Understanding the 10 Commandments

Have you come across people who strongly believe that the only biblical rules they can follow are the 10 commandments? The way to find moral instruction is by listening to God.

There are people who’ve memorized these religious pieces, that they can list them from the top of their heads. But how many of us can actually give an in-depth interpretation of the 10 commandments? 

Christians learn that God gave the Israelites 10 commandments, which are listed thrice in the bible. In Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, and Exodus 34. The first two lists are identical with a few differences in wording and order, while the last list seems to be a different set of commandments that people are less familiar with.

We often feel like the 10 commandments are ripping off our freedom but fail to understand that they not only show us what God wants but also what he is like.

The ten commandments show us how to live, to love those around us, and the way to love God by obeying his instructions.

Read on the following article to understand the 10 commandments and their significance in modern-day society.

The 10 Commandments

The list in Exodus 20 is the most familiar among many Christians. We have narrowed down the meaning of each rule as a whole to help you understand.

Below is a list that outlines the 10 commandments.

First Commandment – “Thou Shall not have any other gods but me.” 

This law is based on the foundation of God’s love and the historical fact that people worshiped demons.

Anything that comes in between you and God is a god. The worshiping of idols is forbidden.

The main reason for following this commandment is to preserve God’s dignity by not belittling his doings. To renounce the devil by promising fidelity to God alone. To receive the rewards of following God’s promises; a land of milk and honey.

Second Commandment – “Thou Shall not make any Graven Image.”

In as far as it remains a mystery to the man how God looks like, imagining how he looks like or making any image of him is forbidden.

Man makes things, but often finds himself bowing down to worship these items knowingly or unknowingly. When worldly things take center stage in your life and God comes in second, these things become a god.

God forbids bowing down to any image, for they are made by man and an inaccurate representation of God.

Third Commandment – “Thou Shall not take the name of God in Vain.”

You take the name of God in vain when you use it to confirm that which is not true. When you swear falsely, you believe God to be ignorant of the truth and thus place ignorance in god.

The devil’s plan is to see God’s name stumbled upon. Therefore, false oaths and cursing are forbidden.

Fourth Commandment – “Remember to Keep the Sabbath Day Holy.”

This law commands us to reverence God in action. A day dedicated to Christian’s divine service.

God wished that one day would be set aside for rest, in reference to the fact that he spent six days creating the universe and rested on the seventh day.

This commandment was given to strengthen the fulfillment of the promise of rest. Sabbath day should be a rest from any duties and labor. 

Fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and mother.”

This is the only commandment with a promise. That when you obey your parents, you will be granted long life.

The first reward is grace for the present life and glory for the one to come. The long-life is observed in activity by living a virtuous life. To have in turn grateful and pleasing children. 

We are expected to also honor elders who might not be directly related to us but play a significant role in society.

Sixth Commandment – “Thou Shall not Kill.”

God is the giver of life and no man has the authority to take it away.

Murder is intentional killing, thus this law provides that we have a duty in preventing unintended deaths

Killing does not only mean taking the life of another or committing suicide, it is also an inward attitude. So even when you are angry or bitter with anyone, you break this law.

Seventh Commandment – “Thou Shall not Steal.”

This commandment beckons us to respect and honor the possessions of others. It forbids taking what rightfully belongs to another person.

Using deception in business to make sales, gain market share, or hike prices are considered stealing.

You may not rob anyone, but participating in unethical practices that deprive others of what rights should be theirs is also stealing.

Eighth Commandment – “Thou Shall not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor.”

God is regarded as the author of truth thus this commandment condemns lying.

In a courtroom, when you manipulate the legal process through false confessions, your actions undercut the ethical fabric of society and constitute a serious offense.

No one should say or do anything that misrepresents someone else.

Ninth Commandment – “Thou Shall not Commit Adultery.”

This law forbids the intentional desire and longing for immoral sexuality.

It is believed that when a person commits adultery, they lose a piece of themselves, hence why you hear people saying they feel empty inside.

According to the Bible, adultery affects and destroys the soul.

Tenth Commandment – “Thou Shall not Covet.”

This law condemns theft and feelings of envy, greed, and jealousy. 

When you envy your neighbor’s new car or their property, you are breaking this law.

It is human nature not to be content, but this commandment reminds us that wanting more than we already have is against the law.

In today’s world, status, money, and power define our daily interactions. We may get tempted to inflate our accomplishments at the expense of others thus, putting them in a position to desire more.


The ten commandments help people gain insight into their sinful hearts. This should motivate Christians to ask God for forgiveness.

Christians no longer live under the yoke of the law, but in the freedom of Christ. Since we are freed from sin, the holy spirit enables us to live a God-pleasing life.

These ten commandments function as a mirror to help us see how awful sin is. Moreover, they show God’s infinite will and wisdom.

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