J. John’s just 10: Missing the Point of the Ten Commandments

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Breaking News, Christian Beliefs, Just Wrong!, Outreach, Running the Race, The Bible

J. John’s just Ten Cheapens the Ten Commandments

In an attempt to make the Ten Commandments more compatible for people today a Pastor from the U.K. has rewritten the Ten Commandments as more like a Cliff’s Notes version. To make them compatible with the more modern understanding, more welcoming if you will to share with pre-Christians…in doing so however he has excised the power of the Ten Commandments to reveal Sin, point to the Savior and through Him salvation through the blood He shed on the Cross.

Here are the just Ten followed by The Ten Commandments…then we’ll put them side by side.

Commandment 1: Live by priorities

Commandment 2: Know God

Commandment 3: Take God seriously

Commandment 4: Catch your breath

Commandment 5: Keep the peace with your parents

Commandment 6: Manage your anger

Commandment 7: Affair-proof your relationships

Commandment 8: Prosper with a clear conscience

Commandment 9: Hold to the truth

Commandment 10: Find contentment

1 Then God spoke all these words:

The Promulgation of the Law at Mount Sinai, by...

Image via Wikipedia

2 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.

3 Do not have other gods besides Me. 

4 Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,  punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands. 

7 Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name. 

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:  
9 You are to labor six days and do all your work,  
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work — you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 
11 For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.

12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

13 Do not murder.

14 Do not commit adultery. 

15 Do not steal. 

16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

18 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance.  

19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.” 

20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” 
21 And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. 

Exodus 20:1-21 HCSB

Does the above look like God was looking to be hip? Or does the above show that God is Holy and expects us to come to Him in awe of His grace as He calls us out of sin? Did you notice that only Moses approached the mountain? He had faith in God…He came near. The majority are afraid, overwhelmed even today of the Ten Commandments- of God.

The Ten Commandments weren’t there to be compatible. The Ten Commandments certainly weren’t there to appeal to our fallen selves before we found Christ. The Ten Commandments weren’t designed to appeal to the masses. They weren’t designed to be enjoyed. They weren’t composed by God to be a transcript of His character. They weren’t written in stone by God to be kept.

The Ten Commandments were given to shake things up. The Ten Commandments were given to reflect back to us our inadequacies and to point us towards the Cross. The Ten Commandments weren’t rules to be kept they were accusers to the fact that we couldn’t possibly keep them. The Ten Commandments certainly weren’t a checklist to show how holy we were but illuminating of how guilty we are!

God wrote them the way he wrote them for a reason- and that reason wasn’t if you can keep these things then you can be saved. Salvation is only by Grace by Faith through the sacrifice of the Son- it has always been the only way and always will be the only way. The Ten Commandments as they are originally written are just as full of power and just as able to make one change direction towards the cross as ever.

They don’t need to be changed, watered down, made into hip catchphrases yet it should come as no surprise that such a thing would happen and has happened in these last days.

Some people say that the following are simply headings for talks about each of the Ten Commandments, but I’d argue that if God wanted the Ten Commandments to have headings He would’ve included them in the first place. I’d argue that the Ten Commandments don’t need headings, headings take away from the severity of the condemning power of the Commandments themselves.

The Commandments aren’t to be dampened or trivialized by man- they were written by God in a certain way- for a certain purpose.

just 10 the Ten Commandments for Everyone.

Did you notice a problem already? Simply in the title just to grab the eye the word just is un-capitalized, this shows as far as I’m concerned, a distinct lack of reverence for the Ten Commandments.

Let’s take a look at these “headings” and see how they hold up to the Commandments.

Let it be noted that some of these heading are so…vapor like in their description…that I might have got the Commandment they refer to incorrect. Also I searched for a long while and couldn’t find them lovingly placed in the correct order anywhere they’re certainly aren’t in the right order on the main sales page.

The First Commandment/Heading

3 Do not have other gods besides Me.                   or                        Know God.

The Second Commandment/heading

4 Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
5 You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God,  punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
6 but showing faithful love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commands.       

or-

Live by priorities.

Third Commandment/Heading

7 Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God, because the LORD will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name. 

or-

take God seriously.

Fourth Commandment/Heading

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:  
9 You are to labor six days and do all your work,  
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work — you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 
11 For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.

or-

catch your breath.

The Fifth Commandment/Heading

12 Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

or-

keep the peace with your parents.

The Sixth Commandment/Heading

13 Do not murder.

or-

manage your anger.

The Seventh Commandment/Heading

14 Do not commit adultery. 

or-

affair-proof your relationships.

The Eighth Commandment/Heading

15 Do not steal. 

or-

prosper with a clear conscience.

