Have you ever seen a one-way mirror? Mirrors like this are often use in interrogation rooms or in security observation rooms. When you are on the side of the glass with the most amount of light, the glass acts as a mirror: all you see is your reflection. But if the bulk of the light is on the other side of the glass, you can see through it to the other side.
One piece of glass that acts as both a mirror and a window: this is exactly how we should teach the Ten Commandments to our children—one divine law with two powerful purposes…
The Law is a Mirror
The Law of Moses acts as a mirror: it reveals our true condition. James says God’s “perfect law” is like a mirror: we are meant to look into it and remember what we look like in the light of it (James 1:23-25).
In the law we see a perfect standard, so it reflects back to us our own imperfections. Paul writes that “through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20)—by studying it we discover our sinfulness. Not only does the law plainly tell us what is sinful (Romans 7:7), when our sinful nature in us is confronted with the law, it produces in us an even greater measure of sin (7:8-13). The more our sinful hearts know what is forbidden, the more it wants to rebel.
This is the first way we should use the Ten Commandments: as a mirror. As we hold up each commandment, explaining it thoroughly to our kids, we give them a glimpse of God’s perfect standard. We should help our kids see how we as parents fail to live up to each law—and thus help them to see their own sins.
The Law as a Window
The Law of Moses is also a window: as we look through it, it reveals the person and character of Christ. Using the lens of the New Testament, the Ten Commandments give us a picture of Jesus.
Christ is the very goal of the law (Romans 10:4). As a man, Christ lived each commandment perfectly (Hebrews 4:15). As God, Christ embodies the very nature and majesty of God revealed in each law.
1. Christ perfectly lived the first commandment, worshipping only His Father, even when the devil tempted Him to do otherwise (Matthew 4:8-11).
2. Christ is the very image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15-17), demolishing all false images of God in our lives forbidden by the second commandment.
3. Christ revered God’s name and prayed that it would be hallowed throughout the earth (Luke 11:1-4), never taking God’s name in vain but living out the heart of the third commandment.
4. Christ promises true rest to all who come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30), and one day He will bring us a never ending Sabbath rest (Hebrews 4:4, 9-10), fulfilling the heart of the fourth commandment.
5. Christ perfectly obeyed and submitted to his earthly parents (Luke 2:40-52), living out the fifth commandment.
6. Christ was never sinfully angry, but instead showed incredible patience and tenderness, even in the face of interruption, pressures, and mocking. He never took human life but instead gave life to others (Mark 5:22-24), perfectly living out the sixth commandment.
7. Christ is perfectly faithful to his bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33), obeying the heart of the seventh commandment.
8. Christ never stole from anyone, but gave everything he had so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). He inspired in others a desire to give everything to those in need (Luke 19:1-10), living out the heart of the eighth commandment.
9. No deceit was ever found in Christ’s mouth, even when others were accusing, mocking, and lying about Him (1 Peter 2:21-25), and in doing so He lived out the ninth commandment.
10. Christ is the one who sets us free from our covetousness and greed (Romans 7:7-9, 18-25), giving us the ability to live out the tenth commandment.
Seeing the law as a window is vital. It shows our kids that God’s law isn’t just something to convict them, but is fundamentally about Jesus, the one who embodied God’s perfect law. Because of this, Jesus could become the perfect Lamb of God, taking away our sin. Because of this, we can be inspired by His example to obey God as He did.
Photo credit: glenirah
Christ in the Commandments
Pick up a copy of our new family Bible study, Christ in the Commandments. This 30-lesson study will help you explain each commandment to your kids as both a mirror reflecting their sin and as a window showing the greatness of Christ.
If you want your kids to memorize the Ten Commandments, use handwriting practice to reinforce it. Download one of our 10 Commandments versions of Write Through the Bible, available in ESV and now in KJV as well!
This workbook gives you 131 days of handwriting practice, enough for a whole school year. Choose from either manuscript or cursive editions. This is a great way to reinforce Scripture memory, walking your children through Exodus 20:1-21.