Bible Study Archive
Understanding the Ten Commandments
Understanding the Ten Commandments - Introduction
Are the commandments absolute or obsolete?
The LOCATION of the Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus
What is needed for obedience? à understanding + motivation
Exodus does not begin with the Law, but neither does it end with chapter 18
The LANGUAGE of the Ten Commandments
Hebrew, “ten words” (Greek, Decalogue)
The commandments are words spoken by a Person, God, to a world of persons
The ARRANGEMENT of the Ten Commandments
#1-4: our relationship with God
#5-10: our relationship with others
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV)
1) What are some rules you had growing up? Which ones do you still live by?
2) When you think of the Ten Commandments, do you have positive or negative thoughts? Why is that the case?
3) Do most people obey the Ten Commandments? Why or why not? Why are some of the commandments almost universally followed while others are largely ignored?
4) Which of the Ten Commandments are most difficult to follow? Which are easiest? What motivates you to obey them?
5) What does each of the commandments reveal about God and His character?
6) What do you hope to gain from this study of the Ten Commandments?
7) What ONE THING did you learn tonight? How can you apply what you have learned?
Exodus 20:1-17 NIV
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.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
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.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
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.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
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.”
Commandment #1: You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me
God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3 NLT)
Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1 NLT)
Definition: “gods” are anything to which we give our devotion, service, and energy
“Whatever the heart clings to, whatever thy heart relies upon, that is properly thy god.” (Martin Luther)
Do not follow other gods, the gods of the people around you… (Deuteronomy 6:14 NIV)
What are some “gods” that vie for our attention and devotion? (priorities/passions/practices)
5) Others’ Opinions
Paul: “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?” (Romans 6:16a NLT)
Jesus: “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:33 NLT)
LET GOD BE GOD
There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:6-7 NLT)
1) Do you know anyone who doesn’t believe in a Divine Being? What is their reasoning?
2) How are our lives influenced by the “gods” we worship? In what ways do we become like them? Can you give any specific examples?
3) Theologian J. I Packer writes, “Your god is what you love, seek, worship, serve, and allow to control you.” Besides the ones listed, what are some other “gods” in our society and culture? Which one(s) are you most tempted to follow?
4) We all have to balance a variety of loyalties. What are some of the duties and obligations that you have to fulfill? Are any of them in conflict with your devotion to God? How do they prevent you from giving the Lord your undivided loyalty? What could you do differently to ensure God gets first place in your life?
5) Consider this practice: In his book on the Ten Commandments, Stuart Briscoe says, “At the end of each day, ask yourself: Was Jesus Christ my Lord today? Did I serve him faithfully today? Did I love him deeply? Did I worship him exclusively?”
Commandment #2: You Must Not Make for Yourself an Idol
You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected —even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:4-6 NLT)
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 NIV)
Why is the worship of idols so strictly prohibited?
1) It denies the true nature and character of God
- You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol… (Deuteronomy 4:15-16 NIV)
- God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. (John 4:24 NIV)
2) The object of our worship is not man-made, but divinely-appointed
- [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. (Colossians 1:15, 19 NIV)
- Greek, eikon = “image, representation, picture” (cf. icon)
- Keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21 NIV)
- Flee from the worship of idols. (1 Corinthians 10:14 NLT)
- Greek, eidolon = “phantom, shadow”
- We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20 NIV)
- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 NIV)
“An idol is anything or anyone that occupies the place of the one true God in our hearts”
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your heart. (1 John 5:21 NLT)
What may become idols in our lives?
- Is there anything you’d be unwilling to give up if God asked you to?
- An idol can be either concrete or abstract; a physical or a mental representation
3) Elements of the Christian Faith
- e.g. the bronze serpent in Numbers 21:4-9; cf. Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:4
- Augustine: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used and using anything that ought to be worshiped."
4) False Views of God
- Golden calf incident in Exodus 32 (referenced in 1 Corinthians 10)
- When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, “Tomorrow will be a festival to the Lord!” The people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. (Exodus 33:4b-6a NLT)
- “We want a serviceable God and moderate expressions of religion…Idols are manageable, and we are always looking for a manageable god.” (Ellsworth Kalas)
1) When you hear the word “ idol” what images come to mind? Have you ever seen a physical idol being worshiped? Describe what happened and how you felt about it.
2) What role do symbols and objects play in the Christian faith? Are they okay? When do they become “idols?”
