Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Ten Commandments.


I have been sharing teaching ideas with children's ministers through my monthly Newsletters and on my 'Blog' sites since 2002. In these 'Special Blogs', I have grouped together some of my ideas into some of the major Biblical teaching areas. In this way it is hoped that readers will be able to go directly to a particular subject to view some ideas - object lessons, teaching tips, stories etc., or even to prepare a complete children's lesson (or lessons) on that subject.

Maurice Sweetsur

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Contents - All 'Special Blogs'.

1. Creation.
2. Christmas.
3. Easter.
4. The Bible.
5. Prayer.
6. Hearing from God.
7. The Ten Commandments.
8. John 3.16.
9. Teaching Memory verses.
10. Gospel Illusions.
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws).
12. Lessons involving balloons.
13. Lessons involving fire.

Other Blog sites from Maurice Sweetsur :-

Children's ministry -
All teaching material (All Newsletters) -
Object lessons / Illusions -
Bible lessons and Teaching tips -
Stories, skits and puppet plays -
Bible answers for kids -
Kidzone (Children's site) -
Kidzone - Archives. -

To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -

Contents (The Ten Commandments).

The Ten Commandments.
Object Lesson - The seriousness of sin.
a. All sins are equal.
b. Everyone has fallen short of God's standard.
Story - Honouring your parents.
The Ten Commandments in picture form.

The Ten Commandments.

When teaching the Ten Commandments, I vary my approach depending on the age and maturity of my class. The following is how I would teach an older group of children.

We all have many rules in our lives - rules at home (things we can or cannot do), rules at school, rules given by the Government, such as the Road rules, and rules given by God, the best known ones being called the Ten Commandments.

Would it be good if we didn't have any rules? For example, suppose you could go to bed at whatever time you liked. Or if the school bell rang, you didn't have to come in from the playground if you didn't want to. Or if you liked the look of someone else's lunch, you could eat it because there was no rule to say that you couldn't. Or if you didn't like the look of someone, you could give them a punch in the stomach!

That may sound good to some of you, but if you didn't have to keep any rules, neither would anybody else. Suppose somebody ate your lunch because they liked the look of it, or gave you a punch in the stomach because they didn't like the way you looked? No, that wouldn't be so good would it? All rules, whether given by parents, teachers, the Government or God are for our benefit. They are not given to us to spoil our fun, but rather to prevent us hurting ourselves or others. (You could give an example here about the possible consequences of disobeying (say) the road rules).

I have a list here of God's rules - The Ten Commandments. The first four concern our relationship with God, and the last six concern how we should treat other people. I will talk about each one in turn, and you can decide whether or not you have kept that particular Commandment. Remember, even if you have broken a Commandment only once, you are still a lawbreaker. You only have to tell one lie to become a liar, or steal one thing to become a thief. (You could give each child a piece of paper, and get them to put a tick or x against each Commandment depending on whether they have kept it or not. Remember to assure them that this is just between them and God, and that you won't be collecting the papers in afterwards).

1. You shall have no other gods before me.

God must have first place in our lives. If you love someone or something more than God, you have broken this Commandment.

2. Do not make any image of God.

Not many people today make a picture or sculpting of God and worship that. But many people do break this Commandment by making God in their own image. If your idea of God is, or has been, different from the God of the Bible, you have broken this Commandment. For example, some people think that God won't mind a little bit of wrongdoing -as long as it is not too bad, or that if you lead a good life you will go to heaven, or that Jesus is just one of many ways of coming to God.

3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

God and His name cannot be separated. We must always use the name of God and Jesus in the right way - with respect. If you have ever used His name as a swear word, you have broken this Commandment.

4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

God created the Universe and all that is in it in six days and rested on the seventh, as an example of how we should organise our lives. We should take a rest or break from our normal routine one day in every seven. This is also a good day to get to know God better by talking to him, reading the Bible and meeting with other believers.

5. Honour your father and your mother.

This means that we should obey them (unless they tell us to do something that breaks God's laws), respect them, treat them well and never talk nastily to them or about them.

6. You shall not murder.

Before you all rush to put a tick against this one, wait a moment. Jesus explained what this Commandment really meant. He said that if we hate someone, we have already murdered them in our hearts. So if you hate (or have hated someone) you have broken this Commandment, even if you have not gone on and actually killed them!

7. You shall not commit adultery.

This is really a Commandment for grown ups. Husbands and wives should be faithful to each other, stick together and not go off with someone else. Jesus explained, however, that if you thought about doing this - even if you didn't actually do it - you had already broken the Commandment in your heart.

8. You shall not steal.

Stealing is stealing! If you steal someone's pencil, it is just as much stealing as if you robbed a Bank of a million dollars! If you find some money in the playground and keep it for yourself - that is stealing. If you borrow a book off someone and don't return it - that is stealing.

9. You shall not lie.

There is no such thing as a little lie, a white lie, or a fib. Lying is lying.

10. You shall not desire something that belongs to another.

This is sometimes called coveting or envy. It is not wrong to desire nice things, but it is if those things belong to someone else. If your friend has a new bike, computer, or even some chocolates, and you think "I wish I had that instead of them", you have broken this Commandment.

Hands up everyone who has kept all ten Commandments all the time. Oh dear. I am afraid that I have to accuse all of you with your hands up (and there usually are a few) of breaking Commandment number 9 - You shall not lie! The Bible tells us that everyone has broken God's Commandments (Romans 3.23). Some people have led very good lives and broken only a few Commandments. Some people have led very bad lives and broken most or all of the Commandments. Most of us have led lives between these two extremes. But no-one has kept all the Commandments all the time.

