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The Ten Commandments, Catholicism, and Salvation

In the following email exchange, the emailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Exchange #1


I was wondering, why did God give us the Ten Commandments. I haven't read much of the Bible, but I am considering it.

Is the Ten Commandments God's rules of getting into heaven? These are the only sins we MUST NOT break in order to be in heaven, after death? If this is false, I don't understand what they are for.

Also, does "bare false witness against your neighbor" mean "thou shall not lie"?

Thank you very much for your time. I hope to hear from you soon. Have a good day.


The Ten Commandments are God's standards yes. But a few points need to be noted: The Ten Commandments are not the totality of the Law of God; they are basically the "preamble" to the Law. God's Law then encompasses the rest of the Book of Exodus, along with Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books, along with Genesis, are collectively called the "Torah" (Hebrew for "Law").

That said, the purpose of the Law is to demonstrate to us that we are sinners. IOW, *if* someone could keep all of God's Commandments perfectly then they would be good enough to "earn" admission to heaven. But no one can keep all of them.

So by trying to perfectly keep God's Commandments and failing, we are led to realize we are sinners. And it is to save sinners that Christ came. Jesus Christ's death on the cross paid the "debt" we owe to God for our sins. And it is by faith in Christ that we are forgiven of our sins and attain salvation.

All of this is explained in detail in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Romans. I would suggest you read Romans. Then I would suggest you read the rest of the books in the New Testament first before reading any more in the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is important, but it is much longer and harder to understand than the New Testament. So it would be more fruitful for you to read the New Testament first. Along with Romans, another good book to read initially is the Gospel of John; then I would suggest reading the rest of the Gospels and then the rest of the New Testament.

I hope the above is helpful. And feel free to write again if you have any further questions.

Exchange #2

>You helped me out a lot. Thank you.

So, if I want forgiveness for something I've done, do I just forget about it because Jesus had already forgiven me? Or should I go to confession. Or make the sign of the cross and say a prayer, or something? What do you think God would want?


You do not just forget about it. You need to *repent* of the sin. Repentance includes having a heart-felt sorrow for what you have done, along with a desire to not do the sin again. You then need to come before God in prayer asking Him to forgive you of the sin based on what Jesus has done for you on the cross. You also need to ask God to give you the strength to not commit the sin again.

No visit to a confessional is needed. You can repent at your home in private before God. And no special prayer needs to be said. What is needed is genuine sorrow about what you have done. And prayer asking for forgiveness from God needs to come form you heart. A "prepared" prayer will not due.

I hope that helps.

Exchange #3

>It helped greatly. Thank you very much.

So, what is confession for, if God doesn't want us to confess them in front of a priest?


As a Protestant I don't see much use for confession. Sometimes it is a good idea to confess a sin to another believer as a way of "getting it off of your chest," but it is not necessary for the other believer to be an ordained minister. Any trusted Christian friend would do. And it is definitely not necessary as far as forgiveness from God is concerned. All that is needed is to come to God through the one mediator Jesus Christ (1Tim 2:5). No human mediator is needed.

Exchange #4

>Does this go for Catholics too? That's what I am.


I was raised Catholic but no longer am. The reason I am not a Catholic is there are too many aspects of the Catholic Church that, IMO, are not Biblical. And the requirement to confess your sins to a priest is one of them

What I would suggest you do is to read the Bible. And if you begin to see too many areas where the teachings of the Catholic Church disagree with the Bible then you will have a decision to make: do you believe the Bible or what the Catholic Church teaches? Personally, I trust the Bible. But you will have to make this decision for yourself.

You might want to check out my Catholicism pages:


Exchange #5

>Thanks for the link.

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