The Ten Commandments are the Constitution of the law of God. They were given to Adam; and were to be obeyed for a thousand generations. God wrote them on tables of stone with His own finger in the days of Moses. Jesus never changed any of the spiritual laws of God.
Cain fell under condemnation for violating the law, "Thou shalt not kill." "Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression." (Rom. 4:15)
"Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." (Deut. 5:32)
"16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." (Ex. 31)
"27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3)
"18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5)
An investigation of the Ten Commandments requires examining three issues: (1) what are the Ten Commandments, (2) when were the Ten Commandments first given to man, (3) have they changed, and (3) what is the consequence of not obeying them?
First, what are the Ten Commandments? Nine of the Ten Commandments were given by Moses in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. The commandment to "love thy neighbour" occurs only once in the Old Testament, "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." (Lev. 19:18) How the second greatest commandment was otherwise lost is unknown. Christians have divided the nine given by Moses in various ways to arrive at then.
Jesus was certainly aware of the Ten Commandments; because He never violated a law of God. "36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matt. 22)
Combining the Old and New Testament accounts, we arrive at the original Ten Commandments.
1) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.
The same law that applied to Israel applies to all men. "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him." (Rom. 10:12) The Sabbath that was given to the Jews were equally applicable to the Gentiles. Gentiles, who are baptized according to the law, are adopted as sons of Abraham. "27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3)
James J. Strang has been the only one to claim a translation of all ten commandments as they were given to Moses. In his notes on the Decalogue, he wrote, "1. From time immemorial the Constitution of God's Kingdom has been entitled, 'The Decalogue,' or, the 'Ten Commandments.' There can be no greater evidence how poorly the oracles of God have been kept, than the fact that among Christian sects none know what these Commandments are." (Book of the Law of the Lord, p. 38)
"1. These Commandments were given by the voice of God, in Mount Sinai, to Moses, and to all Israel; (Deut ix, 10;) for though Moses and the Elders of Israel only went into the Mount, (Ex. 24:1, 2, 9-11,) and Moses alone received the Tables of the Law; yet all Israel heard the voice of God, when he gave the Commandments. (Ex. 19:16-19. 20:22. Deut. v, 4, 5. Josephus’ Ant., B. 3, ch. v, 4.)
"19. Thus, though the Bible does not contain above nine Commandments, in a body, in any one place, nor the New Testament above six, (Rom. xiii, 9,) the ten are substantially contained in them.
"20. Had the divine spirit guided and inspired the theologians of Christendom; in the impossibility of making more than nine Commandments, in the reading which they adopted, they would have looked to the words of Christ, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," (Matt. 29:39. Mark, 7:31. Luke, 10:27. Rom. 8:9. Gal. 5:14. James 2:8,) to supply the lack, as he declared this to be one of the Commandments.
"21. The wisdom of men never made the discovery. It was left till the translation of the plates of Laban, by the gift and power of God. But the discovery once made, the Bible of all the sects is our witness.
"22. The Commandments, as here given, were translated by the Prophet James, from the plates which were taken by Nephi from Laban, in Jerusalem, (B. of M. 1st Nephi i,) and brought to America, in the time of Zedekiah, King of Judah; and are the substance of the two tables, written by the finger of God in the days of Moses.
"23 Though the exact words of the two tables were never written in any book, (Josephus’ Ant. B. 3, ch. v, 4,) except that kept in the most holy place, the substance was carefully written out by the inspired Prophets, and to the paraphrases so prepared, all transcribers of repute made their copies conform."
"24. Subsequent to the Babylonish captivity, the Jews were without the Divine Tables, and the literal copy of the Law which belonged to the Sanctuary. They had only the copies used by the Prophets. These have long since been lost." (Ibid., p. 43)
Second, when were the Ten Commandments given to man? It is obvious they had to have been given to Adam. He was certainly required to "love the the Lord thy God." He was also required to honor the seventh day Sabbath; as it was established at the creation.
