Are You Smarter than a Grade Schooler?
November 11, 2011
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The popular game show of a similar title has caught America’s attention, as viewers everywhere strive to remember the educational facts and lessons they were taught back in the classroom. We are caught off guard or surprised by the theories, laws of science, formulas, historical facts, or grammatical rules that we have forgotten from long ago, but that fifth graders know from recent lessons. My youngest daughter, Kerri, has herself just graduated from the fifth grade and can often rattle off facts, formulas, and grammar rules that I have long since forgotten. We dismiss these omissions from our memories with amusement, reasoning that we do not often use these facts or information in our everyday lives.
There are, however, some crucial laws that many people have also forgotten from a different classroom, with the same rationalization that it no longer applies to their everyday life. These laws, however, are still remembered in the hearts and minds of fifth graders in Sunday school who continue to recite them or learn about them on a weekly basis. I am referring to the Ten Commandments.
Recent studies show that 99 percent of us cannot name all Ten Commandments. Newsweek Magazine polled Christians and found that half could not even name four of them. Many of us do not know where the Commandments are located in the Bible. (They are in Exodus 20.) And our society as a whole, led by the ACLU, is trying to remove the Ten Commandments from our country altogether…and for the most part they’ve been successful.
Some people may wonder: Why are ten rules that were given thousands of years ago so important? How are they relevant to me in this day and age? Similar to our old primary school lessons, what seems like unnecessary tenets are removed from our memories. In addition, they are removed from our schools, public buildings, and other public arenas where, ironically, they can be directly applied.
What is the point of the Ten Commandments? For those who choose to believe that they are the very words handed down from God, the Ten Commandments are a reminder of the very nature of Him who spoke them to us. Just as God spoke the heavens and earth into place demonstrating His physical power, God spoke these laws into being, demonstrating His spiritual power. He who created natural order in life has also put into place a spiritual order of life.
Contrary to common belief, these laws are not meant to restrict us, but rather to free us from spiritual bondage to other areas of life that can consume us. Take the first Commandment for example: You shall have no other gods before me. God tells us this because He knows He is the only One who can satisfy all of our needs. Unfortunately, too often we put money, work, relationships, hobbies, addictions, and other things as our first priorities, and wonder in despair when these things disappoint us.
Secondly, the Commandments give us moral absolutes in a time of moral relativism. We have all witnessed time and time again how issues like pornography, profanity, obscenity, and other offenses are defined and redefined from one court case to another, to the point that our original understanding of these issues have lost their meaning under superfluous verbage and justifications. As such, it becomes increasingly more difficult to educate our children of what is right and wrong, when there are rationalizations and justifications for almost any actions initially viewed as an offense, from murder to adultery, lying to stealing, disrespecting our parents to wanting what other people have at any cost.
Lastly, and what I believe is most important, the Ten Commandments point us to repentance and to God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Some may ask, who can obey all of these laws? Who has never lied? Who has never lusted? Who has never talked back to their parents? Let me be the first to admit that I count myself as a breaker of these laws.
Then how do we have any hope of obeying them? By turning to the only person that has ever walked this earth and obeyed every single one of the laws, Jesus Christ. God gives us these Commandments to make us conscious of our sins. The Apostle Paul writes, “Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘Do not covet.’” (Romans 7:7)
Praise God that when we choose Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He does not judge us according to our sins! Instead, if we ask Him to forgive us when (not “if”) we fall short, accept His gift of grace that Jesus paid when He died on the cross for our sins, and seek His strength and guidance to live as He lived, then we will truly know God. We will know God’s law—His commands, His blueprint for a successful life—and His grace. We will have the hope of living the life He has created us to live and enjoy with Him.
“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:10-14