Summary: The First Commandment

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Exodus 20:1-3

A few years ago there was a legal controversy in Alabama over the Ten Commandments. A federal judge ordered Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the state of Alabama, to remove a monument displaying the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the state Judiciary Building. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected without a hearing, in spite of the fact the fascade of the Supreme Court building itself has a figure of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. The Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington also has a large display of the Ten Commandments. Many of the federal buildings across the country have the Ten Commandments prominently displayed. Many courthouses across the nation have them as well. Strangely, the constitution has not been changed on this issue, it’s just that many judges no longer care what it says, they just want to enforce their opinions in its place.

Polls indicate that a majority of Americans oppose the removal of the Ten Commandments from public places. But since this is so, some other polls about the Ten Commandments are very surprising. For example:

A 1988 Gallup Poll revealed that while 85% of Americans believe that the Ten Commandments are binding, only 15 percent could name five of them. Apparently we think we can obey them without knowing them.

George Gallup also reports that some commands are remembered by people differently. In a survey he conducted: He listed those which are remembered most …from least to most.

#10, the least remembered commandment: No Idols. Only 10%.

#9 Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Remembered by 16%

#8 Have no other gods before me. Remembered by 25%

#7 Do not take the Lord’s name in vain. Remembered by 28%

#6 Do not lie. Remembered by 29%

#5 Honor your father and mother. Remembered by 34%

#4 Do not covet. Remembered by 37% (They just don’t know what it


#3 Do not murder. Remembered by 59%

#2 Do not commit adultery. Remembered by 61%

#1 The most remembered commandment: Thou shalt not steal!

These commandments are perfect and they are right, but they do not give us the power we need to keep them.

A sign on the freeway reads, SPEED LIMIT 55. You glance at your speedometer. It registers 60. A car passes you going at least 70. A huge semi follows, sucking you toward the center line. But what about that 55 miles-per-hour sign?

Laws are just words in statute books. They don’t work until power backs them up. Who of us hasn’t let up on the gas pedal when a patrol car appeared in the rearview mirror? That’s police power. But can you think of a time when a law or an officer gave you a love for driving 55?

The same is true with God’s commands. Fear of punishment or getting caught may check our actions. But it takes a stronger force than that to make us want to obey. That power comes from a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The commands of the law, even God’s law, are not the means by which we can have eternal life; in fact, they demonstrate that we are completely unworthy of spending eternity with God in heaven.

These commands are a basic description of the kind of person God designed you to be. It is a blueprint for living a life of blessing and joy.

Vance Havner said, “You cannot break the laws of God -- you break yourself against them. Might as well try to attack Gibraltar with a popgun as to go up against the laws of God. It will not work. You jump off a skyscraper and you do not break the law of gravitation. You break your neck, but not the law of gravitation.”

Salvation – being a Christian – does not remove the need for us to obey; it gives us a better reason to obey and even a loving desire to do it.

Jesus said it in John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

We now obey because we love Him and because we want to experience the joy of His love in our lives.

Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His answer was taken directly from the Old Testament books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus – Books of the Law.

In Matthew 22:37-22:40 we read, Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

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