For me, this is where the study of the Commandments really starts to get interesting 😀
I know I’m going against the grain here, but I happen to believe that one can know what one should or should not do at any given moment and under all circumstances according to the Ten Commandments. That is to say, we can confidently find God’s will for our entire lives in them. (That provocative enough for ya?)
If you object to this idea, it’s ok, I get it…just hang with me for a bit, alright?
If you’ve been following along, you’ll recall we looked at the Law as the primary means by which God confronts us with our unpayable debt of sin, and our desparate need for a Saviour who will rescue us from it. The Law, however, shows us more than just what we ought not to do, it also shows us the virtues that we ought to strive after as Christians. Not virtues for the sake of our virtuousness (for we are already wholly righteous before God, in Christ) but virtues that reflect who we are under God, and how we are to live in service to one another. Remember, the Commandments still apply, but our motivation for keeping them under Christ is radically shifted. We no longer keep them out of fear for our own condemnation – because that has already been taken care of, dealt with at the Cross. Now we keep them because in them we find who God created us to be.
In the Creation, God told us what man’s job is – to care for all of Creation. And because God saw that it was not good that man should be alone, He created woman and then, in His wisdom, He allowed us to become participants in creation through the joining of man and woman together to create offspring. In a very real sense, Creation was not fully completed until the first child was born. We were created to create, and to care for the created.
We were originally created to know how to do that – the Law that is written on the hearts of all testifies to this – but sin has obscured our view. We can no longer clearly see how it is that God created us to live in community together, under Him, caring for one another. God said it is not good for man to be alone, and that is true for us too. We’re all in this together. It’s not good for us to live in isolation of one another, nor to live as if we were, caring only for ourselves without regard for others.
Jesus Himself told us how we ought to live in relation to one another – the first shall be last – and if we knew how to do that, we wouldn’t need the Commandments to tell us, would we?
There’s this lovely description of what the life of the faithful looks like from the prophet Micah:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
He has told you what is good…
God has informed the heart of every man that which is good, and when that was not enough, He spoke it to us as well; commanded that it be written down, preserved, and taught to all generations. Not for the sake of our own righteousness, but so that God’s righteousness – which looks very much like servanthood, like the first shall be last, like Jesus – may be made visible in the world.
He has told you what is good – and am I wrong to think that the “good” referred to here is God’s Word? I don’t think so…God is good, and none other. His Word, including His Commandments are the good that He has told us.
The more I study the Commandments the more I am convinced that they are instructions for daily life; the broad principles by which we are to relate to God and to each other. The first shall be last and the last shall be first? Love your enemies? I wouldn’t know how to do that, how to put “skin” on those exhortations and live them out apart from the Commandments.
7 thoughts on “Grappling: The Ten Commandments As Virtues”
I agree with everything that you wrote. I would like, however, to add one additional thought. I think you’ve said something similar on another post, but it belongs here as well.
We are created in the image of God. God is love. More than power or glory or wisdom or knowledge, love is at the very center of God’s essence. Therefore, the Law instructs us how to love–how to love God wholeheartedly and how to love our neighbors as ourselves. When our love resembles God’s love, we will do the things God created us to do. When we fail to love–when we become self-centered and begin using our neighbors and even God to get what we want–we sin and need reconciliation again through our Savior. J.
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So true! I think an argument can be made that the whole of the Commandments can be boiled down to a single command – LOVE.
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The apostles Paul and John would undoubtedly agree with you. J.
You wrote…”It’s not good for us to live in isolation of one another, nor to live as if we were, caring only for ourselves without regard for others.”
One of my favorite TV shows is “Alone.” It is where they drop survivalists into remote parts of the world completely isolated from other people to test their survival skills. Most of the participants crack under the stress of loneliness. Man was not created to be alone…
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That’s so interesting! I suspect I’d crack up after a while if I didn’t have people around me to give my love to…and to love me back. I don’t think it’s a coincidence then that the purpose of the Commandments seems to be to teach us how to live in love with God and others.
I’m curious, how are you finding these videos? There’s about 20 or so more of them and I have been finding them helpful to ponder on. 10 Commandments seems like it should be pretty basic stuff – I hope I’m not boring y’all 😀
To be honest, I watched one of the videos and the rest I’ve just read your material. Nothing against the videos… I usually just don’t have the time to watch.
Lol, well thanks for being honest 😉 Maybe I’ll try harder to come up with a little recap for each of them as well…I too have been posting the videos to save time! I ended up binge-watching them all over the course of a couple of days, lol.
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