The Ten Commandments
As a motion picture, they were acclaimed by the world. As the law of God, they have been loved by some, hated by others but transgressed by all. The Ten Commandments have been maligned, distorted, vilified; some, by human arguments, have tried to do away with them. A small few of the obedient have experienced the blessings they can bring.
Here explained plainly is this living law, soon to become the basic law of the peaceful, prosperous, world tomorrow!
"You shall have no other God’s before Me.” Exodus 20:1-3.That is the first and, as we shall see later, greatest commandment. Remember that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, said that you shall live by every word of God. Matt.4:4. And through God’s help you must walk according to the Commandments of God if you would like to live forever. Matt. 19:17. Do you honestly think of and worship God as the one who gives you every breath of air you breathe? You should, for that is part of worshiping the true God and having no false gods before Him.
Today, the greatest deception of all is not communism or atheism, but the false doctrine of evolution. Evolution is an attempt to explain the creation without the Creator. It denies the true God and His nature and office. It is the very basis of most of this world’s education. But the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. I Cor. 1:20.
Understand God’s Purpose
In Matthew 6:9, Jesus tells us, when we pray, to address God as our “Father.” We are told we should go to Him with all of our trials and problems. Like a human father, He watches over His children and blesses and protects them. He also chastens every son that He loves. Heb. 11:6. From the beginning, God has been the Father of mankind. In creating man, God said: “Let us make man in OUR IMAGE, after OUR LIKENESS.
Man was made in the physical image of God- the outward form and shape of God. He was given certain responsibilities like God Himself has; given rule over all the creation on this earth. He was given certain limited powers to make or “create” new things that had never existed before in that exact form. In this limited way, we have some of the very abilities of God! For God plans that we shall ultimately be like Him! 1John 3:2. Man is ultimately to be composed of spirit. John 3:6. He will be part of the ruling family of God. God the Father is reproducing Himself!
Modern science is trying desperately to give man power far in excess of his mental and spiritual capabilities for handling such forces! As former President Eisenhower said in his first inaugural address: “Science seems ready to confer upon us as its final gift the power to erase human life from this planet.”And here on earth our civilization continues its paganised teaching that man is the ultimate judge of what is right or wrong and puts man completely in the place of God and His laws! Whether we realize it or not, this carnal attitude-this God-REJECTING attitude – permeates every phase and facet of our civilization today!
What You Serve Is Your “God”
It is true that most professing Christians think of their religion as just occupying a corner of their lives. But in all fairness and love we say that the day will come when they will realize that that type of religion is false religion and false worship! What is the most important thing God commands you to do? When Jesus Christ was asked this question, He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” Then Jesus continued: “And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang ALL the law and the prophets.” Matt. 22:37-40.
On these two commandments hangs the destiny of all nations and individuals! If men will obey these two commandments as they are magnified throughout the Bible, they will be blessed! If not, they will be cursed and will become confused and frustrated!
As Jesus said, the very writings of the prophets hang on whether or not nations obey or disobey God’s law. Every prophecy written against a nation shows that God foresaw that the nation would disobey and turn away from His law and obedience to His commandments! These are the living laws -like the law of gravity -that rule the world in which you live! Return to Chapters
Man is incomplete, having cut himself off from the true worship of the true God. Yet he is to worship that God alone: “You shall have no other gods before me.” The second commandment tells us about how to worship the true God, what to avoid in our worship, and of the continuing blessing or penalty that comes to us as a result of the way in which we worship God.
Many times after reiterating the Ten Commandments, God again warned Israel against any form of idolatry. “You shall make no idols nor graven image, neither raise up a standing image, neither shall you set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down to it: for I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 26:1. God was continually against every form of idol or image used in worship. However, some might misunderstand, God does not condemn art or sculpture, but rather the setting up of any picture or image or representation “to bow down to it.”
The real basis of all idolatry is that self-willed, rebellious man refuses to surrender himself to worship the true God in the way that He commands. Not really knowing the true God, nor having His Spirit, man thinks he needs some “aid” or “representation” to help him worship his humanly devised concept of God. Notice that this second commandment is not speaking of the worship of an idol – that’s forbidden in the first commandment. This second commandment forbids the use of physical “aids” or “helps” in worshiping the invisible God.
Pictures of Jesus
Thousands of professing Christians employ representations or pictures of a so-called Jesus Christ in their worship – and even display them in their homes. What does your Bible say about such pictures?
First of all, the second commandment itself obviously prohibits the use of anything which represents God or could easily become an object of worship. Certainly, since Jesus Christ is God (Heb. 1:8), this would directly prohibit any picture or likeness of His person!
