Pat Robertson Explains the Ten Commandments

I must begin this post with a disclaimer.

I never watch Pat Robertson on The 700 Club. Never.

But yesterday, as I was unloading the dishwasher in the kitchen, I turned to Channel 4 for something to listen to.

You see, at that time of morning, I would have ordinarily tuned into The View. But in the kitchen, we don’t have cable and only have the digital converter box—which, incidentally—doesn’t work very well at all. So, the only local channel I get is 4.

Channel 4 is Nashville’s NBC affiliate. I cannot for the life of me figure out how The 700 Club got the mid-morning weekday timeslot. But, anyhoo, someone somewhere is paying big bucks to have Pat Robertson relay his particular stripe of theology to middle Tennessee viewers every day.

I just happened to catch the last minute or so of the program. As I reflect upon those fading seconds of the show, I’m amazed at how few words it takes to butcher so completely a fundamental tenet of basic Christian belief.

But Pat Robertson did. Oh, yes, he did.

I tuned in just as he was answering viewer mail.

A viewer wrote to Pat with this question:
What is the point of the Ten Commandments? No one can keep them all, so I don’t understand why God asked us to try. What do you think, Pat? 

He answered:
That’s nonsense. Of course we can keep them all. The Ten Commandments aren’t all that hard.

Watch the clip below, beginning around the 53-second mark.

Here’s what Robertson should have said (in some form or fashion):

No. We cannot keep The Ten Commandments. Ever. 

Even if we don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, and don’t lie—even if we “do” all things “right” and keep all the outward definitions of the Law, we still fail. 

Why? Because God demands perfection and complete obedience. We are incapable of that. 

Wasn’t this topic primary to Jesus’ ministry? As I recall, Jesus shot down the rich young man—pointing out the greed in his heart, despite his “keeping” the Law. He taught that hatred was the same as murder and lusting was the same as adultery. Jesus was quick to point out the necessity of the Law but he also told us that he was the fulfillment of it! He did it. He kept the Law and he expanded it. 

Now, under the New Covenant instituted by Christ, while believers are still held to God’s unchanging standard, that standard is expanded. It’s not just an outward motion of “keeping” a ritual or “avoiding” something. No, Law-keeping has expanded to the condition of one’s heart, one’s motives, and one’s thoughts. 

Feel defeated yet? Sure, we could stay there in the knowledge of our inability. But, here’s the good news that is the Gospel. Jesus kept the Law and possessed pure thoughts, motives, and attitudes. In Christ, we are seen as him: Law-abiders. We are saved from the Law by grace so that we may desire to keep the Law out of worship (we know it pleases God) and gratitude. 

So what is the purpose of the Law today? Since Jesus kept it, can we just forget it about it since we believe in Christ? 

No. The Law is an aspect of God’s character. If we want to know how to live a life that pleases God, we are required to study his character. It reveals our sin so that we may confess and repent. The Law also foreshadows our Savior, giving us greater insight into him and his work on our behalf

I’m really hoping that Pat Robertson wanted to respond with something like that. I single him out because he has singled himself out. He’s put himself on a syndicated television show, calling himself an “authority.”

The Bible says that teachers will be held to a higher accountability. His answer to a question so fundamental to the proper understanding of law and grace, Christ’s purpose, and the sanctification of the believer is an impromptu misquote at best and a theologically bankrupt and ignorant proclamation at worst. Either way, Pat, you got it wrong.

I had hoped you’d know better.


If you want to read on this topic further, I beg you to check out the Larger Catechism of The Westminster Confession of Faith (Questions 98-150).

I think Question and Answer #149 sums up the point of this post precisely:

Q. 149. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No man is able, either of himself, or by any grace received in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them in thought, word, and deed.

This historic document—upon which my denomination is based—is an exhaustive, yet easy-to-understand explanation. After reading through it, you’ll be confronted with your sin, and you’ll never read the Ten Commandments the same way again. 

What do you think of Pat Robertson’s explanation of the Ten Commandments?
How do you regard the Ten Commandments?

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