 Loving neighbor like loving God; 1 John 3:2 Future like unto God; 2 Pet. 1:4 Partakers of divine nature thru escaping lust; Rom. 1:20-32, Eph. 4:17-19, Ps. 81:9-12, Hos. 4:6-7 Without knowledge of God, lust/vileness take over; Acts 14:15-17 God, though making all, allows people to follow own ideas; Prov. 14:12, 16:25, Rom. 6:21, 8:13 Own ideas lead to death; Deut. 7:16-18 Other gods a snare, lack of faith in God; Matt. 6:25-33, Luke 12:22-34 God first priority & all physical things supplied

2. Why No Idols: Ex. 20:4-6, Deut. 5:8-10 No graven images; Ex. 20:5-6, Deut. 5:9-10 God is jealous; Deut. 4:23-28 God is jealous, & idols will cause you to perish/lose identity; Hos. 13:2-3 Idol worshippers shall pass away; Ps. 96:5 Gods of other nations are idols; Deut. 4:28, 32:37-39, Hab. 2:18-19, Is. 37:18-19, 44:9, Jer. 2:11 Idols have no life; 1 Kings 18:17-39, esp. 27 Elijah's testimony against Baal; Deut. 4:35, 39, Is. 43:10-13, 44:8, 45:21, 1 Cor. 8:4 No other god but God; Ps. 115:3-8, 135:15-18, Is. 44:10-20, 45:20, Jer. 10:14-15, 51:17-18 No life in idols, no knowledge/life in followers; Rom. 1:22-31 Idols lead to foolishness & sin; Is. 40:12-26, 46:5-7 Nothing physical compares to God; Acts 17:29 God not like stone, silver, gold; Dan. 2:13-45 Idols = man's physical/temporal concerns vs. God's eternal concerns; Luke 12:22-34 World seeks physical, God's people the spiritual; John 4:23-24 Worship in spirit & truth; Ps. 106:19-20 Man's glory changed to ox in idol; Num. 21:7-9, 2 Kings 18:4 Serpent worshipped rather than God; Ex. 32:1-6 People look to physical—Moses, calf—for deliverance; Dan. 3:29 No other god can deliver; Rom. 13:1 No power but of God; John 1:3, Heb. 11:3 All visible things made by God; Heb. 9:24 Temple as figure of reality; Col. 1:15-17, John 14:9 Christ is image of invisible God

3. Why Honor Name: Ex. 20:7, Deut. 5:11 Do not take God's name in vain; Lev. 24:14-16 Death to blasphemer; Ps. 111:9 God's name holy, reverend; Lev. 22:32 God's name to be hallowed like him; Ps. 113:1-3 God's name to be praised; Eph. 1:21 God's name above all others; Phil. 2:8-9, Heb. 1:4 Christ given name above all others; John 20:31 Life in God's name; Acts 4:10-12 Salvation thru Christ's name; Col. 3:17 Do all in God's name; John 10:25 Christ worked in Father's name; Mal. 1:6-13 Profane God's name in not giving him the best; Matt. 23:8-10 Put not God's names on self/others; Luke 6:46 Why say Lord & obey not?; Matt. 7:21-23 Using God's name not enough, must obey; Deut. 28:58 God's name & law joined; 2 Tim. 2:19 Name God, depart sin; Prov. 22:1, Eccl 7:1 Importance of good name; Lev. 18:21 Child sacrifice profanes God's name; 2 Sam. 12:14 David's sin allowed others to blaspheme God; Ezek. 36:16-32 Israel's disobedience profaned God's name; Rom. 2:17-24 God's name profaned among Gentiles by lawbreakers; John 7:28, 14:6 God/Jesus is truth; Lev. 19:12, Matt. 5:33-37 No swearing (falsely); Jer. 14:14 False prophets lie in God's name; Matt. 24:5, Mk. 13:6, Luke 21:8 Deceive in Christ's name; Rom. 1:21-25 God's truth turned to lie in putting other things first; John 15:16, 16:24 Ask in Christ's name to receive; James 4:1-3 Receive not because ask with lust; Deut. 12:5, 11, 14:24, 26:2, 1 Kings 8:29 God places his name on sites; 1 Kings 11:36, 14:21 God put his name on Jerusalem; 1 Kings 8:29 God places name on temple; 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 2 Cor. 6:16 Believers are now temple; Eph. 2:21 Church is temple; Matt. 10:22, Luke 6:22, 21:17 Hated for Christ's name; Rev. 3:8 Philadelphia does not deny God's name; Acts 9:15-16 Paul bears God's name; Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38 Baptized in God's name; John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-2 Believers called God's sons, to be like him; Is. 56:5, 62:2 God will give his people a new everlasting name; Rev. 2:17, 3:12, 14:1 God's name written on believers