"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." (Gen. 2:2)
This law was given to man as a perpetual covenant, to a thousand generations. "16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." (Ex. 31)
Note this was a sign that was to exist between God and His people forever. God makes note of this by calling attention to the creation, "and on the seventh day he rested."
There is a fundamental principle in law. Where there is no law there is no violation of the law. Sin is the transgression of the law. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." (1 John 3:4)
"Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression." (Rom. 4:15)
"... sin is not imputed when there is no law." (Rom. 5:13)
The greatest law given for the relationship between men was, "Thou shalt not kill." When Cain killed Able, he fell under severe penalty. Had this law not been given to Adam, Cain would have been under no transgression of the law.
Third, does a spiritual law of God ever change? No! The law of God is a representation of God. God never changes. "For I am the LORD, I change not." (Mal. 3:5) The law of God was given as a perpetual covenant to a thousand generations. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations." (Deut. 7:9)
Biblical generations are forty years. A thousand generations would be 40,000 years. It has only been 6,000 years since the fall of Adam.
Jesus noted the immutable character of the law of God. "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matt. 5:18) If the law of God was to change, we would have no basis for faith; as we would never know if we were doing the will of God.
One of the important aspects of the Book of the Law of the Lord was its inclusion of the Ten Commandments; as given to Moses.
James J. Strang claimed to have restored the lost Book of the Law of the Lord, as written by the early prophets for public use. The Book of the Law of the Lord is noted twenty-two times in the Bible; and was of primary importance, since the days of Adam. It was first printed in 1851; and later in 1856, with additional chapters; and notes by James. Copies of the book are available through me.
James claimed to have translated the book from the "plates of Laban, taken from the house of Laban, in Jerusalem, in the days of Hedediah, king of Judah." The are part of the same plates that Joseph Smith received and translated the Book of Mormon.
The first chapter of the Book of the Law of the Lord includes the Ten Commandments. Nowhere else in the Christian world are the Ten Commandments, as given to Moses, to be found--not even among other Mormons!
The first principle of the Ten Commandments is that the law of God is founded on love--love of both God and man. Love and justice are two elements of the same principle.
"1. The design of the Almighty evidently is to found his government in love; and to make that the chief sanction of his law. Love is the first thing required of all men; love unto God, who first loved us, and who bestows on us all the good which we possess.
"2. The adoration service and obedience, which he demands of us, are but the natural sequence of that love; and the universal prohibition of false gods, is a necessary means of keeping our hearts unto him; for if we were allowed to bestow divine adoration on fire, the sun, or any instrument of his munificence, or any statue, or symbol, or any man, or officer, or imaginary being, as his representative, man’s shortsightedness would forget God, and soon worship only the creature.
"6. Though God has founded his government in love, and made that the chief sanction of his law, we are not allowed for one moment to imagine that he will not punish sin, or that he will look upon it with any degree of allowance.
"7. For in the same breath he tells us that he is a jealous God, visiting iniquity on all that hate him; not as some have said, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon their innocent posterity; but upon their children who abide in their sins.
"8. Often it happens that though the father alone may have committed the sin, the children are its beneficiaries. If the fathers have obtained property by fraud and violence, the children who inherit it, receive it, subject to the curse; and unless they make reparation for the iniquity, must expect to be visited with the wrath of God, as for a sin done in their own persons." (James J. Strang, Book of the Law, p. 18)
The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups: (1) laws pertaining to man's duty to god, and (2) laws pertaining to man's responsibility to man.
The first group of commandments includes:
One, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, and with all thy strength: thou shalt adore him, and serve him, and obey him: thou shalt have no other gods before thee." This is not a casual belief in God. It is a complete commitment to God above all other things in the world. It is complete submission to the will of God, "Amen." "37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10) The Book of the Law restored the complete law.
Two, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain...whosoever is not chosen of him, the same is a usurper, and unholy: the Lord will not hold him guiltless, for he taketh his name in vain." To take His name in vain is to assume His authority without being called. "And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." (Heb. 5:4) Even Jesus could not violate this law. "8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." (Heb. 5) The Book of the Law restored the complete law.
