Book Review: Keeping the 10 Commandments

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Recommended: Packer shows us why the 10 Commandments are just as important today as they were 3000 years ago.

J.I. Packer is one of modern Christianity’s greatest minds—the author of countless books, including Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Growing in Christ, and arguably his best-known work, Knowing God. There are few men who are more influential theologically on Evangelical Christianity than Packer. So when I saw Keeping the 10 Commandments at the bookstore, I had a hunch it would be a worthwhile read.

Sufficed to say, I was not disappointed.

By many, the 10 Commandments are seen as irrelevant; as “rules” that prevent us from having any fun. In this short work, an excerpt from Growing in Christ, Packer shows us that these commandments are not rules to be followed; they are commands to be lived to bring us joy.

Packer first addresses the relevance of the commandments to our lives as Christians under the new covenant over the course of four chapters. The commandments are the way of life for all humanity, & the heart of a personal relationship with God through Christ. They teach us how we need to related both to God and to each other. Packer then delves into the meaning and implications of each of the 10 Commandments, thoroughly and thoughtfully bringing to light his understanding of these ancient writings.  Packer’s insights into the second commandment were particularly interesting to me: The command to not make a graven image is far more than simply making a statue or  a painting—it’s creating a false god with our imaginations.

I wonder, how often when we think of God, do we think of Him in all the ways Scripture does:

The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation (Exodus 34:6-7).

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything (Acts 17:24-25).

Whatever the Lord pleases, he does (Psalm 135:6).

“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19).

Packer’s point is well-taken: When we base our understanding of God on our preferences—whether it be our emotions or just that we don’t like what a verse in Scripture says—we are creating an idol, a false god that steals worship from the true God.

Scary, isn’t it?

At the end of each chapter, a Bible study questions has been included to encourage readers to not merely read the book, but think critically and biblically about its content and learn for ourselves how we can apply the truths we find in the pages of this book and Scripture.

Throughout Keeping the 10 Commandments, J.I. Packer offers brilliant insight into these essential doctrines of the Scriptures that teach us not only how we should live, but how God sees humanity—as broken, sinners in desperate need of a Savior.

It is my hope that in reading this small book, you will gain not only a greater understanding of the importance of these 3000-year-old writings, but a greater appreciation of the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Order your copy at Amazon or Chapters/Indigo.