Names of God
El:Mighty, generic name for God (Gen. 28:3)
Elohim: Strong one, uniplural of El (Gen. 1:26)
JHVH: Self-existent, translated LORD (Ex. 6:3, 3:14)
El-Shaddai: Supplier of all, bestower of bounty, usually translated God Almighty (Gen. 49:24-25)
Adonai: Master, owner of all, translated Lord, usually plural possessive (2 Sam. 7:18-20)
El Elyon: Most high God (Gen. 14:19-20)
El-Gibhor: Mighty God (Is. 9:6)
El Olam: Everlasting God (Gen. 21:33)
Jehovah-jireh: God that provides (Gen. 22:14)
Jehovah-rophe: God that heals (Ex. 15:26)
Jehovah-nissi: God my banner (Ex. 17:15)
Jehovah M'Kadesh: God who sanctifies (Lev. 20:8)
Jehovah Shalom: God is peace (Judg. 6:24)
Jehovah-Tsidkenu: God our righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6)
Jehovah-Rohi: God my shepherd (Ps. 23)
Jehovah-Shammah: God is there (Ezek. 48:35)
Jehovah Sabbaoth: Lord of hosts (1 Sam. 17:45)
Jehovah Elohim Israel: Jehovah as God of Israel (Judg. 5:3)
Aphir: Mighty One (Gen. 49:24)
Attiq Yamin: Ancient of days (Dan. 7:9, 13, 22)
Eyaluth: Strength (Ps. 22:19)
Gaol: Redeemer (Job 19:25)
Kadoshi: Holy One (Ps. 71:22)
Kanna: Jealous, zealous (Ex. 34:14)
Magen: Shield (Ps. 3:3)
Melekh: King (Ps. 5:2)
Palet: Deliverer (Ps. 18:2) Shaphat: Judge (Gen. 18:25)
Tsemach: Branch (Jer. 23:5, Zech. 6:12)
Yeshua: Saviour (Is. 43:3)
Zur: God our Rock (Deut. 32:18)
Theos: generic Greek name for God (Rom. 3:30, 1 Tim. 1:17, John 20:28)
Kurios: Greek for Lord (Acts 2:36)
Soter: Greek for Saviour (Luke 1:47)
Logos: The Word (John 1:1)
Despotes: Greek for master/owner (Acts 4:24)
Hupsistos: Highest (Matt. 21:9)
Pantokrator: Greek for Almighty (2 Cor. 6:18, Rev. 19:6)
Angel of the Lord (Gen. 16:7-13, Gen. 31:11-13, Ex. 3:2-4)
First & Last (Is. 44:6)
Stone (Gen. 49:24)
Sun of righteousness (Mal. 4:2)
Father (Matt. 7:11)
Is. 9:6 Wonderful, Counsellor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

4. Why Keep Sabbath: Mk. 2:27-28 Made for man; Ezek. 20:20 To know God is God; Ex. 20:8-11 Reminds of God's creation & to follow his example; Gen. 2:2-3, Ex. 31:17 Because God rested; Deut. 5:12-15 Reminds of God's salvation; Luke 13:14-16 Bonds loosened on this day; Amos 8:4-8 Stop commerce & thus remember needy; Is. 58:13-14 To delight God; Is. 66:23 To worship God; Ex. 31:13, 17, Ezek. 20:12 As sign between God & his people; Heb. 4:9-11 To rest from own work lest we fall into unbelief/disobedience; Lev. 23:3 To meet together; Heb. 10:24-25 To encour-age one another

