The Ten Commandments for Christians.

Before reading how the Ten Commandments apply to Christians it helps to read how the Ten Commandments apply to all criminal gangs. Anyone who wants live in a group of people in peace and safety needs to follow some version of these rules. The Ten Commandments are the floor of human group behavior. The Old Testament prophets consistently warned the Jews that if they didn’t follow the rules they would be conquered. To the extent that groups follow these rules they are also safe from being conquered. It is true of criminal gangs and countries.

In Matthew 5:20 Jesus said “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of Heaven”. Then he gives two examples. He says “you have heard it said of old time ….” But I say unto you…” You don’t need to be a theologian to figure out that Christians are supposed to obey the ten commandments in at a higher level than the people to whom they were given. Jesus said that the people who were listening to his Sermon on the Mount were the ‘salt of the earth’. Salt was a preservative, a flavoring and necessary for life in Jesus’ day. Christians are called to be the salt of the earth. It means doing more than is required. Doing more than is required is a burden, a cross.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Often over looked is the preamble to the Ten Commandments. God is reminding his people that they owe him. To owe God and not give back is to be a predator to God. Christians owe and even higher debt to God. We must pay back. It is why we are happy to obey these Ten to the full extent possible.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

This one seems easy. Christians don’t believe in other gods so it’s not possible to worship a God more than the one and only God. Except that Christians have other gods they just don’t call them that by name. Christians often have a cause that they believe in very strongly. Sometimes they attempt bring their cause into their Christianity. I’ve heard people who believe in vegetarianism claim that Jesus was a vegetarian. I’ve heard people who are very against drinking alcohol claim that Jesus only drank unfermented wine. Those are only the non-political causes. It is good to have causes and to participate in the causes of others. Christians are not allowed to have a cause that holds greater claim on their time and talents than the cause of Christ. To do so means the Christian has a God that is higher than the true God.

The way to know if you have another God is to ask yourself which you would choose. Imagine that you came to the conclusion that your Christianity and the beliefs of your cause were in conflict. You can imagine coming to this conclusion by any means that would convince you. Maybe you read it in the Bible or a knowledgeable person explained things very clearly. Maybe an angel from heaven visited you and talked you through how your cause conflicted with the will of Christ. Which would you choose? Would you choose Jesus or your cause? The one you choose is your true god. Be honest with yourself. Telling a lie to other people is bad. Telling a lie to yourself is worse.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

In the day when the command was given, gods were often represented by something in nature. Strong gods were represented as bulls, swift gods by eagles and fierce gods by lions. A god that was both strong and swift could be represented as a bull with wings. And so on. The one God did not want people to worship other gods but he also didn’t want his followers to use nature to represent him. The One God has all of the qualities that could possibly represented by nature. The One God is the source of all life like the sun and controls the seas like the moon and is strong like a bull and everything else. To emphasize any one quality of God is to diminish God.

Christians do not need the symbols of causes to show their desire to be a good person. Every good thing is already included within the worship of the One True God. Christians already love their country and are already in favor of recycling and workers right’s and every other good thing. To emphasize one is to De-emphasize others. To show the symbols of a particular cause is to show a divided allegiance. Christ is all we need. Show a cross, or a fish, or a picture of Jesus with a lamb over his shoulders and that says everything people need to know.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Christians don’t use God’s name very often. We use the title God. We believe that Jesus was God. We already don’t use Jesus’ name as an explitive. It shows lack of respect.

In the day when the commandments were given, and still today, when people wanted to convince you of something they would swear in the name of their God. This commandment meant that if you made an oath in God’s name you had better keep your oath. Jesus did not like people swearing by anything. He knew it was an excuse to deceive. Christians know to not swear by anything, though for some reason people thought it was okay to swear on the Bible.

When people want to deceive Christians today they use the Holy Spirit. They claim that they were led by the spirit or claim a special revelation from God. They may say they have the gift of prophecy. These are all versions of using God’s name in vain. It is using God to convince people they are telling the truth.

Christians shouldn’t use God to add force to their opinions. Even if God really spoke to them directly. If you believe that God spoke to you or the Holy Spirit moved you or that you have the gift of prophecy, have faith that God will use your words to touch the person hearing them. The same spirit who moved you can move them. Using God to back your words is like people who swear in the name of God. They may mean it with all their heart but they give an excuse for deceivers to do the same thing.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Ancient peoples gave things to God by destroying them. Christ taught that the way to give things to God is to give them to other people. Most Christians don’t believe in an Sabbath the way the Jews did. They believe in time tithes. Not many people make so much money that God’s kingdom is better off if they give money but not their time. Giving God some of your time means a lot of things. Among them it means that you trust in God to take care of you. In Jesus’ economy the way to show ones devotion to God was by being kind to his children. By spending time with people you can impart your values. No matter how much wealth you acquire, in a generation or two it will be gone. The values you impart will go on forever. Take time off work. Spend time with people and use that time to teach, by words and example, good values.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

We’ve been taught to blame our father and mother for all of our problems. It’s narcissistic to think that somehow each of us is owed a perfect childhood. Don’t take the bait. Honor your Father and Mother for giving you life and caring for you such as they did. Take the optimistic view of your parents and everyone who came before you. Rather than complain because the glass was a little bit empty be thankful how full the glass was. Good people are grateful, bad people are not.

