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What are the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Law of God, are ten commands God wants us to follow.

They are a model of good behavior, and if followed, they will lead to peace and love in the heart, home, and society.

If you read the Ten Commandments carefully, you will realize that they are based on the principles of love. God gave the Commandments to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden even before they sinned.

They were taught to love God and to love one another. But after sin, the Law of Love was expanded into the Decalogue to meet the practical needs of a fallen humanity. Therefore, the origin of the commandments is not post-sin but pre-sin and part of what we call the original will of God for humanity.

The key to keeping the Decalogue is realizing it is not a list of dos and don’ts but a way of life. The goal is not to obey the letter of the Law but the Spirit of the Law. If you are motivated by selfless love, you will abide by the letter naturally.

But if you focus on only the external requirements, then you will miss the mark and will not truly keep the Commandments of God.

In the greatest sermon ever given on Earth, Jesus explained in Matthew 5 how God expects us to keep the Law. Jesus gave the example of the 6th Commandment and explained that breaking the Commandment is not restricted to killing but also involves not being angry at someone without a right reason. If you don’t kill but are unjustly angry, you are guilty of breaking the Commandment.

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

The Ten Commandments are the natural laws of morality

The Decalogue is a universal law equally applicable to all human beings. They are moral laws that exert an influence both on individuals and on society. If they are followed, the end result is harmony and peace, but if they are disobeyed, the results are war, injustice, and bloodshed.

Why does the moral Law impact us and those around us? Why does it seem to exert a heavy weight on our conscience, whether we believe in it or not?

When God created the Universe, He, like a clockmaker, established the Laws of Nature to ensure that every aspect of it runs like clockwork.

The Law of God is like the invisible laws of nature, which God created to keep His Universe in harmony, making it orderly and understandable. Whether we believe in them or not, they are still true and have a significant influence on our world and on us.

Scientists are still baffled at how our Universe follows precise laws like an unseen hand controlling every minute interaction. Read the articles Science Proves the Existence of God and Fine Tuning of the Universe to learn more about how our Universe is built with an intelligent design by our Creator God.

Let us look at a few examples of the intricate laws at play in our Universe by briefly looking at only a couple of laws in each category of science, e.g.:

In Physics:

The laws of motion and the Laws of Quantum Mechanics.

Newton’s laws of motion are three laws that describe the relationship between an object’s motion and the forces acting on it.

The Laws of Quantum Mechanics explain how matter and energy interact with one another at the sub-atomic level.

Thus, objects in nature, whether the biggest, such as stars and galaxies, or the smallest, such as atoms, electrons, etc., all follow precise laws that can be explained by these two laws.

In Chemistry:

Boyle’s Law gives the exact relationship between a gas’s pressure and volume. It shows that the pressure of a gas under a steady temperature is inversely proportional to its volume. It explains how breathing takes place within our lungs.

In Biology:

Laws of genetics: Living organisms always pass over their unique genes/DNA to their offspring.

Laws of Gravity explain the attraction and influence between objects in our Universe.

For example, if you are feeling particularly euphoric one day and decide that you can fly and jump off a building, what do you think will happen? The invisible laws of gravity dictate that you will fall at a constant speed to the ground.

It doesn’t matter if you know about the laws of gravity or agree with them. Claiming ignorance will not excuse you from feeling their influence!

God created these laws, and every object in the Universe is subject to them. I have demonstrated by brief examples how the entire Universe, be it living or nonliving, is governed by universal laws that never fail and are so accurate. If not for these natural laws, our Universe would have fallen apart.

Similarly, the Ten Commandments are God’s laws of morality for moral sentient beings to abide by. Just like the laws of nature influence objects and matter in our Universe, the Ten Commandments significantly impact our physical and mental well-being.

If followed under the power of the Holy Spirit, they will rework our characters in holiness and purity, bringing us joy in this life and through the ceaseless ages of eternity.

God does not need to tell us about the laws of nature explicitly, but they can be discovered using systematic observation and experimentation. Likewise, He does not need to explicitly tell us about the Ten Commandments; society has figured out through its collective conscience that the last six commandments of the Law are good and necessary for a just and peaceful society.

Hence, if you look through history or even at modern contemporary societies, the most just, peaceful, and progressive societies have been ones that have followed the principles of fairness as embodied in the Law of Love thy neighbor as thyself.

Why did God give the Ten Commandments?

Kings of olden times and governments of today govern their territories through laws and rules that every citizen living within that jurisdiction has to follow. We all understand and accept that these laws are necessary to create equality, justice, and harmony in society and to ensure human rights are upheld.

Imagine if laws didn’t exist to deter people from stealing or killing. What if anyone could walk into your house and steal your belongings without consequence?

Everyone would agree that such behavior is terrible and should not be allowed in a just and fair society. A world without laws to deter and punish universally unacceptable behavior would lead to anarchy and the breakdown of society.

Even atheists who don’t believe in God have concluded that a society without just laws would be a state of chaos and a world not worth living in. Most people would agree that certain behaviors are acceptable and certain are wrong.

How did they arrive at such a conclusion? Who told them that some things are good and some are bad?

The postmodern world argues that truth is not absolute but relative. Adherents of this popular cultural worldview claim that universal, absolute, and objective truth is implausible.

Yet they are all willing to agree and unite on universally acceptable behavior. All people would agree that Hilter was bad and Gandhi was good.

This shows that humans are hardwired with a moral compass that helps us distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, just from unjust, and vice from virtue.

