In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at how to understand God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments. We saw that when you read God’s law, you must understand that a command prohibits and promotes behaviour. But what else should you consider?
When you read the ten commandments you must understand that they are all connected to one another. Thus if you break one commandment, you have broken other commandments too. Paul demonstrates this when he says: ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry’ (Colossians. 3:5). Notice how idolatry, which is forbidden by the second commandment, is particularly linked with greed/covetousness which is forbidden by the tenth commandment. So if you are greedy you are not just guilty of breaking the tenth commandment, you are also guilty of breaking the second commandment.
It is easy to see how the commandments connect with each other. Consider the sin of King David with Bathsheba recounted in 2 Samuel 11 (If you haven’t read it before, I encourage you to read it now before reading the rest of this article). Initially, it looks like David was only guilty of breaking the seventh commandment, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But in that action, David was also guilty of breaking the tenth commandment, ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.’
Moreover, David was guilty of breaking the eighth commandment, ‘You shall not steal’ by stealing a sexual experience that rightfully belonged only to Uriah.
David broke the sixth commandment too: ‘You shall not murder’. While having sex with Bathsheba, in David’s mind Uriah was as good as dead to him – he did not care for Bathsheba’s husband at all (not to mention that David literally murdered Uriah later).
The whole incident was also a breaking of the ninth commandment ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour’, as it involved deception and hiding the truth.
We could also say that David broke the fifth commandment, ‘Honour your father and your mother’ as David’s actions were dishonouring to his parents. No parent wants an adulterer for a son.
But most significantly, David broke the first and second commandments, ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ and ‘You shall not make for yourself an idol’. The only god David was following in that moment was himself and the girl he was with – those were his idols.
Finally, as a self-professed worshipper of God, David was breaking the third commandment. The same lips that were used to kiss another’s man’s wife vainly spoke the name of God
Thus, David stands as a warning to you of how easily you have broken multiple commandments in one sinful action.
So, once again, the law of God reminds you of your absolute need for Christ’s righteousness by faith. If you try to obtain righteousness by observing the law, you are doomed.
So, do you admit that you have broken all of God’s law, many, many times? Have you trusted in Christ’s perfect obedience to God’s law?