Let me apologize in advance for the length of this message; however, it is one that I either had to split or whole and opted for the latter. I feel that because it’s foundation is the Ten Commandments, splitting it was not a good option.
God has many expectations for His people and while all are important, none are more important than the six relationships He holds us accountable for. In the appropriate order of importance these are:
1. Relationship with God
2. Relationship with spouse.
3. Relationship with his Children (parents if still a child).
4. Relationship with their Church.
5. Relationship with employer (including employees & co-workers).
6. Relationship with his Community, state, nation, and world.
As you consider each of these, evaluate whether your priorities are straight in your life. There is no doubt that a complete teaching on these and the Ten Commandments would take months. Through this written message, it is my hope that you will take all of these points and study them to the fullest and allow God to use them in and through you to solidify your relationship with Him and others. This message will help you prioritize and bolster these relationships as we identify ten principles associated with the Ten Commandments.
The Ten Commandments
While the Ten Commandments are just that, ten commandments, Senior Pastor Robert Morris of Gateway Church in Texas, points out, they also establish 10 principles of relationships. Principles that when understood will help your relationship with God as well as your relationships with others. These are the ten principles.
1. The principle of priority
2. The principle of Purity
3. The principle of Humility
4. The principle of Rest
5. The principle of Honor
6. The principle of Love
7. The principle of Intimacy
8. The principle of trust
9. The principle of honesty
10. The principle of contentment
The Ten Commandments (AKA Decalogue=10 Words) are found in both Deuteronomy and Exodus, here we will use them as found in Exodus 20: 1- 17 [NIV]. NOTE: I have taken the liberty of numbering each commandment 1-10. 20 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.
1. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
2. 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 4 generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3. 7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4. 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.
5. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6. 13 “You shall not murder.
7. 14 “You shall not commit adultery.
8. 15 “You shall not steal.
9. 16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. 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.”
(1) The Principle of Priority
Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
In the introduction I explained the six key priorities of relationships with the first one being our relationship with God. It is interesting to note that the first of the Ten commandments is an instruction that teaches us God is #1 and nothing (gods, music, idols, family, work, social obligations…) are to come interfere with our relationship with Him. As Christians, we should know this, but even for us, it is amazing to see how many things can come against us and interfere with this very commandment-and how often we miss them.
Author Steven Pressfield defines his take of the principle of priority as a two-part concept. He says, first, you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and second you must do what’s important first. To reframe this into the context of this teaching, we must recognize that our relationship with God is urgent and all other relationships are important. Therefore, we must first focus on God and then others which is what this Commandment says.
When God has called us to perform a certain task, such as He did with Noah, we cannot allow stuff to distract us from it; and we won’t when He is our primary focus. God is far more interested in you and your relationship with Him than in any works you can perform. His desire is that He become our satisfaction and the work we perform and/or complete is secondary to this. However, that is not to say we should not perform work, especially those jobs He has called us to; it is only to say that when we perform this work, we should never allow it to interfere with our relationship with God.
Never forget, even for a second, that God commanded us to put Him first and anything in our lives that pushes Him out of that position must be dealt with-generally we will have the first opportunity to do so; however, if we do not, He will. After all, if we cannot honor God in the first commandment that is associated with our relationship with Him, how in the world will we ever be able to obey the other nine?
(2) The Principle of Purity
It may seem peculiar to reflect on purity in this the second commandment, especially when verses are talking about graven images and gods other than God. However, while purity is certainly a part of our lives when it 5 comes to lust, sex and so forth, it is also a fundamental principle in our relationship with God and one that involves staying away from idols. Read these verses again while thinking about this perspective.
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. By definition, purity is the state of being pure; the definition of pure is to not be mixed with anything that weakens or pollutes. Now, can you see why these verses are associated with purity?
We know from these verses that being impure results in serious consequences. You may have noticed that this along with six other commandments start out, “You shall not…” and it does so not to be mean, but to keep us safe. As a parent, if I told my daughter not to go to the park after dark, I am not being mean, just trying to keep her safe and this is exactly why seven commandments start out in this manner.
Numbers 19:1-9 explains the importance of purity for the priests. However, it is a long passage so I will not include the entire thing here. In these verses we see God telling Moses and Aaron to teach the Israel people that a spotless red heifer without blemish must be sacrificed. Then the priest will take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times in front of the tabernacle of meeting.
Following this, the heifer will be burned in the priest’s sight along with cedar, hyssop, and scarlet. The priest must bathe and will not be pure until evening. The ashes will be kept outside the camp for future cleansing. You have to see at this point how important purity is to God.
