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The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them

Kevin DeYoung

Reviewed by: Z. Bulut Yasar

Date posted: 07/14/2019

The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them, by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway, 2018. Hardcover, 208 pages, $12.62. Reviewed by OP pastor Z. Bulut Yasar.

In one of the episodes of Family Feud, contestants were asked to guess how many of the Ten Commandments a surveyed group said they had broken that month. The most frequent response of the group to this question was “one.” That there is a gross misunderstanding of the Ten Commandments in our society would be an understatement. However, the situation is not much better in the church. As Kevin DeYoung so humorously paints the picture, if we were to call on children and adults on Sunday and ask them to recite the Ten Commandments, how many of them would be able to remember all of them? In this context, DeYoung’s The Ten Commandments is a welcome aid and indeed a breath of fresh air.

There is no doubt that the Ten Commandments have always been important for the church. In the New Testament, the commandments were repeatedly mentioned by Christ and the apostles (Matt. 19:16–22; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). The Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms have large sections on the Ten Commandments. There is a good reason for this. As DeYoung put it, the Ten Commandments are closely related to the nature and character of our God, our Christian life now (sanctification) and in the world to come (glorified life), and ultimately what Christ has done for us. That is why DeYoung takes his task very seriously.

DeYoung sets the stage by telling us why it matters to know and understand the Ten Commandments. In doing so, he engages with postmodern slogans of morality. DeYoung writes this book in almost catechetical form. He asks and answers, anticipating the question of his readers. Each chapter covers one of the commandments, and in each chapter, DeYoung explains what the commandment is, why we should obey it, and how we should obey it. He also keeps the redemptive-historical context in mind. He is aware that although the coming of the Messiah did not abolish the commandments, it “transposed them.”

One of the greatest strengths of this book is that DeYoung does not shy away from hard questions. Whether it is the prohibition of the use of images in the Second Commandment or what living long in the land means in the Fifth Commandment, he is always ready to dig deep into the Scriptures. Study questions make this book a perfect tool for Sunday school classes and small group studies, but it really would be a great help for anyone who wants to understand the Ten Commandments better. As you read it, you will see that the Ten Words (Decalogue) are not only our duty but our destiny. DeYoung masterfully and with a great sense of humor shows that the Ten Commandments are beautiful and the best options for our lives.

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