Are the 10 Commandments still relevant?

Image: Are the 10 Commandments still relevant?

Discover how God's ancient laws help us to follow Jesus today.

What are the 10 Commandments?

The 10 Commandments are not a checklist. They’re not an exam to determine whether we end up in Heaven or Hell. And they're not included in the Bible as a nice history lesson on the laws that applied only to Israel. The 10 Commandments are not to be ignored, and yet life is quite different today. Are they still relevant in the 21st century?

Do they still matter?

Whenever we ask if some rule or instruction is relevant, it’s likely because we’d rather not adhere to the rule. If the ten commandments included a law to eat your favourite ice cream, sleep in on Monday mornings, and celebrate your birthday twice each year, we’d probably have no reason for this article. Before continuing, let’s read Psalm 139:23-24 aloud, to the Lord. 

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Asking the right question

We must never change God’s word (the Bible) to meet our culture, situation, or understanding. Instead, we are the ones who need to transform to become like the Word. Paul says this happens by renewing our minds and not conforming to the way of the world. The result? We will be able to understand the will of God (Romans 12:2). 

Remember, we will never obey perfectly. But our sinful nature is exactly why Jesus came. It’s why Jesus had to die as sacrifice—and not some pig or peacock instead. It’s why his blood was poured, and not some juice from a cup. And it’s why Jesus gave us his Holy Spirit to be our helper—to teach us how to follow him.

So instead of asking, “Do the 10 Commandments apply today?” It’s better to ask: “How are they relevant?” Or, “What do these commands look like for me today?”

What do they mean for me?

Read Deuteronomy 5:4-21 and consider this: If the Lord spoke to you today, the way he spoke to Moses, what might he command? But before you make your list 1-10, I’ll share mine with you.

  1. Put nothing before me. No earthly goals or people are more important. I am your way, truth, and life. Make me your only goal and God.
     
  2. Do not worship anything above me. No person, passion or possession can take my place. Love me the most and set me on your heart’s throne.
     
  3. Watch your tongue. Do not adopt a habit of using this world’s words. Use gracious, clean speech. Honor my name among your friends.
     
  4. A weekly day of rest is important. Trust me to complete what you’ve not yet finished. Rest your heart on this day and rest in me always. Spend your hours with me, and I will show you great things.
     
  5. Honor your father and your mother. Respect them. I know who they are. Remain true to me, and I will take care of you.
     
  6. Do not murder with your words, expressions, judgement, or gossip. I created mankind in my image, and vengeance is mine. Cling to me for mercy.
     
  7. Keep your body from temptation and flee from peer pressure. Uphold the vows you’ve made to me. Honor me by staying away from unholy relationships because I am your Beloved and you are mine.
     
  8. Do not take what does not belong to you. Everything you have, I’ve given to you. I will care for your needs. Do not worry about what is to come. I am your provider, and I will take care of you.
     
  9. Do not tell lies to promote yourself. Be careful what you say to others; tell me your disputes. Speak only what is true, and bravely defend those who cannot defend themselves. Love your neighbor as yourself.
     
  10. Do not crave things that won’t last. The grass is not greener on the other side. I am your Shepherd and I will lead you to green pastures. My purpose for you is only yours. Stop trying to be like somebody else.

Your turn!

Number your paper 1 to 10. Read Deuteronomy 5:4-21 and write down your first thoughts. If you aren’t sure how a commandment relates, ask yourself:

  • Why has God included this command in his Word?
  • What does this verse mean for me here, and now? 

Over the next 10 weeks, choose one commandment from your list each week. Think of three ways you will honor the Lord by intentionally obeying this command. During this time, record just how relevant God’s commandments become. Oh, and don’t forget to pray for the Spirit’s help!

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