The Law: an expression of God’s love
The Law was given so that we may be convicted of sin (“by the Law is the knowledge of sin”); to lead us to Christ; and to be the rule for the believer’s life. While Christians are not under the Law, as far as punishment and condemnation is concerned, they are ennomos, under the Law of Christ, whom they love and desire to serve. And they serve Him best who obey Him in all His will: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven...” (Matthew 5:18). “He that has my commandments and keeps them he it is that loves me...”
The Ten Commandments, being a summary expression of the whole revealed will of God for man, are certainly a token of God’s love, just as they are also of His righteousness and holiness.
1. In requiring us to know and acknowledge Him as the only true God, and to worship and glorify Him accordingly, God grants us the only viable world and life view. Our perspective is set in the right direction from the very beginning. If we neglect or deny God we are denying life to ourselves.
2. In commanding us to receive, observe and keep pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances as God has appointed in Scripture, God teaches us the true and only acceptable way to fulfil the purpose of our existence. Man worships naturally but it is not necessarily the right kind of worship. But God condescends in telling us how to worship Him.
3. In the third commandment God requires us to use His names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works in a holy and reverent way. He warns us of frivolity and all manner of abuse which do not go unpunished. In giving warning concerning these matters God shows us how much He cares.
4. God requires us in the fourth commandment to keep holy to Him such set times as He has appointed in His Word, explicitly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to Himself. He is concerned about us receiving spiritual rest (Isaiah 58), not to mention the physical rest from our normal labours. In our work He wants us to imitate Him, who created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.
5. In ordering us to honour our parents, God requires us to preserve the honour and to perform the duties belonging to every one, in their respective places and relationships, whether it be in the family, in the church or in society at large. Being the God or order, He expressly directs our hearts to submit and obey our superiors, for that would be a sign of our love for Him, for He is pleased to govern us through parents, civil magistrates and pastors for our own good. Obedience is its own reward.
6. “Thou shalt not kill” aims so that we may use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others. Life being the gift of God, He tells us that it is not own possession: He gives it and He takes it. And the giving of life is a sure token of God’s goodness.
7. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” directs our attention to the need to preserve our own and our neighbour’s chastity, in heart, speech and behaviour. Fallen man foolishly assumes that he may drink from somebody else’s cistern without damage; God warns us of the evil consequences. As chickens come home to roost, our impurity does not sleep. Our conscience burns within us with every disobedience.
8. “Thou shalt not steal” is God’s command regulating the procuring and furthering of our wealth and the outward estate of ourselves and others. In taking what is not lawfully ours we may think that we will find satisfaction; in actual fact it will prove a burden. We are meant to ask for our daily bread from our heavenly Father who also feeds the ravens and clothes the lilies of the field. By this command God indirectly tells us to trust Him for our daily needs, for His is a generous God.
9. In requiring us to maintain and promote truth between man and man, and of our own and our neighbour’s good name, especially in witness-bearing, God shows us that He loves truth. All reality is built upon His truth. He who is false will be dealt with perversely. What one sows is what one reaps. This commandment shows God’s love to us in that He reminds us that He knows all the facts and whatever we bear witness of will be held against or in our favour.
10. The final commandment requires full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbour, and all that is his. Coveting is a denial of God’s wise and good providence over us, and nothing could be worse for our humanity than to reject God’s rule and government over us. He knows best, what we should have, when and how. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” In His love to us God is such that He instructs us to find our ultimate and full satisfaction and contentment in Him rather than in transient and temporary things.
As the Son of God gave Himself for us (the epitome of love; and the blessedness of God), even so we are directed to lose our life that we may find it. God’s Law is a yoke, but an easy and light one, and being under the Lordship and Priesthood of Christ, we find rest for our souls. How could God love us more? Soli Deo Gloria.