To get a clear sense of the portion, let’s read Deuteronomy 5:6-9, “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” If you read verses 6-21, you will see that this is a re-telling of the Ten Commandments that the Lord gave in Exodus 20.

After having rescuing His people from Egypt, here called the ‘house of bondage’, the Lord gave these commandments as part of His covenant. We read the Lord’s words in Exodus 19:5-6, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Notice that the blessings of the Lord were dependent upon the Israelites’ obedience to the Lord. Of course, much of the blessings reserved for this nation were forfeited because of their continual disobedience. The Lord desired that the Israelites would be “a kingdom of priests”, but because of their idolatry, this never happened. Instead, the priests were limited to the tribe of Levi. Not so for the church today. Our blessings are dependent upon what the Lord Jesus did, not what we do. Eternal life is given to us, not because of our obedience, but because of the Lord’s obedience to His Father. We read in Philippians 2:8 that the Lord Jesus “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Because of His finished work on the cross, all we who know Christ as our savior are part of His church and are ALL priests of God. 1 Peter 2:5 tells us that we are ‘holy priests’. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us that we are ‘royal priests’. All because of the obedience of One…the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, how are we to understand the teaching of Deuteronomy 5:8? Is it ok to wear a cross or a crucifix? Does the scripture forbid this? In our portion, it’s clear that the directive from the Lord is that we are never to have another God except Him, the One True God. We read in verse 7, “Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” Verses 8-9 speak of making carved images with the purpose of worshipping them. Nothing in Heaven, in the earth, or in the seas is worthy of our worship and praise except for “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Genesis 14:19) I’m sure that none of us would wear a cross or crucifix on a necklace with the express purpose of worshipping it. I do have a problem with the crucifix, which shows Christ still on the cross. Christ is no longer on that cross. He died, was taken down from the cross and buried, and was “raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) With His work of salvation completed, we need to consider Him as risen and ascended into Heaven. At least an empty cross is an emblem of a work completed.

While I cannot say from the scriptures that this would be forbidden, I do want to add a STRONG word of caution. I have seen people kiss the cross on the necklace around their necks. I have seen people hold or rub the cross or crucifix around their necks while praying. This dangerous practice shows that people are attributing some sort of power to these pieces of jewelry, and that, even in the smallest sense, takes away from the glory and power that belongs only to the Lord. What is the purpose of wearing a cross or crucifix. Is it as a witness to show others that you are a believer on the Lord Jesus? If so, I’m thankful for your desire to witness for Christ. However, there is a better way to show others you belong to Christ. The Lord Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Exhibiting the love of Christ is the best way to witness for Him. (229.8)