3) When you think of God, what images come to mind? How are we to conceive of a God that is a spiritual being?
4) What are some things that become idols in people’s lives? What ideas or concepts do Americans idolize?
5) Have you ever witnessed idolatry in the church? Who or what was idolized or elevated to a place that only God should occupy?
6) What are some misconceptions about God that are prevalent today, both in the church and in society at large?
7) How might you have violated this second commandment and make an idol of any kind? Repent, ask for forgiveness, then go and worship God in spirit and in truth.
Commandment #3: You Must Not Misuse the Name of the Lord your God
You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name. (Exodus 20:7 NLT)
God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14 NLT) [I AM = lit., Yahweh or Jehovah]
Throughout the Bible, God’s name represents God Himself
- Sing to the Lord, praise his name… (Psalm 96:2 NIV)
- Those who know your name trust in you… (Psalm 9:10 NIV)
- I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. (Deuteronomy 18:19 NIV)
Yahweh = YHWH
Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:12 NIV) [“profane” comes from the Latin pro (in front of) + fane (temple)]
Ways We Can Misuse the Name of the Lord
1) Curse Words
- Relationship to other types of vulgar language
2) Frivolous Manner
- Using God’s name “in vain”
3) Insincerity of speech, False Promises, or Breaking our Word
- “You have heard…‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven…or by earth…Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No.’” (Matthew 5:33-37 NRSV)
4) Misappropriate God’s Power
- “By what power or in whose name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7b NLT)
- Peter: “…he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene.” (Acts 4:10 NLT)
The Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9 KJV)
1) How does the third commandment (do not misuse the name of the Lord) build on the first two (have no other gods and do not make an idol)?
2) Why is it important to praise or honor the name of the Lord rather than just praising or honoring God? And what is the difference, if any?
3) Is there a difference between violating this commandment and using profanity? How do you feel and react when you hear God’s name used in a vulgar way? Do you feel differently about that then hearing other types of profane language?
4) What are some ways people use God’s name in frivolous or trite manner?
5) Have you ever thought of breaking promises or commitments as a violation of this command? Do you see the connection since, as Christians, we carry the name of Jesus?
6) What are some ways that we misappropriate God’s power or besmirch His character by invoking His name, either in prayer or in conversation?
7) Examine your life and allow the Holy Spirit to identify anything that does not honor the name of the Lord. Confess it before God, receive His forgiveness, and then commit not to misuse the Lord’s name any more. Praise God’s holy name!
Commandment #4: Remember to Observe the Sabbath Day by Keeping it Holy
Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy. (Exodus 20:8-11 NLT)
Sabbath: “pause and rest;” from Hebrew, “to catch one’s breath”
So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill [Jesus]. For he not only broke the Sabbath… (John 5:18 NLT)
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. (Colossians 2:16-17 NLT)
Matthew 12:1-14 (eating grain and healing on the Sabbath)
A specific and proportionate amount of time is set apart each week for rest and worship
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 NLT)
Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath…You may gather food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. (Exodus 16:22-26 NLT)
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28 NLT)
Rhythmic balance between work and Rest
“Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” (Luke 14:5 NLT)
Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15 NLT)
Remember (Reorient, Receive, Reconnect)
Ideas for Keeping the Sabbath Holy:
1. Go outside, look around, and remember your place in God’s marvelous creation.
2. Invite someone who is alone to share a meal with you.
3. Reflect on the ways in which God helped you through the past week.
4. Pray for the members of your immediate, extended, and church family.
5. Give up your bondage to time by spending the day without wearing a watch.
6. Tell your faith story to someone and listen to theirs.
7. Avoid making other people work by not shopping or using service industries.
8. Spend time reading, memorizing, or meditating on God’s Word
9. Clean out your closet and pantry and give the excess clothing and food to the needy.
10. Take a nap (and don’t feel guilty about it!).
1. Describe a typical Sunday in the home in which you grew up. Was it any different from any other day of the week? If so, how?
2. What is your typical Sunday routine? Is there anything you feel like you have to do or is there anything you won’t do on Sunday? How is it different from any other day?
3. What do you think it means to keep the Sabbath “holy?”
4. How do you find rest on the Sabbath? Describe a time when life caught up with you because you failed to take time to rest and relax.
5. Is it okay for Christians to work on Sunday? Are there limits to what we should do? How does what we do impact unbelievers in terms of our witness?