“You shall not murder.

Christians don’t even murder their enemies. That doesn’t mean they don’t kill. They are not the same thing. Christians have a lot of responsibilities. The greater responsibility is the one that is acted on. There are times when the greater responsibility is to society in general and it out weighs the responsibility to one individual.

“You shall not commit adultery.

In a criminal gang adultery is a way to get yourself killed. Christians are commanded to forgive. Maybe that’s why adultery is still common among Christians.

I read a list of the Ten Commandments that was meant for very young children. The person who wrote it changed ‘Do not commit Adultery’ to ‘Be Faithful’. I took it to heart. Christians should be faithful. They should be faithful to God. They should be faithful to friends. They should be faithful to someone with whom they are so intimate that they have sexual relations with them. First John 4:20 says “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” The same rule works for being faithful. You can’t claim to be faithful to God and not be faithful to a spouse.

The sex drive is very strong. Sex is pleasurable physically and emotionally. It makes us feel cared for in a deep way. It makes us feel as if our status is higher than it really is. For those reasons, lots of people want to negate the Christian teachings about sexual relations. It’s not possible. Take away the commandment about adultery and leave the nine others. It is not possible to have sex outside of marriage and not steal. It is not possible to have sex outside of marriage and not lie to someone. It’s not possible to have the animalistic pleasures that come from multiple sex partners without being a predator to someone. Jesus taught that we should expect God to treat us the way we treat others. It is not possible to teach that it is okay to be unfaithful to others and expect God to be faithful to us.

Some people will argue with the above, even some Christians. They will say what about this case or that. That is like saying it is possible to serve God and money. It’s not going to work. You may think it is working for awhile but in the end it doesn’t.

“You shall not steal.

Christians don’t steal. We are often angling for deals though. Christians should be more careful to give as good at they get in an exchange. In any exchange, to take more than one gives is to be a predator. It doesn’t matter if the person is a consenting adult. People who follow Jesus have a much higher burden of responsibility than those who do not.

A practical example of this is if you have a friend who has a business. Sometimes people want a their friend with the business to give them the special friend price. Sometimes it works the other way. The person with the business wants the friend to pay full price to help them out. Taking advantage of a friendship is to be a predator. If you are a predator to a friend then they are not a friend. If your friend has business be prepared to pay full price. If you are the one with the business be prepared to give the friend the price that you would give your meanest customer who negotiates you down to your lowest price. Those two guidelines are in conflict. Sort it out between the two of you and don’t judge.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

The original meaning of this command was to tell the truth in court or other judicial type of settings. Some Christians take this to the extreme of never lie about anything to anyone. Since Satan is the father of lies it makes sense that lies come from Satan. Take away the idea of lying and think instead of deception. If you deceive someone it is either because they are a predator or they are your prey. It is okay for Christians to deceive predators. It’s because they are predators. It is why we leave the lights on in our house when we are not there. We are trying to deceive predators into thinking we are home. It is never okay to deceive people who are not predators. If we do, it is because we consider them prey.

See the link

A practical example for Christians is how we teach the Bible. Christian leaders have in the past discouraged people from reading the Bible because there were things there that gave people heretical ideas. Sometimes Bible translators deliberately translate the Bible in a way that reinforces their own teaching. When they do that they are treating people like prey. When you care about people and want the best for them you tell them the truth all the time.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Christians don’t covet. Our values draw us higher than mere possessions. We know that coveting is great way to be unhappy. However coveting doesn’t mean wanting better than what you have now. I was looking through a catalogue once and a Christian friend said “coveting are we?”. He had been taught an extreme version of coveting. Coveting is about having what someone else has. Coveting is wanting what someone else has so that they will not have it and you will. It is about wanting harm to come to someone.

Christians do not want harm to come to someone else. Not even their enemies. When other people have good luck we are happy for them. When they have bad luck we grieve with them. No schadenfreude allowed for Christians.

Criminal Gangs obey the ten commandments to in an earthly way. Members of Criminal Gangs are careful to treat other members of the gang like partners. They give as good as they get. It is for their own safety. They want to be safe from retribution by the other gang members and they want the gang to be powerful enough to protect them from those outside the gang.

Christians obey the ten Commandments in a Heavenly way. Christians treat everyone as if they are their own adult children. They often give more than they get. They are okay with that. It is how God has treated us. Christians don’t let people take advantage though. Giving more than you get to a person who is taking advantage makes them into a predator. That is not teaching good values.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: