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OPINION: Why do we have the Ten Commandments?

God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses at a time when the Israelites were doing a lot grumbling, complaining, and just plain sinning. Maybe Moses thought this would be the perfect solution. Just post the commandments. Then the Israelites will stop sinning. Okay. Good. Now we can have some peace and quiet, please?

It didn't work that way, did it? Even with the Ten Commandments carved in stone and posted for all to see, the Israelites still sinned.

Today, we have no shortage of Moses wannabees. People who want to put the Ten Commandments in classrooms. Hang them in the hallways. Post them in the bathrooms. Call America back to basic morality.

Who are we kidding? Is this going to lower the crime rate, curb the violence, or reduce teenage pregnancy? No way! It didn't change the behavior of the Israelites thousands of years ago in the Sinai wilderness, and it won't change us in our postmodern wilderness inhabited by rappers, addicts, gamers, and Elvis impersonators.

What we need to understand is this: the purpose of the Ten Commandments is not to make us holy, but to show us holy. The Ten Commandments act like a mirror to show us the sin we try to deny. They show us that we are hopeless failures — constantly sinning. And faced with that truth, it's easy to become hopeless.

But this is why Jesus was born. This is why he suffered and died. This is why on the third day he was raised from the dead.

We can't keep the Commandments. We want to. We promise we will, but we don't. We can't.

We sin. And the punishment for sin is death. So what do we do? We do the only thing we can do. We turn to Jesus, our only hope. The Ten Commandments show us how sinful we are and how much we need a savior.

Jesus is our Victory over sin and death and our own broken promises. The Ten Commandments show us our sin, but by faith we live under the forgiveness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.