6. What are some ways you can use the Sabbath to remember, receive from the Lord, and reconnect with God? What can you add to the Sabbath-keeping suggestion list?
7. What is ONE thing you can do this week to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?
Commandment #5: Honor Your Father and Mother
Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12 NLT)
I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. (Exodus 20:5-6 NLT)
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4 NLT)
God places the lonely in families… (Psalm 68:6a NLT)
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord… (Ephesians 6:1a NLT)
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21 NLT)
“Anyone can do the things he or she likes to do. The test of character is whether we can do things that we do not like to do.” (David Seamands)[Everyone], honor your father and mother. (Ephesians 6:2a NLT)
Ideas: speak well of them and politely to them (“thank you”); show them courtesy and respect; be a blessing to them; carry on their legacy, especially of faith
[Parents], do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4 NLT)
Three Elements of Christian Parenting
1) Discipline (NIV: training)
Don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (The Message)
Children learn from their parents: concept of reality…God…self
“Mom and dad are the skylight through which a child gets his or her first look at God. Mother and father are also the mirror in which a child sees a reflection of himself or herself.” (David Seamands)
"The history of the world is not the record of its great wars but the history of its households. No nation can be lifted higher than its homes.”
1) How have you witnessed or experienced both blessings and curses being passed on from one generation to the next?
2) Describe someone who you consider your “spiritual” mom or dad. Do you have any spiritual offspring that you have helped raise in the faith? Describe that relationship.
3) Why is it important for children to obey their parents? What are some of the results that come from a lack of obedience or failing to submit to authority?
4) What sort of discipline, direction, and devotion were you given by your parents? How do you wish it had been different? What’s the best lesson you learned or best gift you received from your mom, dad, or other significant adult?
5) How has your view of reality, God, or yourself been adversely affected by the actions of a parent or other significant adult? What did your parents teach you about God?
6) What makes it difficult for us to honor our parents? Besides the ideas given, how can we can fulfill this fifth commandment? What are some ways in which people dishonor their parents?
7) If your parents are still living, what are some practical ways in which you can express your love and commitment to them? If they are deceased, how can you still honor them through your words and deeds?
Commandment #6: You Must Not Murder
You must not murder. (Exodus 20:13 NLT)
Thou shalt not kill. (Exodus 20:13 KJV)
“The purposeful, deliberate, pre-meditated act of taking another person’s life”
- Hebrew: lit, “no murder”
The Lord gives both death and life. (1 Samuel 2:6 NLT)
Anyone who assaults and kills another person must be put to death. But if it was simply an accident permitted by God, I will appoint a place of refuge where the slayer can run for safety…Kidnappers must be put to death…Suppose two men quarrel, and one hits the other with a stone or fist…If a man beats his slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished…Suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman…the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life…If an ox gores a man or woman to death…and had a reputation for goring, it must be stoned, and the owner must also be put to death. (Exodus 21 NLT)
Implication for modern day issues: suicide, abortion, war, capital punishment, euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, habits that shorten life expectancy, DUI
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. 23 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:21-24 NIV)
Outward act of murder is rooted in an inner feeling of anger
- Raca: Aramaic term of derision or contempt; lit., empty-headed
- Fool: Greek slang expression; cf. moron
“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22 MSG)
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45a NLT)
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” (Abraham Lincoln)
1) Why do you think people find the subject of murder in novels, movies, and news stories so intriguing?
2) Of all the crimes human beings can commit, why is murder considered the worst?
3) What does this sixth commandment tell us about God? About human beings?
4) What are some of the life and death implications of the sixth commandment? That is, what are some modern day issues that need to be considered in light of God’s command: “you must not murder”? Do you see any contradictions in the way we apply this commandment or maybe even justify our behavior?
5) Describe some ways in which words “kill”. How has your life been affected by name-calling? Do you consider some words or insults as “off limits” as a Christian?
6) Have you ever been reconciled with someone after hurtful words were said or exchanged? Who took the initiative? What happened? What was the result?
7) Is there anyone you consider an “enemy” who you can turn into a “friend”? What do you need to do to make that happen? What is ONE thing you can say or do to obey this commandment and show that you “love your neighbor”?
