The Ten Commandments

In our last lesson, we mentioned we were going to study what constitutes obedience. There are many different ideas as to what true obedience is. For the next several lessons, we will deal with this subject in depth and see what the Bible has to say concerning obedience. The first portion of this series of studies will deal with the Ten Commandments and how God feels about our obedience to them.

There are some questions we might ask concerning our subject. Are the Ten Commandments for us today? Have they been abolished? Have they become obsolete so that we have no need of them in our society today? Did Christ do away with them when He died on the cross?

There are many questions being asked by people today. In this study and in the studies to follow, we will try to answer these questions from the Bible.

Before we get into the heart of the lesson, I would like to lay a foundation for this lesson and the lesson that will follow. With this knowledge, the two lessons will be much easier to understand.

1. The Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3-17

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, 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.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's.
Exodus 20:3-17

In these verses, we find the Ten Commandments spoken by God. Even though there are only ten, they cover every aspect of man’s relationship to each other and to God. These commandments form two categories. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six deal with our relationship with man or our fellow man.

Now, as you study these Ten Commandments, you will notice that most people will say they all should be observed, except the Fourth Commandment, as found in verses 8-11. The Fourth Commandment deals with the Sabbath and which day is the Sabbath (or rest day).

There are two things we want to notice about this commandment:

a) God does not say we can keep any day that we desire. He says to remember “the seventh day.” The word the is specific. The Sabbath is “the” seventh day, not the first, second, or fourth day of the week. If God had left it up to man to decide on which day to worship Him, He could have said, “remember a Sabbath day”. The word a could mean any day we desired but God did not say that.

b) The Bible says that God blessed and hallowed the seventh day. God did not do this to any other day of the week. The word hallow means to be made sacred. The other six are not holy or sacred but the seventh day is.

2. Who wrote the Ten Commandments? Exodus 31:18

And HE gave unto Moses, when HE had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Exodus 31:18

Notice the reference says that God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger. No man wrote the Ten Commandments. Notice what God wrote the commandments on. He wrote them on two tables of stone. Now, is stone something that soon disappears, or is it lasting? It is lasting, enduring; it is a symbol of being eternal.

3. Where were the Ten Commandments put? Deuteronomy 10:1-5

At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.

And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.

And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand.

And HE wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.

And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.

Deuteronomy 10:1-5

After Moses broke the two tables of stone, God told him to hew two tables of stone like unto the first and bring them up into the mountain to Him and God would write them again. As Moses came down from the mountain, in verse 5, he put the two tables of stone in the ark. Now, remember these three things: (1) God wrote the Ten Commandments, (2) He wrote them on stone, and (3) the commandments were put in the ark.

4. Who else writes a law? Deuteronomy 31:24-26

And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,

That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,

Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

Deuteronomy 31:24-26

Here we notice that Moses writes a law. This law is not written in stone but in a “book.” Now, is a book enduring, everlasting? No, and neither was this law meant to be everlasting, as we will find out in our next lesson.

Notice where this law was placed. Verse 26 notes “Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark.” This law was not put inside the ark but in the side of the ark.

From here on, this law is referred to in the Bible as the book of the Law, Moses’ law, or as the law of Moses because it was written by Moses as God dictated it to him.

5. Notice the differences.

The difference is easy to see

1. Written by God

2. Written on stone

3. Placed in the ark

4. Eternal

the law of Moses

1. Written by Moses per God

2. Written in a book

3. Placed in the side of the ark

4. Until the Seed came

6. Even God makes a distinction between the two. 2 Kings 21:8

Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.
2 Kings 21:8

Notice the wording here. God says, “...if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servantMoses commanded them.” From this, we can see that God makes a distinction between His law and Moses’ law.

This is the foundation that I wanted to lay down. Now, it will be much easier to understand the Scriptures when we know the Bible speaks of two different laws. People who do not know there were two separate laws become confused and are not able to rightly divide the Word. Now, let us proceed with the study and see from the Scriptures that the Ten Commandments are still in force today to guide the Christian on the path of righteousness.

