The Ten Commandments have long been a source of contention for modern-day believers. There are some who believe they have been abolished while others believe they still hold value in our world.
Those who disagree with the viability of the Ten Commandments believe they were displaced when Christ died on the cross. Those who believe they are still valid point to Christ’s own words that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. They point to the presence of the teachings of the commandments in the laws which govern most countries…laws that forbid killing, stealing, and lying on the witness stand.
We won’t rehash the debate here but I’d like to point out that we lose nothing by obeying the Ten Commandments. The Law teaches us to respect God and the people we inhabit the planet with. Ten Words to Live By is a study of the Ten Commandments by Jen Wilkin that puts them in perspective for modern-day readers.
Who Received the Ten Commandments First?
There are some who believe that the heart of the Ten Commandments were contained in the single commandment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but we won’t go into that here. We’ll focus instead of the official bestowing of the 10 Commandments.
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Two months after the Israelites had been rescued from Egypt, they spent some time in the wilderness at Sinai (Exodus 19:1). God told Moses to have the people prepare themselves because He was going to appear before them. They were to wash their clothes and consecrate themselves for worship.
After making sure they kept a reasonable distance away from the mountain so they were not consumed, God gave them His Ten Commandments.
What are the 10 Commandments in Order?
The 10 Commandments are first listed in Exodus 20:1-17. Sadly, many of us would not be able to list them if asked, so let’s list them below in the order they first appeared.
- There shall be no other gods besides Jehovah.
- We shall not make any images to represent God.
- We shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
- Respect our parents.
- Do not kill.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not steal.
- Do not bear false witness against our neighbors.
- Do not covet anything that belongs to our neighbors.
The Ten Commandments can be as simple or as complex as we want them to. But the key to good biblical interpretation and application is to look at the text from the viewpoint of the original intended audience before trying to make an application to our lives.
Ten Words to Live By did a great job of looking at the 10 commandments from the perspective of newly freed slaves which add a layer of understanding that may have been overlooked otherwise.
My Review of Ten Words to Live By
Ten Words to Live By is a slow walk through the commandments given by God to His newly freed people. Jen Wilkin puts the Ten Commandments in perspective by showing what they may have meant to the Israelites and what they mean for us today.
In a manner similar to the Sermon on the Mount, she couches the commandments in a context that is relatable to her audience.
At the end of each chapter, the reader is given a list of related verses to meditate on. There are also a series of questions designed to have you ponder the commandment that had been covered in the chapter. Readers are encouraged to write a prayer after each chapter.
I found those questions helpful as they allowed me to think about how I had understood or lived out the commandment up to that point.
Ten Words to Live By gave me me a new perspective on some of the commandments but I wish more time had been spent in showing how to delight in the commandments. Ten Words to Live By is a great book for believers to read, especially if they struggle to see how the commandments fit into modern day life.
I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publishers through the Crossway Bloggers Program; a positive review was not required.
About Ten Words to Live by: Delighting in and Doing What God Commands
In Ten Words to Live By, Jen Wilkin reminds readers of the life-giving power of God’s perfect law for the believer. The Ten Commandments are words God spoke to a nation recently set free. They are words about obedience and holiness–timeless in their importance and wisdom. Yet today these same words are often misunderstood, forgotten, or simply ignored.
Wilkin teaches readers how the Ten Commandments come to bear on their lives today, helping them to love God and others, live in joyful freedom, and long for that future day when God will be rightly worshiped for eternity. Ancient and timeless, these words cannot be overlooked. They serve as the rightful delight and daily meditation of those who call on the name of the Lord.
About Jen Wilkin
Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher. She has a background in women’s ministry, and has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts.
Jen’s passion is to see believers become articulate and committed followers of Christ, with a clear understanding of why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. You can find her at jenwilkin.net.
Are the Ten Commandments Still Applicable?
I think the best way to answer this question is to give you the opportunity to make your own decision. So I’ll ask instead, would the principles addressed in the 10 commandments make life better or worse if everyone followed them?
Would life be better or worse if people honored Jehovah, did not create idols, or misrepresented Him?
Would life be better or worse if children honored their parents? Would society benefit from people who respected their elders?
Would life be better or worse if people didn’t steal, kill, tell lies that malign people’s reputation?
Would life be better or worse if people didn’t lust after people’s partners? Would life be better if people didn’t act on their lust and destroy marriages and families?
Would life be better or worse if people didn’t envy what people had? Would society be better or worse of we stopped comparing ourselves to others?
Are you seeing the pattern? The Ten Commandments give us the guidelines to live a richer, fuller life. I encourage you to spend some time reading and studying the commandments.
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