Methodists/10 Commandments


Hello Reverend Neal!  

How does the Methodist Church understand the use of the 10 Commandments in a Christian's life. I have found groups that lay great emphasis on the Commandments and stress that they are to be used as the primary guide for our lives. On the other hand other groups teach that their authority has been abolished with the advent of Christ and Christians follow St. Augustine's advice and "Love, then do what thou wilt." From what I've read John Wesley didn't feel the Commandments were abolished but I have yet to get a clear idea of what he did teach about them.

Thank you for your help in understanding this


I don't believe that there is any one way that Methodists will view the 10 Commandments, however in general it is probably true that most of us view them as helpful in comprehending our need of Divine Grace.  Additionally, for children and for others who are young in the Faith the 10 Commandments are very helpful in outlining the priority of holding faith and love for God as first in importance, and then treating others with justice and kindness flows from that priority.

While John Wesley believed the 10 Commandments were critical in teaching us about God's ways, he nevertheless leaned toward Grace and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life as the means by which one is enabled to grow toward perfection in love of God and toward a life that is exemplified by what one sees in the 10 Commandments.  In short, I believe Wesley understood the 10 Commandments as reflecting what perfection looks like when God's Grace is alive in our lives; one doesn't obey the 10 Commandments to be saved or to be perfect, but when one is experiencing sanctification one finds oneself living more and more in conformity with the 10 Commandments (as well as the rest of the moral Law).

Methodists -- at least United Methodists of the 20th and 21st Centuries -- do not tend to be legalists.  We prefer to understand ourselves as a people of Grace.  We tend to state that it's the Spirit of God functioning behind the Law that is important, not the letter of the law.  Salvation is understood as coming by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by doing any of the works of the law ... and certainly not by keeping the 10 Commandments as literal laws.  If anything, the maxim of following the teachings of Jesus in the "Golden Rule" -- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself -- is principle in interpreting and applying the 10 Commandments and living one's life.  Literal legalism doesn't tend to be principle in importance in how we approach the Law.

I hope this helps.


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Rev. Gregory S. Neal


I can answer questions dealing with all issues of United Methodist Doctrine and Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. In particular I can answer questions dealing with the Sacraments and other liturgical and worship-oriented questions. I can also answer questions dealing with the form, structure, and organization of the United Methodist Church and our relationship with other denominations.


I am an ordained United Methodist Elder with more than 20 years of ministerial service experience in the local Church.

I am a Clergy Member in Full Connection and have been a member of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1991. I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. I am also a member of the Emmaus Community, and am currently serving as Senior Spiritual Director for the Dallas Emmaus Community. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke in the United Methodist Church.

I have my own website:   I have written two books, "Grace Upon Grace" and "Seeking the Shepherd's Arms," both available at and in bookstores.

I have a BA in Religious Studies, History and Russian. I have an M.Div in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies and a Ph.D in Sacramental Theology and New Testament.

Awards and Honors
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church
Fellow of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

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