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Ten Commandments Part 1

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Ten Commandments

Exodus 20:1-11

Introduction: This will be a two part message on the Ten Commandments. Jesus taught In Matthew 22:37-40, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Today we will cover the the first four commandments (verses 1-11) which deal with loving the Lord your God and the other six commandments (verses 12-17) which deal loving your neighbor we will cover next week, Lord willing.

Let me give you some observations about these commandments to get us started this morning.

Exodus 20:1-2
1 Then God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

  • These commandments were given to the Israelites at Mount Sinai shortly after leaving Egypt. God Himself spoke these commandments to the Israelites audibly (Deuteronomy 5:4 “The Lord spoke to you face to face at the mountain from the midst of the fire). They heard the voice of their God like thunder as they gathered at the foot of the mountain.
  • God also wrote these commandments with His own finger on tablets of stone. Ex. 24:12; Ex. 31:18 The first one Moses destroyed after seeing the Israelites sin by making th golden calf. Ex. 32:19
  • These commandments are a summery of God's commands that are expanded and explained in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
  • Only three of the 10 commandments are positively stated but it makes no difference whether the law is stated negatively or positively, for the moral law is always double sided. When an evil is forbidden in one of the commandments, its opposite good must be understood as being encouraged.
  • Rulers of the Near East were not trying to express universal wisdom through their laws. They were trying to maintain their personal political and economic power and their image as lawgivers. If a previous king had already done this they just borrowed the ideas for their own legal system. A king was supposed to hand down laws that were clear, just, and true, no matter where he got them. In contrast, the Bible teaches that God’s people received their laws from God Himself, not from their neighbors. Even laws whose content corresponded to those of other Near Eastern codes are presented as God-given. The Bible says to obey its laws because they are God’s commands.
  • Most law systems of the Near East consisted of case laws; they laid out the age-old traditional decisions in various legal cases. They were cold, hard, and capricious. But the laws of the Bible point back to a personal lawgiver: God. The Bible says that God gave His Law with a purpose of love. Though the laws of the Bible are firm, they point to a God who cares about human beings personally and therefore directs how they should live so as to please Him and enjoy His favor.
  • The Jews have always numbered the commandments as 1. No other Gods. 2. No Idols. 3. Not taking the Lord's name in vain. 4. Keep the Sabbath. 5. Honor Father and Mother. 6. No Murder. 7. No Adultery. 8. No Stealing. 9. No False Witness. 10. No Coveting Neighbor's Houses, Wives, Servants, Cattle. Catholic teaching changed the numbering later by combining 1 and 2 and then breaking up #10 into two parts. They numbered them as 1. No other Gods or idols. 2. Not taking the Lord's name in vain. 3. Keep the Sabbath. 4. Honor Father and Mother. 5 No Murder. 6. No Adultery. 7. No Stealing. 8. No False Witness. 9. No Coveting Neighbor's House. 10. No coveting Neighbor's Wife, Servants, or Cattle. We will follow the Jewish numbering.

I. First Commandment
A. What the Commandment Says

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

Deuteronomy 4:35 (NASB95)
35 “To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord, He is God; there is no other besides Him.

B. What the Commandment Means

This is internal worship.

1. Monotheism. Only one God. Unlike Egypt and the Cannanites.

2. God's can be made in the heart. Psalm 44:20-21 (NASB95)
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God Or extended our hands to a strange god,
21 Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.

2. Interpreted by Jesus. He is the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-19
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
16 “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’
17 “The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well.
18 ‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
19 ‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.
Jesus is the new Moses for He is the one who gave the Law to Moses in the first place.

C. How to Apply the Commandment

Pride makes a god of self, covetousness makes a god of money, sensuality makes a god of the belly; whatever is esteemed or loved, feared or served, delighted in or depended on, more than God, that (whatever it is) we do in effect makes a god in our hearts.

What gods do you need to rid yourself of?

When sharing the gospel with someone you can point out to them that just not doing bad things doesn't make them right before God. You can ask them if they have always loved God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength? Have they always put His will and service ahead of their own? This will help them to see that they stand condemned before Him and need His mercy.