In addition, for those who might wish to “reason” or argue about this point, these so-called pictures of Christ have no similarity whatever to the way Jesus Christ really looked! Jesus – when in human flesh – was a Jew. Heb. 7:14. The features in most of His supposed pictures are obviously not Jewish!
As the Word of God, Christ inspired the apostle Paul to write: “Does not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” I Cor. 11:14. Yet these pictures invariably show a man with long hair, soft feminine features and a sentimental, sanctimonious look in His eyes. This is not the Christ of your Bible!
Actually, Jesus was undoubtedly very masculine in appearance. As a young man, He was a carpenter – working outdoors. And He continued spending most of His time outdoors even during His ministry. So most crucifixes, pictures and images of Jesus are in total opposition to every description given of Him in the sacred Word of God! They give a false impression of the true Jesus Christ in every respect.
Jesus’ face must have had a rugged, sunburned appearance. He was not womanish in appearance, but rather had short hair like a man. He did not have beautiful, aristocratic features, but as He inspired Isaiah to describe His human appearance: “He has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” Isa. 53:2. As a human being, Jesus was a normal, healthy, perhaps somewhat rugged looking young Jew in His early thirties, who with earnestness and conviction preached the message of God’s soon coming Kingdom or rule over this earth.
However, if we think of Jesus’ appearance at all, we should think, in general terms at least, of the way He looks today. He has described this for us in Revelation 1:13-16: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire … and his countenance was as the sun shines in his strength!”
Worshiping Systems and Institutions
One of the most common forms of modern idolatry is making an idol out of one’s church or society. For many people, this world’s society- its dictates, customs and traditions – becomes a literal god. Many people are desperately afraid of doing anything that might be regarded as different or “odd.” They feel they must conform to this world and its ways. But God commands: “Be not comformed to the world, but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Rom 11:2. This command must seem very hard to obey for people who get to thinking that other people must be right in what, they think and say and practice.
The Bible shows that many people in Jesus’ day failed in their worship: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”John 11:43. If you blindly obey the dictates of your family, your church or society instead of the direct commands of God, you are guilty of idolatry. That group or institution becomes an idol to you in place of the true God! If we persist in an idolatrous and vain form of worship, God says He will visit our iniquity upon our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There are many ramifications to this statement and principle.
But there is one obvious direct meaning in this context. If, in worship, men put an idol, image or something else in place of God and come under the influence of that false worship, then they are not only harming themselves – but their children and grandchildren! The principle is that their false idea of worship will be transmitted to their children – damaging and wrecking their lives and happiness! It is a solemn and terrible thing to pass on to your children a false concept of God. It is one of the most awful things a man can do! But together with this warning, God gives a merciful promise to those who are willing to worship God as He commands. In their case, He is a loving and merciful God, “showing mercy unto thousands” of them that love Him, and keep His commandments.
Here is a remarkable contrast. God only visits the iniquity of the fathers to the third and fourth generations before intervening with merciful punishment and awakening to truth. But He shows mercy unto the thousandth generation! God calls men into His own immediate spiritual presence – to worship Him directly. Men can come to really know the great God of the universe as their personal Father. They can daily walk with Him, talk with Him. Whenever a man stops short of that face-to-face worship of the God, he is ruining in his own character – breaking the commandment of God. This is the meaning and force of the second commandment. Return to Chapters
Results of a poll of 1500 college students showed that they had two sets of values : on the first level, towards self, family and friends; on the second level, to mankind (in general) and God. It is notable that God was least regarded by these “educated” young people! Yet in this same poll, 90 percent of those questioned indicated a belief in God. This prevailing spiritual lethargy is indicative of a growing trend even among churchgoers and professing Christians. People like to talk about religion and God, but they do not stand in awe of His position and His name.
The third commandment deals with God’s name, His office, His position as the great sovereign Ruler of the universe: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. In the Bible, personal names have a meaning. The original Hebrew name of Abram was changed to Abraham – for Abraham means “a father of many nations.” And Abraham was destined to become just that – “a father of many nations.” Gen. 17:5. So it is with God’s Name.
Every name or title of God reveals some attribute of His character. In studying God’s Word, we learn new facts about God’s nature and character with each new name by which He reveals Himself. In other words, God names Himself what He is!“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Gen. 1:1. In this very first verse of the Bible, God reveals Himself by the Hebrew name Elohem. There is one God – but more than one member in the Godhead, or God family! This same word Elohem is used in Genesis 1:26: “And God- Elohem said, Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” Here it is clearly seen- in context with the passage itself- that more than one person shares the name of God- Elohem.
