April 22, 2023
Do you want to be that kind of father or mother—passionate about your children’s spiritual future? Begin with teaching your children the Ten Commandments. Only Jesus kept those commandments perfectly. If we could keep them perfectly, we wouldn’t need saving. The Ten Commandments point to the need for the grace of the Savior who, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us power to be obedient to God’s Word.
The Ten Commandments not only point us to the Gospel but also serve as a guide to and a guardian for godly family living. If Christian families would teach the Ten Commandments to their children and grandchildren and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, do their best to abide by those commandments in their homes, those families would be strengthened immeasurably. Rather than blending in with the rest of society, they would shine an irresistible light in our culture.
Pastor Rogers wrote and taught a great deal about The Ten Commandments; much of his instruction centered specifically on how the commandments should be taught and lived out at home. Why? Because through Moses, God instructed His people to teach the commandments at home:
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
With that in mind, let’s explore the Ten Commandments, one by one, concentrating on how each may be applied, specifically in the home. You may want to use each numbered section below as a weekly family devotion, perhaps rewarding your children for memorizing one commandment each week. Be sure at the end of each numbered section to access the accompanying article excerpted directly from Pastor Rogers’ messages. You’ll be blessed!
You shall have no other gods before Me.
The first commandment solidifies in the hearts and minds of children that 1) there is a God, and 2) He is worthy of first place in their lives.
Discuss with your children and grandchildren the evidence for God in creation. Talk about the evidence for God in your own lives. Ask your children, “What does it mean to love the Lord with ‘all your heart, all your soul and all your strength?” (See Deuteronomy 6:5.)
Explain to your children: God made you with a hole in your heart that only He can fill. Nothing else can fit in this hole. No “false god” such as Buddha or Mohammed, no money, no toy, no activity (such as soccer or ballet), no thing, and no one, can fill this empty hole in your heart—only God can.
Admit to your children any areas in which you feel you could do better at giving yourself to God and putting Him first so that He fills the empty hole in your own heart. Ask your children to state any areas in which they feel they could do better at giving themselves to God and putting Him first. Prompts might include: sharing, reacting without anger, telling the truth, using money wisely, choosing appropriate entertainment (TV, video games), or spending time alone each day with God.
Teach your children that you are God’s people and in your family, God comes first. Pray together as a family, committing your family to God and covering each of the areas in which family members discussed the need to put God first.
Read an article based on Pastor Rogers’ message on putting God first, 1st Commandment: You Shall Have No Other Gods.
You shall not make for yourself a carved image.
The first commandment deals with who to worship; the second commandment deals with how to worship. The second commandment forbids false worship and false gods, and therefore it commands true worship. The second commandment highlights God’s supremacy and unchanging eternal nature so that your family can worship God without interference. This provides a stable foundation for everything in your children’s and grandchildren’s lives, now, and for the rest of their lives!
During a family devotion time, reinforce this Scripture: “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in Heaven” (Psalm 119:89).
Ask your children to name some rules that change with time and culture, such as customs related to greeting one another, or the side of the road one drives on. Explain to your children that The Ten Commandments are never arbitrary and never change.
God never changes: “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Malichi 3:6).
Explain that God’s faithful, unchanging nature and His unchanging commands, protect your family spiritually just as they protected the Israelites (the “sons of Jacob”) in the Old Testament when they came out of Egypt. Teach your children that God is with us and cares for us even though we can’t see Him.
Help your children understand there is nowhere that God is not, and no material thing can represent Him. This is so important in a culture that promotes and accepts pantheism, the concept that “God is this tree” or “God is this mountain.” God’s creation is beautiful—trees, birds, animals, even Mom and Dad—but they are not ‘like’ God. He is separate and above everything and everyone. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always with us. That is why we worship only God.
Ask your children to name some things people sometimes “worship” instead of God. Be ready to help them name some: money, nature, other people, sports heroes, entertainment personalities. Explain to your children: “Anything you ‘worship’ or ‘value’ more than God is an idol.”
Read the article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about idols, 2nd Commandment: You Shall Not Make Any Carved Images.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Talk to your children and grandchildren about what God’s name means to your family, ways your family will NOT use God’s name, and ways your family WILL use God’s name.
Pastor Adrian Rogers was fond of alliteration and used the letter “P” to describe God’s name. This is an easy way for your children to remember the most important concepts related to God’s name.
“I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…” (Psalm 17:45). David and Goliath may be one of your children’s favorite Bible stories. Discuss with them the results of David’s bold use of the name of God.
“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10). Talk about how we can call on God’s name when we are tempted and know He has the power to keep us from sin.
“Whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23-24). Talk about what it means for your family to pray using Jesus’ name.
This means His name—whether you are talking about the Heavenly Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit—is not to be used in a way that is meaningless or associated with cursing. God’s name is also not to be used carelessly (OMG, Jeez, or Gosh, etc.).
