Are the Ten Commandments just a set of rules we must follow to live a good life? Or are they the very secret to a life full of love, joy, and happiness?
“Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'” – Matthew 22:37-40
This week we conclude our study of the Ten Commandments and how they apply to marriage by looking at some final thoughts about the commandments as a whole.
God’s Word–including the Ten Commandments–isn’t about keeping rules. It’s about putting disciplines into place that allow our time together with Him and with each other to be all God wants it to be. It’s about living a life of love and devotion.
We’ve seen in this series that the Ten Commandments apply to our lives and marriage just as much today as they did when they were given to Moses. Remember what Jesus said 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.’”
Jesus did away with the sacrificial portion of the Law by fulfilling them in Himself. We no longer need to sacrifice animals as substitutes for our sins. Jesus did that once and for all when He died on the cross for our sins.
We read for instance 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.”
Jesus fulfilled the moral law portion of the Law–which includes the Ten Commandments–by living it out and teaching its full meaning. He explains the commandments in greater detail beyond simply what we do.
Jesus says that they relate to our hearts and minds, not just our actions. This is because what we do begins with what we think and believe. Jesus says in Matthew 15:18-19: “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
Therefore we must be very careful about what we put into our hearts and minds. That’s why God tells us in Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
And God’s Word gives us instruction in how to do this. For example, Psalm 119:37 says: “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”
But we cannot guard our hearts on our own. That is why the Scripture above is a prayer to God for His help with it. We must have God’s power to stay away from sin and live instead by God’s Word.
This is why Jesus’ death and resurrection also opened up to us the help we need to live out God’s Word.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are forgiven of our sins. We are set free from slavery to our sinful nature and sin itself. But we need God’s help to live as if we are free from sin.
God sends us this help in the person of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us in John 14:25-26: “‘All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.’”
We can understand and be empowered to live out the commandments and all of God’s Word through the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to live within us the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior. He will guide and enable us.
As followers of Christ, we enter into marriage with love and respect for each other. But this will not continue on its own. We must work at it if it is going to grow. (Remember that Satan is doing all he can to destroy us and our marriage.)
If our marriage is to thrive and grow, we must grow in our relationship with God–individually and together.
This is why Jesus said this when asked about the greatest commandment: “Jesus replied: ‘”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Paul wrote it this way in Romans 13:8-10: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
When we love God first–with all we are–then we can love each other with a love that will allow us to have a joyful, lifelong marriage.
When we love God first, we will also desire and be able to keep all His commandments.
Jesus said in John 14:15: “‘If you love me, keep my commands.’”
Ultimately, the perfect law of God is a wonderful blessing, not a curse. Sin is the curse.
Obedience to the commandments, as we have seen, results in numerous blessings in our marriages and in every other part of our lives.
The Ten Commandments continue to be true and part of God’s expectations of Christians today.
Numbers 23:19 says: “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”
And James 1:17 reads: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
And Hebrews 13:8 tells us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (All bold mine.)
God’s way will always be right and best for our marriage. And this includes the Ten Commandments. It may seem difficult at times, but it will always be best.
Jesus put it this way in Matthew 11:28-30: “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”
When we love God first, it means to give our lives to Jesus. Without Jesus, we cannot hope to follow the Ten Commandments or any of God’s Word.
If you have not given your life to Jesus you cannot hope to have the marriage God wants you to enjoy. This step is the most important step you can take toward a better life and marriage. To understand more about this, please read our explanation on our Meet Jesus page.
As we come to the end of this study of the Ten Commandments, prayerfully we can better see how they relate to marriage. We have seen that they teach us how to first love God, and then love our neighbor—who in marriage is our spouse.
When love for God is first in our lives, love for each other comes naturally.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. Talk about what God says to you about your marriage, and how you will apply it.
♦ Do you live as if you are set free from sin–not free in the sense of living in whatever way you feel or believe is right, but as God says is right in His Word? Commit to God and each other that you will live in the way He teaches—in your life and marriage–no matter what your feelings tell you. Ask God and your spouse to help you with this. Commit to help each other and follow through on this. Remember that you are partners in your marriage and in life together–you, your spouse, and God.
♦ Do you base your lives and marriage on the two commandments that Jesus identifies as the greatest? First, do you love God with all that you are? Are you following His Word? Second, do you love each other with His kind of love? Do you demonstrate this by treating each other as God’s Word teaches?
♦ Close your time together in prayer. Ask God to help you–teach and empower you–to follow His Word, including His commandments, in your life and in your marriage.
It is April and the Easter season is upon us. Next week, we will see how Jesus’ sacrifice for us impacts our marriage.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
Other posts in the GUIDING YOUR MARRIAGE WITH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS series:
Part 1: Introduction
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
herAll Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.