5. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)
The first four commandments deal with our relationship with the Almighty God. They are the foundation for the rest of the commandments, which deal with our relationships with others. We can never have a truly right relationship with others until we have a right relationship with God. It is only out of our love for Him that the rest of the commandments have meaning and purpose in our lives.
The first relationship after our heavenly Father is that of our parents. No other human relationship is more important than that with our parents. Unless we learn to get along within our family, we will never get along very well in society. A child who has no respect for his or her parents will have no respect for anything else in society, either. It is within the family relationship that love and respect are taught and learned.
What about parents who are not worthy of our respect? Unfortunately, there are parents who neglect and abuse their children and who fail miserably in their parental responsiblities. How can we possibly be expected to honor such parents? Why would God even say such a thing?
Even if we had parents like this, God wants us to respect their unique position as our parents: they are the ones who gave us life. We are to honor the position, if not the person. Only God Himself knows the whole story of why our parents are the way they are; we can't possibly know all the circumstances that made them less than adequate as parents. Perhaps they never had proper parenting themselves. They can't pass along something they never had.
This commandment doesn't add any qualifications: "Honor thy father and thy mother , if you think they deserve it" or "if they were good parents" or "if they are worthy of respect". Honoring our father and our mother doesn't mean that we think they were wonderful parents, or that they were right in how they raised us; it means we are being obedient to the Lord. By honoring our parents we show our respect not just of them, but of God. We honor them for the Lord's sake, not necessarily their own.
It is interesting that this is the first commandment with a promise attached. We weren't given any promises for being obedient in our relationship to God; as the preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes, that is the duty of man. (Eccl. 12:13) However, having honor for our earthly father and mother is so important to God that He promised a long life in the land for those who would obey this commandment. This promise is repeated in the New Testament, in Eph. 6:2-3.
So exactly how are we to honor parents who were not what they should have been? First, we need to forgive them. That doesn't mean we have to maintain a close relationship with an abusive parent; we do not have to give them further opportunities to misuse or abuse us. But we do need to forgive them, in order to honor their position as the ones who gave us life. Remember, the Bible says we are to forgive others in order to be forgiven ourselves. (Matt. 6:15)
Exodus 21:17 tells the consequences of not honoring our parents: "And he that curseth his father, or his
mother, shall surely be put to death." Jesus reinforced these teachings in Matt. 15:4: "For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death." It is obvious that our relationship with our parents is of utmost importance to God, after our relationship with Him. The way we relate to our parents influences the way we relate to others the rest of our lives.
6. Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13)
After our relationship with God and with our parents, our first duty is to respect the lives of others. Human life is sacred to God; He created us in His own image. Life is a special and unique gift from God, and we are not to presume to take His place by taking the life of another deliberately and intentionally. How arrogant it is to believe that we have the right to do so, for any reason!
This law applies to any any wanton, premeditated act of murder. It does not include killing animals, (Gen. 9:3), self-defense, (Ex. 22:2), accidents, (Deut. 19:5), or holy war, (Deut. 7:1-5). It also does not forbid the death penalty. To protect all human life, God commanded the community to execute those who commit intentional acts of murder. (Gen. 9:6; Ex. 21:12) Society as a whole, not any individual, has the right given by God to punish a murderer by taking his life.
Deliberate, premeditated murder is the most contemptuous, disrespectful act a person can commit. It indicates that the life of the murdered person is of so little value and importance that it can just be carelessly, wantonly taken away. There is no greater act of hatred toward man and God than to intentionally take the life of another.
This law also includes unborn children, millions of whom are willfully murdered every year. A child in the womb is a living person, not merely a "product of conception", as the abortionists would have you believe. There are many scriptures that prove that life begins at conception: look at Psalm 22:10; Ps. 58:3; Ps. 139:13; Isaiah 44:2; Is. 44:24; Is. 49:1; Is. 49:5; Jeremiah 1:5; Hosea 12:3; Luke 1:15 and Luke 1:41, for starters.
The Bible says that there are seven things which God hates, one of which is hands that shed innocent blood. (Prov. 6:16-17) What could possibly be more innocent than an unborn baby? Do not be deceived by Satan's lies: Abortion is murder, plain and simple, and is hateful to the Holy and Almighty God!
Jesus taught us that murder begins in man's heart long before he actually commits the act. (Matt. 5:21-22) The same is true of any sin; it begins in the heart long before it is ever committed. Jesus said: "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matt. 15:19) That is why the Bible tells us to guard our heart diligently. (Prov. 4:23)
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14)
Sexual sin, like any other sin, begins in the heart long before it is ever acted upon. Jesus taught that in the Sermon on the Mount.(Matt. 5:27-28) Marriage was the first sacrament ordained by God (Gen. 2:24); to commit adultery is to break that sacred union.
Sexual sin, such as adultery, leads to death. (James 1:14-15) At the time of Moses, this meant actual physical death, as death was to be the punishment for adultery. (Lev. 20:10) Sexual immorality is a sin against our own body, (1 Cor. 6:18) and adultery destroys our soul. Proverbs 6:32 tells us:
"But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul."
We are to keep the marriage bed undefiled, or face God's judgment, as it says in Heb 13:4: "Marriage is honourable in all,
and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
8. Thou shalt not steal. (Ex. 20:15)
This commandment is pretty simple--- it requires us to respect the rights of ownership. We are not to take anything that does not belong to us. No exceptions; no excuses.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Ex. 20:16)
To "bear false witness" means to lie about someone. The phrase got it's meaning originally from legal proceedings. However, this commandment prohibits untruths of any kind, not only those given under oath. We are to always speak truthfully and honestly before, to, and about others.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's
house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:17)
To "covet" is to experience inordinate desire or craving for the possession or attributes of another. This last commandment deals with the attitudes of our hearts, rather than actual deeds. We are not to desire anything belonging to someone else, whether it is a possession of theirs, or a quality they have that we do not. Every impulse that leads us to dishonor, kill, commit adultery, steal, or lie, is covered by this final commandment.
All sin begins in the heart, as we've already mentioned; thus it is important that we guard our hearts and make sure our attitudes are right. Even if we keep the other commandments outwardly, we are still guilty of sin if we do not keep them in our hearts as well. Jesus taught this very same principle in Matt. 5:28; God wants us to keep these commandments in our hearts and our attitudes as well as our outward behavior.
Anything that causes us to break any one of these laws is sin, and the Bible says: "For whosoever shall keep the whole
law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10) What a warning that is to us to diligently guard our hearts, minds, and attitudes, that we may not sin against God!
Many people like to point out that we are no longer under the Old Testament law; that these commandments no longer apply to us. It is true that with His death and resurrection, Jesus established a new law: the law of grace. (Romans 6:14) However, that does not mean these commandments are completely obsolete. Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them. (Matthew 5:17)
We know that our salvation is by grace, not by keeping laws. These commandments still serve as a pattern by which to live a life pleasing to God. These laws are just as important now as they were when they were handed down on Mt. Sinai. Jesus said that all of these ten commandments together could be summed up by just two new ones:
"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)