Home / Thou Shalt Not: A Christian’s Struggle with the Ten Commandments

Thou Shalt Not: A Christian’s Struggle with the Ten Commandments

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“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” – Galatians 2:20-21

Faith and surrender: I am learning that there is not one without the other. As a Christ-follower, the two go hand in hand. Without one, the other is impossible.

Going back to my Baptist roots, we learned the Ten Commandments. We had to memorize them in, I believe, the fourth grade. We were not just made to memorize the kids’ version but the King James Version. For anyone familiar with KJV, there are many “thee and thou” words for a nine-year-old to remember. I digress.

Growing up, I believed that I had 10 rules that I had to obey. I believed that if I broke one of them, God did not love me anymore until I asked His forgiveness. God was scary to me. (Let me add that this is not what was taught to us but rather how I interpreted what I was being told.)

I can remember going through the Ten Commandments each night in bed. I would make a mental list of those I kept and those I broke. I would then pray, tell God that I was sorry, and ask Him to love me again. Luckily I was only a kid and so there were not many that I could break at that age but it still was a great deal of pressure.

My belief system carried over into adulthood where I struggled with never measuring up to what God required. I just did not understand how any human being could go through their day, much less their life, without breaking one of these rules. So many times, I felt defeated and unloved. What a lie. Just what Satan desired.

Part of my rediscovery was revisiting some of my earlier writings and being reminded of things God had shown me over the past couple of years. There were several verses that I used a lot in my writing, which led me to explore those passages further.

One verse was Galatians 2:20. I decided to dig deeper into that whole chapter and the next so that I could understand what God was trying to teach me through that verse. What a wake-up call I experienced.

Because God is God and He knows everything about us, He knew my struggle with accepting His love for me. Galatians 3 speaks of obedience to the Old Testament Law. He knew my struggle to live up to those things was hindering my walk with Him. I was missing the abundance of His love.

Surrender is not only dying to oneself but it is also, in a sense, dying to the law.

“10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[a] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[b] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[c] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[d] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,
so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Galatians 3:10-14

I recognized that even the most religious people are guilty of sin. Each of us will fall short of God’s standards. God uses His laws to expose sin. They are the guidelines set in order for us to “live right”. We do not earn God’s favor by obeying “the law”. God blesses us when we choose to surrender our lives in faith to Him through obedience.

Suddenly the position that Jesus had in my life became that much more significant. My salvation is NOT about anything I do or do not do. If that were the case, then Christ suffered and died on the cross for nothing. There is nothing I can do “to earn” my salvation. Instead, I must have faith in God and His word by following the example that Jesus set and surrender my life. What a relief.

Again, I realized that Satan could use anyone to whisper lies into my heart.

God loves me no matter what I do or say. I cannot lose His love. For me, this became yet another fantastic revelation and brought about a tremendous source of peace.

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  • For by grace you are saved through faith and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2: 8.

    I’m so sorry you had such a struggle before you came to this knowledge, but I find that through my own struggles God leads me to better understanding.


  • Nicole Greene

    Thank you Carol. I am learning that God uses all things for His good and to grow my faith. It’s been a journey but I am thankful.

  • I appriacte this article. I would only urge you to consider one change to your understanding. You write: “God blesses us when we choose to surrender our lives in faith to Him through obedience.” Rather “God blesses us because Jesus chose to surrender his life to Him through obedience.” Otherwise, God’s blessing still rests upon our action, and not God grace. Faith and obedience just become a new law to follow. Just rest in what Jesus has done.

  • Nicole Greene

    Thank you for your comment Philip. I absolutely agree with you.