Q & A – How Does a Christian Live by the Ten Commandments?



Dear Craig,


I love you Brother.  I just got a call from my Grandson, and he is 21 years old and trying to live a Christen life.  I am going to visit him next month and he wants me to tell him how to live according to the Ten Commandments.  Do you have some information on how I should talk to him?  Maybe give me some scripture on how to live a Christen life, I gave him some on the phone, but I need more on down to earth living and scripture to back it up.  I know this sounds strange coming from some one like me, but I am at a loss.


Thank you Brother






Craig’s Reply & Answer to Billy’s Question



Hi Billy,


This is an excellent question and quite frankly, I don’t think it sounds strange either.  In fact, I am very humbled that you would ask for my advice from scripture, as I have respected you as a shepherd of God’s people for many years.  The answer to your question is not as easy as one might think, and even though the actual precept taught in scripture is straightforward, the devil has for centuries cloaked this magnificent truth behind a veil of pseudo-love taught in mainstream evangelical churches.  What I mean needs some explanation Billy, because most pastors teach their congregations that, “loving God,” is done primarily thru individual prayer and Bible study.  These two essentials are very important and make no mistake about the need for prayer as communication from mankind to his or her Creator.


On the other hand, what did God’s people do as an act of worship BEFORE there was even access to the Bible?  In terms of mankind’s antiquity, the printed Bible is relatively recent, as you are very much aware.  Jesus had access to the Hebrew scriptures, yet when the devil tempted him with thoughts of calling upon his Father God to make bread to satisfy his hunger and his emaciated body, Jesus rebuked the father of lies, saying to him, “Man does NOT live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds from God.”


This example illustrates the absolute necessity for each person to have a living relationship with God DAILY, thru the advocacy of Jesus Christ.  God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to deliver them only to the twelve tribes of Israel, doing so BECAUSE of their sin and continual disobedience.  Now if righteousness and godly living could be accomplished by following the precepts taught within the text of the Ten Commandments, you’d think the Jews would have figured out how to do it by now, right?


I find the apostle Paul’s message to the Roman church best suited to the absolute futility of trying to live one’s life solely thru obedience to the commands in the Law.  I have pasted Phillip’s New Testament version of Romans 7:5-8:10 below for you to read and then print to take with you on your visit with your grandson.  Also, I have included some explanations in between Bible verses taken from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002, a paraphrase version in Basic English.  Though not a very good translation, I find the Message version helpful to beginners like your grandson.


Paul’s words in Romans address the problems the converted Jews were having, as they tried to comprehend what the meaning of the ‘Law’ was in light of the better covenant in Christ that abolished altogether their former creed for living.  My recommendation for you as you talk with your grandson, at some point, if the spirit leads you to do so, sit down with him, have him read aloud the explanation verses from The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002, highlighted in blue after you first read the scripture verses from Phillip’s New Testament.  I have added {bracketed words} into both versions to further specific}, and {in Romans 8:3a, replaced the Message version with my own, because of its blatantly false reference, which portrays God as becoming human}. 


As you read together, stop along the way and use your many years of wisdom and experience to speak the truth in love and give him some genuine examples from your own life and relationship with God to illustrate and punctuate key points.  After reading the lengthy text below, which you will find EXTREMELY life-giving yourself, I will conclude this study with some foundation scripture passages from Jesus’ teaching in the gospels and finally, from the Book of Romans again, in the 13th chapter; also, from James and 1 John.  I found myself liberated from self-condemnation as I prepared this study for you!  God’s word is ALWAYS fresh and alive!


Romans 7:5-8:10

7:5 While we {converted Jews} were ‘in the flesh’ the Law stimulated our sinful passions and so worked in our nature that we became productive––for death!


7:5 For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in.  And this made us all the more rebellious.  In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths.


7:6-7 But now that we stand clear of the Law, the claims, which existed, are dissolved by our ‘death,’ and we are free to serve God, not in the old obedience to the letter of the Law, but in a new way, in the Spirit.  7 It now begins to look as if sin and the Law were the same thing––can this be a fact?  Of course, it cannot.  But it must be admitted that I should never have had sin brought home to me, but for the Law.  For example, I should never have felt guilty of the sin of coveting, if {unless} I had not heard the Law saying, “Thou shall not covet.”


7:6-7 But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.  7 But I can hear you say, “If the law code was as bad as all that, it’s no better than sin itself.”  That’s certainly not true.  The law code had a perfectly legitimate function.  Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly {a matter of human} guesswork.  Apart from the succinct, surgical command, “You shall not covet,” I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.


7:8-9 But the sin in me, finding in the commandment an opportunity to express itself, stimulated all my desires. For sin, in the absence of the Laws has no life of its own.  9 As long, then as I was without the Law I was alive.  But when the commandment arrived, sin sprang to life and I “died.”


7:8-9 Don’t you remember how it was?  I do, perfectly well.  The law code started out as an excellent piece of work.  What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of, “forbidden fruit,” out of it.  The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me.  Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless, 9 and I went along without paying much attention to it.  But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it.


7:10-11 The commandment, which was meant to be a direction to life, I found was a sentence to death.  11 The commandment gave sin its opportunity, and without my realizing what it was doing, it “killed” me.


7:10-11 The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong.  11 So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead.


7:12-13 It can scarcely be doubted that the Law itself is holy, and the commandment is holy, fair, and good.  13 Can it be that something that is intrinsically good could mean death to me?  No, what happened was this.  Sin, at the touch of the Law, was forced to show itself as sin, and that meant death for me.  The contact of the Law showed the utterly sinful nature of sin.


