People like to make top ten lists, but God has His own top ten list--the Ten Commandments, life's most important rules (see Exodus 20:1-17). About 3,400 years ago, a ragtag group of people leaving one country and going to another--the children of Israel--were given these commandments as part of a greater covenant God made with them. So what relevance and importance do they have for our lives today?

As we take a closer look at some of these commandments in the next few weeks, I want you to keep several things in mind. First, treat these commands as a compass. The Ten Commandments serve as ten reference points, guiding principles by which we can plot our way through life. These are things you don't ever have to pray about, because God has already spoken on them; they're fixed. And if you treat them as reference points on a compass, they'll give you direction.

Second, treat these commandments as a thermometer to gauge your love for God. The outward, visible, tangible way you can know you love God is if you obey His commandments. As Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15; see also 1 John 2:3-6).

Third, treat these commandments as a mirror to reveal the truth about you. It's like looking in your bathroom mirror first thing in the morning: you may not like what you see, but it shows you the truth. Now, you can't use the mirror to clean yourself and make yourself presentable. It simply reveals the need; it doesn't fix the problem.

That leads to the fourth and final thing to keep in mind: treat these commandments as a road sign that points you to Christ. The law doesn't just show us our need to be cleansed; it also points to the showers. So if you read a commandment and feel you've fallen short in that area, don't stop there. Run to where you can get cleansed: the cross of Christ. That's where we find our way home--not by perfectly keeping these commandments in our attitudes and actions, but by being cleansed, forgiven, and changed through the cross.

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