5. Why Honor Parents: Ex. 20:12 That your days may be long on God-given land; Eph. 6:1-3 Because it's right & for long life; Prov. 17:6 Because father is child's glory; Prov. 10:1, 15:20, 17:25 To make parents happy; Prov. 19:13 To avoid calamity; Col. 3:20 To please God; John 15:10 To abide in God's/parents' love; Deut. 4:37-40 God loved children because of parents—obey God's commands to have long, good life, both parents & kids (Deut. 12:23-25); Rom. 13:1-7, 1 Pet. 2:13-14, Eccl. 8:2-5 Respect authorities for they are placed by God to encourage good; Ps. 78:5-7 Pass law & God thru generations; Deut. 6:5-7, 11:18-19 Law in heart, spoken of to kids; Eph. 6:4 Parents to bring children up in God's way; Prov. 22:6 Right-trained child = right-trained adult; Gen. 18:19 Abraham noted as one who will instruct kids in God's way; Ex. 3:6, 15:2 My father's God; Ex. 12:26-27, 13:8, 14, Josh. 4:6-7, 21-24 Examples of passing on God's knowledge; 2 Chron. 22:3 Mother bad influence on Ahaziah; 2 Chron. 24:1-2, 15-18 Joash serves God because of Jehoida's influence; Deut. 4:5-9 National greatness tied to passing down law; Deut. 21:18-21 Kill rebel son to put out evil; Mal. 4:5-6 Curse if father's/children's hearts not toward each other; Ps. 103:13, Mal. 3:17 God like a father who pities; Matt. 7:11 God like a father in gift giving; Deut. 8:5, Prov. 3:12, Heb. 12:5-11 God like a father in chastening; Matt. 12:49-50 God's family = those who do his will; Rom. 8:16, Rev. 21:7 We are (to be) children of God; 1 John 3:9-10, 3:4 Children of God keep law/don't sin; Matt. 18:3-4, Luke 18:16-17 Must be humble like child to be in Kingdom; 1 Pet. 2:2 Desire milk of word, like babes Ps. 89:26-27 Those who honor God as father shall be higher than kings; John 12:35-36, 8:12 Children of light, Christ is light, without light can't see path; Ps. 119:104, Prov. 6:23 Word/law is lamp; John 14:23 Keep law, & God will love; John 5:19 Christ does as his Father does; Luke 10:22 All revealed to Christ by Father; John 6:39-40 Jesus does Father's will that we may have everlasting life; John 14:9 Christ like his Father (Col. 1:15, 2 Cor. 4:4)

How to Respect Rulers
Rom. 13:1-7, 1 Pet. 2:13-14, Eccl. 8:2-5 Respect authorities for they are placed by God to encourage good; Ex. 22:28 Curse not rulers, nor despise; Eccl. 10:20 Curse not, lest king find out; Eccl. 10:4 Yielding pacifies leaders; Prov. 25:15 Patience persuades/changes rulers

6. Why No Murder: Ex. 20:13 Thou shalt not; Gal. 5:21 Murderers won't inherit Kingdom; Matt. 26:52, Rev. 13:10 Live by sword, die by it; Hos. 4:2-3 People languish in land of murder; Is. 33:1, Hab. 2:8 Evil deeds dealt back to doer; Matt. 19:16-19 That we live forever; Gen. 9:5-6 No murder, for made in God's image; Jer. 7:9-11 Dishonors God's name; James 4:1-3 War rooted in lust; Matt. 15:19-20, Mk. 7:20-23 Murder from evil thoughts, defiles; Rom. 5:12 Death came by sin; Num. 35:31-34 Defiles land; Lev. 18:25 Defiled land vomits out inhabitants; Matt. 5:21-22 Anger/hate alone is wrong; Lev. 19:17-18 Don't hate or avenge, but love; 1 John 3:15 Hate = murder, no life in murderer; Hos. 9:7 Hate makes men see prophets as crazy; Rom. 12:19 Vengeance belongs to God; Deut. 32:39, 1 Sam. 2:6, Job 1:21 God has authority to give/take life; 1 Cor. 6:19 You are not your own--belong to God; Ps. 68:20 Issues of death belong to God; Rom. 13:9 No murder part of command to "love neighbor"; Luke 10:25-28, 1 John 3:14 Love neighbor for life; Rom. 12:20-21 Help enemies; Matt. 5:43-48 Love enemies that we be like God; John 18:36 God's kingdom not of world; Acts 17:25 God gives life to all; Deut. 30:19-20, Ezek. 20:11 God is life, gives law that we have life; Is. 25:8 God to swallow up death in victory; John 6:35, 58, 10:10, 11:25, 14:6 Christ is life

