The Relationship Purpose of the Ten Commandments
When the Pharisees learned that the Sadducees could not argue with Jesus’ answers to them, the Pharisees met together. One Pharisee, who was an expert on the law of Moses, asked Jesus this question to test him:
“Teacher, which command in the law is the most important?”
Jesus answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and most important command.
And the second command is like the first: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’
All the law and the writings of the prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:34-40) NCV
It is interesting and yet not surprising that Jesus did not answer this pharisee’s question with one specific commandment. Instead, Jesus went deeper in stating the heart commandments from which all the commandments originated.
Loving God and our neighbor puts all the other commandments in context. The commandments are encased in RELATIONSHIP. A proper understanding of the law will not be achieved outside of this context.
In the Old Testament the Ten Commandments were a covenant of love given by a personal God for the people of Israel.
“Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love…”(Neh. 9:32).
In the New Testament the Ten Commandments serve as a guide to lead us to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ in the new covenant.
The first thing we must understand is the ten commandments were never intended to be an end in themselves. The primary purpose of the law is to restore RELATIONSHIP between holy God and sinful man and establish the foundation for RELATIONSHIP with one another. The commandments are like signposts guiding us on the road to this end. Without such understanding, the Ten Commandments are merely a set of rules that lead to death, discouragement, and pride.
The whole law hangs on these two commandments:
- Love the Lord (RELATIONSHIP) and
- Love your neighbor (RELATIONSHIP).
God loves people! He gave His law in order to show people their need for a Savior and ultimately to restore fellowship with His most precious of creation – PEOPLE, through the work of Jesus Christ!
We were created for relationship with
God and one another. The Ten Commandments are divided accordingly.
Commandments Addressing Relationship with God
1. No other gods
2. No idols
3. God’s name
4. Keep Sabbath holy
Commandments Addressing Relationship with Others
5. Honor parents
6. Do not murder
7. Do not commit adultery
8. Do not steal
9. Do not give false testimony
10. Do not covet
In the following pages discover the RELATIONSHIP purposes of God’s law:
- Reveals character of God
- Exposes the nature of man
- Reconciliation of God and man
- Receive the Good News