The original information on this domain has moved to You may however find the material here easier to understand if you prefer a simplified presentation. For some more in depth studies on this topic, use the links to the right. There are also links to sites on the misunderstood topic of the Ceremonial law.

Why did God give us the Ten Commandments?

This law was put in place for the benefit of mankind, and as a template to show us how to love God and how to love people. They are an eternal law of love. Jesus clarified the eternal nature of the law when He said Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

In the book of Matthew Jesus summed up every one of the Ten Commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

When Jesus quoted these two commandments He was not giving a ‘new’ law to replace the Ten Commandments of God, He was in fact quoting an Old Testament scripture on the importance of keeping the Commandments. Deuteronomy 6:5-8 “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: … And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Jesus continually reinforced the sentiment that the Decalogue is a law of love. The first four commandments show us how to love God, and the last six show us how to love people. This is why He said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Loving God and others is what this law is all about.

Another verse that reveals more about the nature of God's law is John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

Paul also showed how the law should be viewed as being about love. He wrote Romans 13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Not only do the Commandments express to us the love of God – they also reveal to us many of the attributes of the character of God. This is seen in numerous places in the Word of God, where the same words are used to describe the nature of God and the nature of the law. See a more detailed example of the Ten Commandments compared to God’s Character.

God's Character equals God's 10 Commandments

The character and nature of God is expressed through His law. The table below gives a comparison from scripture on how God's law and His character share the same attributes. This is because the Ten Commandments are love just as God is love and share identical attributes.

Romans 16:26: God is Eternal Psalms 111:7-8: The law is Eternal
Isaiah 5:16: God is Holy Romans 7:12: The law is Holy
I John 4:8: God is Love Romans 13:10: The law is Love
Psalms 145:17: God is Righteous      Psalms 119:172: The law is Righteous
Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Truth Psalms 119:142: The law is Truth
Luke 18:19: God is Good Romans 7:12: The law is Good
Deuteronomy 32:4: God is Just Romans 7:12: The law is Just
1 John 3:3: God is Pure Psalms 19:8: The law is Pure
Psalms 48:1: God is Great Hosea 8:12: The law is Great
1 Corinthians 1:9: God is Faithful Psalms 119:86: The law is Faithful
I John 1:5: God is Light Proverbs 6:23: The law is Light
John 4:24: God is Spiritual Romans 7:14: The law is Spiritual
John 3:33: God is True Nehemiah 9:13: The law is True
Matthew 5:48: God is Perfect Psalms 19:7: The law is Perfect

All the law is found in the New Testament

The Ten Commandments in the New Testament

James showed that we should also view the law as a law of liberty. It is like a mirror that shows us our sinful nature. If we did not have the law by which to judge our actions against, then we would not be able to recognize our own sins, repent of them and be forgiven, through the blood of the lamb. James 2:11-12 “For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” He goes on to show more importantly that we need to seek to follow the law to the best of our ability. James continually reinforced the notion that even though we are saved through Grace, it does not mean that we can be disobedient to the law of God.

James showed that we cannot be saved by faith alone – because the result of true faith will be seen in our works (actions), by the life we are leading. James 2:13 “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” This shows that in New Testament times it is still as important as ever to keep this law of love that God laid down for the benefit of mankind. See also the Ten Commandments and the Sabbath in the New Testament.

The Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:2-17:

  1. I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
  2. 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: 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; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
  3. 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, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 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: 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.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
  10. 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.

The Bible makes it apparent that even though the Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai in a magnificent fashion, Exodus 20:18-20 “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.”, that this was not when these rules were actually instituted. They had already been in existence, just not written on the earthly stone tablets by the finger of God.

We know that when Cain killed Able that this was a sin, so murder was already a sin against God, before the tablets were written. We know also that the Sabbath commandment was instituted at the time of creation Genesis 2:2-3 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” This was why the fourth commandment said “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Using the word “remember” reiterated the fact that the Sabbath was already in existence. If there had been no law against worshipping idols, then the heathen were not guilty, because you cannot break a law that doesn't exist. All of the moral law of God had been in existence since creation, and verbally passed on from one generation to another. When God wrote His Commandments on the stone tablets, He was reinforcing in a magnificent manner the importance of His wonderful rules that pointed His people to a loving relationship with Him, and with each other.

The Bible also reveals to us that the law God wrote on the stone tablets and gave to Moses, were duplicates of the Commandments that are in the heavenly temple – just as the earthly tabernacle that Moses fashioned was a duplicate of the one in heaven.

