The Ten Commandments: Absolute or Obsolete?

by Joseph Miller

The Ten Commandments: Absolute or Obsolete

The following excerpt is the first lesson of a twelve-lesson series-designed to be either preached or taught as Bible studies-to help Christians understand that the Ten Commandments in principle are God's standards of living for today.

The Decalogue has been the basis for Western cultures' public morality. Now many do what is right in their own eyes. These standards of living given by God are to be taught to our children (Deut. 6:4-9).

Truth: We must beware of the course of secularism. What is this course?

I. Dangers to Avoid (Col. 2:8)

A. Turn of the twentieth century-Enlightenment: The Bible is not true.

B. Early twentieth century-Liberalism: Christ is not God.

C. Early twentieth century-Relativism: There is no absolute good or evil. Einstein hated this philosophy as an abuse of his theory of relativity (1919) concerning time and space. He said relativism was a spiritual disease.

D. 1920s-Freudian Psychology: Sexuality without conscience or guilt.

E. 1920s-Marxist Materialism: No personal responsibility or guilt, just guilt of society, paving the way for class warfare and genocide.

F. 1920s-Nietzsche Philosophy: God is dead. (A T-shirt front and back: "God is dead" -Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is Dead"-God.)

G. 1960s-Joseph Fletcher, Situation Ethics: There is no absolute right or wrong.

H. 1980-Supreme Court Decision:

No Decalogue in the Kentucky school (they might obey it).

I. 1990s-Values Education: Love man without loving God.

This is secularism. David Aikman, senior correspondent for Time Magazine, wrote in 1991 of his interview with Boris Yeltsin, "Yeltsin told me in an interview that he was thinking of ways to get priests into the Russian school system to speak on ethics and morality, which prompted me to observe that it took the United States 200 years of religious freedom to drive Christianity out of the schools and the Soviet Union 70 years of atheism to bring it back."

II. Demands to Attain (Deut. 6:4-9)

Summary of the Law (Ex. 20; Matt. 22:36-39: love God, love mankind, love yourself). Zechariah 5:3 summarizes with the words "stealeth" and "sweareth," or respect for mankind and reverence for God.

A. Reverence for God (Matt. 22:37) (Agape love as an act of the will). Stated in Principles for Today:

1. You shall have no other gods.

2. You shall not make an idol for yourself.

3. You shall not use God's name insincerely.

4. Remember the Lord's Day to worship and serve Him.

B. Respect for mankind (Matt. 22:39)

5. Honor your father and mother.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's possessions.

III. Delights to Achieve (Heb. 11:23-27)

A. Foundation of faith (v. 27).

B. Values based on belief (v. 26).

C. Choices based on values (v. 25).

D. Character based on choices (v. 24).

E. Commitment based on character (11:2).


A. Law demands grace (Rom. 11:6). No one was ever saved by keeping the Law.

B. The Law is God's preamble to keep redeemed people free.

C. It is in the power of Christ that we fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17, 18; Rom. 8:1,2,4).

D. The Holy Spirit gives us the God-love to love God and mankind as demanded in the Law (Rom. 5:5).

E. The Law shows us how sinful we are (Rom. 7:7,8) and brings us to God. It has to be preached to bring about true conversion. Otherwise, we will have more and more unsaved evangelicals.

Joseph Miller, who heads Discovering Life Ministries, is a church development consultant and publisher of The Church Planter-a Comprehensive Manual for Church Development. The complete set of lessons on the Ten Commandments may be ordered by going to

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