This commandment goes far beyond not cursing, however. Explain to your children that God’s name is not to be used hypocritically. “Our family calls itself Christian; if our words and actions are unchristian, we are taking the name of God in vain.”
Talk about how your family WILL use God’s name in victory:
Pray together as a family asking God to help your family use His name only with reverence.
Read the article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about God’s name, 3rd Commandment: You Shall Not Take God’s Name in Vain.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.
One of the greatest treasures God has given to your family is a day of rest every week. Explain to your children that you’re going to use the letter “C” to remember why and how God calls us to rest.
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2). “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God rested after creation, not because His energy was depleted (it never is), but because creation was very good. If you have a piece of music in your home, show your children a “rest note” and explain that it is there as a pause to celebrate or remember what came before. Explain that creation rest was disturbed when sin entered the world.
“Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16). Explain that the Israelites were God’s special people and God made a covenant with them and commanded them to rest from all work every Saturday. This was covenant rest.
Explain that Covenant rest was altered by rule-makers who came up with 1,521 Sabbath rules, making it impossible for anyone to fully keep the Sabbath.
“But this Man (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).
Help your children understand that Jesus’ death on the cross, which paid for all sin for all time, brought the ultimate rest. Jesus “sat down.” This is Calvary rest, named after the place where Jesus died, and it can never be disturbed.
Discuss with your family how the Lord’s Day, Sunday, is the Christian’s special day of Calvary rest. Talk about the ways in which you will keep the Lord’s Day and honor the Lord and the fourth commandment. You can: prepare on Saturday for the Lord’s Day on Sunday, worship with other believers and go to Sunday School, read the Word of God together, give to God, rest, celebrate the freedom Jesus gave us when He died on the cross for our sins.
Pray together as a family, thanking God for His example of creation rest, His command of covenant rest, and His provision of Calvary rest.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about God’s name, 4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day.
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Pastor Adrian Rogers taught the fifth commandment in the pulpit and focused on the parents’ duties. He said, “Quite frankly, I can’t teach your children to honor you. That’s your responsibility. The best thing I can do is to help you become a mom or dad who is worthy of honor.”
Explain to your children that as parents your goal is to live honorably before them so that they will desire to honor you. Let them know that you also desire to honor your own parents (your children’s grandparents). Tell your children that in living honorably as parents, you are not perfect, but you are committed to six “L” words when it comes to the way children in your home are to be treated:
Dads and moms, take every opportunity to hug your children and tell them they are special to you, not because of what they do but simply because they are gifts from God to your family.
“So then my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Tell your children you are there for them when they need to talk, and you will set aside time to listen to and understand them. Tell them God listens to them as well, that they can pray to Him anytime, and that you pray for them every day.
Tell your children you believe in them and you will do your best to encourage them when they are doing what is right.
“For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them” (1 Samuel 3:13). Explain that you set limits in your home for your children’s safety, for the development of their character, and for their welfare now and long-term. Let your children know that as you discipline them in love, God blesses your household.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Tell your children you will do your best to lead with integrity, showing them by your actions what good character is and staying close to God so that you can exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your family life.
Tell your children you will do your best to make room for lots of laughter in your home. Pray together as a family that you will honor one another and that your children will learn to honor their parents and enjoy the blessing that comes with the command.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about inspiring honor as parents, 5th Commandment: Honor Your Father and Mother.
You shall not murder.
Tell your children you believe what the Bible says about where life came from and what it means to break the sixth commandment: “You shall not murder.”
Tell your children that no matter what they learn somewhere else, it is clear to you that God created human beings, giving them life as a precious gift. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
God gave us physical life. We have hearts that beat, lungs that breathe, and bodies that move. God gave us spiritual life. This is offered to everyone and received by those who believe in Jesus. God gave us eternal life. Christians have life in Jesus that brings joy on Earth and will last forever in Heaven.
Explain that Jesus called the devil, or Satan, a murderer: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning…” (John 8:44). Death exists because people ignored God and followed what the devil wanted them to do. People are still ignoring God. As you explain the different ways people break the sixth commandment (below), take into consideration your children’s ages and levels of emotional maturity.
Pray together with your family, thanking God for life and asking Him to help you to be a family that always chooses life.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about life, 6th Commandment: You Shall Not Murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
Tell your children it’s important for Moms and Dads to love one another: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Explain that when Mom and Dad got married, God said they belong to each other and that, after their relationship with God, their relationship with each other is the most important thing in the world.
Explain that the Bible does not tell us we fall “in” and “out” of love; the Bible tells us love is a command and a decision, not merely an emotion. Say to your children, “I will always love your Mom/Dad. Even if we argue or one of us is having a bad day, we have decided to love each other forever.”
Explain that God gave us marriage and families for our good. If divorce is in your family history, be prepared to talk about God’s forgiveness and your commitment to follow Him always. If your children are old enough to understand the concept of sexual infidelity, you might want to include the following when discussing the seventh commandment.
