“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
One of my more memorable experiences was when I first left home after high-school and joined the army. After processing through the MEPS station and then traveling to Ft. Benning where I was to attend basic training, I soon found myself surrounded by a group of young men my age. Before long we were greeted by a raving mad drill sergeant who made it known how happy he was to see us. After we were called to attention, the drill sergeant made it clear who was in charge. I will never forget the young solider in front of me. His whole body was shaking with such violence that I thought he was going wet his pants.
I think that for most people my age being confronted with such aggressive authority was something most of us had never experienced. We all grew up in a very permissive society. We are accustomed to living in a society that puts much emphasis on individual liberty. We do not like restrictions placed upon us. We all agree that our society should be guided by the rule of law, but are not too upset when those in authority bend the rules from time to time. However, when we stood before the drill sergeant that day we all received a crash course on military authority. We learned that it is complete, covering every area of our lives.
When Desert Storm broke out, the unit I belonged to at the time was locked down for a special mission were we to invade Iraq. Thankfully our armies stopped at the border and my unit was not sent in for the mission. But, while we were waiting we stayed busy training for the upcoming mission. I was a lowly private at the time and I will never forget a comment made by our squad leader. He pointed to me and another private and said, “If I tell you to take off your gas mask, and you don’t do it, I’ll shoot you myself!” Certainly there was some tongue-in-check in his comment. But, the realization that life and death matters concerning me were in the hands of others became a reality. Others could order me to perform a task that could result in my death, and there was nothing I could do about it. It was a scary moment for me, and for others who were facing the reality of military life during a time of war.
That was the first time I was confronted with my mortality, and I did not like it. But, it was also the first time I began to understand the reality of what a compelling authority looked like, and I did not like that either. For most people in our culture the idea of authority is good in theory, but not always embraced in practice.
In fact, I think one can make the case that the guiding principles of our modern Western society work to undermine people’s acceptance of authority. For many people, the idea of liberty is synonymous with freedom. We believe people should be free to live life as they see fit. In our culture the principle of liberty becomes the rallying cry that encourages both individuals and groups to push back on older norms in the hopes of achieving greater expressions of freedom. Think of the Pro-Choice advocates. They argue that others do not have a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her own body. They argue that she should be “free” to choose what she wants to do with her body – despite what her decision means for her unborn child.
As a society we have embraced the concept of liberty expressed through a democratic process; but the practical expression of liberty today is seen as an unfettering of boundaries for both individuals and groups. We believe the less restrictions placed on people translates into more freedom. Therefore the practice of liberty has led people to have an exaggerated perception of individualism. People no longer share a common heritage, but a common belief in their “right” to be free. For example, statements such as, “I disagree with so and so, but I am willing to fight for their right to be free to believe as they wish” well encapsulates the reality of life in our culture today. If they can be free to live as they wish, then so can I.
The result is that we are no longer defined by the people around us, or by the principles that forged the society we are a part of. Instead we are defined by the freedoms we choose to pursue. At best our political associations with others are predicated upon our shared desire to be free in the areas of life we hold to be important. So, no longer do shared principles hold us together, but a desire to express ourselves as we see fit.
One may argue that I have just expressed a principle that holds us together. But people who are held together by principles recognize that the principles are of supreme value, and that the people who share them subordinate themselves for the furtherance of those principles. But today, in our culture, it is not the individual who serves a greater cause (the principles), but instead the principles of freedom are seen to be the servant of the individual. Principles can be changed and even sacrificed for the benefit of granting greater freedoms to the individual. As a result our society has become a conglomeration of individuals.
But, the freer we become the more isolation we experience, and the greater bondage we endure. Since people are no longer connected by principles, they drift through society and only occasionally bump into others as they briefly share common interests. The result is that we have become disconnected as a people, and unsure of who we are as individuals. The irony in our quest for liberty has led many people to experience an identity crisis. But this crisis is not limited to a few individuals. Like a rogue virus it has spread and infected Western civilization as a whole. We no longer know who we are.
In the past our civilization was anchored to the teachings of scripture. Western culture was therefore influenced by the principles set forth there. Today most people are so fundamentally ignorant of our history and devoid of biblical knowledge that they are unaware of how far we have drifted as a culture. This is not to suggest that everyone in Western culture were believers in Jesus Christ. But it is a historical fact that in the not too distant past Western peoples had a great respect for biblical truth, and saw the teachings of the Bible as foundational for civic and personal life.
