You shall not what? The Ten Commandments…naah. I don’t know what you are talking about.


Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

© April 6, 2017 | Schulter Etyang

A lot of people of my generation don’t really know what the Ten Commandments are. Many of my generation can only recite parts of the Ten Commandments and most probably they heard about the Ten Commandments from a secondary source. Like from an old guy who wasn’t even sure himself or peers who are trying to figure it out. You will be hard-pressed to find people in my generation that can recite the Ten Commandments in its entirety. It will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Much of it is also caused by biblical illiteracy. Not many of my generation know what is in the bible.

Personally, I grew up in church and in all my years never heard my pastor preach on the Ten Commandments. Never. Unless I missed church that particular Sunday which I don’t think so. (That’s how gung-ho I was with the church. I would go to church regardless). But even for me who’s been in church all my life, I can’t fully recite the Ten Commandments. I know where they are in the Bible (Exodus 20) but I just know one or two commandments. And even then I’m not so good at them. I would fail a spot test if an examiner told me to recite the Ten Commandments. I wouldn’t be able to do it.

But my generation hears this all the time

  • Ten steps to victory.
  • Ten principles of raising godly kids.
  • The Ten Commandments for working in a hostile environment.
  • Ten steps to promotion at work.
  • Ten steps to experiencing revival.
  • Ten rules of spiritual warfare.
  • The ten rules for successful dating.
  • Ten steps to having a great marriage.
  • Ten ways of enjoying God.
  • Ten steps to achieving total financial freedom.
  • Ten steps to victory.
  • The ten steps to wholeness.
  • The ten keys to being an effective leader.
  • The ten keys to being a successful parent.
  • The ten foods to avoid to achieve maximum health.
  • The ten workouts that could change your life forever.
  • The ten people you need in your life.
  • The ten things to look for when dating.
  • The ten steps to recovery.
  • The ten things to avoid in a job interview.
  • The ten people to avoid in your life.
  • The ten best cities to live.
  • The ten top jobs that will guarantee you a lifetime passive income.
  • The ten safest neighbourhoods in our city.
  • The ten keys to peace of mind.
  • The ten secrets of the wealthiest people in the world.
  • The ten keys to experiencing sexual intimacy in marriage.
  • The ten keys to the anointing.
  • The ten keys to greatness.
  • The ten keys to know the voice of God.
  • The ten indispensable qualities of a successful organization.
  • The ten qualities of a successful CEO.
  • The ten ideas that could jumpstart your business and career.
  • The ten keys to ageing well.
  • The ten keys to surviving a bad season in your life.
  • The ten programs that will cause your church to grow exponentially.
  • The ten strategies for getting money to work for you.
  • The ten strategies for maximizing your potential.
  • The ten-day experience that will revolutionize your relationship with God
  • The ten things to do to win your friends and neighbours to Christ.
  • The ten keys to having results through effective prayer.
  • The ten things you need for a successful mindset change.

And the list is endless… This “ten” could vary based on what the author, speaker, or preacher is trying to communicate. The number varies. This “ten” can also be heard in “how to” books, seminars, and sermons.

And most of us that work in professional environments have manuals of policies and procedures that have been designed to produce efficiency in our workplaces. Jenny works at a bank and they have what they call “the bible”. It’s a huge manual that contains policies and procedures she needs to follow in order to be compliant with the regulations of the Reserve Bank of South Africa.

So our world is encased with how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures. It’s all around us. Take a tour through your local bookshop (Christian and secular or online) and experience it for yourself. These are filled to the brim with books that offer you solutions or strategies to a great life.

Do you notice the recurring theme? If you do this, you will get this result. If you follow and apply these “ten”, you will achieve this. Doesn’t it sound like the law of Moses aka Ten Commandments? Check this out

Deuteronomy 28:1 (NIV)

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

Proverbs 7:2(NIV)

Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. If you do these things, then you shall live

And the very famous one

Isaiah 1:19 -20 (NIV)

If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Paul even alluded to it

Galatians 3:12 (NIV)

The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.

So the Law or Ten Commandments in our generation has morphed into how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures. Our generation still hears the law but in a different mode. The Jewish guy in the Old Testament would have heard the Law of Moses and he instinctively knew what that meant. We hear how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures and we instinctively know what that means.

When did this happen?

By the way, this is not unique to our generation. Every person since Adam and Eve lives within this reality. This took place in the garden of Eden when our forefathers disobeyed God’s instructions and sinned. (Genesis 3:1-7) What they did after discovering that they had sinned set the pace for what the entire human race would do.

They covered themselves with fig leaves. (Vs. 7) Literally, they tried to save themselves. They could have waited for God to cover them but they didn’t. They did it their own way. (Frank Sinatra’s – My Way)

Why do we love how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures? We love them because it is our default mode. We were born like that. We were born sinners. We love saving ourselves. We love covering ourselves.  The how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures are our modern day fig leaves. We want to know that we did it ourselves. If what is being offered is a step to a greater thing, place, or position, we are quickly attuned to it.

Unfortunately, these how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures have stealthily come into our churches and all that Christians hear is what they need to do. The world hears do. The church hears do more.

What does this do? It produces mechanical, angry and exhausted people. The church and the world is littered with mechanical, angry and exhausted people. People trying to fulfil the demands of how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures.

Most people in the church don’t even know they are hearing and doing the law as long as the place is a church. As long as the person opens a bible and preaches it, they believe that what they are hearing is the gospel. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Church

What is the church for? What makes the church unique? The church is the only place in the world where we should come and not hear all the things we need to do but hear what someone else has already done for us. In the church, the gospel is proclaimed. What is the gospel? It is the good news of concerning Jesus and how He won over sin and death by His death on the cross and now is risen. (Romans 1:1-2)

The church is a place where you hear and see Jesus – who He is, why He came, what He did for us, what we have in Him and what He is doing for us right now in the presence of the Father.

Tullian Tchividjian, the former pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church said this,

God’s desire for churches is that they become gospel echo chambers – places where people come and hear the good news over and over again.

This is much greater than the Law. This is exactly opposite to the how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures.

Stressed out people

Remember that the how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures produce enormous stress. More and more I’m meeting people that tell me this, “Dude, I am sick and tired of my job, church, family, etc. I am just going through life. I feel listless. I feel tired. I am overwhelmed. I am just working to pay the bills. I am staying in my job because of my family. I want to do more. I want to achieve something with my life.” Same lines over and over again just different faces.

These also produce a slave mindset. These people have become slaves and if they are Christians they have erroneously believed that God is master who demands results from them. Some might even justify their mindset with the Bible. They will quote passages from the Bible such as the Master and the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)

See when it comes to how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures, you will need to apply those things yourself. If you don’t, then you will fail or even worse die. Notice how when you try and apply those, they become elusive? It’s like the more you try the harder you fall.

We have never seen a stressed out generation like ours because all we are told to do is to do and do some more. The more we do, the more stressed out we are. 

Mic drop!

Jesus’ message is really simple. Here it is – FINISHED!. In our lingo we would say, DONE! KAPUT! MIC DROP! It’s as simple as that. Jesus offers you rest from your how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures. He has fulfilled all those how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures for you. He lived a perfect life and that perfect life has been credited to your account. All you need is Him. When you get Him, you get the how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures. He embodies all you need to do. That frees you to live a rested, hassle-free life.

Hey, Jesus offers freedom, joy, peace, generosity, power, love, AND SO MUCH MORE. HE IS INEXHAUSTIBLE. He gives us things that how to’s, keys, steps, ways, strategies, principles, policies and procedures cannot and will not give you.

 That’s what grace looks like