What the 10 commandments mean, their explanation and how to obey them

The Ten commandments or the Decalogue are the rules that our Father Heavenly gave to Moses on Mount Sinai to be obeyed by God's chosen people. They are the tablets of the Law that God revealed to Moses and that were in the ark of the Covenant, as described in the Old Testament (Ex 34:28). Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled these commandments and reaffirmed them with his word and example, teaching us that love for God is demonstrated by complying with his Law, following his example and having faith. The commandments allow us to live our lives in the presence of the Lord and free from the slavery of the sin.

What the 10 commandments mean, their explanation and how to obey them 1

The Ten Commandments or Decalogue of the Law of God are:

1º You shall love God above all things.

2º You shall not take the Name of God in vain.

3º You shall sanctify the feasts.

4º You shall honor your father and your mother.

5º Thou shalt not kill.

6º You shall not commit impure acts.

7º Thou shalt not steal.

8º You shall not bear false witness or lie.

9º You shall not consent to impure thoughts or desires.

10º You shall not covet the goods of others.

These commandments are divided in the love of God (the first three) and in love of neighbor (the other seven). Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed the commandments of the Law of Moses (Mt 19:16-19) and revealed to us that the most important commandment is: to love God above all things and to love your neighbor as yourself and as Christ loved us (Mt 22:37-40; cf. Dt 6:5; Lv 19:18). true love we become more human, we recognize the other, we are more generous and capable of helping and caring for our brothers and sisters with compassion and true Christianity.

Explanation of the commandments:

1st Thou shalt love God above all things

Being the first and most important commandment, the Lord points out to us how fundamental it is to recognize ourselves as children of God and to contemplate his creation, which we see in everything that surrounds us. Through this commandment our Lord asks us to remember that he is our Father and the creator of all that exists between heaven and earth. Through our love we glorify Him and allow Him to guide our lives and protect us from all evil.

Loving God above all things, makes us with faith not to doubt, to reject sin, fear, unbelief. Having faith gives us hope that God is always with us and helps us at all times avoiding hopelessness and vanity. Besides professing all our love to the Father helps us to reject indifference, pride, laziness and negligence.

2º You shall not take the Name of God in vain.

This commandment reminds us that we must not use God's name in a disrespectful and thoughtless manner, for to swear in vain in God's name is a sin.

God as our Father is to be respected, blessed and glorified for all the good things He has given us, so invoking God's name incorrectly is a breach of the laws of the world. promises made in the name of our Father.

3º You shall sanctify the feasts.

It is very important as children of God and as Christians to thank our Father for all of his blessings and to keep, following his example, the Sabbath day for his worship and praise.

In the scriptures God blessed the last day of the week (the Sabbath) and declared it sacred as a reminder of the day of rest after creation, of Israel's deliverance from Egypt and of God's covenant with his chosen people (Ex 20:11). Jesus Christ likewise respected the sanctity of the day of rest and taught us that "the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath" (Mk 2:27).

With Christianity, the Sabbath day of rest was changed to Sunday because this is the day of the Resurrection of Christ, being considered by Christians as the first of all days and feasts: that is to say, the Lord's Day where Jesus with his Passover reveals man's eternal rest in the Lord.

For Christians, sanctifying the feast days means going to Church and participating in Holy Mass, and engaging in family activities that do not prevent us from remembering the Lord's Day, resting from the work and routine of the rest of the days.

4th You shall honor your father and mother.

This commandment shows the importance that the family and the filial relationship people have with God. The scriptures highlight the importance that our Lord gives to the respect we owe to our parents, blessing us with a long and fruitful life on earth.

The family is the basic cell of every society and in it are cultivated all the values and moral principles and faith of the people who make it up: parents and children. For the church the family is a community of faith, respect, hope and love; where each of its members care for and protect each other seeking the common good.

Children should respect their parents, recognize them, take care of them when they are old or sick and be obedient to them. Parents are responsible for the moral and spiritual education of their children; they have the mission not only to satisfy the material needs of their children, but as Christians they must educate them in the faith. Christian and precepts as a church by example, the prayer and catechesis.