7:12-13 But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.  13 I can already hear your next question, “Does that mean I can’t even trust what is good; that is, the law?  Is good just as dangerous as evil?”  No again!  Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me.  By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.


7:14-17 For we know that the Law itself is concerned with the spiritual––it is I who am carnal and have sold my soul to sin.  15 My own behavior baffles me.  For I find myself doing what I really loathe, but not doing what I really want to do.  16 Yet surely if I do things that I really don’t want to do, I am admitting that I really agree that the Law is good.  17 But it cannot be said that, “I” am doing them at all––it must be sin that has made its home in my nature.


7:14-17 I can anticipate the response that is coming, “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not.  Isn’t this also your experience?”  Yes.  I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison.  15 What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.  16 So, if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.  17 But I need something more!  For if, I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!


7:18-20 And, indeed, I know from experience that the carnal side of my being can scarcely be called the home of good!  I often find that I have the will to do good, but not the power.  19 That is, I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to do I find I am always doing.  20 Yet if I do things that I don’t really want to do then it is not, I repeats, “I” who do them, but the sin which has made its home within me.


7:18-20 I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.

19 I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.  20 My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.  Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.


7:21-23 My experience of the Law is that when I want to do good, only evil is within my reach.  22 For I am in hearty agreement with God’s Law so far as my inner self is concerned. 23 But then I find another law in my bodily members, which is in continual conflict with the Law which my mind approves, and makes me a prisoner to the law of sin which is inherent in my mortal body.  (7:23b) For left to myself, I serve the Law of God with my mind, but in my unspiritual nature, I serve the law of sin.


7:21-23 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.  The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.  22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.  Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.


7:24-8:1-2 It is an agonizing situation, and who can set me free from the prison of this mortal body?  25 I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.  8:1 The truth is that no condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Christ Jesus.  2 For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ Jesus lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.


7:24-8:1-2 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?  25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions, where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.  1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved.  Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.  2 A new power is in operation.  The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.


8:3-4 The Law never succeeded in producing righteousness––the failure was always the weakness of human nature.  But God has met this {righteous requirement} by sending his own Son to live in {among} sinful human nature like ours.  And, while Christ was dealing with sin, God condemned that sinful nature.  4 Therefore we are able to meet the Law’s requirements, for we are living no longer by the dictates or our sinful nature, but in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit.


8:3b-4 God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son.  He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant to Him.  He created His own son, the man Christ Jesus, and required him to be subject to the disordered mess of struggling humanity, in order to set it right once and for all.  3b The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.  The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin, instead of a deep healing of it.  4 And now, what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.


8:5-8 The carnal man sees no further than carnal things.  But the spiritual man is concerned with the things of the spirit.  6 The former attitude means, bluntly, death: the latter means life and inward peace.  7 And this is only to be expected, for the carnal attitude is inevitably opposed to the purpose of God, and neither can nor will follow his Law.  8 Men who hold this attitude cannot possibly please God.


8:5-8 Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!  6 Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.  7 Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.  Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  8  And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.


8:9-10 But you are not carnal but spiritual if the Spirit of God finds a home within you.  You cannot, indeed, be a Christian at all unless you have something of his Spirit in you.  10 Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him.”  (Romans 7:4-8:10 Philips)


8:9-10 But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about.  10 But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms.  (Romans 7:4-8:10 Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002)


Brother Billy, friend of God, it stands to reason, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, that He will do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself?  When God lives and breathes in you (and He does, as surely as He did in Jesus), you ARE delivered from that dead life.  With HIS Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s, and you will fulfill the intent behind every single commandment in the Law.




The fundamental principal by which the man of God lives has remained constant from the day of creation.  The motivation behind EVERY commandment in scripture is LOVE.  When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was first and foremost, he responded by saying in Mark 12:29-31, “The first and principal one of all commands is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,’ and you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind; with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding, and out of and with all your strength.  This is the first and principal commandment.  The second is like it and is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (See Deuteronomy 6:4,5 & Leviticus 19:18).  Amplified Bible


Every believer struggles with the desire to obey God, while wrestling against the desires of the flesh.  Obedience to the Law is not the answer; rather, it is obedience to the spirit of Christ, who leads us to the Father, whose power is working in us.  So how do we know if we are, or if we are not obedient to the commands of the spirit of Jesus?  Romans 13:8-9 tells us the answer:


Romans 13:8-9 Keep out of debt altogether, except that perpetual debt of love which we owe one another.  The man who loves his neighbor has obeyed the whole Law in regard to his neighbor.  9 For the commandments, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and all other commandments are summed up in this one rule: “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.”


To fulfill the, “law of the spirit of God in Christ Jesus,” simply means to love those with whom you have contact in your life, treating others as you yourself wish to be treated.  It is that simple Billy.  If you convey this basic concept to your grandson, he will know when he is or is not walking in obedience.  Loving your neighbor as yourself is mentioned as part of and one with the command to love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.  True Christian love does so impartially, not showing favoritism, and it is ACTIVE, and demonstrated by what we DO (i.e. – our works).  Below are some summary scriptures that will also help you.


1 John 3:17-19 But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?  18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition


James 2:8-13 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.  9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.  10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.  11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.  12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! New International Version


God bless you Billy; let me know how things go, okay?  I’ll try to post this as a study on The Bible Answer Stand Ministry website, so others can benefit from it.


Love you brother!




Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.  




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