Commandment #7: You Must Not Commit Adultery
You must not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14 NLT)
Adultery: sexual intimacy between a person who is married and someone other than his and her spouse (cf. Fornication: sexual intimacy between unmarried persons)
If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both the man and the woman who have committed adultery must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)
“Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone…Neither do I [condemn you]… Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11 excerpts)
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30 NLT)
The biblical term for adultery refers both to the relationship between a husband and a wife but also to the relationship between God and His people
- To Jerusalem: But you trusted your beauty, and you used your fame to become a prostitute. You had sex with everyone who walked by. (Ezekiel 16:15 GWT)
- To would-be Christians: You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? (James 4:4 NLT)
Lessons Learned from David about Dealing with Temptation and Sin
In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight…However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1)
Late one afternoon, after his afternoon rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. (2 Samuel 11:2 NLT)
#1: Be careful where you go and don’t go where you don’t belong.
#2: Obey the Law of the Second Second.
The “slippery slope of sin” (see James 1:14-15)[David] sent someone to find out who she was… (2 Samuel 11:3a NLT)
#3: Curiosity killed the cat and is oftentimes harmful to people as well.
#4: When you make a mistake or commit a sin, admit it, and accept the consequences.
But the Lord was displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:27 NLT)
David: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13 NLT)
Have mercy on me, O God…blot out the stain of my sins…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…Create in me a pure heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (Psalm 51 excerpts NLT)
#5: Confession really is good for the soul.
If we confess our sins to [God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT)
No adultery – in behavior or in thought
No adultery – in our relationship with our spouse or with our God
1) What factors contribute to the widespread sexual immorality in our times?
2) What does adultery have in common with the previous commandments? What does this prohibition reveal about God? About our relationship with others?
3) What have you heard said about sex from a Christian perspective? Why do you think we are oftentimes reluctant to address this subject in the church?
4) Is committing the physical act of adultery and having lustful thoughts the same? Are they both just as serious in God’s eyes?
5) What are some practical boundaries that married persons can implement to keep themselves sexually pure? How about unmarried persons?
6) How do we commit adultery in our relationship with God? What are some ways in which we betray our vows to Him and become unfaithful?
7) What lesson(s) do you learn from David’s experience? What is one thing you can do to avoid temptation and sin (maintain sexual purity or otherwise)?
Commandment #8: You Must Not Steal
You must not steal. (Exodus 20:15 NLT)
“Taking something that belongs to someone else”
1) When we steal, we deny and distrust the provision of our Heavenly Father
2) Robbery destroys community by creating an atmosphere of mistrust
3) Stealing is the antithesis of love for one another
Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life…If you are a thief, quit stealing. (Ephesians 4:22, 28 NLT)
What are some of the ways in which we may violate God’s standard?
1) Taking unfair advantage of a buyer or seller
Esau: “First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing.” (Genesis 27:36 NLT)
Jesus: “The Scriptures declare, ‘My temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:13 NLT)
To overcharge, to undersell, or to deceive someone in a business dealing is to steal
2) Accepting more than you are entitled to
Examples: order mix up; undeserved benefits; “bootlegging” music, software, streaming; frivolous lawsuits; fraudulent insurance claims; tax evasion
Unfair to others (comes at their expense; oftentimes people who can least afford it)
Substitutes chance and fate for the fatherly care of a loving God
See United Methodist “Social Principles”
“Taking unfair advantage of a person or group”
Examples: stealing ideas or answers on a test, stealing time from an employer
Satan’s temptations were all “short-cuts” or forms of cheating (see Matthew 4:1-11)
5) Failing to live up to our God-given responsibilities by hoarding our treasures or talents
Withholding from God the treasure that is rightfully His (e.g. tithes/offerings)
You people are robbing me, your God. And, here you are, asking, “How are we robbing you?” You are robbing me of the offerings and of the ten percent that belongs to me. (Malachi 3:8 CEV)
Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. (Malachi 3:10 CEV)
Withholding from God’s use the talents that He has given us
Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30)
No stealing…from anyone, at any time, in any way
1) Describe an incident when you were the victim of a theft. How did you feel? What happened as a result?
2) Have you ever been tempted to steal something? What was the outcome?
3) What are some ways we can violate the letter and/or spirit of this commandment?
4) How might we, as Christians, steal from God and His Church?
5) What possession(s) do you guard most closely? Do you have a talent or treasure you are unwilling to give away? If so, what is it and why your reluctance to share?
6) Pray for the right attitude toward possessions. Thank God for what you have. Ask the Lord to give you a spirit of generosity to share with others in need. What is ONE thing you can immediately give away (time, talent, or treasure) to help others and demonstrate your commitment to Christ?
