Are there only Nine Commandments?

A large percentage of the confusion on the Ten Commandments comes from the majority of people not being able to tell the difference between the sacrificial law and God's moral law. So often Christians see the word law in scripture and just assume it is the Ten Commandments. To begin with, the Ten Commandments are never referred to as bondage. But the sacrificial Law of Moses on the other hand is called bondage by Paul many times. One could only imagine the bondage involved in having to take an animal for sacrifice to one of the Levite priests every time one sinned. If the Ten Commandments were bondage, then we would have a serious contradiction with the following verses. The Ten Commandments are called the perfect law of liberty. Liberty of course means “freedom” which is the opposite of bondage.

James 1:25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

So would God find it acceptable if we obeyed just nine or less of the Commandments?

James 2:10-12For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if you commit no adultery, yet if you kill, you are become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak you, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

Are there only nine commandmentsEvery single person will be judged by the mighty moral code of the Ten Commandments. To break just one is to be guilty of sin. The Bible demonstrates that the Ten Commandments are like a chain of ten links. When one link is broken, the whole chain is broken. If a practicing thief should seek entrance into the kingdom, he would be rejected. This is why Paul says thieves will not inherit the heavenly city. Furthermore, the Bible specifically declares that idolaters, adulterers, liars and covetous men will not be in the kingdom. Why? Because the Ten Commandments forbid those things and men will be judged finally by this law. Not one person will be admitted into heaven who is WILFULLY (Hebrews 10:26-29) violating any one of the Ten Commandments because breaking anyone of the Ten Commandments is breaking them all. We find a good example of this in Exodus 16:4-30. Just like today, these non-Jews thought that God did not mean what He said when He said the Seventh day. So how did God respond to them? He accused them of breaking all His Commandments and laws. This point should not be missed. As far as God was concerned, if they did not keep the fourth Commandment by keeping the Seventh day, then they were not keeping any of His Commandments.

Some say this makes works the basis for entering the kingdom. Not so. This makes love the qualifying factor. Jesus said that the greatest Commandment of all is to love God supremely. Quoting from the second Commandment, Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my Commandments.” John 14:15. Those who practice any known sin are really confessing that they do not love God with all their heart, soul and mind. So it is the lack of love that shuts them out and not the act of disobedience that simply exposes that lack. Only when love is motivating the obedience does it become acceptable to God. Any other work is man's vain attempt to earn salvation and to deny the efficacy of Christ's atoning sacrifice.

Some have also said that since we are law breakers if we break even one Commandment, then it is too hard and therefore we should not even try. This is a sad view indeed. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” and 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” However, this is obviously not what this passage is saying. The Bible is clear. James is saying that we are expected to obey all Ten and not just nine Commandments or the ones we decide we want to obey and that the Ten Commandments are the perfect law of freedom which we will be judged by. We obey them not to be saved but because we are saved and love God with all our heart, soul and might. When we fail in the flesh, we genuinely repent, and we are forgiven and our slate is wiped clean by faith in Christ and by the Grace of God.