7. What was Paul’s attitude toward the law? Romans 7:7

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Romans 7:7

Paul says there is not a thing wrong with the law. In fact, he says, “...I would not know sin, but by the law...” (NKJV). What law is he talking about? The Ten Commandments, of course, for it mentions lust and coveting. If the Ten Commandments were nailed to the cross, and done away with, would Paul have been fearful of lusting and coveting? Why no, he wouldn’t have been, for there would have been no law that said it was wrong. Once a law has been done away with, it is no longer in force.

If these two commandments were still in force in Paul’s time, then all the Ten Commandments were still in force, yes, even the commandment concerning the Sabbath. It was a part of the same law as lusting and coveting.

8. Do we have to keep all ten? James 2:10-12

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

For HE that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

James 2:10-12

James tells us if we keep all nine, yet fail to keep the other one, we are still breaking the law and thus a sinner. Notice again, James is referring to the Ten Commandments. Killing and adultery are a part of the Ten Commandments. Does this sound as though they have been abolished? Certainly not. In fact, James says we are transgressing if we break even one of the commandments. We must keep all ten. Again, all ten includes the seventh day Sabbath, for God gave no other day for worship or to keep holy but the seventh. If we keep another day or try to replace the seventh day with another day, we then become sinners before God for we have broken His law.

Notice verse 12, which tells us we will be judged by this same law. It is called the law of liberty because if we keep it, it will free us from sin or guide us out of sin. Jesus frees us from sin by His blood but the law shows us what sin is. Thus, we become free from sin and are at liberty because we are now obeying God.

This law is a very serious thing. Which law can we break and still please God? Which law is not important? Is it important not to steal? Is it important not to covet? Is it important not to take the name of God in vain? We cannot break even one law and expect to please God.

9. What is sin? 1 John 3:4

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
1 John 3:4

The Bible tells us plainly, “...sin is the transgression of the law.” How can man transgress something that does not exist? If the law were nailed to the cross, how could John say this? The Law has to exist today.

10. No law, no sin. Romans 4:15

Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
Romans 4:15

“…for where no law is, there is no transgression.” This seems easy enough to understand.

11. What kind of laws are the Ten Commandments? Romans 7:12

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Romans 7:12

If you read verse 7, you will notice that Paul speaks of coveting, so he is referring to the Ten Commandments. Paul says the law is holy, just, and good. Now, if something is holy, just, and good, what need is there to do away with it?

In the next lesson, we will study a law that was not holy, just, or good, so it was abolished. But the Ten Commandments were not abolished.

12. Did Jesus come to destroy the law? Matthew 5:17-18

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.

Matthew 5:17-18

In Jesus’ own words, He says He came not to destroy the law. We should believe Him. He came not to destroy but to fulfill. He came and lived the perfect life; He fulfilled the law. Jesus lived up to the law, showing us, that in Him, we can do the same.

But some say, to fulfill means to do away with or to complete and do away with. Let’s see if this is true.

13. Christ fulfilled all righteousness. Matthew 3:13-15

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

Matthew 3:13-15

Here it says that Christ fulfilled all righteousness, so did He do away with righteousness? Who could be so foolish as to say He did. The word fulfilled means the same as in Matthew 5:17. Jesus completed all that was required of Him, just as we must fulfill all righteousness today.

14. Was it prophesied that Jesus would destroy the law? Isaiah 42:21

The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.
Isaiah 42:21

It did not say that Jesus would do away with the law but that He would magnify the law. Magnify means to make plain or reveal. So it was never intended that the law (the Ten Commandments) would be done away with.

15. What did Jesus tell the rich young ruler? Matthew 19:16-17

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Matthew 19:16-17

Jesus told him that if he wanted to enter into eternal life then he must keep the commandments. How can we expect to enter eternal life and continue to break (disobey) God’s commandments? It cannot be done, not even the Fourth Commandment.

Notice in verse 18, the man asks which? Now, why do you think the man asks which? Simply because there were two sets of laws: Moses’ law and God’s law. Then Jesus quoted from the law He was referring to, the Ten Commandments, which we must keep.