Explain that the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage—whether before getting married or after getting married— is wrong. Explain that when God tells you not to remain pure, as Pastor Rogers said, “He is not keeping sex from you; He is keeping sex for you.” Tell your children that even scientific polls and studies show that people who wait until marriage for sex enjoy more satisfying sexual relationships.
Be prepared to answer your older children’s questions about LGBTQ issues. Teach them that while we want to offer grace to others, it is always in the context of the truth that God’s plan for sex is between one man and one woman in a life-long covenant marriage. Teach them that this plan is for the good of the individual, the marriage, the family, and society, noting that, historically, sexual immorality in a society is one of the greatest indicators that the society will collapse.
Pray together, covering things you have discussed. Pray for a magnificent marriage for yourselves and, looking toward the future, for each child as God provides.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ teaching about marital purity, 7th Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery.
You shall not steal.
Pastor Rogers taught three things specifically to families regarding the eighth commandment: what it means to steal, what it means to work, and what it means to give.
Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.” Ask your children what “do not steal” means, filling in as needed with the following:
2 Thessalonians 3:10 says: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Ask your children: “How does our family get what we need without “taking” from others?” Explain that work not only puts food on the table but is also a blessing. When we work, we:
Provide examples from your own work. If your children have chores, take a moment to tell them their work is important to the family, serves God, and helps them develop so that someday they will be able to provide for their own families.
Ask your children if there is another reason to work beyond providing for your own family. Emphasize the last part of Ephesians 4:28, “that he may have something to give to Him who has need.” Explain to your children that your work blesses others because you give to those in need. Provide details as appropriate. If your children receive an allowance, talk with them about how much they should set aside each week to give to those in need by providing an offering at church or Sunday School.
Pray together as a family, thanking God for the work you have or asking Him to provide a job if needed.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message on work and integrity, 8th Commandment, You Shall Not Steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Bearing false witness” means “lying.” Tell your children where lies come from: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Explain that Jesus called the devil, or Satan, the “father of lies,” and that when people lie, they are following Satan. Ask your children what types of lies they can think of, filling in as appropriate with the following:
Tell your children that truth is important but is not always rewarded by society. Sometimes as Christians, we stand alone on what is true. Provide an example from your own life, or discuss the story of Noah, who knew the truth and stood for what is true by building and entering the ark while everyone around him ignored the truth.
Tell your children you will always be honest with them. If you have not always been honest, apologize and ask their forgiveness. Don’t be afraid to ask your children if they can think of promises you’ve broken for which you need to apologize. Also, ask them to confess anything untruthful they need to make you aware of. This clearing of the air and steering toward truth may be just what is needed to “right your family ship.”
Pray together, thanking Jesus for being the way, the TRUTH, and the life, and asking Him to help your family always stand for truth.
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message on standing for truth, 9th Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness.
You shall not covet.
Explain to your children that you are going to talk about what it means to covet, where covetousness comes from, how widespread coveting is, and how people can stop coveting. Ask your children what they think it means to covet, correcting them, if necessary, to understand coveting as having an unlawful desire for something that is not rightfully yours.
Teach your children about the very first person to covet: “For you have said in your heart: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Tell your children that those words came from a powerful angel named Lucifer who God renamed Satan; we know him as the devil. Explain that when the devil wanted to take over God’s throne, he was coveting God’s position and power.
Satan tricked Adam and Eve into eating the apple because He tempted them to covet the same thing, the power and position of God: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God...” (Genesis 3:5).
Adam and Eve fell for Satan’s trick and everyone in the whole world has been guilty of coveting ever since!
Talk about what people (children and adults) covet: things such as toys or game systems or furniture, money, houses, opportunities such as more prestigious schools or positions in society, etc.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Tell your children that the remedy for covetousness is thankfulness. Explain that God gives us all we really NEED, though we don’t always get everything we want. When we get angry that we don’t have something we want, we are being unthankful and making it seem as if God is not taking good care of us when He is.
Talk with your children about the things they want vs. the things they need. Get them to name some things (tangible and intangible) they are thankful for.
Pray together, asking God to provide for any true NEED you’ve identified and to help your family be content with all the good gifts He has given!
Read the separate article based on Pastor Rogers’ message about thankfulness, 10th Commandment, You Shall Not Covet.
If you’d like to keep this article for reference as you teach The Ten Commandments to your family, download the PDF version.
If you’d like a more permanent version of the family instruction in this article, consider getting the Ten Commandments for the Home Family Worship Kit. The worship kit is packaged for fun and learning; it includes Pastor Rogers’ book, “Ten Secrets for a Successful Family,” activity cards with crafts and exercises your family can do together, and a frameable Ten Commandments print for your home.
Leviticus 22:3, 19:18; Romans 3:20, 6:15, 7:7, 7:12, 13:19; Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:8-11