The Ten Commandments are ten precepts that govern our relationship with God and with fellow man. Every action that we take in our day to day endeavours are to revolve around the ten precepts, then, and only then, can we live up to what God wanted for us, to be happy and enjoy one another’s company making our life here on earth worthwhile.
Unfortunately, that is not the case as is evidenced in the world today. We are living in perilous times of the last days where men are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:2-5). There are these many misgivings in the society and things turn from bad to worse every single day. All these come about because man has failed to honour the ten precepts that God gave him.
More often than not, no one bothers to think of or wonder why there are so many allurements within our reach. The thing is, “Satan well knows the material with which he has to deal in the human heart. He knows—for he has studied with fiendish intensity for thousands of years—the points most easily assailed in every character, and through successive generations, he has wrought to overthrow the strongest men.” It is hard to believe but Satan seemingly has his work “cut out” for he knows he only has to tailor his temptations against the ten precepts, interestingly, the Bible states “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Seemingly this is an added advantage to the devil. Keeping the Ten Commandments, therefore, is a special challenge we should think about more seriously because the devil knows exactly what to plan with or say worry about, and that is to seduce us to willfully go against the precepts of God.
A practical example is the experience of Joseph. You probably have read or heard the story how his brothers were jealous and hated him eventually selling him to some traders on their way to Egypt, who later sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian. The Holy Writ records, “and the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured” (Genesis 39:2-6).
This passage reveals that Joseph was successful because he partnered with the Lord. As he was being taken by the traders farther and farther from his home and familiar surroundings, “his thoughts turned to his father’s God.” For “in his childhood, he had been taught to love and fear ” God. By relying wholly on God, he was blessed and prospered by God and the devil was not happy about it. He studied the life of Joseph and his job description and notices that he has an opening in Potiphar’s wife, who was the only restriction for Joseph, “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her” (Genesis 39:7-10).
Apparently, she became Satan’s agent in trying to get Joseph to sin owing to the fact that he seemed not to be in want in anything else save for some “little discrepancy” in his social life or so the devil thought not knowing that Joseph had a strong resolve to be principled and honour God.
Similarly, we equally have our parameters set out for us and all we need to do is to be principled in life and live within the set parameters. With the ten precepts as our guideline in life, it should be a lot easier for us to overcome the temptations that assail us because we already know what to be on the look-out for. Besides that, God has given us a wonderful promise that He will provide a way of escape for us (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). We can be sure that Satan is always on the look-out for that which we are in want and try to see how he can modify it to come up with a suitable temptation that matches the need at hand. Thus we should jealously guard the avenues to our minds within the context of the precepts that we have been given by our heavenly Father.
In reference to being principled, the Spirit of Prophecy admonishes, “there is no safety for any man, young or old, unless he feels the necessity of seeking God for counsel at every step. Those only who maintain close communion with God will learn to place His estimate upon men, to reverence the pure, the good, the humble, and the meek. The heart must be garrisoned as was that of Joseph. Then temptations to depart from integrity will be met with decision: ‘How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. No matter how severe the pressure brought to bear upon you, sin is your own act. The seat of the difficulty is the unrenewed heart.” We, therefore, should beware and be on guard at all times.