Learn to love the Lord without all the worldly STUFF getting in the way. You may not build idols out of clay but there are so many things that have replaced clay idols that it is impossible to list them all. A few examples are,
celebrity idols, they say it, so you believe and repeat it
money, never enough, got to keep working harder to get more
neighbors stuff (cars, home…)
Abstain from modern idols, they will creep into your life without you knowing and then before you realize it, the damage is done.
(3) The principle of Humility
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Jesus spoke of humility in the Beatitudes when He said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous—with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” [AMPC]
We know God hates pride so here we are connecting the third commandment (not using the Lords name in vain) with humility. So, let’s look at the connection. We need to be careful how we use the name God (AKA Yahweh or Jehovah). Even today, many Jewish people will not use the name God but instead use the letters Gd to prevent any misuse.
God requires humility and conversely hates pride and that is why when we use His name it must be done properly. There is a scene in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where Dr. Jones is being forced to go through a dangerous entry hall where he just witnessed several people being decapitated. As he advances, he is repeating the clue, ‘only the penitent man can pass, the penitent man is humble before God, he must kneel…” Well, this was Hollywood’s way of reflecting the humility we must show God. Though it was just a movie, it shows us how penitent and respectful we must be not just when approaching Him but equally importantly when we use His name. We must do so humbly and prevent any blasphemy, pride, or other profanity from being included in our verbiage.
Like many other names, God’s name carries a meaning and, in His case, a powerful meaning that represents the Alpha and Omega, all that is, was, and will be. We know that there are many names to reflect different aspects of God’s character (Elohim, Adonai, El…) and all of them make up the creator.
When we lash out in anger and say something like, ‘God, damn him.’ We are asking God to damn someone to eternity in Hell. Who are we to ask or demand such a thing? We never hear anyone say, Sears and Roebuck damn you, we go straight to the top and place this wicked expectation on God Himself.
Just as we are to be adequately prepared before we take communion, we must be equipped to use God’s name appropriately by humbling ourselves so that what we say is respectful. Whether talking casually with others, preaching from the pulpit, or praying to God, when you use His name, do so respectfully so that He can honor your request and you will not be guilty of profaning Him.
(4) The principle of Rest
“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.
When thinking about the 4 th commandment the question that comes to my mind is why is rest of such great importance to God that He included it as one of His Ten Commandments for us?
The first four commandments are all a part of God’s expectations concerning our relationship with Him while the last six relate more towards our earthly relationships. This is the last of the four that are more associated with our relationship with God. As such, He set apart the Sabbath or the 7th day of the week, as a time of rest and spiritual rejuvenation. This, more than some of the others, is a very easy command to understand. There is nothing complicated or hidden within it. When we are rested, we can more easily bolster our relationship with God.
When thinking about this, remember that it is not just an Old Testament Commandment but a Commandment of God and one that was practiced during and subsequent to the time of Jesus. With that in mind, ask yourself, does the New Testament ratify, modify, or abrogate (negate or revoke) this Old Testament law? NOTE: By the way, this is a good question to keep in mind any time you study the influence of the Old Testament on today. Every command from the old Testament will meet one of these three criteria; however, I am wandering, so back on track.
Just as circumcision was the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, the Sabbath was the sign of the Old Covenant. Isaiah 58:13-14 states:
“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there—Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! God says so!” [MSG] WOW, this sounds like something I want and rarely experience. Imagine, being equipped to soar above it all, how awesome would that be? However, is it relevant today? I believe Colossians 2:16-17 make it clear that we do not have to observe the Jewish Sabbath. They say,
“16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Other verses including Romans 14:5-6 and Acts 20:7 also help us understand this. Therefore, when we have church meetings on the first day of the week, rather than keeping the traditional Sabbath it should not be an issue for us. However, when we celebrate the Sabbath, it should be a day of rest.
At this point we are left with the realty that while the day we celebrate the Sabbath is not important, the celebrating of it is. It results in rewards and helps solidify and enhance our relationship with God. I believe the New Testament modifies this but does not abrogate it because this is a time where we can reflect on God, listen to His message(s), worship Him, and fellowship with His people. In doing so, God will continue to rejuvenate us both spiritually and physically, so we are well equipped to perform the work He has for us. It even helps us understand the importance of rest and its positive effects on our relationship with God.