For example, Thomas Jefferson was known to have cut out of his Bible many references to the supernatural. However, many of the principles that informed how the United States was to be founded came from the same Bible. And with him, the other founding fathers of our country were willing to fight to secure those principles as an established reality for the citizens of this country. And while they were far from perfect in living by those same principles, they did acknowledge that the truths they fought for were authoritative in their lives. They saw them as universal in scope.
Unfortunately, as a society, we no longer accept the need to have authoritative principles guide how we live. Sure we have laws, and even recognize the Rule of Law as an accepted practice. However, the quest of modern liberalism has led people to see their purpose in life realized by eliminating what few boundaries remain. However, in order for that to be achieved the very idea of authority has to be redefined.
In the past people accepted the reality that there was such a thing as an objective authority, and that it was a legitimate part of life. Parents had authority over their Children, teachers over their pupils, employers over their employees, laws over citizens; and most people accepted the reality that there was a God who has all authority, and to whom all people must give an account – and from whom all laws and governing principles emanated from. As such people understood that God’s authority was an objective reality and something to which they must submit.
But, where in the past people understood authority to be something that is objectively real, today people no longer believe in a transcendent authority. Instead they see themselves as the only legitimate authority in their life. Only they know what will make them happy, and so only they can judge for themselves the values that will fulfill their desires and ambitions. Therefore instead of submitting to an objective authority over them, and by which their lives should be governed, they understand the idea of authority as a subjective reality that is governed by internal desires. They are the masters of their own lives and therefore answer only to themselves.
In contrast, the principles which guided our founding fathers were seen as an objective reality to which society must surrender. There were accepted principles or truths upon which society should function; and there were laws to make sure those principles and truths were upheld. Break the law, or transgress the principles that held society together, and a person would face consequences. Today people no longer accept that life should be governed in that way. That is why people who are arrested for breaking a law that they believe is antiquated or old fashioned are able to generate sympathy and support from others who are ready to lash out at the authorities who seek to uphold the principle enshrined in the law. This has become so common that as a society we have been desensitized to seeing people blame others for actions that were once commonly accepted as crimes. Today more blame is placed at the feet of police officers and law makers than at the feet of those who commit the crimes. In many cases the criminals are seen as the heroes and the “authorities” as the menacing troublemakers.
The result of this inversion of people’s understanding of authority has led to an erosion in our confidence as a society. Just as individuals today are more isolated and less confident in their identity as a people, so too, our culture is more Balkanized and divided than ever before.
But this consequence is not unexpected. True liberty was never meant to be defined by an increasing quest for personal freedoms. It was defined as a right to live within the boundaries of God given values and principles without having to worry about the whims of tyrants. The original concept of liberty carried the exact opposite meaning than is commonly understood today. Because God has given timeless principles upon which life should be lived, people were set free to live life according to His design without fear of molestation from others. Liberty was understood to mean that people were free to obey God. It never meant that people were free to live a life in rebellion to God’s revealed values and principles. Anarchy is not freedom.
In that respect liberty, as originally understood, meant that society was free to submit to a higher authority if they wanted to experience true freedom. Today, we have come to believe that true freedom is experienced when we extricate ourselves from anything that remotely resembles authority.
In the Christian life, our happiness and well-being are not achieved when we rebel from God’s authority. Our happiness will begin only when we recognize God’s authority over our life. Where modern culture teaches that happiness can be achieved when the boundaries are removed, God teaches that happiness will be forfeited when the boundaries are removed. Happiness, or being blessed by God, always follows when people obey what God has revealed to be right and true.
Consider Daniel. He lived in the pagan land of the Babylonians. Sin and idolatry abounded. He was even the target for religious persecution. Those who were jealous of his position were able to convince the king that a law should be passed that for thirty days all prayers should be made only to the king. Daniel knew that he could not obey such a ridiculous law, and be faithful to God at the same time. He had a choice to make. Therefore, in spite of the law, Daniel went home and in the site of anyone who wanted to see, prayed three times a day to the Lord God.
Daniel’s happiness and well-being were dependent upon one reality only: being obedient to God – even if that obedience put him at odds with the authorities of the day. As a result of his prayers, Daniel found himself facing accusations of breaking the law and therefore guilty of death. He did not run or hide. He knew he did not break the law of God. And he submitted to the authorities’ absurd law, allowing himself to be thrown into the lion’s den. He would rather die for following his principles than live a cowardly lie before God. All this transpired because Daniel did not make his comfort and convenience the starting point for attaining happiness. He knew that happiness was the product of God’s blessings; and God’s blessings were given because Daniel made obedience to God his first priority.
