The Shema, a Judeo-Christian Prayer?

by William L. Nowell

Part 2: God's Moral Law

The Ten Commandments were, and still are, a set of guidelines to live by - a guide to practical holiness. They deal with our relationship with God and our relationships with one another. However, there is an even bigger purpose for these commandments. They make it perfectly clear that we've all sinned and fall short of God's standard. (Romans 3:23 and Ecclesiastes 7:20). The ultimate purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show us our need for a Savior.

The Ten Commandments of the Lord - God's Moral Law

  1. You are to have no gods other than Me. (Exodus 20:3 / Deuteronomy 5:7)
  2. You must not make for yourselves an idol [to worship] (Exodus 20:4-5 / Deuteronomy 5:8-9)
  3. You must not misuse the name of the Lord (Yahweh) your God. (Exodus 20:7 / Deuteronomy 5:11)
  4. Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8 / Deuteronomy 5:12)
  5. Honor your father and your mother. (Exodus 20:12 / Deuteronomy 5:16)
  6. Do not commit murder. (Exodus 20:13 / Deuteronomy 5:17)
  7. Do not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14 / Deuteronomy 5:18)
  8. Do not steal. (Exodus 20:15 / Deuteronomy 5:19)
  9. Do not tell lies about your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 / Deuteronomy 5:20)
  10. Do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Exodus 20:17 / Deuteronomy 5:21)

Many people view the Ten Commandments as a restrictive list of do's and don'ts. But we must remember that we have an omniscient God who knows the end from the beginning. The commands and rules our loving Father has given us are for our good.

The Commandments of the Lord will continue forever. (Psalm 111:8) Forever means forever. The Commandments were not just for Old Testament times. Yeshua made this fact clear when He said, “Don't think that I have come to destroy the Law of Moses or the Teaching of the Prophets. I have come not to destroy their teachings but to give full meaning to them.” (Matthew 5:17-18) The Ten Commandments are all reaffirmed in the New Testament. And in some cases, Yeshua raised the bar on what it means to keep the commandments. (See Matthew 5:27-28)

Yeshua also said, “Whoever obeys the law and teaches others to obey it will be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19) The Ten Commandments are as important for modern-day Christians as they were for the ancient Israelites.

The Ten Commandments in the New Testament

  1. “Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10)
  2. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)
  3. ... that the name of God and the doctrine not be blasphemed. (1 Timothy 6:1)
  4. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28)
    • On the Sabbath, we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. (Acts 16:13)
    • Also see Luke 23:56 and Acts 13:42, 44
  5. “Honor your father and mother.” (Matthew 19:19)
    • Also see Ephesians 6:2
  6. “You shall not murder.” (Matthew 19:18)
    • Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer (1 John 3:15)
    • Also, see Romans 13:9 and James 2:11
  7. “You shall not commit adultery” (Matthew 19:18)
    • “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
    • Also, see Romans 13:9 and James 2:11
  8. “You shall not steal.” (Matthew 19:18)
    • Also, see Romans 13:9
  9. “You shall not give false testimony.” (Matthew 19:18)
  10. “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)
    • Also, see Romans 13:9

Promise of the New Covenant

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.” (Jeremiah 31:33, also Hebrews 8:10, 10:16)

Clearly, the law is still an integral part of the New Covenant. However, in the New Covenant, God commits Himself to change the hearts and minds of man through the transforming power of His Holy Spirit. Whereas in the Old Covenant, God gave His law on tablets of stone, leaving man's heart unchanged. The onus was on them to write His commandments on their hearts. But we have a helper in the Holy Spirit.

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Three Crosses