What I Got Wrong about the 10 Commandments

Written By Tyler Edwards, USA

Tyler Edwards is a pastor, author, and husband. He has served in full-time ministry since 2006. He currently works as the Discipleship Pastor of Carolina Forest Community Church in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is passionate about introducing people to and helping them grow in the Gospel. He is also the author of Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back Into the Body of Christ.

The 10 commandments give us a glimpse of how God wants us to live, and while our first thought might be, “Yeah, I’m going a pretty good job following them,” here’s the hard line: at the end of the day, not one of us can boast to even keeping one of the 10 commandments.

I used to believe I was great at keeping the commandments. I never committed adultery. I never murdered anyone. Then Jesus says: You get angry? That’s murder (Matthew 5:22). You lust? That’s adultery (Matthew 5:28). Well, that really popped my confidence balloon. Why would Jesus do that? Maybe because we missed the point.

Let’s take a closer look at the first commandment. “I am the Lord your God . . . You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). That’s it. We’re done. We might think, “Well, no, that’s not true—God’s the most important thing in my life. I don’t worship anything ahead of Him.” But at some point in our lives, we are all guilty—myself included—of putting God on the backburner.

I did this as a pastor. I wanted to build the church and turn it into this incredible community that worked together to advance the kingdom of God for the glory of God. I was so focused on building the platform, growing my influence, and all these things I told myself were for God, that I actually neglected God. I neglected God by focusing on things around Him. I studied. I listened to lots of sermons. I read lots of church growth strategies, and talked with other pastors and ministers about what they did. I told myself I was doing it all for God. The problem was, I wasn’t doing it with God. I wasn’t abiding in Him, growing in Him, pursuing Him. I was using Him to try to build a name for myself.

Overtime, God systematically took down the pillars and justifications I’d built, and wrecked me of all the things I was holding onto. I went into one of the harder, darker seasons of my life, where all I really had to hold onto was Him. In time, I learned that what God wanted from me was not to do a bunch of good things in His name—it was to be His.

God didn’t give us the 10 commandments—or Old Testament law for that matter—as a way to make ourselves holy. They point us to Jesus—the One who condemned our sin so that we’d be counted holy based on His merit. So the “righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us” (Romans 8:3-4). In recognizing the futility of pursuing goodness on our own, we can pursue goodness through the grace of God given to us by His Son. After all, the goodness that God desires doesn’t come from what we do. It comes from what Jesus did for us. We place our hope, and our trust not in how well we follow commandments, but in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus. Even Old Testament commandments, really, are all about Jesus.

I often find myself reverting back to what I do. Trusting in my works. My efforts. My morality. When I look at the 10 commandments, I am reminded of how futile my efforts are. What they have taught me, is to place my trust in Jesus and not in myself. To rely on Jesus’s work, and to put all my hope for peace in this life and in the life to come on the One who gave His life for me. In that way, these seemingly restrictive “rules” have set me free. They remind me over and over again not to turn to myself, but to put all of my trust in Jesus. Maybe that’s what they can do for you.


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