In order to be blessed one must first admit they are not capable of being the source of authority over their own life. However, the great deceiver wants people to rebel against God, so he seeks to lead people to believe that there is no such thing as an objective authority that should govern how we live. Instead of looking to the truths, values, and principles God has revealed, the great deceiver wants people to believe their desires, ambitions, and dreams should govern their quest for happiness. As such, he has led our culture to look inside themselves as the only legitimate source of authority. The Christian’s response to this influence must be complete and utter rejection.
Consider a sobering reality. There are people who worship Satan. If you sit down and talk to such a person you will discover that their ambition is to live life as they see fit, without any restrictions placed upon their person. One man said that he worships Satan because Satan encourages him to do what he wants, when he wants to. Period. There was a time when such an idea was socking and scandalous. Yet today, society at large has embraced that very same philosophy. Instead of calling themselves worshipers of Satan, they simply believe that they have become “enlightened.”
Freedom never comes as a result of unrestrained self-gratification. God gave laws and His Word so that all those who want to be free can govern their life according to truth – truth that is in accordance with reality. As we obey God’s Word we discover what real happiness and blessedness is; because those truths and principles guide us through the complicated matrix of life. As the creator of life, He knows where all the healthy boundaries are. And He knows that when those boundaries are violated, suffering is the result. God wants His people to be blessed, and happy; but as our creator he is the only one who knows how to make that happen.
In that regard, we are reminded that life has a design. Part of the overall design of life is universal laws that are built into the fabric of nature and life. In nature we readily recognize those laws. No one would seriously argue that gravity is a matter of personal preference. Likewise, there was a time when people readily understood that there are moral laws that are built into daily life also. They are known as the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, today, while many accept the laws of nature, they reject God’s Commandments. But, Christians must not only govern their lives by these laws, they must seek to be the leaven of life that infiltrates a lawless society with the life-giving truths of God’s Word.
This is not to suggest that salvation is a product of observing the Commandments of God. But, it is a reality that when life is lived in accordance with the universal laws of life, that peace and harmony are the result.
Since the Ten Commandments have fallen on hard times, let’s take some time to review them.
The first commandment is very simple: You shall have no other god’s before me. This is a command to make the true living God the first priority in our life. Nothing and no one should ever come before our walk with God. Notice that the command is stated in the negative (as are all the commands). This command is a reminder of the greatest commandment given by God; namely that we are to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The first of the Ten Commandments, then, is a warning not to substitute loving God for something or someone else.
We were created by God to Worship. And the reality is that everyone worships something. But the object of our affection is of grave importance. If we worship something other than what God designed for us to worship, then we will suffer great loss as a result. God is to be our first love. When He is not, then every other relationship we can experience will suffer as a result. Further, God designed worship of Him as a way to stay connected to the true source of life, and therefore, happiness. When we worship something other than God we are seeking happiness and fulfillment in life from a source that cannot provide what we really need.
Unfortunately our culture says that our first love should be ourselves; and it teaches that true fulfillment will result when we satisfy our desires. Hence we are taught that when we have made all the pertinent me-first decisions that we will find happiness. But, talk to anyone who has lived such a life and you will discover that they are not fulfilled. Something more in life is needed. They may have everything their hearts ever dreamed of, but they still feel a sense of deep dissatisfaction. Something is missing. That something, of course, is the love of God. They were designed with that need, but have not received it because they were trying to satisfy that need from the wrong source.
However, when we pursue Him first, and make it our goal to love Him above all things, and to do so with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, we discover that life is in the proper alignment. When we are focused on Him, then His love flows into our lives and reorients all our relationships and desires in accordance with His will. I can only love my wife and Children as God designed me to do, when I love God first. And so it is with every relationship we have. Further, I can only experience true satisfaction in life when God is my first love.
But, obeying this command is not just about having good relationships with others or being happy in life. It is about being united with the One who created us and designed us to live in fellowship with Him. At its core, this command teaches that what God really desires from us is to be in communion with Him. Worship is what leads to that connection between us and God. In short God created us for Himself. All of creation was designed for the express purpose of creating a home where we could know, love, and fellowship with God.