God gave Moses the exact dimensions and blueprints for the earthly sanctuary so that it would be an exact copy of the heavenly sanctuary. Exodus 25:8 “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” Exodus 25:40 “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” and Hebrews 8:4-5 “For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

The book of Revelation further confirms that the Commandments are eternal, because when John is taken up in vision to heaven, he sees the heavenly sanctuary and in it the Ark of the Covenant, which is the home of the blessed Ten Commandments. Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

What is the significance of the Ten Commandments?

It is easy to see from looking at the Commandments that they were all implemented for our own good. They show so beautifully how we should treat God (with all reverence and love) and how we should treat each other. How much better and safer would this world be if everyone obeyed these wonderful rules? There would be no more murders, rapes, robberies, unwanted pregnancies or violent crimes. We would never have to worry about locking up our homes or cars.

The test of our love for God is our willingness to obey Him and follow the commandments that He has laid down. This is why they are so necessary in the experience of a true believer. James 2:20 “Faith without works is dead.” Jesus said, Matthew 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Words and profession are obviously not enough. The true evidence of our love for God is our obedience.

Perhaps the strongest scriptural evidence there is about the validity today for keeping the Commandments is the words of our Lord Jesus Himself. He said, John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Another really powerful text in the Bible on this subject is found in 1 John 2:4 “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” John was able to write this with such strong assurance because it is one of the most deeply established truths in the Bible.

Jesus spoke about those who called Him ‘Lord’ but did not do the will of the Father. He described many who would seek entrance to the kingdom claiming to be workers of miracles in His name, but He would sadly have to say, Matthew 7:21-23 “I never knew you: depart from me.” This is very serious because Jesus is saying that not everyone who professes to be a Christian will enter the Kingdom of heaven. God’s grace does not, and cannot cover continual deliberate disobedience, because this shows that there was no genuine repentance of our sinful act, because had there been, we would not have kept on deliberately disobeying God.

God’s grace (undeserving favour) is there to forgive us for the mistakes we make, and the slip ups we have, as long as in our heart we are intending to, and trying our best to follow the will of God, and be obedient to His law. We are never deserving of God’s forgiveness by our own merits. We are all sinners, and it is only through genuine repentance for our sins, that God will cover us with His grace through the blood of the Lord Jesus and forgive our sins.

To understand the wonderful sacrifice that our Lord Jesus made for us, and to know the immeasurable love that He has for each of us, is the most important thing on this earth. To know Christ is to love Him, and when we love Him it is only natural that we will want to obey Him and accept Him as Lord of our life. The valid assumption of the Bible writers is clear and simple: If you are not obeying Christ, you don’t love Christ. And if you don’t love Him as your Master, then you don’t know Him. They all show that knowing and loving and obeying are all tied closely together and are absolutely inseparable in the life of God's faithful people. John summed it up in these words: 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Was the Law nailed to the Cross?

There is a lot of confusion among many Christians about the need to follow the law of God today. Some believe that all the laws were done away with at the cross. This interpretation of scripture stems from an inability to differentiate between the moral law and ceremonial law, also called the ordinances, that were done away with at the cross. This misunderstanding has led some to conclude that all Ten Commandments have been abolished, even though this view is in no way backed up by the Bible writers, who show that they are still in place – and that it is definitely necessary to obey the law and not to sin.

Being under “grace” was never intended to give us a licence to sin. If all of the ordinances and the commandments had been abolished then we could now commit any actions we desire and have them not called sin. This of course is a ludicrous idea. The Bible, after all, defines sin as transgressing of the law. As crazy as this sounds though, there are unfortunately many preachers who are today teaching that we no longer have to keep the Commandments. This implies that murdering, stealing, committing adultery etc are all acceptable. This may explain why over 50% of Christian marriages are today ending in divorce and sex before marriage and adultery are almost as common among Christians, as they are in the secular world.

To take this notion one step further, ponder this. If sin is the transgression of the law, and if the Commandments were abolished – there would be no such thing as sin anymore, because no matter what actions we took, we would not be breaking God’s law, and so therefore would not be sinning. There would be no reason to ever ask for forgiveness. If the moral law was only temporary, and God could decide at any time to revoke them – then why did Jesus have to come and give His life to save us? To say that Christ died so that we no longer have to keep the commandments is like thrusting the spear into His side. He died to save us from sin, not to give us permission to sin and disobey the law of God.

