8th Commandment: You Shall Not Steal
To steal is to take or use something that does not belong to me without permission. It points out, like most of the other commandments, how selfish a person can be.
Stealing can take many forms. We could outright steal a physical possession of someone, or their money directly or indirectly. Sometimes we might just “borrow” it with the intention of returning it, but better to ask permission! This may seem overly strict, but why risk offending someone and cutting off a relationship which the Lord has given us to share His word and make His love known? “Love…does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:4-5).
We can steal time, too. Let’s say I make an appointment with a friend from out of town which requires him to set aside other plans for the day. If I cancel that appointment last minute, I have stolen my friend’s time! If I waste time at work on things which do not contribute to the school, my students, or bettering myself as a teacher, then I am stealing time from my employer.
It’s safe to say we have all broken this command. Let’s throw ourselves at God’s mercy.
Romans 7:21—8:8…Paul says he wants to follow God’s Law, but he can’t due to the influence of the flesh. However, he has been set free by Jesus who has given Paul—and us—the Spirit which has given us life and peace. Now the question is, “do I have my mind set on the flesh (selfish desire) or on the Spirit (true life and peace)?”
If I have my mind set on the Spirit, I will not be allowed by Him to steal anything. In fact, He will show me things I never would have thought were wrong. One example is not using my work computer for personal business. I don’t think I would get in trouble for this, but a little less usage will probably make the school-owned computer last a little longer…
My desire to have more than I do will diminish, too.
Contentment. I know the Lord is the giver of everything I have, but it is taking some time to really be content—which if I am lacking can lead to the temptation to steal. Proverbs 30:8-9 says, “Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.”
Focus on Giving, not Getting. Paul connects these two ideas as opposites in Ephesians 4:28, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” It is important to note here that there are a lot of giving people in this world who don’t know Jesus, but claim to have altruistic motives. To truly give as God would like us to, we have to realize what Paul says just before this in verses 22-24—“Put on the new self”—really Christ HIMSELF. This requires us to lay aside the old self which has been “corrupted by the lusts of deceit.” In other words, every person on this planet is deceived into thinking they have some good in them. They are not focused on the things of God, rather excluded from the life of God apart from Christ (vs. 18).
Our giving should always be focused on the advancement of God’s kingdom. 2 Corinthians 9:6-15…”sowing” or giving will, by the grace of God, result in a harvest of righteousness, and God will be glorified. The LORD is the source of all things and deserves all thanks, praise and glory given to Him!
Psalm 24:1…Everything belongs to God. Therefore, if I am claiming anything as my own, not using it for God’s purposes, then I am stealing from God.
Our giving should always be to please God, not people. Matthew 6:2-4…giving in secret. If I am giving to receive attention/glory from others, then I am stealing God’s glory! The person receiving will have no choice but to see that the gift is from God. Our reward: we may see someone come to Christ!
If we truly have our mind set on the Spirit, the best reward we could receive on earth is seeing people give their lives to the rightful owner—Jesus Christ.
7th Commandment: Do Not Commit Adultery (Exodus 20:14)
Adultery: Taking someone else’s spouse (or allowing oneself to be taken) whether in action or thought. Again, this commandment seems straightforward, but there are also deeper meanings.
OT Perspective: God made a covenant with His people, one to take most seriously as a marriage. Time and time again, they broke that covenant, yet God showed mercy. He had to continually send them judges, prophets, and teachers to turn them back to Him. There will come a time when each person in the house of Israel will know God and will have no need to be taught of their God who has always been a husband to them. (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Isaiah 54. God affirms his role as Redeemer and husband of His people—His holy city.
Jesus’ teaching: Matthew 5:27-30…lust is the same as adultery. Cut off anything that may make me sin! Matthew 19:3-12…divorce and remarriage is adultery. Better not to marry in the first place. Whatever we do should be for the purpose of the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, it can be concluded that our commitment to God and His kingdom supersedes all else. To be distracted from this is adultery.
Paul points out that God has not cast away His people Israel, but now the Gentiles have been grafted into the holy “tree.” (Romans 11:1-16) God’s desire is that His people would turn to Him by jealousy, if necessary. Now we who are not descended from Israel should also be careful to “stand by [our] faith” else we be cut off from the tree even though we have been grafted in (vss. 19-21).
Ephesians 5:22-33…The marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and the Church. Wives should be subject to their husband because the church is to be subject to Christ. Husbands should love their wives because Christ loves the church and wants us to be presented to Himself spotless. Husband leaves father and mother—there should be no more attachment to previous life.
James 1:27—what matters is keeping oneself unstained by the world. We are in the world and should be interacting with people ("orphans and widows”—those with whom we have something to share). However, we should be different, separate—holy.
Jude 1-4—Kept for Christ. We belong to Him; therefore, keep with the faith. No License to sin.
