We were studying the 10 Commandments at this past week’s Tuesday Fellowship and noted:
- they followed the Lord’s deliverance (salvation) of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Israel’s obedience to God’s laws was intended to flow from and be their response to His gracious, sovereign rescue. The clear principle throughout the Bible is that our works in no way earn our salvation but should be motivated by all that God has done for us;
- the 10 Commandments focus firstly on God and secondly on our neighbour. This is, of course, the right order of priority and Jesus summarised all the commands in terms of loving God with our all and our neighbour as ourselves;
- the commands relating to our neighbour (numbers 6 to 10) deal with the sanctity of life first and then marriage. Material possessions then essentially follow – again there is an order of priority here. These five commands also deal with our deeds, words and thoughts; and
- the 10th commandment (“You shall not covet”) effectively brings us full circle back to the 1st: “You shall have no other gods before Me”.
At the end of the meeting someone told me that they had been particularly struck by a sermon on the 10 Commandments in which the preacher explained that, before becoming a Christian, the emphasis of them is “Thou shalt not”, whilst following conversion the emphasis becomes “Thou shalt not”, because the Holy Spirit gives us enabling grace to keep God’s law. It’s a precious thought and I imagine that this preacher may have had in mind Ezekiel 36v26,27 where God speaks of giving us a new heart and putting His Spirit within us so that we may follow His decrees and be careful to keep His laws. Such inner power is so wonderful – yet it must not be assumed we can then sit back and do nothing. Perhaps the full emphasis in regard to God’s commands should be “Thou shalt not”!
Peace and Grace