7. Why No Adultery: Ex. 20:14 Thou shalt not; Matt. 5:27-28 Lust is adultery; Rom. 6:12, 14 No freedom in sin/lust; Rom. 13:8-10 No adultery = loving neighbor, staying out of debt; 1 Thess. 4:3-7 To know how to possess honor, defraud not others; Deut. 22:23-29 Sleeping with woman = humbling her; Deut. 22:13-21, 2 Sam 13:12-13 Adultery = folly; Num. 5:20-27 Adulterer = curse; Lev. 18:20 Adultery defiles self; Prov. 6:32-33 Adulterer destroys self, brings dishonour; Prov. 5:3-4, 8-11, 29:3 Adultery leads to loss of honor, wealth; Prov. 6:26 Poverty follows adultery; Hos. 4:10 No gain/ satisfaction in whoredom; Hos. 4:11 Whoredom leads to no heart; Eph. 5:25, 28-29, 33 Love wife, love self; 1 Cor. 7:33-34 Spouse cares for things of spouse, how to please spouse; Eph. 5:31, Gen. 2:24 Husband/ wife = one flesh; Matt. 19:5-6 No man to put marriage asunder; 1 Cor. 7:3-4, Gen 2:23 Body belongs to spouse 1 Cor. 6:13-20, Eph. 5:30-32 Body belongs to God; Is. 54:5, Jer. 31:32, Hos. 2:19, 2 Cor. 11:2 God/Christ is husband; Hos. 2:2-13 Israel's marriage benefits withdrawn by God for cheating; Hos. 5:4 Spirit of whoredom keeps from God; Lev. 19:29 Whoredom leads to wicked land; Luke 18:18-20 To gain eternal life; 1 Cor. 6:9 Adulterers not in Kingdom

8. Why No Stealing: Ex. 20:15 Thou shalt not; Rom. 13:8-10 Part of loving neighbor; Prov. 9:17-18, 20:17 Feels good, but death follows; Jer. 22:13-19 No lament for thief's death, no glory; Hos. 12:7 Stealing is oppression; James 5:4, Deut. 24:15 Thievery enters God's ears; 1 Thes. 4:6-8 Thief despises God, & God avenges; Mal. 3:9-10 That there be meat in God's house & to receive blessing; Deut. 25:13-15 To live long on land given; Amos 8:4-10 Land spews out thieves/deceivers/ oppressors; 1 Cor. 6:9-10 No thieves in Kingdom; Matt. 19:16-18 To receive eternal life; Eph. 4:28 Labor to give to needy; Ps. 41:1 God delivers those who help poor; Prov. 19:17 God repays what is given to poor; Deut. 15:7-11 Be generous to poor, w/o sin, & receive blessing; Jer. 22:16 To know God; Luke 6:30-36 Be merciful & giving to be like God, receive reward