At this point I will illustrate the seriousness of sin by conducting part or all of the object lesson described below. Part a - All sins are equal, and Part b - Everyone has fallen short of God's standard.

Thus we are all lawbreakers, and the penalty is death i.e. separation from a holy God (Romans 6.23). You are now probably thinking "Those Commandments are pretty tough. Does God really expect us to keep them all?" No. God knows that because of the selfish nature we are all born with, we are incapable of keeping His Commandments all the time. "Why then does God give us Commandments if He knows that we are unable to keep them?" The answer is so that they will be like a schoolteacher to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3.24). In other words, if there was no Commandment saying "You shall not steal" we wouldn't know we were doing wrong when we stole. If there was no Commandment saying "You shall not lie" we wouldn't know we were doing wrong when we lied etc. etc. It is only because we have the Commandments that, as we break them, we realise we are lawbreakers in need of forgiveness and help in keeping God's rules.

That is the bad news. Now for the good news. Someone did keep all the Commandments. Someone never sinned. Someone did pass the test. His name is Jesus - and He did it all for us. Jesus is God. He didn't have to keep His own rules. But because He loves us, He became a man, and passed the test on our behalf. And after keeping all the Commandments, Jesus died on the cross in our place so we can be forgiven.

(Note. The Bible teaches that death is the result of sin. We are only going to die because of sin. But because Jesus never sinned, He is the only person who never needed to die. He chose to die in our place, however, so we could live forever with God).


If you have only ever broken one Commandment once, you are still a lawbreaker and need to ask Jesus to come into your life to forgive you. And if you put your trust in Jesus, He will help you to do better in keeping the Commandments. No-one will ever become perfect, but as you keep living for Jesus there will be an ongoing improvement in your being able to keep the Ten Commandments.

O.L. - The seriousness of sin.

Many children tend to categorise sin into big sins (e.g. murder) and little sins (e.g. a lie). Here are two illustrations you could use to help them understand that in God's sight all sin is serious.

a. All sins are equal.

Hold in one hand a crumpled piece of paper, and in the other a small but heavy object (e.g. a battery). Tell the children that the paper represents what many people think of as "little" sins like lying and swearing, and that the heavy object represents what many think of as "big" sins like murder and robbery. State that you are going to drop both objects to the floor at the same time. Ask the children which object they think will reach the floor first? Most should say the heavy object.

Drop both objects. They will reach the floor at the same time. (You may wish to repeat the exercise). State that sin is like that to God. The lighter or smaller sins are just as serious to Him as the weightier ones, for all wrongdoing is sin (1 John 5 v. 17).

b. Everyone has fallen short of God's standard.

Ask the children to imagine that both they and you are going to take a maths test where the pass mark is 100%. State that they - being really clever - get a mark of 98%, but that you - being not too good at maths - only manage 2%.

Ask the children how you have done - passed or failed? You have failed.
Ask the children how they have done - passed or failed? They also have failed.

Explain that although the children did much better than you in this imaginary test, they still failed. State that in life some people have led really led really bad lives and, rather like getting a mark of two out of a hundred, fall far short of God's standard, which is perfection. State that other people (give a few examples) have led wonderful lives, but no matter how good they have been they still come short of God's standard. Most people come somewhere between these two extremes, but the good news of the Gospel is that one man, Jesus, did lead a perfect life and reach God's standard. The even better news is that Jesus did it for us, and then died on the cross in our place, so that we could be forgiven - no matter how short of God's standard we have come.

Story - Honouring your parents.

The fifth Commandment instructs us to honour our parents. That means respecting them, treating them well, and never speaking nastily to them or about them. If we do this then God promises that "things will go well for us."

There was once a young man who, from the time he was just a young boy, had his heart set on joining the Navy. His plan was to join the Navy at the earliest opportunity and, he thought, if he worked hard he might even become a ship's Captain one day and be in Command of his own boat.

As soon as he was old enough this young man signed up to join the Navy, and was looking forward to setting out to sea. Just before he was due to set out, his mother came to him saying that she thought he was making a mistake in joining the Navy, she just didn't feel 'right' about it, and asked him to reconsider.

What would you have done in that young man's situation? I think most of us would have said something like "This is my life. I am old enough to make my own decisions, and this is really what I want to do." But this young man went to the Navel authorities and explained that he couldn't dishonour his mother's wishes by joining the Navy.

That young man never went to sea, and he never became Captain of his own boat. But he did become the Commanding Officer of the whole Navy! In fact, he became President of his country. His name? - George Washington.

Would George Washington have still become the first American President if he had disregarded his mother's wishes? We will never know for sure, but I doubt it. And as he kept God's Commandment to honour his parents, he proved God's promise that "all would go well for him."

The Ten Commandments in picture form.

"You shall have no other gods before me"
(God should be Number One).

"Do not make any image of God"
(Don't bow down to anything but God)

"You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God"
(Don't use your lips to dishonour God)

"Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy"
(Don't neglect the things of God)

"Honour your father and your mother"

"You shall not murder"

"You shall not commit adultery"
(Adultery leaves a heart broken)

"You shall not steal"

"You shall not lie"
(A "lying" nine)

"You shall not desire something that belongs to another"
(Want what others have)