Should We Teach Our Children the Ten Commandments?

Read Galatians 3:19-28

If faith in the finished work of Christ is enough for our salvation, why did God give Moses the law? Paul gives us a short answer “because of transgressions…” (Galatians 3:19) which leaves us hanging. Happily for us, he came back to this subject when he wrote to the Roman Christians six-eight years later.

“For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13).

“Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound” (Romans 5:20).

You can’t charge someone with a crime until there is a law against their action. For instance, possession of marijuana isn’t a crime unless there is a law against having some in your pocket. It seizes to be a crime the minute that law is abolished (as has been done in Colorado recently). Once the law was written by Moses, we had had it. It was clear we were criminals. Our lives teemed with sin. God meant that to happen.

God added the law to make our sins more evident to us. They were charged to our account; we could know what was sin. That way we would see our need for forgiveness and a Savior (or we would be in big trouble on Judgment Day!) In Galatians 3:23-25, he adds that the law serves as our tutor to teach us just how sinful we are and how much we need a Savior. It restricts us;molds us.

This is why children should learn the Ten Commandments and the catechism questions. For instance,
What is sin? Sin is the transgression of the law.
What is the Sixth Commandment?
What is required in the Sixth Commandment?
What is forbidden in the Sixth Commandment?

In addition, we need to gently and discreetly (and sometimes forcefully) point it out to them when they are lying, stealing, dishonoring their parents or teachers. “That is why you need a Savior. That is why we confess our sins. This is why we all need forgiveness.” Or “I have sinned against you. Please forgive me. That is why Jesus came to suffer and die for me. I’m never good enough to be perfect. I need his righeousness and so do you!”

I have been surveying Vacation Bible School materials. Oh my! Most have no mention of sin or the law. The big theme is that God love us all and we should tell others he loves them too. By itself, this just becomes “another gospel.” It is a false gospel because where there is no sin, there is no need of forgiveness or righteousness. Maybe you should think twice about putting your children in a VBS like that. The gospel is too important for them to hear conflicting messages on what basis they are to approach God. My opinion is that math camp, sports camp, or nature camp might be better for them.

Yes, we need to teach our children and grandchildren the law. And let it point them to their need for forgiveness and a righteousness other than their own. Aren’t you glad the story has such a happy ending? There we are, clothed in perfect righteousness, at a lovely wedding reception–ours! We have married the KING OF KINGS! Doesn’t that make your heart sing?

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before “retiring” to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies.

My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years.

Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, “Warm-hearted Calvinists.”


  1. Well written Carol. I agree 100%. Some parents are not only teach their children the ten commandments, but when they sin against their siblings or parents they not only ask for forgiveness, but quote the commandment they broke at the time. This is very practicall application.

  2. Mary Ann Griffin

    Great point!!!

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