Three, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." The Sabbath was established at the end of creation; and was to endure to the end of time.
The second group of commandments includes;
Four, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This law has been left out of the ten commandments taught by all other Christians; including the Brighamite and Reorganized Mormons. Yet, Jesus advised that this is the second most important law given to man; and all the rest of the laws regarding man's duty to man hang upon this. The next six other laws hang on this fundamental law.
Five, "Honour thy father and thy mother." A feature of the last days is a failure in the genetic structure in man, loss of natural affection, and disobedience to the law of God.
"25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." (Rom. 1)
Six, "Thou shalt not kill." The law of God provides for killing ONLY under two circumstances: (1) by a direct command of God, and (2) self defense in a trespass that requires resisting to blood.
Seven, "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Adultery is rampant around the world. In this country people commit adultery in fornication (free love), with married persons, and by divorce. Jesus allowed only one provision for divorce: "32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (Matt. 5:32)
In this country sex between consenting adults is considered a normal way of life. Adultery is so common that songs have been written, "whose bed are your shoes under tonight?" Less than half of the households in this country consist of married persons. Divorce and remarriage is considered normal. Marriage should be at least until death do us part.
That is an oath taken in nearly all marriages. Oaths should be avoided; unless a person is willing to suffer the consequences of breaking the oath. In most cases it renders both parties guilty of adultery.
"16. This much is, therefore, clear; that a man cannot, of right, put off and break such an oath; and that those who are unfortunately involved in it, must submit themselves to the Priesthood of God.
"17. An eminent case in point is that of Jephthah, Judge of Israel, who, when he went out to battle against the Ammonites, vowed unto the Lord that if he would deliver them into his hands, he would make a burnt offering of whatsoever first met him, as he returned home in peace.
"18. He did not know what would first meet him. Therefore, what the oath required, was unknown. He won a great victory; but as he returned home his daughter, his only child, met him. Yet Jephthah dared not to break his vow.* (Jud. 11:30-37.)" "*Jephthah’s daughter was not slain and burnt. As she was not a lawful sacrifice, she was valued by the Priest according to the Law, (Lev. xxvii, 1-7,) and a sacrifice made instead. But as she was devoted, she could not be redeemed; (Lev. xxvii, 28-33;) therefore she was given to the service of the Tabernacle as a Nazarite all her life. For this reason it is not said that she or her companions lamented or bewalled her death, but her virginity. (Jud. xi, 37-40.) She could not be given in marriage; a very great misfortune in Israel; and this is what she and her companions bewailed." (James J. Strang, Book of the Law, p. 94)
Eight, "Thou shalt not steal." Stealing is not limited to simply taking another property without payment. It includes all mechanism designed to take advantage of another person's property, Either by taking advantage of a persons ignorance/position in life, legal forms, gambling, excessive usury, or any other means. Major scandals have brought uncertainly about corporate American due to such frauds.
Ninth, "Thou shalt not bear false witness." It is commonplace for people to lie. It is not even against the civil law. A person is liable for perjury only under oath; and then only under specified circumstances. Libel and slander are only sigficant given the amount of damages caused by such. Perjury, slander, and false witness are most often legal in this country.
"7. Under these rules perjury and slander, false witness in nearly every form, are actually legal. One may, by his falsehoods, keep the neighbourhood in a perpetual broil; speak evil of dignities, and almost all manner of falsehood of the purest of God’s creatures, and the law has no bridle for his tongue.
"8. The Law of God changes all this. It exacts truth of all men, in all places, when it allows anything to be put in issue; and takes no denial, when it makes inquisition.
"9. Its searching supervision goes into the family circle, and forbids that a man speak falsely to his wife, his child, or his servant; and among the multitude it rebukes the talebearer, and forbids all men to raise a false report." (James J. Strang, Ibid., p. 35)
Tenth, "Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's inheritance." This law recognizes that intentions of the heart are a violation even as personal action. It is the desire of the heart to have something that belongs to another. "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. 5:28)
The entire Book of the Law, including the ten commandments, is available on by clicking on the "Book of the Law" page.