Thou Shalt Not
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:4)
Many secularists criticize Christianity as being a religion of negativism filled with prohibitions. In response, Christians often try to blunt this criticism by stressing Christian love and freedom from the law.
The fact is, however, that the New Testament also contains many prohibitions, including a restatement of all those in God's laws as expressed in the Ten Commandments. The first of these in our text prohibits idolatry. Six others also begin with "thou shalt not." "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain"; "Thou shalt not kill"; "Thou shalt not commit adultery"; "Thou shalt not steal"; "Thou shalt not bear false witness"; "Thou shalt not covet" (Exodus 20:7, 13-17).
It is inappropriate for any Christian to ignore these commandments. Godly behavior is more important now than ever before. Not only are these prohibitions all repeated in the New Testament, but there are numerous other "shalt nots" as well, all directed to Christians saved by grace, apart from the works of the law.
For example: "Be not drunk with wine" (Ephesians 5:18); "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26); "Mind not high things . . . Be not wise in your own conceits" (Romans 12:16); "avenge not yourselves" (Romans 12:19); and many, many others.
There are numerous positive aspects to the Christian life, of course, but there are also things a Christian should not do. We do not work for our salvation, but we must work out our salvation, putting off the works of the flesh and putting on the works of a regenerate life. HMM