† Reflecting on the Ten Commandments (Commandments 1-3) †
We recognize sin in our lives as we examine ourselves according to the Ten Commandments. Sin takes a gift God has given and uses it in a way God does not want it used. Each commandment also teaches us how God’s gifts are used to His honour and glory.
The First Commandment: You shall have no other gods.
Where the heart is right with God, all the other commandments follow. When a commandment is broken, this is symptomatic of the fact that the human heart, by nature, is turned away from God. God made us to be His own. He has given Himself to us through our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever claims our greatest loyalty, fondest hopes or deepest affection is our god and takes the place God alone wants to have in our lives. Through the Word and Sacraments, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts true fear, love and trust in God above all things. (Isaiah 42:8; Matt. 4:10; Prov. 11:28; Ps. 118:8; John 14:15; Phil. 2:13).
The Second Commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
The Lord gave us a great treasure when we were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The name of our Lord is above any other name, in heaven or on earth. With God’s name, comes His power to save. Using the name of the Holy Trinity as a curse word, or swearing by it for dishonest or frivolous purposes, or using it to mislead people about His Word, is sin.
How good to know that we can call on the name of the Lord at any time, and in any situation in life, for any need. Because the Lord opens our lips, we declare His praise as we pray and give thanks in His holy name. (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 24:15; James 3:9-10; Lev. 19:12; Jer. 23:31; Ps. 50:5; Ps. 103:1; Eph. 5:20; Phil. 2:10—11).
The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
God has blessed us with the gift of His Word. We honour God when we gladly hear the Word of God preached and we hold it sacred. We also honour God’s Word when we use it it in our daily prayer. We are tempted at times to think: “I can be a Christian without attending church.” That is as true as saying, “I do not have to eat today to live.” But how long can we live without eating? We are able to go to church, because God is at work in us with His gifts so that we hold His Word sacred and gladly hear and learn it. (Acts 2:42, 46; Heb. 10:25; Matt. 12:8; Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 4:9-10; John 8:47; Luke 10:16; Is. 66:2; Ps. 26:8; Acts 2:42; Col. 3:16).
How does God use the Ten Commandments in our lives?
The Ten Commandments cause us to ask ourselves the following questions: Do I fear, love and trust in anything or anyone above the Triune God? Have I honoured the Lord’s name on my lips and in my life? Have I gladly held His Word sacred, listened attentively to the preaching of that Word, and made use of it in my daily life? Have I honoured and obeyed all the authorities placed over me? Have I maintained the purity of my marriage and my sexual life in my thoughts, words and deeds? Have I stolen property or not helped my neighbour protect his? Have I gossiped, either by listening to it, or spreading it myself? Have I been content with all that the Lord has given to me?
The Law is a blinding reflection of our sin. The Law of God is what the Holy Spirit uses to make us realize how much we need the forgiveness Christ won for the world and now distributes through His Word and Sacraments. The Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, to turn to Christ Jesus, who is our only hope, for He has fulfilled the Law perfectly for us and died so that our sin would be forgiven. Through His resurrection from death, He conquered death. In Christ, we have been adopted as the Lord’s own dear children.
Therefore, God uses His Law in three ways: First, like a curb, by which outbursts of sin are controlled. Second, and most importantly, like a mirror, to show us our sin and our need for a Saviour. And then, like a guide, to teach us what is pleasing to Him. Living in the forgiveness won by Christ, throughout our lives we pray, “Have mercy, Lord!”
from Dr. A.L. Barry’s “What About the Ten Commandments?”
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