But someone says He didn’t mention the Sabbath. That is true, but then does He mention not having idols before us, does He mention taking the Lord’s name in vain? Can we do these things, just because He didn’t mention them here? Jesus quotes enough to let the young man know which law He is referring to. So, the thought Jesus left us, if we expect to enter into life, we must keep the commandments.

16. Which is the greatest commandment? Matthew 22:36-39

Master, which is the great commandment in the 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.

Matthew 22:36-39

Some people say there are only two commandments that we have to keep today. This is very true. But we ask, what was Jesus referring to? Was He giving something new for man to do? If you check Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18, you will see that Jesus wasn’t giving anything new. This was commanded in the old Scriptures too.

Remember, I said in the beginning of our lesson that the first four commandments deal with our relationship with God, and the last six commandments deal with our relationship with man. Here in Matthew 22:36-39, Jesus is simply giving a summary of the Ten Commandments. If we keep the Ten Commandments, we will reveal our love to God and our love to our fellow man. The Ten Commandments are wrapped up in these two thoughts: love to God and love to man. Read Luke 10:25-28 for further information on this thought.

17. A hard text in the Bible. 1 John 2:4

He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth NOT His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:4

After reading this reference, how can we say we love God and then not obey His commandments? Again, this includes the Fourth Commandment, which says the seventh day is the day we should keep holy.

18. How do we show our love to God? 1 John 5:2-3

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and KEEP HIS commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we KEEP HIS commandments: and HIS commandments are NOT grievous.

1 John 5:2-3

Words are cheap and come easily. But actions reveal our true feelings. No other way can we show our love to God than keeping His commandments or obeying Him. If we do this, then He knows we mean what we say, when we say we love Him.

19. What did God do to the seventh day in the beginning? Genesis 2:2-3

And on the seventh day God ended HIS work which HE had made; and HE rested on the seventh day from all HIS work which HE had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it HE had rested from all HIS work which God created and made.

Genesis 2:2-3

In the beginning of time, God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. The word sanctified means to “set apart for a holy use.” Notice, the seventh day was sanctified. This was long before there ever was a Moses. God’s law has been from the beginning of time. Abraham kept God’s commandments (Genesis 26:5).

20. The Gentile grafted into Christ.

The Gentiles are being grafted (adopted) into the family of God. Now, when a father and mother adopt a child, they do not give that adopted child different laws than the other children. The laws of the family apply to everyone, including the adopted child. God did not give one set of laws to the Jews and another set to the Gentiles. He gave one set of laws and they were for all, Jew or Gentile. See Exodus 12:47-49, and many others, especially Galatians 3:28.

21. Did the people keep the Sabbath after Christ died? Of course they did. Luke 23:55-56; Acts 13:42-44

And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid.

And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

Luke 23:55-56

And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.

Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

Acts 13:42-44

This speaks of the Jews and Gentiles coming together on the Sabbath to hear the Word, even the whole city.

22. The manner (custom) of Paul. Acts 17:2

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Acts 17:2

23. Paul preached to the Jews and the Greeks (Gentiles).

If you notice verse 11, Paul continued there a year and six months preaching every Sabbath, verse 4. Now, if they were to worship on the first day of the week, do you think Paul would have worshiped so long with them worshiping every seventh day (Sabbath)? I hardly think so. This was the day they were supposed to keep holy and that is why Paul continued to worship with them. The Sabbath was never changed.

24. What will the saints be doing? Revelation 14:12

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that KEEP the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:12

The saints keep the commandments of God.

25. Who is Satan fighting? Revelation 12:17

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 12:17

26. What is the whole duty of man? Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep HIS commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

This has been the responsibility of man through the ages, and it will never change. To enter into life, we obey God. The only way we can know what pleases God is by His commandments.


As we search the Scriptures from Matthew to Revelation, we fail to find a commandment that says, “Remember the first day of the week, to keep it holy.” There isn’t even the faintest hint of such a commandment!

Even though the world does not look on it as sin, yet God calls it sin when we break (disobey) the Fourth Commandment and substitute another day for His Sabbath. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Why continue in this way of life, when we can please God by obeying Him?

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Revelation 22:14
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:21

Material from the book Answers to Your Bible Questions by Wesley Walker.

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Answers to Your Bible Questions