The Ninth Commandment/Heading

16 Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.

or-

hold to the truth.

The Tenth Commandment/Heading

17 Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

or-

find contentment.

I really don’t think I need to comment on what is wrong with turning the 10 Commandments into a series of cliff’s notes. just 10 takes away the power from and of the Ten Commandments. These take away the severity, the clarity, the plain and straight forward condemnation of the Ten Commandments- and attempt to make them palatable towards the people.

A neutered Ten commandments can’t do it’s job just like a gutted Gospel cannot save.

Do these just 10 headings convict us of sin?

Do these just 10 headings point out our depravity?

Do these just 10 headings drive us to the cross of Christ our only way of redemption?

NO!

There is no conviction- there is no power- when man fools around with The Word it looses its power.

The Word must be taken seriously, the Commandments must not be rendered impotent.

They must still awe of us God’s power…and point us to God’s Saving Grace through Jesus Christ on the cross.

18 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance.  

19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.” 

20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” 
21 And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. 

If you haven’t made a choice, if the Commandments have now just convicted you of your Sin- then don’t be like the rest of the people. Approach the Cross like Moses approached God on the mountain. Cast your burdens at the foot of the cross, and call out in repentance to the one who can give you true rest and the only one who can make your sins as white as snow- to be remembered by God no more.

He says: “Come to me all you who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Claim that promise.

In Christ,

Ross

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  4. speaker says:

    Ross, thank you for your article. However, it was upsetting to see “scripture” from the so called “HCSB” / Holman Christian Standard Bible. This scripture does not match the KJV – which is based upon the “textus receptus” – original documents handed down from the original Christian church. Here you are ministering against mans alteration and changing of the scripture (and rightly so), and yet you are using a similar problem to compare it to. Just something to consider man!

    • rossbondreturns says:

      Hello,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. As for Bible Translations I have a vast number of them. On my laptop I have theWord study bible and I always run that with 5 translations side by side. Those translations are the KJV, ESV, HCSB, and NET. I also make use of the NASB and sometimes reach back to the Weymouth. Each time I quote from the Bible I look carefully at each translation and determine which version I like, word usage, flow of speech et cetera- but in the end I take it up with God.

      God always has the final say on which translation I use on each article…and I see no reason to change that standard.

      Hope you read some other articles and once again thanks for your comment.

      Ross

  5. davidinnotts says:

    You make good points, Ross, but you, like many others, have missed the heart of God’s word in ‘Just 10’ and slight the preacher who tries to help us understand.

    The Ten Commandments are the heart of three books of law codes. They don’t stand alone, but sum up the way of life that God directed the people of the Exodus to live by. Jesus heartily endorsed the reasoning behind the rules, and did not condemn the Jewish ‘hedge around the Law’. Jesus also saw what problems could come from living just by rules, though. Because of sin, God’s people 2000 years ago found ways to ‘keep’ the rules but disobey God. (Many faithful Jews still do this today.) And he reminded people about the heart of the Law in his quotation of the two-line summary: God, then neighbour.

    Christians have always included those who took Paul’s help with understanding the importance of faith before the Law too much to heart, and many still see the Ten Commandments as too old-fashioned and rigid for faithful Christian lives today. Instead, they try to follow Jesus’ instruction and example without appearing ‘to become Jews’.

    J John issued his book ‘TEN’ in 2000, to try to correct this and restore the centrality of the Ten Commandments in Christian life. A good thing or a bad one? Was he correct to do this, or trying to distract people from Jesus? Read the book and you’ll see where he placed our Lord – at the heart. The book was a condensation of 20 years’ work and preaching, he says, to bring people back to the Commandments – and countless thousands of Christians are grateful for what this book taught them – I’m one – or what they learned in a church-based study course using the book.

    A few years ago, J John led the development of a new, video-based course to reach more (and often non-Christian) people – ‘Just 10’. Because of the new focus, outside as well as within the traditional church, he used punchy key phrases to attract attention to the course, and it’s these which you have quoted as drawing people away from Jesus. Perhaps you might see the course material and in it, find that it’s not quite what you thought? Or better, run this or a similar course in your own church, for both your church members and those they invite along from outside. Do, please, put the focus on the Easter theme, and do relate the Ten Commandments to life in awe of and in subjection to, our holy, triune, God. Because that’s what J. John does in the ‘Just 10’ study.

    So please don’t see those attention-getting phrases as a replacement for the Commandments. They’re not; they are intended to draw people in, to show them Jesus, before they finish. Didn’t Jesus himself do the same in his preaching? Instead, celebrate that the work you’ve been condemning will help your fellow Christians stay on track and draw others into God’s mercy.

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