II. Second Commandment

A. What the Commandment Says

Exodus 20:4-6

4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

idol, image, i.e., a shaped or fashioned worship-icon as a god or representing a god

B. What the Commandment Means

This is external worship. This directly applies to making an image of what the only true God looks like. The Israelites thought that they were obeying the first commandment when they made the golden calf. They claimed that the golden calf was Yahweh, but thet was not what God wanted. God is Spirit and must be worship in Spirit and truth. He has no physical form that we can depict in a physical way; to try would be to pull God down to our level and limit an infinite being.

C. How to Apply the Commandment

We are not to have figures, images, or any other representations of God that we worship. Does this mean artistic creativity is frowned upon, no! We have depictions of Jesus even here in the church building. In the temple they had depictions of cherubim that surrounded God's throne. What we need to be careful with is having any image (no matter the material) that we use to worship God. This can include even a mental picture of God the Father as smiling, whitehaired grandfather. It also includes setting up an incorrect mental picture of God's character such as, “God is so loving that He would never wend anyone to hell.”

When sharing the gospel with someone we can help them to see that if their view of God is inconsistent with what God declares Himself to be in the Scriptures, then they have set up an idol in their heart and broken God's commandment.

III. Third Commandment
A. What the Commandment Says

Exodus 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

8736 שָׁוְא (šāwe(ʾ)): n.[masc.]; ≡ Str 7723; TWOT 2338a—1. LN 65.30-65.39 vanity, futility, worthlessness, i.e., that which has no result or use and so worthless (Ex 20:7(2×))

B. What the Commandment Means

This is verbal worship

Matthew 5:33-37 (NASB95)
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,
35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.
37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

To use God's name in conection with an unfullfilled promise or vow is to cause His name to be worthless or without meaning. Someones name in the Bible indicates not only what audible identifies them but also carries with it the character of the person behind that name. Therefore God's charater is just as worthles as my promise that was not kept. The Israelites even to this day revear the name of God so much that when they write it they will replace the vowels with dashes. When scribes would copy the Scriptures and come accross a name of God, they would put down their pen, take a bath, come back and write the name and then take another bath before continuing.

C. How to Apply the Commandment

We are to reverence the name and therefore the character of the one, true and living God. Ways that we can dishonor it is to use it as a curse word when expressing anger or disgust. We take God’s name in vain also, [1.] By hypocrisy, making a profession of God’s name, but not living up to that profession. Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain (Matthew 15:7-9 (NASB95)
7 “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you:
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ ”) [2.] By rash swearing, mentioning the name of God, or any of his attributes, in the form of an oath, without any just occasion for it, or due application of mind to it, but as a by-word, to no purpose at all, or to no good purpose. [3.] By using the name of God lightly and carelessly, and without any regard to its awesome significance. This is seen often times in Christian circles when they pray. “Dear God, Lord, we just want to thank you Lord for blessing Lord this beautiful day Lord...” That type of flippancy and carelessness is inconsistent with the awesome character of God and the kind of reverence that we are to show to Him.

IV. Fourth Commandment
A. What the Commandment Says

Exodus 20:8-11

8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

B. What the Commandment Means

Jesus explained proper significance. Mark 2:23-27 (NASB95)
23 And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain.
24 The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
25 And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry;
26 how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?”
27 Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

Luke 13:14 (NASB95)
14 But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”

C. How to Apply the Commandment

This is the only commandment not repeated in the NT for the church to perpetuate. It was meant to be a distinguishing mark of Jewishness. Nonetheless the principal is still in effect in that God has designed our bodies to need a rest from labor once every 7 days. We are also to dedicate one day per week for Him. For most Christians this is on Sunday

Isaiah 58:13 (NASB95)
13 “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word,

Which day you choose to be the day of rest that is dedicated to God is up to you. Colossians 2:16 (NASB95) Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— but whatever day it is, it is a kind of tithe of your time for service and love to the God who created you.


How do you stack up against these commandments? They are the standard to which we must hold ourleves. When we do, we find out how despartely wicked our hearts really are and how much we need the mercy and grace of God. The book of Leviticus is God's answer to the expected failure of His people to keep these commanments. He knew we would fail, so He provided the way for forgivness and restoration to Himself.

These commandments are not just to depress by pointing out how much we fail,but to give us model to live by. With these commandments God promised blessings for the nation of Israel if they kept them and trouble if they did not. We will expirience the blessings of God as we put them into practice always applying God's plan of forgivness for when we do fail. But always we strive for a closer walk with God and His likeness being manifestated in us His precious bride.

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