People have revered the 10 Commandments for thousands of years. They communicate truth about God’s nature and how people can please him. They also instruct people about how to relate to, and live with one another. Some people today believe the 10 Commandments are outdated and old-fashioned. Do Christians denominations believe this?
All the historic denominations of orthodox Christianity believe in the 10 Commandments. For example, denominations still teach that Christians shouldn’t worship other gods (#1) or commit adultery (#7). Denominations don’t all agree on certain applications, such as Sabbath observance (#4) and idol worship (#2).
What are the 10 Commandments? What does the New Testament say about the 10 Commandments? Why do denominations affirm the 10 Commandments if Christians live in the era of grace? Keep reading to learn more.
The 10 Commandments in the Old Testament
The 10 Commandments are important to Christian denominations not only because of their centrality in the Old Testament, but because they are reiterated in the New Testament. The first table below lists the 10 Commandments. The second table states where each commandment is reflected in the New Testament.
|1||“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:2)||“You shall not commit adultery.”|
|2||“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.” (Ex. 20:3-6)||“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”|
|3||“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Ex. 20:7)||“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”|
|4||“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Ex. 20:8)||“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”|
|5||“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Ex. 20:9-11)||“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”|
|6||“You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20:13)||“Thou shalt not kill.”|
|7||“You shall not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14)||“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”|
|8||“You shall not steal.” (Ex. 20:15)||“Thou shalt not steal.”|
|9||“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16)||“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”|
|10||“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.” (Ex. 20:17)||“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”|
The 10 Commandments in the New Testament
The 10 Commandments are expressed in list form in the New Testament like they are in Exodus 20. Instead, writers refer to them in the context of their teaching about Christ and the church.
|Exodus 20||New Testament|
|1||“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:2)||“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5|
|2||“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.” (Ex. 20:3-6)||“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21|
|3||“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Ex. 20:7)||“All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.” 1 Timothy 6:1|
|4||“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Ex. 20:8)||“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.” Colossians 2:16 *|
|5||“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Ex. 20:9-11)||“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ — which is the first commandment with a promise —” Ephesians 6:1-2|
|6||“You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20:13)||“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.'” (Romans 13:9)|
|7||“You shall not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14)||“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)|
|8||“You shall not steal.” (Ex. 20:15)||“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” (Ephesians 4:28)|
|9||“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Ex. 20:16)||“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)|
|10||“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.” (Ex. 20:17)||“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)|
* Christians don’t agree on how to apply the 4th commandments today. Some believe Christians should obey the directive like the Jews did. Others believe that the Sabbath is the only commandment not reiterated in the New Testament.
Isn’t the Sabbath mentioned in the New Testament? Yes, however, this view argues that the Sabbath is mentioned in the New Testament, in Gospel narratives and in the letters of the Apostle Paul, but neither obligates Christians to adhere to it in the same way Jews did. Many see verses like Colossians 2:16 (above) releasing Christians from prior obligations to the commandment.
Does this view believe the Sabbath was never important? No. The Sabbath isn’t dismissed due to perceived irrelevance or suppressing the importance of the command in the context of the Old Testament. Instead, the view argues that Christ fulfilled the Sabbath. Jesus said he is Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8) and the author of Hebrews teaches that he is the Sabbath-rest for believers (Heb. 4:1-11).
Why do some Christians disagree about idols? Christians agree that idols are sinful, but they don’t agree on what an idol is. For example, some Christians have a picture of a man that allegedly depicts Jesus hanging on a wall in their home. The picture reminds them of Christ. Other Christians believe that any supposed image of Christ is tantamount to idolatry because the representation is inaccurate.
Aren’t Christians under grace and not the law?
Sometimes people argue that denominations shouldn’t teach the 10 Commandments because in Christ believers no longer live in that era of time but in the new one that Christ inaugurated.
- In Romans 6:14, Paul taught that believer are no longer obligated to the law: “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (NIV)
- In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said he came to fulfill the law: “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.” (NV)
However, taken to the extreme, the implication is that Christians are free to worship false gods, commit adultery, and break all the other commandments. Perhaps all views can agree that the New Testament affirms the moral implications of the 10 Commandments and reiterates the prohibitive behaviors reflected in them.
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