This forms the basis for establishing laws in a just society that regulate individual behavior and secure the welfare of people.

The Bible tells us in Romans 2:14-15 that God has ingrained the principles of His Law into our hearts and minds so that we will be naturally inclined to do the right things without having been instructed about them explicitly.

14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Romans 2:14-15

Doing good to others is a universal and fundamentally accepted fact. Everyone agrees that we should do more to improve our world.

The Bible defines sin as breaking God’s Law in 1 John 3:4, while James 4:17 says sin is not doing good when you know what good is.

Therefore, the Bible says that the Decalogue defines good behavior. The Bible confirms this in Romans 7:12, saying that the Law is holy, just, and good.

Keeping the Law of God ensures justice and goodness in society.

4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

1 John 3:4

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James 4:17

All just laws worldwide are based on the last six commandments of God’s Law because people realize that the principle of Love thy Neighbour as thyself is good and just, and without it, humanity would perish.

12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Romans 7:12

The Spirit of God has guided the human mind towards good morality. Whether people accept them or not, the Ten Commandments have a huge influence and power over them since most agree that following their principles is the only guarantee of a civilized and fair society.

God is the Creator and Ruler over both the Universe, which forms His territory, and over His Created Beings, who are His subjects. He has created the laws of nature to govern the Universe and His Law of Love to teach and imbibe morality into human beings.

The Ten Commandments distinguish right from wrong, explain the difference between good and bad behavior, define sin, and create a moral responsibility to abide by its righteous principles.

The Ten Commandments in order from 1 to 10

God had spoken the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai with a loud voice, and all the people heard him. Later, Moses went up to the mountain and communed with God. At the end of forty days, God wrote down the Decalogue on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses.

The Ten Commandments (עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדְּבָרִים) are listed twice in the Bible, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, and are listed below for your reference.

28 And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

Exodus 34:28

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

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.

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

13 Thou shalt not kill.

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

15 Thou shalt not steal.

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

17 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 20:3-17

Who wrote the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments were directly spoken by God when He came down on Mount Sinai in awesome grandeur. The mountain was on fire like a furnace full of smoke because Almighty God descended on it, enshrouded in a thick cloud of fire.

The sounds of trumpets increased in loudness and intensity as God approached the mountain, and an army of angels gathered around to proclaim God’s greatness.

The entire mountain was wrapped in this dark and intense mystery. The people were dumbfounded and scared because they had never witnessed the dazzling glory of God, which was like a devouring fire.

Imagine how fiery and soul-piercing God’s glory must have been. It caused the people to be very afraid, as they could not bear God’s purity and holiness, and they had to withdraw from the mountain.

They begged Moses to speak with God since they couldn’t withstand the thunderous spectacle.

Bear in mind that these were the same people who had just witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the entire army of the Pharaoh in the sea, the unlimited supply of food dropping out of Heaven, and many more unbelievable miracles.

And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Exodus 24:17

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Exodus 20:18-19

God gave His Ten Commandments with unimaginable majesty and superb splendor, a brief but wonderful display of His incredible power and greatness so that the people gathered there would never forget this breathtaking experience.

It was to be a testament to history that God came down to give His Law so that the world might be impressed with the importance, sacredness, and immutability of His Holy Law.

“Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee forever.”

The Ten Commandments are the only words God has spoken directly to people and the only words in the Bible that God Himself wrote with His own fingers!

Imagine how important it must have been to God that no human should be involved in writing this. When Moses broke the Ten Commandments in a fit of rage because the Israelites were worshipping an idol, God called him back onto the mountain, rewrote the words again, and gave them to Moses.

Why would God want to write them again? Why didn’t God tell Moses to write them since he already knew what God had written? God was teaching us that the Ten Commandments are of a Divine origin and the direct will of God for humans.

God wouldn’t let any human write the Law of Love because it is of Heavenly origin and is a Revelation of God’s Holy Character!

Did Jesus give the Ten Commandments?

Just before the Israelites entered the promised land, Moses reiterates how the Ten Commandments were revealed nearly 40 years earlier. God directly spoke the words of the Decalogue, wrote them on the two tables of stones, and gave them to Moses.

The people had heard God’s voice declaring the Law. Over and over in different passages of the Bible, we are reminded of the fact that the Israelites heard God speaking.

24 And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.

25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die.

26 For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?

Deuteronomy 5:24-26

And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.

Deutronomy 4:12

Now read Jesus’s testimony in John 5:37. He clearly stated that no human has ever seen God or heard His voice. But we just read that God had spoken to the people. So, who was the God who spoke to the Israelites?

And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

John 5:37

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:18

John 1:18 tells us that Jesus is God the Father’s representative. He is the one from the Godhead who has been interacting directly with our fallen world. So the God in Exodus 24:12 and Exodus 31:18, who spoke to Moses, is none other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Exodus 24:12

And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 31:18


It is essential to understand that the Ten Commandments are not a set of restrictions or prohibitions but rather a guide to a happy, healthy, spirit-filled life.

God did not give us the Commandments because He is a tyrant who likes to control and manipulate us into good behavior. He gave them for our benefit.

The Law of God is like a wall of protection to the obedient and a shield against evils that result from their transgression.

We are all familiar with the fact that violating health laws brings about severe consequences to our physical well-being. For example, consuming too much sugar can cause diabetes, and overeating fried and oily food can cause high cholesterol.

Similarly, disobeying God’s Law has negative consequences for our spiritual well-being as it results in moray decay of the soul.

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