(5) The principle of Honor
The fifth commandment, “12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” [Exodus 20:12 NKJV] does a couple things. First, it gives us direction concerning our parents. Second, it creates a link between the first four, which specifically related to our relationship with God and connects them to the next five, which focus more on our relationship with each other. In Ephesians 6:1-3, there are promises for us when we obey this commandment. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”” Learning to honor your parents is very important, if for no other reason, it sets a pattern for the rest of your life. The older you get the more severe the consequences for dishonoring authority; therefore, when you learn as a child to honor your parents, you are establishing in yourself an understanding of respect for all authority. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Your parents are the launching pad in understanding what this means. Rebellion is not acceptable; however, you can only rebel against those whom have authority over you. In this commandment you are not mandated to honor everyone, just those in authority.
For some reason these days, more than in any other time I can remember, people are disrespecting authority. It is certainly an effort orchestrated to undermine our country; however, even though some may feel they are the ones driving this effort, it is certainly more spiritual than that. It is a satanic attack on our nation and our people.
It is never too late to educate people on authority but first they must have a spiritual breaking too allow God’s word to enter their mind and heart.
(6) The principle of Love
Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.
No man who commits murder has an understanding of Jesus’ teachings on love. God gives life and no man has the right to murder another and take the life God gave him or her. Going a step further, hate is murder. 1 John 3:15 says, “15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Please understand that murder is taking a life without authority and is substantially different than killing. The King James Bible was poorly translated when it used the word Kill in this 6th commandment. The more appropriate word is murder and as such people should not use the commandment as an excuse not to perform their job (e.g. a soldier who must kill in battle).
While we all understand the literal definition of murder, God goes further in His revelation of the word. For example, He likens some forms of anger to murder. This is anger without cause directed at another, especially if it intends to or leads to harm. Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22:
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in 8 danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
The anger described here is not righteous anger. Righteous anger is similar to that shown by Jesus when He tore up the Temple. The anger described in the verses above is anger that is intended to hurt someone, physically or emotionally.
It is so very important that we replace any hate inside us with the love that God has for us and expects us to have for others. The foundations of the quality of love are acceptance and forgiveness. You cannot love without these other two along with the Holy Spirit. Several years ago, my wife and I developed an eight-week series called, An Introspective Approach to Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. This series has been presented in five different communities throughout Florida because we feel very strongly that no church or Christian can survive unless they learn to practice these characteristics in every situation.
The love we are talking about is agapé; this is the love that Jesus demonstrated, taught and expected of all followers including us. Because of our own limitations, we must learn to depend on the Holy Spirit inside us to orchestrate love (as well as acceptance and forgiveness) especially in extreme circumstances.
There are three facets associated with agapé. The first is it requires action, don’t keep it inside you, let it out and let the world experience what you have. The second is providing agapé without expectation of anything in return. The third is compassion. The world is so void of compassion today it is incumbent on Christians to demonstrate it to everyone at all times.
The sixth Commandment tells us not to murder, including hate and unrighteous anger – if we truly love others, we will not allow this wickedness to permeate our character. It is only under these conditions we can meet the expectations associated with not committing murder.
(7) The principle of Intimacy
Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery
There are three ways a person can commit adultery. The body, mind and emotions.
1 Corinthians 6:18:20 says, Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. I will not belabor the adultery of the body section because it is obvious to all what it is and how it disappoints God. Abstain from sex out of marriage and you will meet this one.
The Mind & Emotions
This is a bit more difficult to grasp and because of that easier to fall into. Be very careful not to allow this to creep into you.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Because we think of physical infidelity first when discussing adultery, we can miss the other areas. Today with social media and internet communications so prevalent, it is easy for some to fall into another form of adultery. However, mental and emotional infidelity are equally as bad and unfortunately may lead to physical adultery.
People who become trapped in these two forms of adultery will generally say things (to others or themselves) such as ‘we are just friends’ or ‘she/he understands me better than my spouse.’
The reality is these relationships are bursting with sexual tension. Terms like office husband/wife are tips that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Anytime you are sharing details about your spousal relationship with a friend of your spouse’s gender, you are crossing the line and opening the door to adultery. The seventh Commandment is one of the most difficult for people to follow; mainly because they do not understand how easy it is to commit adultery without sex. To compound matters, many folks who do this aggressively pursue this type of relationship with another hoping it will lead to a sexual encounter.
If any of the following relate to you, you are on the slippery slope towards adultery if you have not already arrived:
You share personal thoughts or stories (especially those relating to your spouse) with someone of the opposite sex.
You experience more or better emotional intimacy with another than you do with your spouse.