Commandment #9: You Must Not Testify Falsely Against Your Neighbor
You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 NLT)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16 KJV)
You shall not tell lies about others. (Exodus 20:16 CEV)
What are some ways that we violate the 9th commandment?
1) Telling a Lie
Stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth… (Ephesians 4:25 NLT)
“Pseudo-communal” relationships 🡪 focus on peace-keeping (vs. truth-telling)
Ways we settle for less than truthful communication (i.e. pseudo-community residents)
- Harry the Hintdropper
- Mary the Manipulator
- Steve the Stonewaller…and his twin sister, Sarah the Stonewaller
- Ellen the Evader
Instead, we will speak the truth in love… (Ephesians 4:15a NLT)
2) Spreading a Lie
You must not pass along false rumors…Be sure never to charge anyone falsely with evil. (Exodus 23:1, 7 NLT)
Gossip is the sin of choice for most Christians
- Passing on false information without checking the facts
- Don’t stop hurtful or slanderous speech, or don’t speak up when we know something is untrue
- Sharing “prayer requests”
- Half-truths and sowing doubt
Stop telling lies…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:25, 29 NLT)
“The reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail and not his tongue!”
3) Living a Lie
So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (1 John 1:6 NLT)
We seem to be what we are not 🡪 exaggeration, pretense, or “right” language
We seem not to be what we are 🡪 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. (1 John 1:8 NLT)
Everyone is a liar. (Psalm 116:11 CSB)
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. (Ephesians 4:25 MSG)
Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. (Psalm 120:2 ESV) -
Guide me in your truth and teach me. (Psalm 25:5 NIV)
1) Describe an occasion (perhaps as a child or teenager) when you were caught in a lie.
2) Who is the most truthful person you know? What do you like about him or her?
3) How might giving false testimony be connected to other commandments, such as the prohibitions against murder and stealing?
4) Of all the sins, lying is the one most identified with the Devil, who is “the father of all lies.” Why do you think this is so?
5) Have you ever been told a lie by someone close to you? How did that make you feel? How did it affect the relationship?
6) Have you witnessed the destructive power of lies spread about you or someone else? What happened and what was the result?
7) What is ONE thing you can do this week to speak truth by saying something good and useful that will be an encouragement to others?
Commandment #10: You Must Not Covet
You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17 NLT)
So the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.” David was furious. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! (2 Samuel 12:1-7a NLT)
What does it mean to covet? 🡪 “to desire inordinately or wrongfully”
- It is a perversion of our God-given desires, needs, and wants
- It is a universal sin (both inside and outside the Church)
- Adage: “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
- Aesop’s fable of man who killed the golden goose 🡪 Moral of the story: “Much wants more and loses all.”
- Hindu proverb: “If you mention money, even the corpse opens his mouth.”
The New Testament commonly refers to it as “greed” (or “lust”)
- It is also known as “avarice,” which is listed among the “seven deadly sins”
- Why is coveting/greed/avarice so deadly?
- The “Arithmetic of Affluence”
- “More” is never enough
-Consider what is: necessary / useful / extra
According to Colossians 3:5, greed is a form of “idolatry”
In the New Testament, this commandment is given a positive spin
- Jesus: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33 NLT)
- Jesus: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 ESV)
- Paul: “But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” (1 Corinthians 12:31 ESV)
- “Holy envy”
The antithesis of coveting is being content
- “Not that I was ever in need for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11 NLT)
- “Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8a NLT)
- “God who takes care of me will supply all our needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NLT)
- “You will never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you’ve got.”
Whereas the Old Testament says, “you shall not covet,” the New Testament contends, “you shall be content in Jesus Christ”
- Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
Our culture teaches us to be greedy, so we have to be disciplined in giving (per Leonard Sweet)
- Give something away every day
- When you get something new, give away something old
- Give away possessions as gifts rather than buying the person something new
- Be a loaner
- Make contributions of good, new stuff to charities rather than giving leftovers
1) Why do you think God includes specific examples of this prohibited behavior?
2) How does our society promote discontent and covetousness?
3) What is something you’ve coveted and then regretted when you got it?
4) Have you ever experienced “holy envy?” What is it you wanted or want right now?
5) Gratitude is an effective vaccine against coveting. Offer prayers of thanksgiving for the physical and spiritual gifts God has given you.