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The Ten Commandments in Order


You’ve probably heard of the Ten Commandments. They are a foundation of Christianity, a set of rules given by God to Moses. The commandments were intended to help the Israelites live righteously enough to inherit the promised land after being freed from captivity in Egypt. But how do these commandments, which were given so long ago to the ancient Jews, apply to you today?

As significant as the Ten Commandments are in Christianity—and in the Mormon faith—not everyone knows all the commandments or remembers their order. The following list gives the commandments in order and explains each one (see Exodus 20:1–17).

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. This commandment means that you must place God at the center of your life and your worship. You should live with an eye single to the glory of His plan.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. This commandment specifically condemns idolatry, something that was often practiced in the ancient world. Today you probably don’t bow before idols, but it’s easy to elevate things like money, a career, or a new car. When these are your primary motivators and focus of your actions, they act as metaphorical idols. This commandment reminds you to keep God at the center of your life, saving your highest praise and attention for Him.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. You probably hear speech regularly that uses the name of God or Jesus Christ in a profane, disrespectful way. This commandment should remind you that God has given you all that you have and that by taking His name in vain, you mock Him and His gifts.
  4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. The Sabbath is the day of the week set aside for worship and rest. For most Christians, that day is Sunday. God wants you to keep this day holy, to refrain from your normal work. This day should be dedicated to worshiping God and remembering all that He has done for you.
  5. Honour thy father and thy mother. This commandment has multiple meanings and interpretations, especially given the wide variety of circumstances in which people grow up. What God wants you to do, though, is to live your life in such a way that you honor your parents. The family relationship is important to God. While not all parents are perfect, you can honor your parents by taking their best characteristics and incorporating those in your life. You can focus on being the best person you can and living your best life.
  6. Thou shalt not kill. God doesn’t condone the killing of innocent people, and He commands all His children to not murder. This commandment does not extend to cases of self-defense or to the justifiable taking of life during war while serving in the military. In those instances, God understands the motivation of your heart and He will judge you. His judgment is based on your actions, desires and circumstances.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. The world today makes sex seem like an extracurricular activity instead of a beautiful, intimate experience to be shared only between husband and wife. Sex is the ultimate expression of love between man and woman, and God has commanded that sexual relations be kept within marriage.
  8. Thou shalt not steal. Stealing is dishonest. When people steal, they impact not only the person they steal from but their own selves as well. Society also suffers. In areas where theft is rampant, people feel insecure and vulnerable and some viciously plot revenge. Another form of dishonesty is addressed with the next commandment.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Lying or any other form of dishonesty is not of God. The commandment specifically mentions not lying about a neighbor, but dishonesty in any form should be avoided. Dishonesty leaves you with an injured, nagging conscience, while honesty in all things can set you free. Honesty is one of the highest virtues.
  10. Thou shalt not covet. You may look at what you have and think that it’s not enough, especially if someone across the street has the boat, the car, or the house you’ve always wanted. Coveting leaves you feeling unhappy and ungrateful, two qualities that repel the spirit of God from your life. By learning to appreciate all that God has blessed you with, you will be happier.

Although the Ten Commandments were given many years ago to an ancient people, their relevance in our world has never diminished. If these commandments were taught and kept, society could instantly be cured of such ills as jealousy, promiscuity, theft, lying, and a disdain for God. By keeping the Ten Commandments, you can claim the blessings that God has promised to those who do.