You look forward to, your next contact or conversation with this person. You do not share any information about this person with your spouse.
You make time for this person even if it means communicating at night while your spouse is sleeping.
You fantasize about this person including trying to figure out how to be with them without your spouse finding out.
There is an old adage that summarizes this, and it is, “thought, word, and deed.” All of these are adultery when they reflect what was described above. Sharing intimacy with anyone other than your spouse even in your mind is adultery.
(8) The principle of trust
Exodus 20:15 “You shall not steal.
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Stop Stealing; when you take more than God has offered you, you are stealing. Today’s entitlement attitude can become stealing when you are taking more than you have earned through work or programs. Pastor Morris says that making more helps the economy and creates jobs but taking more is stealing that which is intended for others. By definition, integrity is firm adherence to a code of moral [includes spiritual] values. When you steal, your character has been affected and others will not trust you in other areas of your life. If God cannot trust you, how can you expect others to do so? If you,
Cheat on your taxes, you are stealing
Keep the extra change given to you on a purchase, you are stealing
Welch on debts, you are stealing
Cheating on your time sheet or taking office supplies, you are stealing
While these are just a few examples, you must understand that when you steal, you are actually stealing from God. After all, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.” [Psalm 24:1] I ask again, how can the world trust you if God cannot?
Do not sacrifice your integrity by stealing; if for no other reason, Commandment number eight insists on this.
(9) The principle of honesty
Exodus 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
As I explained in an earlier section, a person’s integrity is very important and not just to man but to God also. Once you cross the line and lie or steal, it will be very difficult to recover in other people’s eyes. The Citadel, and many other colleges, have honor codes that state, “I will not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do.” You must protect your integrity by following all of the Ten Commandments.
Equally important, is not challenging another’s integrity when you cannot back it up with facts. I have seen several church people calling each other liars about events just because they do not agree. People see things differently and to accuse someone of being a liar when they just saw something differently is not only wrong, but it actually violates the ninth Commandment. You are giving false testimony about another.
Be honest in all your dealings with others and choose your words carefully. Because you did not check them out before making an accusation against someone, you are the one who will be held accountable when you charge them with false statements even if you think they are true. Remember what our parents told us, “honesty is the best policy” and “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
God’s commandments are not a game and in God’s law book, ignorance is no excuse. Stay honest and be careful whom you choose to criticize.
(10) The Principle of Contentment
Exodus 20:17 says, ““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.”
The Bible talks more about the antithesis of contentment which would be discontentment than it does contentment. While I am not sure why, it shows us over and over again that contentment is right, and discontentment is wrong, and the latter will almost always lead to disaster. We see in Genesis chapter 3, Satan leading a very contented Eve astray; this same theme continues through the Bible in one story after another. Remember how discontented the Israelites were while Moses led them from Egypt? First, they wanted to go back and then they even started manufacturing and worshiping other god’s. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…”
God’s children should be contended with the things God has provided and have faith that those things we still desire will come in the appropriate time. This very contentedness should distinguish us from non-believers. There are two types of discontentment; first, external discontentment and second, internal discontentment. The first is the discontentment the world sees and the second is what we feel inside. Of course, God sees them both. James 4:1-6 says,
“ Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.””
I hope through these verses you can see the connection of many of these principles associated with the Ten Commandments. To help, you will notice I underlined several words.
Being contented does not mean not setting goals and a vision for the future nor does it mean we cannot desire more than we have. It simply creates a place in our hearts that allows us to exist at peace with God and our lives until more is given in God’s perfect time.
If you read to this point, I am just about through. I appreciate your patience and know that even though this message only scratches the surface of this subject, that it has and will provide you opportunities to improve your relationships, first with God, and then with others. May God bless and keep you as you study and grow in His word.
Ever hear of Alexander Graham Bell Polaski? He was the first telephone pole. (thanks Bennett Cerf for this one)
An English boat builder built 30+ boats a month – he was known as Sir Launch-a-lot.
The tombstone carver was arrested for overcharging his customers. Apparently, he was taking too much for granite.
After periodic doubts about his calling, the young chemistry professor concluded he was out of his element.
My wife, a gorgeous math teacher, was tough; I guess you could say she was easy on the eyes but tough on the pupils
Retired English teachers frequently suffer from post grammatic stress disorder and they really have no class.
A French baker mixed the wrong ingredients only to have his pastry explode; the baker yelled watch out, Napoleon Blown Apart.
Painter’s puns are off color, but a cook’s puns are tasteless.