Of what use are the Ten Commandments to us?


They teach us our duty, make clear our condemnation, and show us our need of a Savior.

Have you ever worked on a tough problem in school and thought, “Why do I need to know this? When am I ever going to use this stuff?” Well, you might never need to know how many faces a dodecahedron has or what the capital of the Ottoman Empire was. But knowing the Ten Commandments is incredibly useful! The answer to the question above gives us three things we learn from God’s law.

First, God’s commandments teach us our duty. They show us what to do and what not to do. They explain exactly how our Creator wants us to behave in the world he made for us. And as we learned, each and every one of these rules give us different ways to love: either to love God or love our neighbors.

The Ten Commandments also “make clear our condemnation.” In other words, God’s commandments don’t just teach us what to do – they remind us of all the things we’ve done wrong. When you hear the command, “Do not steal,” our hearts say to us, “Remember that time you stole something?” When God says, “You shall not murder,” we think to ourselves, “But I’ve hated others – I’ve murdered in my heart!”

In Romans 3:20, Paul explains, “Through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Like an x-ray can reveal the problem of a broken bone in our leg, the Ten Commandments reveal the problem of the sin inside of our hearts. God’s Law exposes the truth: we are law-breaking sinners! And back in question 19, we learned the fearful truth: every sin deserves the anger and judgment of God! The Ten Commandments make it clear that we deserve to be doomed to death!

Thankfully, that’s not all God’s Law shows us. It also reminds us that we need someone to save us. In Romans 7:24, Paul describes feeling the weight of sin in his heart. He says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Knowing he was a law-breaking sinner deserving of death, Paul cried out for rescue! But he continued in verse 25: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

God’s law teaches us our duty. It describes exactly how we should live as children of our great and glorious King! It also brings us the bad news that we are law-breaking sinners deserving of death. But thankfully, God’s Law also points us to the good news: through Jesus the Christ, law-breakers like you and me can be saved from our sins!


+ As you read the Ten Commandments, how many do you think the average person has broken?

+ What hope is there for a law-breaking sinner?


1 Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24

* By the way, a dodecahedron has 12 faces and the capital of the Ottoman Empire was Constantinople.

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