In the New Testament, this is made clear by the revelation that God the Father created all things by and through Jesus Christ- who was with God and was God from the beginning. John 1:1-14; Eph. 3:9. In these passages, it is revealed that God is more than one person- God the Father and the “Word” or Spokesman, who later became Jesus Christ when born in human flesh. This Father-Son relationship shows that God is a FAMILY. And the way the word Elohem is used in these early passages in Genesis and elsewhere certainly indicates that God is the creating kingdom or family! Interestingly, Elohem is plural in form but is used either in the singular or plural, depending on the context.
In dealing with Abraham, God sometimes calls Himself El ShaddiI, which means “Almighty God.” So God is the source of all power! His name should be revered, because it stands for the one who is the source of all power, all might, and all authority.The name most commonly translated “Lord” in the Old Testament is translated from the Hebrew letters Yhwh, sometimes rendered Yahweh or Yahveh. The original Hebrew word means the “Eternal” or “Self-Existent One.” The word is both used and defined in Genesis 21:33: “And Abraham called there on the name of the Lord (Yhwh), the Everlasting God.” This Hebrew word, often translated “Jehovah” in some of the revised versions, shows God’s character as the Everlasting God and is used to show His everlasting office in a covenant relationship to those whom He has created.
Should You Swear?
God’s name is so sacred and holy that we are commanded not to invoke it to back up our words or our oath! Fortunately, the American nation was founded by men who read their Bibles and made great allowance for religious liberty and freedom. Therefore, even though many public officials will, on occasion, ask you to raise your hand and “swear,” they all realize that provision has been made so that you can employ the word “affirm” instead of swearing.
Religious Titles to Avoid
Speaking of using certain expressions as a religious title, Christ said: “And call no man your Father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” Matt. 23:9. Although there is a flagrant and obvious abuse of this command in some large religious organizations, this statement of God’s Word is clear to anyone who wishes to obey it. Our only spiritual Father is God! Any application of this word as a religious title to a man is simply direct blasphemy against the Creator – even the weak, corruptible human beings who take to themselves and falsely assume that which is God’s title.
Of course, we should call our human parent “father,” as God Himself does in the fifth commandment. Another common misuse of God’s name is the application of the term “Reverend” to any human being- be he a minister or otherwise. For God applies this title to Himself alone: “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: HOLY and REVEREND is his (God’s) name.” Psalm 111:9. “Reverend” applies to someone to be revered- someone worthy of worship! No mortal man is worthy of such a title! any man who thinks he is worthy of worship- or deserves the title “Reverend-” is someday going to have to repent of breaking the third commandment!
Speaking of the “religionists” of His day who refuse complete obedience to the will and law of God, Jesus declared: “This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit IN VAIN do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Mark 7:6-7. In like manner, many today profess God with their lips, but their worship is vain! “Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matt. 7:21. Return to Chapters
Why were you born? What is the meaning of your life? What is the true goal of life – and what are the laws of life by which that goal can be attained? How much time do you spend each week in considering these most important questions? Most people are so busy with the day-to-day cares of making ends meet that they devote almost no time at all to the spiritual issues of life. If questioned about Bible study or prayer, most people reply that “there just isn’t enough time” for these religious activities.
The fourth commandment completes the first section which deals with man’s relationship to God. It provides for the perpetual observance of a sign of the relationship between God and man. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex. 20:8-11.
This command is, in its wording, the longest of any of the ten. It is placed, protectively, in the very midst of the Ten Commandments. Yet, sad to say, it is the one command about which men “reason” and argue most and which they would most quickly tear down and try to separate from the rest of God’s law. Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28. Notice that Jesus said the Sabbath day was “made.” Whatever was made has a Maker.
Speaking of Him in particular who did the creating, the inspired writer of Genesis states: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. AND GOD BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Gen. 2:2-3.
Jesus said that the Sabbath was made FOR man. Here we see that the Sabbath was made WHEN man was made. And it was made by the person who later became Jesus Christ! It was made as an intrinsic part of the environment which surrounded man and which God made in the seven days of creation. Notice that God “blessed” the seventh day and “sanctified” it. Such an honor was not conferred on any of the preceding six days. When God blesses something, He bestows His favor upon, and His presence in that thing. The very word “sanctify” means to set apart for holy use or purpose.
The Sabbath Is A Blessing
The Sabbath, is holy time. Yet it was made FOR man- as a great blessing to all mankind! Our Creator knew that we would need a period of rest and worship every seventh day, and this is the basic purpose for which the Sabbath was created. Each of us tends to become overly absorbed in our daily cares and work and pleasure during the week.The Sabbath is one of the greatest blessings that has ever been bestowed upon the human family!
Understanding that the Sabbath command is just as binding as the commandments against murder and adultery. It is by the authority of God that the first six days of the week are appointed for man’s business and labor. It is the will of God that man should work and earn a living. He who idles away his time in the six days is equally guilty in the sight of God as the one who works on the seventh! Since the very Creator has so commanded, we can keep the Sabbath day of rest and spiritual rejuvenation with complete confidence that God will bless and prosper us, because we have done this!
