Ten Commandments: Reviewing #1 through #4

We’re in the midst of discussing the Ten Commandments.  Before we move on to the fifth, let’s review the first four.

  • God is love
    • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
      • 1 – You shall have no other gods before Me.
      • 2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol.
      • 3 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
      • 4 – Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
    • You shall love your neighbor as yourself; that is, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
      • 5 – Honor your father and your mother.
      • 6 – You shall not murder.
      • 7 – You shall not commit adultery.
      • 8 – You shall not steal.
      • 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      • 10 – You shall not covet.

Notice that all four of these commandments speak to our relationship with God.  The first three deal with the nature of our relationship with Him and the fourth deals with the scope of that relationship.

(Keep in mind that our concern is with Jesus’ interpretation of the Ten Commandments, not Moses’.  Moses was talking about behavior; Jesus is focused on the heart, from which all behavior proceeds.  Moses was under the old covenant; Jesus is administering the new covenant.  Therefore, for example, Moses taught a sabbath of one day a week; Jesus teaches an eternal sabbath – one that never ends.  Moses gave the Ten Commandments; Jesus fulfills them.)

For us, the Lord is the One raised from the dead.  He did live according to the flesh, like us.  However, He was raised from death and ascended to heaven where He dwells forever as spirit.  Therefore, if we are to relate to Jesus it must be in spirit and in truth.  Here’s how the first three commandments speak to the nature of our relationship with Him:

  • #1 – “No other gods” means it’s an exclusive relationship.  There’s no other one of Him and there’s no other one of you.
  • #2 – “No idols” means it’s a direct, personal, and intimate relationship.  No person or thing must come between you and the Lord Jesus – not a pastor, not a parent.
  • #3 –  “No vain use of His name” means, for example, that it doesn’t make sense to call Him “Lord” if you make no attempt to do what He says.  Nor does it make sense to call Him “Father” and think that He doesn’t know you intimately and love you deeply.

As to the scope of our relationship with Him, #4 (“Remember the sabbath”) indicates that, since the true sabbath has come and will last forever, our relationship with Him applies all the time and forever.

Notice also that not only are all four of these commandment tightly related to each other, each commandment is built on the one that precedes it.  The first commandment clears away the possibility of a similar relationship with any other being.  With that as a foundation, God then says that no other being shall come between you and Him.   So, no one beside Him (#1) and then no one between you and Him (#2).  In other words, #1 establishes “No false god in addition to the true God” and #2 then adds “no false representation or intermediary of the true God.”

The first two commandments then lay the foundation for the third commandment, which is that the names He has given Himself (e.g. “Lord,” “Savior,” and so on) all must have meaning, must be of practical use.  Since He is spirit – that is, cannot be contacted by any of the five physical senses – His name is the means by which we contact Him.  When we say His name, He hears.  And His name indicates the nature of the communication that takes place.

The fourth commandment is then able to say that everything about the first three commandments is to apply eternally – that is, not subject to change.  Our understanding of the first three commandments will mature, for sure, but they will never be rescinded or revoked.  Therefore, the first four commandments make clear that God has designed a direct, personal, and intimate relationship with each and every one of us – not for a lifetime, but for an eternity.

For too many people who call themselves Christians,  Christianity is a matter of relationship with other Christians…and therefore is subject to disruption and corruption; only if your Christianity is a matter of relationship with Christ Himself is it true Christianity.  Giving proper heed to these four commandments will cement your relationship with Him.

This has been a brief review of the first four commandments; tomorrow I’ll give you a summary of them.  (If the difference between a “review” and a “summary” is not clear now, it will be then.)


If you want to know where to find all of these commandments in your own Bible, see the post Ten Commandments: Scriptural Locations which gives the chapter-and-verse reference for each commandment.

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