Revelation 19:1-8—there will come a judgement on the “harlot”—someone or something which has worked against God’s work with His people—“bondservants.” At the wedding supper of the Lamb, the church is described as His bride and it will be given her to clothe herself with fine linen, which is the “righteous acts of the saints.” Not all the imagery makes sense to me right now, but we can clearly see that “righteous acts” are expected of us while we wait for this day. So let’s be careful not to be distracted from being ready for that day.
6th Commandment: Do not Murder
This command seems really straightforward. So what is murder? It is one person killing another in cold blood—usually for selfish reasons (so not as a soldier in war, etc.). In our (American) society, it is a crime often punishable by death—especially when it is intentional. What was meant in ancient times? In Jesus’ time? And what does that mean for us today?
OT: Exodus 21:12 and Leviticus 24:17…point out the seriousness of the offense. Genesis 4:3-13…the first murder. Look at God’s mercy! He knew what Cain was about to do and instructed him how to overcome his selfish desire to kill his brother. God gave Cain a way out and still showed mercy after he failed. It is not as though God’s character has changed. Exodus 21:28-29…Not working to prevent harm to someone is the same as murder.
Every person is without excuse because we have God’s law and His attributes have been clearly seen from the beginning (Romans 1:18-20).
Jesus’ teaching: Matthew 5:21-26; Matthew 6:14-15
1 John 3:13-17…here, John is not only talking about emotions/feeling of hatred, but also an apathy towards others’ needs. If we are not going to help them when it is in our ability, it is the same as murder—just letting them die!
James 1:19-20…be slow to speak and quick to hear. Don’t let anger get any hold on you. In other words, be proactive and seek to be a better doer of God’s word (vs 21-22), the “word of truth.” (vs 18). In the broader context, James is speaking of trials and suffering which we as Christians have to face. We will be hated by some people, but don’t let how this world treats us anger us.
The 5th Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.”
Observations: This is the first command which speaks to how we should relate to other people. The first four speak to how we should relate to God. The rest of the commandments which follow speak to our relations with other people. This seems to be a transitional and pivotal verse. This spoken to OT Israel was a command with a promise: that their days in the promised land would be prolonged. Why is this significant?
When it is restated to the people in Deuteronomy, another aspect is added: “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you” (vs 16). The converse must also be true: if they would not honor their mothers and fathers then it would not go well with them.
-Leviticus 26:3-13…speaks of all of God’s commandments. Follow them, blessings flow
-Exodus 21:15…strike your parent, stoned to death
-Deuteronomy 21:18-21…stubborn, free-loading son should be put to death
God’s people are to take this commandment seriously! It is dishonoring to parents not to listen to them and to take advantage of their provision, not working when able to.
-Proverbs 23:22—it is not just when we are children that we should listen to our parents. As long as they are living, we should honor them by listening to them.
-Proverbs 1:7-8—Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. What follows then is listening to your parents and living a life in accordance with their teaching (they are not always there to help you make every decision). This highlights another truth about the importance of honoring parents. God has set parents up as authority figures in our lives to take care of us, and ultimately point us to HIM.
-These verses in Proverbs also speak to implications for parents. They should be seeking to teach their children to honor God. If a parent is telling you to do something which does not honor God, then we should not do it. Deuteronomy 6:7—responsibility to teach children falls on parents. Ephesians 6:4—bring children up in the fear of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:1-3—Paul cites the 5th commandment in his exhortation to the church. We should obey our parents “in the Lord.” Those who will equip us to do battle: Ephesians 6:10-17. There may be a time when someone other than our biological parents serves as a spiritual parent to us. We should heed these peoples’ instruction.
The command as given in Exodus spoke of the result of honoring one’s mother and father: a good life in the promised land.
Our promise is the same, but of a heavenly land: Hebrews 12:14, 25-29 “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord…See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” Pursuing peace with our parents would mean honoring them—listening and heeding the wisdom and instruction, especially as it pertains to following the Lord. It will go well with us as long as we are looking for the unshakeable kingdom of God.
Honoring our parents is ultimately honoring God, our Father.
He honored His earthly parents his whole life: Luke 2:51; John 19:26 (made sure Mary was taken care of)
He honored His heavenly father: John 5:19-24. The way for us to receive eternal life is to honor Jesus. This is what parents should be teaching us; what we should be teaching our children.
4th Commandment: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
—“Remember” is a key word here. What should we remember? We are to remember that the LORD made everything in six days and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, we should work 6 days and rest one day. Note: it does not say which day should be the day of rest, just the number of days. Our modern idea of weeks was not established at that time, as we follow the Gregorian calendar.
—Another important observation: I should rest, but I should not make anyone or anything work on my behalf. The point is for God’s people to take time to enjoy communion with Him, and not worry about worldly pursuits.