These are the busiest days that humanity has ever seen. These are days in which most men seem to have little or no time for the contemplation of the spiritual purposes and goals of life- the most important questions which man ought to be considering. The true observance of the Sabbath would keep man in contact with God! Without that contact, he is cut off from the very purpose of his existence, from the laws that govern his success or failure in life, from an understanding of what he is, where he is going and how to get there. Without this contact with the Creator God, the life of man is emptiness, frustration and a thing of vanity. In this age above all others, man needs contact with God, the spiritual strength and understanding, and the blessing and guidance which proper observance of God’s true Sabbath provides.
Jesus Christ taught by His own life and actions that the Sabbath is a holy commanded assembly for God’s people as is taught in Leviticus 23:3. Jesus’ example and customary practice is recorded in Luke 4:16, where we read that Jesus, “as his custom was … went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.”
Certainly the true Sabbath is a day for the united worship of God. And it is a time for the expounding of God’s Word and His living laws. It is your duty to find out where that Church is, in which you can really worship God “in spirit and in truth,” a Church which properly observes the true Sabbath of God, and a Church in which we are taught to “live by every word of God.”
Properly understood and properly observed, the fourth commandment- the keeping of God’s holy Sabbaths one of the greatest blessings that the Creator has ever bestowed! It is an identifying sign between, man and the true God. Remember it- keep it holy! Return to Chapters
The home and the family unit are the basis of all decent society. And the relationship of children to their parents is an exact type of the spiritual relationship between true Christians and God. The lessons of character learned in that relationship may last children the rest of their lives- and for eternity! In the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God Himself. For the loving and affectionate parent is the child’s provider, protector, teacher and lawgiver. A child’s early training and response to this relationship will in large measure determine his later response to the larger relationships with society. And, ultimately, it is certain to affect his relationship with his spiritual Father in heaven.
By direct implication, a parent is bound by the fifth commandment to make himself honorable. For to be honored, one must be honorable. Every parent needs to realize that he represents God to his child! He should live a life worthy of the child’s deep respect and reverence. Then he should teach his child to honor and respect both of his parents.
Blessing for Obedience
The apostle Paul reemphasizes the blessing attached to the fifth commandment: “That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth.” Eph. 6:3. Obedience to the fifth commandment automatically results in the building of habits and character which tend to long life. A young person so trained will avoid the recklessness, the violence, the wrong companionships and the rebellion against authority which often result in untimely death. And, in its ultimate meaning, those who learn to respect and obey their parents and later – because of this training – God Himself, will certainly “live long on the earth.” For, as Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek [the humble and obedient]: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt. 5:5.
The time may come when it is no longer necessary or right that a person should strictly obey his parents. But the day should never come when he ceases to honor them. A person who has properly obeyed his parents in childhood later expresses his honor for them in a deeper appreciation of the comforts and training they provided him as a child. This honor expresses itself in courtesy, thoughtfulness and kind deeds. In the evening of life, many parents long for this affection and fellowship with their children more, perhaps, than for any other blessing. Let us think and act on this opportunity to return the love our parents so freely gave!
To the everlasting shame of our professing Christian society, thousands of elderly parents are reduced to living on a small amount that comes to them through governmental agencies. In all too many cases, the children are able but simply unwilling to provide additional comforts for their parents. This is a part of our obedience to the fifth commandment.
Jesus’ Own Personal Example
Jesus Christ lived the message He taught. His own personal life is a dramatic illustration of obedience to the fifth commandment. Just before His death, Jesus said: “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” John 15:10. Through obedience to His heavenly Father, and to his human parents as well, Jesus grew in wisdom and maturity even as a youth.
Even in His dying moments, while suffering one of the most agonizing deaths ever devised by men, Jesus honored and loved His mother to the very end. Just before He died, John records: “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold your son! Then said he to the disciple, Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” John 19:26-27.
Here Jesus made final provision for His mother to be taken care of by John after His death. At a time when the thoughts of all other men would have been of self, Jesus still remembered the fifth commandment and extended love and honor to the woman who nourished Him from infancy, who taught Him from the Scriptures, and who now stood in this awful place unashamed weeping at His death. Remember the perfect example of Jesus Christ! “Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you.” Return to Chapters
“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13, (Jewish Publication Society translation). Biblical authorities agree that “murder” is a more correct reading of the original inspired Hebrew than the word “kill.” For it is possible to kill and yet not to murder. And it is important to understand that only the letter of God’s law was given to ancient Israel, whereas Christians are to live by the spirit and fullest intent of that law as magnified by Christ Himself.