Paul made it clear in his letter to the Romans, that being under grace does not mean that we don’t have to obey the law. Romans 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

What did actually change at the cross?

Some things did definitely change at the cross. We know that the ceremonial and sacrificial system that the Jews had followed since the time of Moses became obsolete – because Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the entire sin of all mankind for all time.

So what actually was this ceremonial law and how did it relate to God's Commandments? If a person sinned, he broke law No. 1, the Ten Commandments. Then he brought his offering according to law No. 2, the law of sacrifices, and he received forgiveness. This was how the two laws were related. Law No. 1 defines sin, for sin is the transgression of the moral law, the Ten Commandments, 1 John 3:4. Law No. 2 defined sacrifices, the ceremonial law which was the remedy for sin before Christ. When the Israelite sinned, he broke the first law and to obtain forgiveness he had to obey the second law. So here are two very distinct laws of which Jesus became the replacement for the second law at the cross. Hebrews 10:8-10 "Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the (ceremonial) law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."

So there is a clear distinction between the ceremonial law that was given to the Jews to follow until the coming of the Messiah, and the Ten Commandment law, which God in a most magnificent and glorious event thundered in His own voice from the mountaintop and wrote in stone as an eternal covenant between Himself and man.

All of the ordinances (ceremonial law) were written in Moses’ handwriting and were placed in a pocket at the side of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ten Commandments were spoken by God and were written in stone by the finger of God, and placed inside the Ark. The ceremonial law also included many special feasts and Holy days, which were all a representation of the work that Christ would do at the cross, through his death and resurrection.

The ceremonial Law, with its sacrificial system, pointed the people to the coming of Jesus. Every time an animal was sacrificed and its blood was shed in the old Jewish temple, it was a reminder that someday a Saviour would come and die for their sins. This is why John the Baptist pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

The ceremonial and sacrificial system was forever nullified when Jesus died on Calvary’s cross. At the time of His death the veil of the great temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, signifying that the entire ceremonial system was forever finished. The priests no longer had any need to offer up any sacrifices. The One great and perfect Sacrifice was offered at Calvary. When the true Passover Lamb cried out, “It is finished”, and bowed His head and died the old ceremonial law, that had pointed the people to His sacrificial death, was nailed to the cross. It was forever made void. See also the table on this page showing a comparison of the Ten Commandments and the Ceremonial law.

This event had been foretold in Bible prophecy by the prophet Daniel, more than six hundred years before the birth of Christ. He wrote Daniel 9:27 “And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven literal years, according to prophetic terms): and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease

When talking about the ceremonial law that would be nullified at the cross Colossians 2:14 states, “blotting out the handwriting (the only laws written by hand were the ceremonial laws, written by Moses) of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.

The ceremonial and sacrificial law had been a rigorous system of rites, ceremonies and feasts that were put in place as a shadow of things to come. They were always intended to point people to the coming of the Messiah. The ceremonial law was symbolically placed in the side of the Ark of the Covenant, to show that it was temporary, and ‘against’ the people. The Ten Commandment law on the other hand, was written in stone by the finger of God, and placed inside the Ark of the Covenant, symbolising its eternal nature.

Luke further clarifies that there is a distinction between the Ten Commandment and Ceremonial laws. Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

It seems obvious from the very nature of both the Ten Commandments and the ordinances, that it was only the ordinances that were made obsolete at the cross, through the death and resurrection of our Lord. The Ten Commandments still stand as the template for how to live honorable, righteous lives, showing respect and love for God and our fellow man.

Does the New Covenant change anything?

Yes, there was a change between the Old and New Covenants that we will now look at. The primary part of the Old Covenant was the Ten Commandments themselves, Exodus 34:28 “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.” And Deuteronomy 4:13 says, “And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

So what changed with the giving of the New Covenant and why was it changed. Hebrews 8:6-10 answers these questions well, “But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

The author of Hebrews appears to make reference to Jeremiah 31:31-33 “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” In both Hebrews and Jeremiah we are told that the people would not keep God’s commandments, so God made a new covenant whereby He would now write His law on our hearts and in our minds in hope that we will never forget His law. This was the only change with the law, that is, the location it is now written — in our hearts and in our minds.

The real test of love is obedience. Jesus loved you enough to die for you and He asks if you love Him, to keep His Commandments and that they are not grievous. To obey the Commandments will keep you free from trouble and bring joy and happiness. But the best blessing comes with Christ's return. Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” God’s way of willing obedience is the best way, and if Jesus is Lord of your life, He will give you the strength to keep His Commandments.