Teaching Kids the Ten Commandments
For those following the suggested use dates for The Gospel Project for Kids, this week is the first of two sessions covering the Ten Commandments. These sessions need to be handled carefully. Teaching the Ten Commandments apart from the lens of the gospel can quickly descend into a lesson on moralism. Also, good teaching comes from the overflow of the heart. So here are eight points to remind your heart as you prepare to teach kids about the Ten Commandments through the lens of the gospel:
- God gave us the Ten Commandments because He loves us.
The timing of God’s giving of the commandments is so beautiful. God gives His people the commandments AFTER He freed them from their slavery in Egypt. The law is God’s gift to His rescued, chosen people. God wanted His people to be set apart from all others. He gave them a special way to live.
- The Ten Commandments are not a kill-joy but a joy-maximizer.
God did not give the law to make life dull and boring but to show His people how to squeeze the most joy and freedom out of this gift of life He has given us. We are at our happiest when we live life within the bounds of God’s law.
- Sin is a kill-joy.
Sin, on the other hand, robs us of joy. Sin wants to make us its slave, and it even uses God’s commands in its dubious quest. Paul writes in Romans 7:9-12, “Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.”
- The Ten Commandments show us what God is like.
God reveals His holy and loving character through the commandments. God calls for His people to speak the truth because God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2) God calls us not to steal or envy because He graciously gives us what we need. (Matthew 7:11). Our Father wants us to look like Him.
- We are not able to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.
Even for those of us who have the Spirit of God living in us, indwelling sin remains. We break God’s commands daily. For me, that’s multiple times a day.
- The Ten Commandments show us our sin and need for a Savior.
Were it not for God’s law, we wouldn’t know what sin is, but God does not intend for us to crumple in despair as see how far we fall short of His holy standard. Again Paul writes, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?” And then the answer we all need: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
- Jesus kept the Ten Commandments perfectly on our behalf.
Where we failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus came to earth and kept every single one of God’s laws perfectly—not only the letter of the law but the spirit of the law. Why? To rescue us. He knew we couldn’t do it, so He did it for us. See how loved we are? When we trust in the work of Jesus, God sees us as perfect, because we are given Christ’s perfection.
- The obedience God requires of us is the obedience of faith.
This quote from John Piper is helpful:
The way we strive towards being obedient, holy and loving people is not by getting up in the morning and pulling the list out of our pocket. No! We get on our knees and we open ourselves to the whole counsel of God in the Bible. We saturate and shape ourselves by everything he has done, he is doing and he will do. We stake our lives in the gospel and then instead of serving the law, we serve one another in love.1
We don’t keep the Commandments in order to experience salvation. Because we experience salvation, we are now able to keep the commands. We are free to live this way because we have been saved.
1John Piper. “Are Christians Under the 10 Commandments?” Desiring God [online] 7 August 2010 [cited 21 January 2016] desiringgod.org
Karen Jones is the preschool content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids. Karen came to LifeWay in 2014 with over 15 years experience in preschool and children’s ministry. Karen earned an M.A. in Christian Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Karen loves living minutes from downtown Nashville and teaching preschoolers at Immanuel Church.