Under the original letter of the law, it was intentional killing or murder which was forbidden. Remember that in this same “book of the covenant” given to Israel, God commanded them to kill or execute those guilty of major crimes. Ex. 21:11-17. Also, the instructions in Numbers 35:9-34 show that accidental killing was not regarded as murder. Even here, though, manslaughter was obviously a terrible offense – and the careless or unwitting slayer had to remain in a city of refuge for perhaps many years until the high priest died.
God’s original purpose was that man should learn not to kill. And although it was permitted in certain instances to the carnal, unconverted people of Israel, we shall see that God is now developing in His Spirit-begotten children the character to love, to serve and to save life – not to destroy it. Life is sacred because it is God-given. Man has been made in the very image and likeness of God. Of all the physical creation, only man has the type of mind that God possesses. God is the Ruler of all that is. But out of human flesh He is forming literal sons who will someday share in that rule. So God said: “Let them have dominion ….”
Man needs experience in order to develop the character God purposes for him. Experience requires time. And a man’s life consists of just so much time. God gave that life for the supreme purpose of preparing another son to be in His kingdom and family forever. That is why any form of murder is one of the ten great sins. It is destroying the highest creation of God! In effect, it is an attempt to thwart the very purpose of the great Giver of all life. And puny, man has no business whatsoever interfering with God’s greatest gift!
Personal Application of the Commandment
Jesus Christ came into this world to “magnify” God’s law and “make it honorable.” Isa. 42:21. Jesus cast a spotlight, as it were, on the Ten Commandments, and showed their real spiritual intent and meaning in the full Christian life.
This is Jesus Christ’s application of the sixth commandment to you and me. If we hate and anger in our hearts, we are harboring the spirit of murder. Action follows thought. First we think, then we do! The Spirit of Christ guides us not only to control our actions, but to control our thoughts and our attitudes. In part, the New Covenant is the process of God writing His law in our hearts and minds. Heb. 8:10.
How, then, should you deal with your enemies? “Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” verses 20-21. It takes real strength of character to help and serve your fellow human being when he has directly tried to harm you! It takes the spiritual wisdom to realize that he is a fellow human being, made in the image of God, and simply misguided for the time being in his thoughts and actions.
Humanity’s Greatest Crime
Perhaps the greatest international crime of humanity is the scourge of war. Millions of human lives created in the image of God have been mercilessly slaughtered down through the ages in useless, senseless, idiotic wars which in most cases failed utterly to accomplish their stated purpose!
“Everything is gained by peace; nothing is gained by war.” One of the most respected statesmen and military leaders of our time, General Douglas Mac Arthur, stated: “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace … military alliances, balances of powers, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.”
Humanity’s “last chance” is to repent of the sin of war before human annihilation removes all life from this planet! General MacArthur acknowledged that the problem we face is theological – it is a Christian problem involving a true knowledge of the true God! He went on to say that it involves “an improvement of human character.”It only breeds more war! “For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” Matt. 26:52.
Through the apostle James, God shows that war results from a type of spirit exactly opposite that which He wants His servants to have. “From where come wars and fighting’s among you? Come they not, even from your lusts that war in you? You lust, and have not: You kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: You fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not.” James 4:1-2.
God’s Government Will End War
Jesus Christ came preaching the good news of the government or rule of God. That rule is based on the Ten Commandments – God’s spiritual law. Jesus magnified that law and showed its spiritual intent and purpose. He taught that if, we even hate our brother, we are spiritually guilty of murder! Jesus taught that men should obey the laws of God and prepare for His coming Kingdom by letting God’s laws -His character- be placed within them.
When God’s government does come very soon now to this earth, His law will go forth as the standard of conduct of all nations. Micah 4:1-2. At that time, God alone will wage war to punish rebellious nations in perfect wisdom and justice. As for the peoples of the world themselves? “Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” verse 3.
War involves learning to hate and kill. Young men will no longer be forced to learn an attitude which is diametrically opposed to the rule of God’s law of love. But meanwhile, we must work and pray for God’s Kingdom of peace, and we must realize that the spirit of war is the spirit of murder-and avoid it with all of our strength. Jesus Christ is against the spirit of murder in every form. He is against war- and someday He will put an end to it forever! He is against all malice and envy and hate. Jesus Christ taught the dignity of man and the sacredness of human life -“Created in the image of God.”
Return to Chapters
Is “sexual compatibility” the all-important thing in marriage? In this age of broken homes, juvenile delinquency and modern psychology, many will say that the answer is “yes”. But the fact remains that the more “modern” theories about marriage are put into practice, the faster the divorce rate climbs and the more little children are doomed to grow up without the blessing of a stable, happy home. It is a painful fact that half of all marriages in America ends in the divorce courts.