5º Thou shalt not kill.

Life is a gift from God, we come for him and we return to him. The fifth commandment forbids us to take the life of our fellow men because it is sacred and to destroy an innocent being is contrary to the dignity of the human being and to the designs of our Lord Creator. No one has the right or authority to take the life of another person.

This commandment prohibits because it is contrary to the moral law:

  • Direct and voluntary murder
  • Voluntary abortion, because the life of the human being from conception must be respected and protected.
  • Euthanasia
  • Suicide

Persons near death or dying have the right to a dignified death, that is to say, to a good death where they should receive help with prayer and the sacraments to prepare themselves for the encounter with our Lord.

6º You shall not commit impure acts.

This commandment tells us that as human beings we must learn to dominate our carnal desires. It is important to live within the respect that sexuality imposes on us, that is to say, everything contrary to true love, to fair and beautiful relationships between people and to the control of feelings, brings negative consequences and distances the Christian from the virtues moral, of the gifts of God and the grace of the Spirit. The church speaks of chastity as "the positive integration of sexuality in the person," i.e., sexuality is not forbidden but rather the lust which results in impure acts against oneself and others.

This commandment prohibits adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, sexual offenses with minors and homosexual acts.  

7º Thou shalt not steal.

This commandment forbids us to appropriate what is not ours, that is, we must respect people, their goods and their integrity. The Church takes this commandment as the basis of its social doctrine; where economic activity, politics and social life must follow guidelines of righteousness and ethics; it is important the right and respect for human work, social justice and solidarity among brothers and between countries.

This commandment not only refers to stealing material things, but also demands respect for promises and the fulfillment of contracts, the reparation of any injustice committed and the restitution of stolen goods. It can also be applied, and so does the Church, to the respectful and correct management of the environment and of all the renewable and non-renewable resources of the universe.

8º You shall not bear false witness or lie.

Truth is the reciprocity between what is known, thought or felt and reality. This important concept implies values such as sincerity, honesty and loyalty. All these virtues lead us together with faith to follow Jesus Christ, knowing that He is the truth and through His teachings we can live in the Spirit of the Truth of God the Father. When we love Christ, we love our neighbor and reject lies, hypocrisy and falsehood. Every Christian has the duty and obligation to live in the truth of his life, in honesty and to demonstrate the sincerity of his gestures and actions towards others following the beliefs and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Christian who loves the Lord must bear witness to the truth in his thoughts, his word and his deeds, as well as in his private and public life, so he cannot lie or give false testimony or raise slander that harms his neighbor.

The eighth commandment covers not only lying but:

- False testimony and perjury that can do so much harm to others.

- Slander, defamation, slander and denigration of others destroy their image and their honor, which is a right of every person, even affecting their family.

- Flattery and flattery if through them you want to mistreat or achieve unjust and undue things.

For all these reasons, this commandment demands respect for others through truth, seeking the personal and common good of others. In our society, information and communication made with authenticity are virtues that are included in this commandment, since in the collective, truth must prevail for there to be justice.

9º You shall not consent to impure thoughts or desires.

This commandment requires us to overcome lust and carnal lust in our thoughts and desires at all times. The battle against impure desires seeks the purification of the soul and body and the practice of character as a virtue.

For the Christian, everything that separates him from the Lord must be distanced and rejected because the evil and impure has no place where the Lord lives, that is why we cannot and should not have forbidden thoughts because they take us away from our Father and his eternal grace.

Through baptism and Christian teachings we learn the virtue of purity and a chaste heart, it is not easy in today's world not to be carried away by temptations and the ease of desires and that is why we need purity in our hearts, as well as dignity and confidence that we please our Lord and live under His precepts.

10º You shall not covet the goods of others.

Through this commandment, God asks us to have an attitude of respect for what belongs to others and forbids us to be greedy and to desire to possess everything, as well as to be envious of what others have. This commandment is complementary to the previous one and teaches us that we should be "poor in spirit", detached from material riches and not worry about what we do not possess or what is not ours, but cultivate spiritual gifts and reach the richness of the soul to achieve the happiness of the infinite love of the Lord.

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