The last few posts have given us a good foundation from which we may begin to understand the purpose and use of the commandments. If you haven’t read those posts, I recommend going back and checking them out before reading on.
The 3 Qualities
Now as we begin to discuss the first of the Ten Commandments, we need to keep in mind three things that come with every commandment:
- The Requirement of the Command
- The Blessing of the Command
- The Perversion of the Command
The most natural thing to understand about the commandments is that they require something of us. It becomes our duty to please God in a particular way.
Now, if you remember some of my previous posts on Law & Gospel you are probably objecting “I thought we do not have to do anything?”. You would be correct in a sense. As we go through the Commandments you will find, as you likely already know, that it is impossible for us to keep any one of these commands perfectly. That is because it is not our place to be keeping them. As the Anglican theologian Richard Sibbes once said:
God knoweth we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requireth no more than he giveth, and giveth what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth.
That is to say, God gives us the ability to fulfill all that He requires of us, and He does this through the faith He grants us. So whenever you hear God say “Thou shalt…” the Christian would rightly respond “I will, by God’s help”. Anything else is simply nothing at all.
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul; to keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his ordinances, all that I charge you today, that it may be well with you?
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (LXX2012)
A less obvious quality of the Commandments are the blessings which come with them. Every command brings with it a promise of God. Not a promise to help us fulfill the command as mentioned above. But a promised aid in our life.
When parents require their children to do their homework, this is certainly a command. But it is also a blessing. It brings with it the lessons of hard work, discipline, and education. In this way, each commandment brings with it a unique gift from our Blessed Lord.
You son of the devil, full of all deceit and all cunning, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Acts 13:10 (WEB)
Finally, every command brings with it a perversion of Satan. Satan cannot create anything, for God created all things and He made them good. To get around this, Satan perverts the good things God gives us into terrible hateful things.
We, humans, have no need to learn the art of perverting the commands. We are already very gifted at this. But it is important to recognize the perversion because often the perversion hides the very blessing that would free us from Satan’s grasp at that moment. This he desperately seeks to hide from us. We must see past his illusion into the bright beautiful truth of God’s blessing.
Now that we have a good grasp of the three ways in which each of the commandments are used we are well prepared for the next blog post where we will dive into the first commandment.
Try using these categories and think of some of the ways you have personally seen a commandment used in one of these three ways. Then let me know in the comments below or through my Contact Page.
Until then, “be a sinner and sin boldly, but let your trust in Christ be stronger”. God love you and keep you. Amen.