The marriages ends- but the suffering and anguish and grief do not. For the little children of such broken homes, the years of frustration and emptiness are only beginning. Is there a real meaning to marriage that modern man needs to understand? Are there God-given laws and principles that can safeguard a Christian marriage and make it happy and purposeful?
The Seventh Commandment Stated
The Creator God devoted two of His ten great spiritual laws- the Ten Commandments- to protecting the relationships in the home and family. We have already discussed the first of these: “Honour your father and your mother ….”
The other law directly governing the home and family is contained in the seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” Ex. 20:14. God gave this commandment to protect the honor and sanctity of marriage. Immediately after the sixth command, which declares the sacredness of human life, God gives this law to safeguard the highest earthly relationship. For marriage and the home are the basis of all decent society.
It is impossible to understand the true meaning of marriage without first understanding that sex and marriage are God-given and God-ordained. To leave God out of the picture- as this modern age is doing- is to degrade the marriage. Notice God’s purpose in creating man and woman! “And the Lord God said [after He had made only the man], It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a help mate for him” (Gen. 2:18). God saw that man was incomplete by himself, and so He decided to make a help “meet” suitable for the man- one with whom man could really share his life.
So the first and primary purpose of marriage is to make man and woman complete. Each is incomplete without the other. Man alone was not able to fulfill the purpose for which God created him – was not able to learn the lessons of character which God intended – and so God created the woman as an “help” to the man. And, in the very creation, God showed that they were to dwell together as man and wife in one union – to share everything in this life, and so make their lives meaningful and complete in a physical sense at least.
The home and family are the basis of all decent society! The lessons of character learned in the home – patience, understanding, kindness – all of these are qualities that God, wants in man for all eternity, and the family relationship is one of the best places in which they can be learned! Better than in any other place, the lessons of decency, loyalty, and a sense of responsibility are learned in a happy and well-balanced home.
And so, in addition to making man complete, having and training children, a third great purpose in marriage is the building of character in the home and family relationship. The kingdom and law of God are based on love. Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35. To obey God’s law of marriage, man and wife must literally give themselves to each other in every phase and facet of their lives.
Marriage Pictures Christ and His Church
As ordained by God, the marriage union is holy. It is so holy that in His Word God uses the marriage union as a type of the relationship between Christ and His Church! Notice Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of, the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Then the husbands are addressed: “Husbands, Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it …. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself” (verses 25, 28). Jesus Christ served, helped, trained, protected and eventually gave Himself for His Church. So are husbands to protect, to provide for, to guide, to encourage, to love and give to their wives! A man is to be the head of his house. Yet he is to use that office to serve and to give protection, guidance and happiness to his wife and family. And God holds him responsible for being the right kind of head!
Because of this great lesson and purpose in marriage, God says: “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” verse 31. When Jesus was asked by the hypocritical Pharisees why Moses allowed divorce in Old Testament times, He answered: “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commits adultery: and whoso marries her which is put away does commit adultery”! Matt.19:8-9. No one is to divorce and then marry another!
It is a matter of record that most divorced persons seek a second mate, and many find a third or a fourth mate to satisfy a desire which God intended should be satisfied and channeled to and uplifted in the holy and sacred marriage with their first mate – who in most cases is still living at the time of the remarriage.
This is a pitiful spectacle and a national disgrace! Even though God permits divorce in certain instances, it is far better for each marriage partner to learn to help and serve and forgive the other, and preserve the sacred marriage bond. Jesus’ famous exception clause, “except for fornication (porneia)” Matt. 19:9, should be employed only as a last reserve and even then after much prayer, counsel, and sincere attempts to save the marriage. And the same would apply to the apostle Paul’s permission for the Christian to remarry if deserted by an unconverted mate. I Cor. 7:15.
Marriage Is Ordained by God
Truly, even though God allows some marriages and homes to be shattered by divorce, it is something He hates. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, says that he hates putting away- divorce …” Mal. 2:16. Again: “… The Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously: yet is she your companion, and the wife of your covenant.” verse 14.
The sin of lust is more fully understood when you realize how righteous and holy the proper use of sex in marriage is to God. The process of adultery, and the process of divorce and remarriage, usually begin in the heart. Notice how Jesus Christ covered this point in magnifying the law of God and making it holy: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultry with her already in his heart.” Matt. 5:27-28.
Jesus taught that you break the seventh commandment when you even so much as entertain thoughts of sexual lust toward another person. Action follows thought. So it is part of the development of character for every person to learn to guide and to channel his thoughts away from all illicit desires. Meanwhile, in the industries that control the media that influence and move young people to action – movies and television- the emphasis in an ever increasing number of productions is on sex or violence, or a combination of both.
