Read Deuteronomy 5:32-33
32 So Moses told the people, “You must be careful to obey all the commands of the Lord your God, following his instructions in every detail. 33 Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy. (NLT)
It is sad that many see the Christian faith as essentially a sequence of ‘Thou shalt nots’. A narrow set of beliefs that squeezes all the enjoyment out of life but gets you to heaven in the end even if there is not a lot of pleasure along the way.
A superficial reading of the Ten Commandments can reinforce this. These instructions are framed as a set of prohibitions. But they are really passports to freedom. We are not to lie because truth-telling enhances community; we are not to commit adultery because sexual fidelity enhances faithful relationships.
The writer G. K. Chesterton makes the point: “The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”
And one other thing about these commandments. They were given after God had graciously freed the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. Then as now, the commandments are not given to us implying that obedience to them earns our favour with God. Rather they are commands to live as people who are already favoured by God. They do not get us to heaven, but instead help us bring a bit of heaven to earth.