Why doesn’t keeping the 10 Commandments lead to acceptance by God?

If one could keep all the commandments perfectly throughout his or her lifetime, then he or she would be welcomed into the family of God. But that’s not going to happen. We learn in the Bible that no one is able to live by the law set forth by God. People try to keep the Commandments and yes that is good but they break all of them regularly because all humans have inherited a sinful nature. It’s in their DNA. God knew that people would not be able to live up to the law. He knew that consequences of not doing so would lead to both physical and spiritual death.

That’s why in the time before Christ, God provided the Israelites with a way to atone for the nation’s sins by offering a sacrificial lamb. In spite of this method for forgiveness of sins, the people continued to break the commandments, even worshiping idols, and breaking God’s heart. These were God’s ‘Chosen People’ who, ironically, chose to be in rebellion against God.

That’s why God sent his son, Jesus, to atone for all the sins of the world, past, present and future. Jesus became the ‘Lamb of God.’ Jesus experienced death on the cross to make it possible for us to have both abundant and eternal life. The only thing God asks is that we repent of our sinful ways, acknowledge that Jesus is our Savior and accept Him as Lord. Jesus’ death and resurrection is the substitute for our own spiritual death. In doing this, a person moves from death to life eternal.

So, why have people found it impossible to keep the 10 Commandments? There are two fundamental reasons. One is man’s sinful nature. The other is God’s standards of perfection are beyond man’s capability. Just take a look at the 10 Commandments as listed in the book of Exodus chapter 20 to understand why it is impossible.

  1. You shall have no other Gods before me.
  2. You shall not make unto thee any graven images.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not kill.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.

The first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me,” sets the ultimate standard. We break this commandment all the time substituting things such as sports, professions, hobbies, personalities, fame and fortune for God. Commandments 2-5 are equally impossible to keep.

Now consider Commandments 6-10, the “you shall nots”: murder, commit adultery, steal, give false witness (lie), or covet. These are not any easier to keep than the first five. In fact, these are broken all the time too. For example, hateful thoughts, sex outside of marriage, half-truths, using time at work for personal business, or coveting what someone else has, all break the commandments and are sins. The good news is that Jesus fulfilled the Law and placing your faith in Him is all that you need now to be saved and have eternal life. Living by the commandments is still a good idea because God wants to keep you safe and from hurting others, but only having a right-relationship with Jesus brings about full acceptance by God.

If you would like to learn how you can become assured of pardon for your sins, please read our post, How does one become a Christian?