God gives some important advice to those who are tempted to commit fornication or adultery. In this age of sexual stimulation, it is invaluable to ‘heed’ this advice if you would enter into the Kingdom of God God says: “flee fornication.” I Cor. 6:18. He does not say to let your mind dwell on sexual ideas or desires. He does not say to place yourself alone with another person’s mate or with a single person with whom you might be sexually tempted. This generation needs to learn the lesson of lasting faithfulness in marriage and in the home! It needs to obey both the letter and the spirit of God’s seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” Return to Chapters
This is God’s law protecting all private property and possessions: “ You shall not steal.” Ex. 20:15.
Because men do not think the God who gave this commandment is real -and do not fear to disobey His law -we have more literal theft than ever before. But we also violate the eighth commandment in hundreds of ways through a watered-down system of morality.
According to God’s Word and His law, there are only two right ways by which you can come into possession of anything. The first is by a free gift- or an inheritance- from another person, or from God Himself. The second is by honest labor, which earns something as a legitimate return. Any other way is theft – the taking from another that which belongs to him. It also forbids international thievery in which governments forcibly confiscate and steal the property and possessions of their own or other nations’ citizens. And, to our lasting shame, all nations stand guilty of breaking God’s law in this respect!
Thievery Through False Advertising
One of the great commercial sins of our age is the common practice of false advertising. The consumer is led to expect that a certain “pill,” for instance, will cause him to lose weight, gain weight, increase his potency, restore his thinning hair, or whatever the case may be. And, in most cases, this statement is a direct, willful lie without any doubt.In many cases, the victims of these gigantic frauds are not only robbed of money, they are robbed of health, happiness and peace of mind. Many a “respectable” businessman and community leader has attained his position largely through this type of mass deception and theft!
Our nations and peoples need to wake up! Just because a sin can be made outwardly to appear “respectable,” remember that God is the real Judge. The eighth commandment of God has a message to the employer: “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” To labor: “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage.”But just stealing from a fellow human being is not the only principle involved in the eighth commandment. God owns far more property than any man. Hag. 2:8.
Stealing From God
In Malachi 3, speaking to modern-day Jacob or Israel (verse 6), God declares: “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings ” (verse 8). God here indicts our modern English-speaking peoples for robbing our very Creator and His Work! No wonder there is so little true religion left on earth today! No wonder there is so much confusion and deceit going about in the name of Christianity!
God continues: “You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation.” Then God promises in His Word: “Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” verses 9-10. God says He will bless you if you begin tithing- as He commands- through faith in Him and in His Word.
Property and possessions are to be gained by honest work- not merely to satisfy personal desires and needs- but so that any excess may be freely given to someone in need. In the real intent or spirit of God’s law, a man not only steals by taking from another that which is his, but by refusal to work in order to share and give to others in need! The true Christian should be “distributing to the necessity of others; given to hospitality.” Rom. 11:13. We are to become like God. Matt. 5:48. And Jesus said: “My Father work , and I work.”John 5:17.
The positive lesson of the eighth commandment is also summarized in these all-inclusive words of Jesus Christ: “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.” Acts 20:35. If, through God’s Spirit, we can truly learn to live by those words, we will have fulfilled the spirit of the eighth commandment!
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.” Ex. 20:16. It is only in seeking and bearing witness to the truth that man is associated with God. For, in fact, God is truth! Jesus said: “Your word is truth” John 17:17. And again: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. No matter what other faults and weaknesses a man may have, if he is willing to speak the truth, live openly and truthfully what he really is, and acknowledge the truth when it is shown to him, that man can be respected and helped to overcome his personal weaknesses.
The far-reaching spiritual applications of the ninth commandment are tremendous. Consider: 1. There is a personal, living God whose ways and laws are intrinsically right. 2. Therefore, a man who is honest, who is willing to speak the truth and acknowledge the truth when it is revealed, must eventually become like the true God ! But a man whose word is no good, who is in the habit of lying to others and to himself- that man’s very character and mental processes are so twisted and perverted that he can never come to understand even the truth of God until his mind is literally cleaned up!
The immediate value of being able to rely on a man’s word would not only guard every decent man’s reputation and eliminate millions of wasted hours from the burden of investigating every statement and report several times over, it would also prevent unworthy men from ever being placed in high positions of responsibility. It would literally clean up our society! Even in our democratic nations, men are all too often recommended for high office – not because of integrity and ability- but because of what seems expedient at the moment in party politics. The political and governmental leaders who see this are certainly “bearing false witness” against their fellow countrymen! They are living a lie- as well as helping tell one.
As John said even of the religious leaders of his day: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 11:43. Men and women are often ashamed of what they call “failure” in a business or social sense. They will cheat, falsify and lie in order to avoid this “failure”- or to cover it up. But from the point of view of what is “right” the thing they should fear is breaking God’s law. For, as the apostle Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom. 8:31.
