A long time ago I heard a speaker (I think it was Steve Hayner) quote a big survey of college students.
- Most agreed that the Ten Commandments were very important as a guide to life and ethics.
- Most could not remember just exactly what all ten commandments were.
I was writing earlier this week about how the Heidelberg Catechism treats the Ten Commandments in a very positive way. They do not merely show us where we have done wrong. As people who trust and love God, the Ten Commandments give us excellent guidance about God’s will. Following them is our way of saying “Thank you!”
That is a classic Reformed stance by the way. In the “Young Children and Worship” program, when you tell 3-7 year olds about the Ten Commandments they call them “God’s ten best ways to live.” I think that is a great way to put it.
The Catechism then goes on to spend twenty questions explaining those ten commandments. But first they want to make sure we all know just exactly what they are, so they quote Exodus 20:1-17 in full.
Okay, we all know we should know these things by heart. Let’s see how we are doing at that.
Before I insert the text from the Catechism, take a minute and try to count off all Ten Commandments by memory. Use your fingers or write a list.
I’m serious. Don’t scroll down until you give it a try.
How many could you come up with?
What? You didn’t do it? One last try before the big reveal…
Make that list, okay?
All right: Check your results against this passage from the Heidelberg Catechism:
92 Q. What is God’s law?
A. God spoke all these words:
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;
you shall have no other gods before me.”
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
“You shall not make for yourself an idol,
whether in form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God,
for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.”
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
“Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the LORD made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.”
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
“Honor your father and your mother,
so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving to you.”
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not murder.”
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not commit adultery.”
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not steal.”
THE NINTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
THE TENTH COMMANDMENT
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;
you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
I’d love to hear from you in the comments: Which commandments were hardest to remember? Which do you think are most challenging for Christians living in today’s culture?