“And God spoke all these words…” – Exodus 20:1
Do you think of the Ten Commandments as part of the Old Testament law that doesn’t really apply anymore? Can they truly have a significant impact on our lives…on our marriages?
This week begin a new study of what the Ten Commandments mean to us today and what they can mean for our marriages. The truth is they can—and must–have a significant impact on our lives in order to live in a way that pleases God and brings blessing to our marriages.
The Significance of the Ten Commandments
All the Bible is God’s inspired Word. God tells us this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
God’s gives us His Word so that we who are followers of Christ can have everything we need to live our lives for Him. We read this in 1 Peter 1:3-4: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Where do we gain our “knowledge of Him?” Where do we find “His very great and precious promises?” We find all this in His Word—all of His Word—the entire Holy Bible. And this includes the Ten Commandments.
We need the Ten Commandments in order to “participate in the divine nature.” And we need them so we can escape “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
These are the very things we need in order to have the marriage God desires for us.
So let us begin this study by reading the Ten Commandments in their entirety as found in Exodus 20:1-17:
“And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “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. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 17 “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.”
Many Christian leaders and theologians have taught that the Old Testament law no longer applies on this side of the cross. However we do not have to go far in the New Testament until we read Jesus’ words about this. He begins the Sermon on the Mount with the following teaching in Matthew 5:17-19:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
What Jesus Teaches About the Old Testament
1 – Jesus did not come to abolish or do away with the teaching found in the Old Testament.
In Jesus’ teaching, He includes both the Law and the Prophets. So Jesus is including all of the teaching of the Old Testament. He does not delete the Old Testament teachings, but He came “to fulfill them.”
The Greek word translated “fulfill” in this passage is “pleroo.” It also means to complete. He completed the ceremonial or sacrificial portion of the law by becoming the final sacrifice for our sins. Romans 3:25 says: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
Jesus completed the moral portion of the Law with His teaching, as well as through His sacrifice for our sins. He helps us understand all that God intended to teach us through it. His sacrifice opened up to us the opportunity to be freed from slavery to sin and to follow His teaching instead.
2 – The Old Testament teachings will apply as long as the earth exists.
Jesus states that “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen” will fail to be part of God’s plan for us “until everything is accomplished.” Everything is accomplished when Jesus returns and the earth ends.
3 – If we try to nullify any of God’s teachings, we may not lose our salvation, but it will impact our place in heaven.
When Jesus died and rose again for our sins, He ended the need for the ceremonial portion of the Old Testament law. Those are the parts of the law that include animal sacrifices for our sins. Jesus paid the price for our sins once and for all. So there is no need for those ceremonial laws any longer.
We read about this in Hebrews 10:4-7: “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, “Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.”’”
Then we read the final word about this in Hebrews 10:10: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
We are forgiven of our sins and made holy in God’s eyes when we accept Jesus as our Savior. Therefore we read in Hebrews 10:17-18: “Then he adds: ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’ 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”
The moral law–represented by the Ten Commandments–is still valid and is to be followed. This is why Jesus said that He “did not come to abolish the Law.” Rather, He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).
Jesus fulfilled and completed the ceremonial and sacrificial law through His death and resurrection. He proclaimed and explained the moral law more fully throughout His life. He confirmed it, and called us to live it out with full understanding.
All of Scripture Confirms The Ten Commandments
We also see the Ten Commandments confirmed throughout all of Scripture. We read Jesus and the New Testament authors explain how we are to live it out.
Paul taught that the ceremonial and sacrificial law ended with the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 3:21-30). But he writes of the moral law in Romans 3:31: “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”
The Purpose of The Ten Commandments
So the law has two purposes. One is to teach us how God wants us to live, because He knows that is what’s best for us—in our lives and in our marriage. The second purpose is to convict us when we don’t live God’s way so that we might not to continue down a path of destruction.
We see these two purposes from the time they were first given to God’s people–during the exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land.
First, since Israel was being given a new beginning, God provided the law to show them what this new life was to look like. Israel’s obedience was to show God’s nature to those around them.
This is true for all Christians and our marriages today. Following God’s law demonstrates the positive difference He makes.
We read several times in Ephesians 5:21-33 that in marriage we are to treat one another just as Jesus does the Church. Thus the world can see Christ’s love for all people as they see it demonstrated between a husband and wife in their marriage.
Second, the history of Israel—as well as our own history–also demonstrates that the ideals of God’s law cannot be achieved without His help. The Ten Commandments show us our sinfulness in our motives and behavior. And this is seen in our transgression of these specific commands.
We also learn that we do not have the power to transform ourselves or liberate ourselves from the power of sin. So the law acts as a teacher that shows us God’s holiness, our sinfulness, and our need for salvation. We learn of our need for salvation that can only come through Jesus Christ. This is the good news of the gospel.
So, as you can see, God’s law is still authoritative and necessary for Christians today. The Ten Commandments continue to be God’s expectation of all believers. As we learn the significance of these commands and how we are to live them out in our lives, they will guide our marriage to walk in God’s ways and become all that He designed it to be.
We hope you’ll join us in the rest of this study, as we look at The Ten Commandments in greater detail. Next week we will begin discussing how we are to apply them to our lives, and especially to our marriage.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Discuss some of the specific things God spoke to each of you about as you read it.
♦ Do you agree that the Bible, including the Ten Commandments is God’s Word, and therefore is to be followed? Will you commit to put into practice what you learn over the next several weeks?
♦ Read through the Ten Commandments in preparation for this study. We have a printable chart showing where the Ten Commandments are in the Old and New Testaments. It will always be available on our Free Resources page. But you can download it here by clicking the link below.
♦ Have both of you committed your lives to Christ as Savior and Lord? This is essential if you are going to have the marriage that God desires for you, and if you are going to understand and put His instructions into practice. If you have not done this or are not sure, please read more about Him on our Meet Jesus page.
♦ Close your time in prayer together. Ask God to help you live for Him this week. Ask Him to help you grow in your walk with Him and each other as you go through this study together over the next few weeks.
Until next week, may God bless you and your marriage in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the GUIDING YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS series:
Part 2: Making God First
Part 3: Worship and Honor
Part 4: A Sabbath Day
Part 5: Honoring Your Parents
Part 6: Don’t Kill Each Other
Part 7: On Adultery and Stealing
Part 8: Being Honest
Part 9: Being Content
Part 10: Love and Devotion
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Sabra Penley.