As far as God creating boundaries in life, this is the first and most important one. We are either inside this boundary, or we are outside of it. If we are outside of it, then we are outside every other boundary God has created as well. And please note, we can be a “believer” in God and still spend our life loving and worshiping something else. Do not dismiss this most important of boundaries by saying, “Oh, I’m a believer.” If we are a true believer then recognize that God commands that we are to love Him first above all things. Either we are obeying this command, or we are not.
The second commandment is similar to the first: You shall make no graven images. Where the first command makes it clear that God is to be first in our life, this command underscores that command by helping us understand that God is not a part of this creation. In many ancient religions people identified their god with some physical form found in creation – usually an animal, and sometimes the sun and moon where used as well. But, the One true God makes it clear that to identify Him with any part of the creation is an insult and sin against Him.
The Bible is very clear that God is the creator of all things. As such He is not subject to anything within creation. He is Lord of the created order, and therefore sovereign over its realm. Another aspect of ancient religions is that many of the tribal gods were limited to a local area. The One true God, however, is not limited by geography. He is God no matter where you are. As such, because He is the Lord of all the earth He has a right to rule over all people. And, conversely, because He is the God of creation, all people are obligated to serve and worship only Him.
Another aspect of this command is seen in the reality that people become like the thing they worship (see Psalm 135:18). This is not to suggest that a person who worships a “god” that looks like a cow will start eating grass. But what we worship defines who we become spiritually. God created us in His image. When we worship Him as He designed us to, then we begin to have a family resemblance. God is not interested in our outward appearance. He is, however, interested in seeing His image recreated into our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. When we worship Him, we then become like Him. At the core of this command God is seeking to protect us from becoming something we are not; and conversely, He is seeking to make sure we do become what He designed us to be – namely creatures who bear His image.
As far as this command creating a boundary in life, it is seen in fact that if we are to understand ourselves, we can only do so to the proportion that we begin to realize His image created within us. We can only understand who we are, when we understand who He is.
The third commandment, again, revolves around the person of God: You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vein. This command underscores the reality of God’s holiness and majesty. We are to hold God in the highest esteem. We are never to belittle, disrespect, or offend Him. We are also never to take Him for granted.
In Hebrew culture, names were very important things. Today, when we name a baby we do so because we like the sound of the name. But, to the Hebrews, a name signified the character of a person. God’s name is Holy because it communicates the essence of who He is. The Jews refer to the name of God as the Tetragrammaton (from the Greek meaning four letters) and never, out of fear, reverence, and respect, utter the name of God. In Hebrew the name God revealed to Moses was only four letters long, but it revealed the eternal, self-sustaining, and life creating nature of God. Translated, the name literally means, “I am that I am.”
Because names represent the character of a person, they also represent the essence of that person. To disrespect the name of God is the same as disrespecting God himself. But, unlike today when so many people use the name of God in inappropriate and sometimes even vulgar ways, the most likely offense in ancient times was to use God’s name as a form of collateral. People would make vows and promises to others, and they would underscore their sincerity and obligate themselves by invoking the name of God.
God did not like this practice. He is not a talisman to be used in service of ourselves. He is the holy God of creation. We are to serve and worship Him, not manipulate Him for our benefit. In making reference to this command Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.” In other words, don’t invoke God to legitimize your promises. Worse yet, don’t invoke the name of God to conceal a lie! This has the effect of dragging God into sin and soiling His pure and spotless name by association with our self-serving sin.
Further, this command has the effect of helping us see the proper pecking order in life. God is God and is to be acknowledged as such. This command helps us to understand that we are to respectfully acknowledge that there are clear boundaries in how we relate to Him. We are always to approach Him with a healthy respect for His person; and we are never to cross the boundary that blurs the distinction between Him and us. He is God and we are not, and we are always to remember this truth.
When we respect this very clear boundary in life, we have the benefit of learning to treat others with dignity as well. As we learn to respect God, we learn that how we treat others is of paramount importance also. This truth becomes clearer when the second table of the law is understood. But, a person learns to treat others with dignity and respect to the proportion that they learn to do so with God first.
This command, then, is really the cornerstone and foundation of all ethics within interpersonal relationships. If, as the evolutionist claim, there is no God, then from where do we derive the understanding that treating others with respect and integrity are universal principles that should be followed? In reality, the foundation for how we treat others begins here. When we obey this command we discover the beginning of harmony in our relationship with God first, and as a result with those around us as well.
