What are the Ten Commandments of God?


The Ten Commandments of God are God’s moral code also known as God’s Law.  The Law is the tool God uses to demonstrate how we humans simply don’t measure up to His Holy standards.  Dr. J. Vernon McGee describes the Law of God in this way:  “The Law is the expression of the mind of God relative to what man ought to be.”   Our inability to keep the Ten Commandments is a glaring example of our need for a Savior.  Praise God for sending His Son to die on our behalf so that we may have life eternal by believing in Him. But exactly what are the Ten Commandments?

Looking closer at the Ten Commandments

The Bible informs us that if we have broken one of the Ten Commandments we have broken them all (James 2:10), and therefore are not considered righteous in the eyes of God.  This is called sin, and the penalty for sin is death; however, Jesus died on the Cross on our behalf and if we believe in Him our penalty has been paid and we may receive the free gift of eternal life.  If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are no longer under the Law because you have been saved by the grace of God.  However, that doesn’t mean you ignore the Ten Commandments – it means you are more aware of them than ever before; because if you are a true believer your central purpose in life will be to follow Jesus.

Romans 6:15 (NASB)

“What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  May it never be!”

In order to answer the question, “What are the Ten Commandments of God?” we need to turn in our Bibles to Exodus 20 and look at each commandment one by one.  We will also use additional verses from the Bible to clarify the deeper meaning of each commandment.

What are The Ten Commandments?

Commandments 1 – 4 focus on your relationship with God.

1 – Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

When Jesus was asked which of the laws is the most important he responded this way:

 Matthew 22:37  (NASB)

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Your personal relationship with God is by far the most important aspect of your life as a Christian believer.  The world we live in is full of people who tend to make things other than God their central focus.  Money, power, and personal pleasure are often worshiped in place of God.  The first commandment tells us there is to be no other god worshipped.  Jesus tells us we are to love our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.

2 – Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

Our Creator is a living God, not an inanimate object such as a statue or painting.  Believers in Jesus Christ are empowered by the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of every believer.  It is that spirit of God that we are to worship, not man-made objects.  Jesus put it this way:

John 4:24 (NASB)

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

3 – Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

If you honestly believe that God is the Creator of all things, how could you use His name as an ordinary curse word, or statement of amazement, or simply toss it out as an every-day figure of speech?   This is the Lord your God whom you love with all your heart, soul, and mind.

 Acts 17:28 (NASB)

“For in Him we live and move and exist.”

4 – Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy.

Setting apart one day a week to worship God is so important that God included it in his top ten list.  You don’t have to go far in the Bible to learn Satan is actively pushing people away from God.  The Bible calls Satan “the god of this world”.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NASB)

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 

Worshiping together is an important aspect of our battle against Satan and his deception.  The mere fact that believers spend time together in fellowship builds a wall around those who participate that protects and defends against the schemes of the devil.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NASB)

“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” 

Commandments 5 – 10 focus on your relationship with other people.

5 – Honor thy father and thy mother.

Families are the foundation of great societies.  Strong families build strong societies.  When families fail, the results begin to travel beyond the family and into the community.  Understanding the importance of strong families is the message God delivers in this commandment.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (NASB)

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.  And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” 

6 – Thou shalt not murder.

Human life is precious.  Destroying God’s creation is wrong.  The Bible has a lot to say about vengeance and hate for your fellow man.

1 John 3:15 (NASB)

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Romans 12:21 (NASB)

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

Jesus offered this advice:

Matthew 5:9 (NASB)

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 

7 – Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Man and woman were designed to be together.

Genesis 2:24 (NASB)

“For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” 

This relationship is clearly established in the first book of the Bible.  The book of Proverbs has some profound wisdom on this subject.

Proverbs  6:32 (NASB)

“The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it.”

We find similar warnings in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NASB)

“Flee immorality.  Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” 

And Jesus takes the entire discussion one step further looking into a man’s heart.

Matthew 5:28 (NASB)

“But I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” 

8 – Thou shalt not steal.

Most people understand that God’s expectation for His people is that they live a life of generosity rather than greed.  A follower of Jesus Christ should be focused on giving and serving and be unimpressed by material possessions.  Godly love defeats the desire to steal.

The believer’s treasure is not something that can be acquired here on this earth.

Matthew 6:19-20 (NASB)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal” 

Keep in mind you can break this commandment in what may be considered an innocent way in our secular society.  Taking home office supplies from work without permission is stealing.  When a cashier returns to you more change than required, it is stealing not to give back the incorrect amount.  There are many more examples of seemingly indirect stealing that we could come up with, but I’m sure you understand God sees all stealing as inappropriate.

9 – Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Truth is a prominent aspect of God’s character.

Psalm 86:15 (NASB)

“But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” 

Jesus makes this clear statement about truth being a part of His character:

John 14:6 (NASB)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 

In our secular society almost everyone tries to balance the risk of being caught against the believed reward of lying.  It’s not at all difficult to find a business, organization or individual who is involved in some kind of deceit.   The world we live in is often a great insult to God.

Proverbs 12:22 (NASB)

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight.”  The pervasiveness of lying in our culture is the work of the devil who works day and night along with his demons to deceive and misdirect the world into behaving contrary to God’s will.”

Revelation 12:9 (NASB)

“The serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” 

Believers in Jesus Christ have the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome the inborn desire to manipulate the truth that we all share.  Believers are to focus on their new born-again self and push away the deception of the devil.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NASB)

“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” 

10 – Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor’s.

The tenth commandment is not so much about what we should do in our life but goes deeper by considering what we should think.  God is probably more concerned with our thoughts than our actions because our motives define everything we do.

Jesus said this:

Mark 7:21-23 (NASB)

“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

When we crave or desire that which we do not possess, we defile our heart and turn away from God.  When Jesus was asked which of the laws was most important, you will remember He said we must love God with all our heart, soul and mind.  And then He went further to suggest a second most important commandment:

Matthew 22:39 (NASB)

“And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 

Envy of your neighbor’s possessions is not a result of love.  If we truly love God and our neighbor, we are thankful for all that God has provided and pleased by our neighbor’s good fortune.  There is no need to desire more for ourselves if we believe that God has giving us all that we need and will continue to do so as long as we place our trust in Him.

Jesus offered this advice:

Matthew 6:31-33 (NASB)

“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ … But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” 

God wants us to be concerned with others and not ourselves.  God wants our hearts focused on giving, not receiving.   The Ten Commandments reflect the nature of God and paint a clear picture of his desire for us all to spend our time here on this earth fully immersed in God’s love, worshiping Him and sharing His love with everyone around us.  What are the ten commandments of God?  They are a mirror reflecting the light of truth back into our hearts.


All scripture references are linked to Bible Gateway so that you can read each verse in context.  Bible Gateway allows you to change the verse to your favorite translation and compare it side-by-side with multiple translations.  In addition, you can select to hear an audio version of any verse by clicking on the speaker icon.  Keep the Bible Gateway App on your phone so that you can visit the Word of God at any time during your day.

Your Relationship with God

Your Relationship with God