Remember that many whom this deceitful world condemned have received God’s blessing and are heir, ‘to live forever’. Never forget that it was through the sin of false testimony and lying that Jesus Christ was murdered! “For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together.” Mark 14:56. God warns against all such hypocrites: “For the anger of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” Rom. 1:18. Most Bible commentaries or lexicons show that the expression “hold” should have been translated “hold down” or “suppress.” Men suppress the truth.
God is condemning those who knowingly hold down or suppress the truth of His existence and His purpose on this earth! God says the vain philosophers and scientists of this world are “without excuse” for denying that He literally created this universe and is now ruling it through His power (verse 20). Most scientists and theologians who believe in the Satan-inspired theory of evolution ought to know better. Some of them do know better! But they are going along with what pleases men, and they are living a lie! God says they are “without excuse”!
And in the same category are those ministers and Bible students who continue to teach and practice what they know are ancient pagan beliefs and customs condemned in the Word of God. In all too many cases, they know better! They are “without excuse.”The continued teaching of these basic scientific and spiritual lies is the very thing that is blinding most of this world from the real nature of God and of His true plan and purpose. This is the truly terrible result of bearing false witness, self-deception and lying. For as long as supposedly “educated” leaders keep deceiving themselves and others about the very existence and power and plan of God, our civilization is doomed!
Most men fail to realize that the Ten Commandments are living, moving, active laws — like the law of gravity. They are automatic. When you break them, they break you! So it is with the final commandment of God’s law. Even though it may be broken without the knowledge of any other human being, the penalty for its violation is absolutely certain!“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbour’s.” Ex. 20:17.
If you secretly reject God’s standard and His way, if in your heart you lust after something which you either cannot or will not come to lawfully possess with His blessing, then-sooner or later – this mental rebellion will bring forth outward law breaking. The actions will then defy God – to break His law – because your thoughts have been doing this all along!“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5). Through God’s Spirit in us, we must fight the fight of faith – put down the lustful human nature within us -and ultimately succeed in “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” II Cor. 10:5. This is the ultimate goal to be fully attained in the resurrection.
We are to grow in God’s character during this life. We must learn to “walk with God.” We must go His way- do as He does- think as He thinks. But the normal mind of man is filled with selfishness, vanity, competition, greed, hate, lust. It is a mind cut off from the ways and thoughts of God. Isa. 55:8, 9.That is why Jesus emphasized how important it is to get our minds changed and cleaned up when He said: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matt. 5:8.
Especially since World War II, life in our Western society has sped up. We are rushing to make more money. We are in a hurry to have a good time, to get everything we can out of life. On every side, we are taught to compete for social honors and material advancement. We have come to literally crave material luxuries that were in some cases completely unknown just two generations ago. We are urged to spend more than we make – to do more than we should. “You owe it to yourself,” the subtle advertisement reads in putting over the idea that we would be foolish not to buy a bigger car, eat at a more expensive restaurant, or take longer and more costly trips. The emphasis is on getting and on self.
On an international scale, the nations of the world fight and kill because of this same attitude of heart. Why do so-called “authors” write cheap paperback novels based on nothing but obscenity and stupidity? Why do publishers print that which degrades the human emotions of love, kindness and idealism.You can quickly see hundreds of other major examples of covetousness in our society if your eyes are really open. But be willing to see your own covetousness as well! Be willing to repent of it and ask God for the love and strength to overcome it.
Our generation needs these words : “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” Luke 11:15. Did you get that? Your real success and happiness in life, Christ said, is not truly able to be measured by how new or powerful a car you drive, the kind of home you live in, the clothes you wear, or even the food you eat. Happiness is a state of mind. It comes from having the Spirit and mind of Christ inside your own mind.
Jesus Christ was able to overcome human vanity and covetousness because He put the service of God far ahead of anything and everything else. After telling how the unconverted seek after – and worry about – the material necessities and comforts, He commanded: “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33.
The Commandments Join Together
And so at this point the last commandment joins with the first. For whatever you seek contrary to God’s will, you covet. If in your mind and heart you covet something more than to obey God and receive His blessings, that thing becomes an idol to you. “Covetousness … is idolatry.” Col. 3:5.
Covetousness cuts you off from the fellowship and blessings and love of God who made all that is – but intended that this material creation be used in His service. Jesus Christ summarized this principle when He said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.’’ Acts 20:35.
And in the world tomorrow, you will live forever, serving in a government literally based on the Ten Commandments – the true way of love, of giving and serving, and of worshiping God who gave these commandments for our good.
Summary, Herbert Armstrong, Free Library Copy
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