—The LORD did two things: blessed the sabbath and made it holy. Looking at the Genesis account can shed some light on the significance of this.
Genesis 1:31-2:3—Was God actually tired? No! He wanted to take time to enjoy His “very good” creation, particularly the climax of His creation, mankind, who was created in His image and likeness. This was the blessing. To be holy means to be set apart for a purpose. God actually stopped doing everything so He could set apart time to enjoy fellowship with His children.
Deuteronomy 5:15—REMEMBER: freedom from slavery, or hard work/suffering. Sabbath was given as a time to remember God’s deliverance.
Exodus 31:12-17—Sabbath is a “sign for all generations.” God was refreshed—shows us we need to be refreshed continually in our relationship with our Creator.
Isaiah 58:13-14—the sabbath is a pattern for the way to live our life all the time: “desisting from your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, speaking your own word."
1 John 5:3—God’s commands are not burdensome. Rest in His work. (like in the Garden—everything was provided)
Matthew 12:1-12—It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. The question is, “Is it God’s work?” Really, that is what we should be asking ourselves all the time.
Hosea 6:6-7—The sabbath is about knowing God and being loyal to Him. This should be all the time.
Mark 2:27—Sabbath was made for man. A pattern for us to enjoy God’s blessing as we submit to Him. Man cannot actually follow the sabbath to the “T,” as man was not made for sabbath. Jesus fulfills the sabbath in that He is our way back to fellowship with God.
Romans 14:5-8—The actual day doesn’t matter. What matters is that every day we recognize we belong to God.
Hebrews 4:1-3, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”
-Verse1—Promised Land (Hebrews 3:14-19)
-Verse 2—Caleb and Joshua preached the good news (Numbers 13:27-30). The people could not enter God’s rest because they did not have faith
-Verse 3—Those in belief have entered rest. Rest is walking by faith; dumping my plans.
—vss. 4-6—Some people did not enter the Promised Land because of disobedience
—vss. 7-9—entering the promised land was a foreshadowing of Sabbath rest to come
-10-12—Resting from my works means I am always seeking to be obedient to God, whose will is made clear through His word. How can we be resting in God without letting His word search us and change us?
The 4th commandment is “keep the Sabbath holy.” This means no work. What is work? When it comes down to it, we could classify breathing as work because we have to exert an effort. The purpose of the commandment is to show us we can’t keep it. If I keep this commandment by any effort I exert, I’ve already broken it. All commandments are only doable by faith.
IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBERING: God created us to enjoy fellowship/rest with him through faith; He freed us from slavery to our own ways and burdensome work (sin and death); and one day we will fully enter His rest. Let’s be intentional about seeking the LORD by letting go of our ways.
3rd Commandment: “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (Exodus 20:7)
NASB says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…”
It is important to note that LORD is the translation of God’s proper name YHWH. (pronounced “Yahweh”). The second translation makes a little clearer what this command means. We have actually been given the name of the LORD, as His chosen people. He is our unique, all-powerful, supreme, Creator God, and He has expectations for His creation. What is the significance of this?
God’s correction given through the prophet Isaiah is a clear example:
Isaiah 43:1-7. “I have called you by name: you are Mine!” Not only have we been created by Him, but also, just as He did for Jacob—>Israel, He is forming us for His glory (vs. 7). We have been given a new name—a new identity—by the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sadly, the nation of Israel largely did not treasure this. Vss. 22-24—they “became weary of [Him].”
Jesus’ exhortation: Mark 8:34-38, “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
—To deny self and carry one’s cross means submitting my whole self—mind, body, spirit—to the Lord Himself. Therefore, instead of being ashamed, boldly proclaim the gospel and share God’s word in this “adulterous and sinful generation” which so desperately needs Him! His glory is the ultimate goal—the most exciting thing to me should be when previous unbelievers turn to the LORD and glorify His name. I can’t call myself a Christian and not carry out this mission—that would be taking the Lord’s name in vain!
James’ exhortation: James 1:26-27, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” The only opinion and viewpoint/sight which should matter to me is that of my Heavenly Father. Some people talk a good talk, but have no actions to back it up--stay unstained by the world, caring about those who can’t repay. Only one secure in their identity as a child of God can do this. Letting myself be corrupted by the world is taking God’s name in vain.
Paul’s exhortation: Philippians 1:27—2:4, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me. Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” As a Christian, I am a steward of the gospel of Christ—having taken on His identity. Now, to not take this name in vain, some things are expected. Don’t be alarmed at opposition/suffering/conflict. Be unified with other believers in mind and spirit, experiencing fellowship with God Himself through the Spirit, evidenced by our love for one another. Other people should be more important to me than my own interests.
How seriously do I take my identity as a child of GOD? Is all this true of my life right now?
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!