The next, and fourth command is also related to how we understand God. This commandment states: You are to keep the Sabbath Holy. This command is ultimately anchored in creation. “On six days the LORD your God worked, and on the seventh (the Sabbath) He rested from all His labors.” In the same way, God wants all people to work six days and rest on the seventh. The point of the command, however, is not to have a holiday every seventh day. The real meaning is found in the fact that this command reminds us that, as our creator, God is the source for all our needs.
God is the creator of all things. This means that God is ultimately the provider of the things we need to live. God, not man’s self-sufficiency, is the foundation of our security. This command is about honoring God as our great provider. As such this command teaches us to live in dependence upon Him. Sin always leads us away from God. One way we are led away from God is by the belief that we are self-sufficient.
However, when the Israelites left Egypt God made it very clear that He was the one who would provide everything they needed – even when they did not understand how God could provide for millions of people in a desert. Through their long trial, they began to understand that God can and will provide for those who trust Him. In their desert wanderings they were tested many times. Learning to trust in a God that you cannot see can be hard – especially when you see your family and friends hungry. But God did provide, and through their trials they learned that God’s provision is complete, lacking nothing. When we disobey this command we are telling God that we have not learned to trust in His provision. If we cannot trust that God will provide for our physical needs, the things we can see, then how can we trust Him to provide for our spiritual needs, the things we cannot see?
As a result, this command is foundational for worship. In recognizing that God is our creator and provider, we recognize that He is worthy of our worship and praise. Worship is a result of a grateful heart that willfully surrenders to a great God. The reason we can set a day apart for worship is because we know that we have not lost something. Instead we have gained everything God desires for His people – trust and hope which leads to gratitude and love. In setting a day aside for worship we begin to understand that life does not revolve around the things we do, but around the greatness of our Creator God. As dependence gives way to worship, worship then gives way to the realization that life, in the ultimate sense, is about getting to know God. As such our view of life is raised from the temporal to the eternal.
As a barrier, this command teaches one of the fundamental principles of life: that God is to be the central figure of life. When we cross that boundary by ignoring that great truth, life unravels. So, as with all God’s commands this is for our protection and well-being.
After we have a proper understanding of our relationship with God, only then can we begin to have healthy relationships with those around us. The rest of the Ten Commandments therefore lay a foundation for healthy relationships. These commands are foundational not only for maintaining good personal relationships, but are necessary and therefore foundational for all human societies. When these laws are broken, disintegration of society and chaos results.
The fifth commandment lays the groundwork for the most important and fundamental component of society, the family: Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.”
Next to our relationship with God, our relationship within the family is of serious consequence. It’s been said that, “As the family goes, so goes society.” It is in the family where one is essentially introduced to life. And it is in the family where one is to learn such things as respecting authority, truth, and righteousness. In essence, it is in the context of family where one is introduced to God and His ways.
In the sixth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy God reveals what Jesus referred to as the greatest commandment (Deut 6:4-5). Immediately after giving the command that we are to love God with every fiber of our being, God immediately reveals where one is to learn how to love God. We read:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut 6:6-7).
Family is the classroom where one first learns to love God. There are many implications contained in this command. First, parents are to be the ones to introduce their children to God. The children are to learn who God is through their example and teaching. Second, parents are to demonstrate what a life dedicated to God looks like (the command to love God is to in their heart). Third, the teachings of God are to permeate every aspect and dimension of life – not just at church. Fourth, the family becomes the building block of a God honoring society.
As a boundary in life this command guarantees stability and longevity in both the family and society (that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you).
The sixth commandment states: You shall not murder. The meaning and implications seem obvious for a stable society. At the heart of his command, though, lies some important truths. First, murder is a result of a heart gone wrong. If someone lathers themselves into a rage where murder is the result they have essentially allowed their heart to be overthrown by anger and hatred. This teaches us that self-control is of the essence when dealing with difficult people and situations. Giving vent to our anger will only destroy ourselves and those around us.
Second, this command is also rooted in the reality that life has inherent value. The value of life is derived from the One who gave it. Mankind was created in God’s image. Any attack upon another person is essentially an attack upon Him. As we learn to love God, we are to respect others as being created in God’s image. Third, God is the author of life. Only He can give life, and only He is allowed to define the boundaries upon which life is forfeit. To take that judgment upon oneself is to attempt to replace God as the ultimate judge.