9. Why No Lying: Ex. 20:16 Do not bear false witness; Prov. 14:5 True witness won't lie; Matt. 15:18-20 Lies defile man; Prov. 12:20 Goal of deceit is evil; Eph. 4:25 Because we are members of each other; Rom. 13:8-10 Part of loving neighbor; Prov. 18:8 Talebearer hurts deeply; Prov. 12:19 Lies don't last; Prov. 19:9 Liar perishes; Eccl. 5:2-6 God destroys liar's works; Zech. 8:16-17 Because God hates; Matt. 19:16-19 To gain eternal life; Rev. 21:8 Liars to die; John 8:44 Satan = father of lies; Rom. 1:18-32, esp. 25 Sin transforms truth to lie, causes idolatry, etc.; Matt. 15:8-9 Worship in words only is vanity; Is. 29:13-14 Vain words fade; Col. 3:8-10 To be in God's image; 1 Tim. 1:5 Law's end is faith unfeigned; Prov. 12:22 God delights in truth; Tit. 1:2 God cannot lie; John 17:17 God's word is truth; Ps. 119:142 God's law is truth; Deut. 32:4 God of truth; John 14:6 Christ is truth; John 14:7 Christ is father's image; Ps. 51:6 God wants truth inside; 1 Cor. 5:8 Sincerity & truth; 2 Cor. 2:17 God is sincere; John 8:32 Truth sets free; Eph. 4:29 Good words give grace v. corrupt ones; Prov. 14:25 Truth delivers others; 2 Cor. 4:2 Truth commends to others; 2 Thes. 2:8-12 Love truth, lest deceived

Value of Good Words
Prov. 12:14 Man satisfied with fruit of mouth; Prov. 13:2 Man eats good by fruit of mouth; Prov. 10:21 Righteous lips feed many; Prov. 15:4 Good tongue is tree of life, perverse one sucks spirit; Ps. 34:12-13, 1 Pet. 3:10 Refrain from evil speech to see good life; Prov. 14:3 Wise lips preserve; Prov. 12:6 Righteous words deliver; Prov. 12:18 Wise tongue is health; Prov. 16:24 Pleasant tongue is health; Tit. 2:7-8 Sound speech to shame others, keep self from evil; James 3:2-6 Control tongue, control body--no control, defile body; Matt. 12:34-37 Words speak of what's in heart; Prov. 18:6-7 Fools like to argue, cause trouble; Prov. 16:27-28 Froward sows strife, kills friendships; Prov. 10:31-32 Froward tongue to be cut out; Ps. 12:2-3 God to cut off proud/flattering tongue

10. Why No Coveting: Ex. 20:17 Thou shalt not covet; Gen. 2:16-17, 3:5-6 Man's first sin; Ps. 119:36 Covetousness = opposite of law; Col. 3:5 Covetousness = idolatry; Rom. 6:16 We are servants of who we obey; Matt. 6:24 Can't serve 2 masters; 1 Tim. 6:8-10 Focus on riches brings temptation & trouble; Prov. 15:27 Greed troubles own house; James 1:14-15 Lust leads to temptation leads to sin; Matt. 5:28 Already sinned in heart; Mk. 7:20-23 Comes from heart, defiles; James 4:1-3 Wars & fight stem from lust; Mic. 2:2 Leads to violence & oppression; Deut. 16:19, Ex. 23:8 Bribes pervert justice; Eccl. 7:7 Oppression brings madness, bribes destroy heart; Josh. 6:18, 7:1-5, 21 Hurts others; Prov. 14:30 Envy rots bones; 1 Cor. 6:9-10 Covetous won't inherit Kingdom; Eccl. 5:10-15 Desire begets more desire; Prov. 23:5 Riches fly away; Ps. 49:17, 1 Tim. 6:7 Can't take it with you; 1 John 2:15-17 Physical passes away; 1 Tim. 6:6 Contentment is gain; Prov. 15:16 Better less than much with trouble; Ps. 37:16-28 God will preserve righteous poor vs. rich wicked; Heb. 13:5-6 If content, no need to fear man; Acts 20:35 More blessed to give than receive; Luke 12:15 More to life than possessions; Matt. 6:25-34, Luke 8:14 Not able to bring forth fruit when focused on possessions; 1 Pet. 1:24-25 World passes, but God endures; 1 Tim. 6:17-19 Rich to trust God, not riches, for eternal life; Phil. 2:4-8 To have Christ's mind; 2 Cor. 10:5 Bring all thought into captivity; Rom. 13:9 Part of loving neighbor

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