Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why We Need the Ten Commandments

In one of his books, evangelist Ravi Zacharias tells a story from his childhood in which he and his friends set out one day to play tennis. However, without a tennis court nearby these resourceful boys decided to make their own. Ravi wrote, “In a crude fashion we measured the markings for the court by our strides. Within a couple of days we had iron posts dug in and positioned to anchor the net. We then ground some limestone and, using a string to measure, marked the boundaries of the court with the powered stone. Finally, we got a few old bed sheets from our moms, sewed them together and made sure the cumbersome fabric would extend over the length of the court. It took some real tugging and elbow grease. We were all set to play our first game on this bumpy, makeshift, stone-littered tennis court.” 

However, once the boys began to play they ran into their first problem—they could not see the line markings on the opposite side of the court to serve because the sheets blocked their vision. Then they faced a more disheartening reality. Because they had not studied the actual rules of the game, they did not know the purpose of the lines on the court. Ravi explained, “We had not bothered to study the rules and were playing singles with doubles court dimensions. By the end of about twenty minutes we were puffing and panting and our efforts led to exhaustion.”1 

One of the great lessons that Ravi learned from that experience was the need for rules, not only in athletics, but also in life. The game is played not to protect the rules; rather the rules are made to protect the game. This is one of the reasons why God gave mankind the Ten Commandments. Without guidelines for right and wrong, life would be total anarchy and chaos. We need boundaries and, in His wisdom, God created a top ten list not only to introduce limitations but to maximize the enjoyment of life. 

Think about it like this—what would our roadways be like without stop signs or traffic lights? What if every carpenter and engineer used a different set of measurements? What’s fascinating is that our society wants to oust the Ten Commandments as outdated relics of religion and make up their own code of ethics. Yet, like guardrails along a twisty mountain road, the Ten Commandments are there to protect life. I was always told you should know why a fence is put up in the first place before you decide to take it down. 

The world wants to tear down the Decalogue, to free themselves from accountability. However, in adopting moral relativism they are undermining the foundation upon which a nation stands. Founding Father James Madison knew this. That's why he said, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”2  

Contrary to what secular man says, the Ten Commandments are not a burden, but a blessing. In one of his sermons, British preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “The law of the Ten Commandments is a gift of great kindness to the sons of men, for it tells us the wisest and the happiest way of living. It forbids us nothing but what would be to our injury and it withholds from us nothing which would be a real pleasure to us. God does not make laws denying us anything that would really be for our good. We ought to see the love of God in the gift of the law.”3 

Next time you hear someone bad-mouthing God’s moral law, remind them they are Ten Commandments and not the "Ten Suggestions." They are woven into the fabric of the universe, just as the laws of physics. If you break God’s laws, they will end up breaking you!   

1. Ravi Zacharias, Recapture the Wonder (Nashville, TN: Integrity, 2003), 32-35.

2. James Madison quoted by William Joseph Federer, America's God and Country: Encyclopedia of Quotations (St Louis, MO: Amerisearch, 2000), 441.

3. Charles Spurgeon, “God’s Love to the Saints,” October 26, 1905, <http://www.spurgeongems.org/vols49-51/chs2959.pdf>

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