The seventh commandment sates: You shall not committee adultery. If the family is the foundational building block of society, disrupting the relationship between a man and a woman will have the effect of unraveling the basic foundation of that society.
Further, this command reveals that marriage is more than just a social contract. The marriage bed is sacred because it reflects an important aspect of what it means to be created in God’s image. It is my belief that the image of God is not complete in an individual, but is complete when a man and woman are bound in marriage. “The two shall become one flesh,” is more than a statement concerning their conjugal relationship. A man bears qualities of God’s image that a woman does not; and conversely, a woman bears qualities of God’s image that the man does not bear.
God has revealed Himself as three in one – a trinity. The word in the Old Testament that says God is “One” is the Hebrew word, Ehad. It refers to a plurality of oneness. For example, I have one family. That single family is composed of myself, my wife, and our children. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When a man and woman come together in marriage God binds their marriage with His Spirit and you have man, woman, and Holy Spirit which now reflect God’s image into the world. When a partner in that sacred relationship lies with another outside of their marriage, the image of God within the marriage is tarnished and stained, and God’s Spirit offended.
This commandment, then, reinforces the reality of God’s intimate presence in the most basic and fundamental component of society. He seeks to be a part of the relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. The family is predicated upon the presence of God as it reflects His image and nature into the world! As God experiences the very essence of love within the relationship that is the Godhead, and as God creates life and gives love away, so the man and woman, in their love for one another creates life and gives love to their children. If He desires to be involved at that level, what does that say about His desire to be involved at much larger levels as well, seeking to bring His love, joy and life to bear upon our daily existence?
The eighth commandment states: You shall not steal. Learning to respect personal boundaries are foundational to a stable society. What is yours is not mine. It is yours and I am to respect your person enough to leave you and your possessions alone. This command, however, is not just about personal property. It is about acknowledging and respecting others. Basic to society is the idea that each person has their own identity and life, and that others do not have a right to infringe upon that life. We are not allowed to impose our will upon another. Respecting others not only leads to stability in society, but is foundational for personal freedom within that society.
The ninth commandment states: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. This is a prohibition against lying. Making false statements that are contrary to fact leads to conflict and strife. This command, which seeks to inspire honesty, opens the door for trust in personal relationships and in society in general. A society where trust is not established is a land ripe for conflict and war.
The tenth commandment states: You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male servant, his female servant, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. This command, while not a prohibition against a specific act, is a prohibition against false desire. To covet is to desire something you do not possess. This command seeks to inspire people to be content with such things as they have. At its core, it is really an implicit reminder that when we begin to covet another’s belonging’s, or way of life, we will eventually will transgress the first commandment. This commandment, therefore, targets the heart where self-centeredness can fester. When we take our eyes off of God we let them rest on things that can lead us away from God. However, when we are focused on God we realize that we are in need of nothing and remember God does in fact provide for our needs.
While the above survey only scratches the surface of each commandment, it is a reminder that God has built moral laws into the fabric of life. When those laws are obeyed, harmony and peace are the result in life. God desires for people to be free, and to experience joy in life. However, that freedom can only be achieved to the proportion that we recognize God’s authority to give those laws. Unfortunately, the Great Deceiver seeks to influence people into breaking away from God’s laws, convincing them that happiness and joy are found in liberating themselves from what God declares to be right and true. When that happens, however, freedom is forfeit.
But, God knows what we really need, and these laws are given so we can understand how freedom is attained. The first table of the law teaches how a person is to relate to God and the second table teaches how a person is to relate to others. The first table can be summed up by stating that we are to love God first; and the second can be summed up by stating that we are to love others as ourselves (Romans 13:8-10). Freedom, and true God given liberty, is a result of applying those truths to the daily decisions of life. When we do, we discover that it is in our best interest to look to the welfare of others first, as a starting point in experiencing happiness.
Therefore, basic to all these commandments is the reality that we do not live in isolation where our desires and wants can be gratified without cost to those around us. What we do in our personal lives has great impact on those around us, and on society at large – not to mention our actions even impact God! These laws help us remember that we do not live in a vacuum. By studying these laws we understand that we are a part of a much larger community. Selfish actions hurt the community. Hence, true God given freedom, can never come by attempting to “free” ourselves from these laws. These commandments are not meant to limit our joy, but to enhance our quality of life. When they are obeyed, life is good.