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 God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments. Last time we looked at the preface to the commandments which encourages Christians to be obedient because they have been redeemed by God. But before we start to look at each of the commandments in turn, we should also notice that the ten commandments are usually broken into two groups.
Commandments one to four are concerned with man’s duty towards God directly. They are:
1) You shall have no other gods before me.
2) You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3) You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.
Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus. 20:3-11).
Meanwhile, commandments five to ten are concerned with man’s duty towards fellow humans. They are:
5) Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
6) You shall not murder.
7) You shall not commit adultery.
8) You shall not steal.
9) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:12-17).
Similarly, when asked about God’s law, Jesus said: ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’’ (Matthew 22:37-40).
This means that if you claim to have been loving towards other humans, but not towards God, you’ve sinned. And vice versa. If you claim to love God yet hate other humans, you’ve sinned. Which, if we’re honest, means we’re all guilty of breaking God’s law and need his forgiveness through faith in Christ’s death as payment for our sin.
So have you admitted that you have broken both groups of God’s law? Have you asked God to forgive you through Jesus Christ?