How Can We Follow the Ten Commandments?

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How Can We Follow the Ten Commandments?

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There is a tendency at times to view the Ten Commandments as a list of things that a person “can’t” do, particularly at first. Can you truly delight in a list of “don’ts”?

Truly following the Ten Commandments requires a shift in our mindset.

Yes, the Ten Commandments define our behavior. They draw a boundary around what is acceptable and what is not. However, if we only view them in that fashion—as simply a list of don’ts—are we not seriously limiting what God has blessed us with?

God has provided us His law so that we can live life abundantly (Psalms 19:8 Psalms 19:8The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
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; John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
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) and so that we do not just live, but thrive (Psalms 34:8 Psalms 34:8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.
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; Psalms 92:12-15 Psalms 92:12-15 [12] The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. [13] Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. [14] They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; [15] To show that the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
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). Through the keeping of God’s law, we learn personally that God’s way works.

King David wrote that God’s law is a delight (Psalms 119:47 Psalms 119:47And I will delight myself in your commandments, which I have loved.
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), that it is a light to one’s feet (Psalms 119:105 Psalms 119:105Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.
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) and that those who walk in the law are blessed (Psalms 119:1-3 Psalms 119:1-3 [1] Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. [2] Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. [3] They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
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). The apostle Paul also spoke of delighting in God’s Law (Romans 7:22 Romans 7:22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
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) even while keeping it imperfectly.

God’s law is to be a delight.

We are instructed not to worship other gods. That is important, but the inverse of this is that we spend our time worshipping and establishing a positive relationship with the Eternal! We spend our time in study, prayer, and meditation on Him, focusing on His love and blessings in our lives. Rather than spend the energy to avoid the consequence, spend the energy to strengthen the benefits!

God tells us to keep the Sabbath Holy. Rather than lament about the things we can’t do on the Sabbath, that time can be better spent focusing on the positive things that we can do, and the wonderful blessing that the Sabbath is. Taking time to focus on God, and to worship Him. Creating special family traditions that help make the Sabbath a delight can help to shift our mindset from what we can’t do to what the Sabbath is designed to be: special time between you and God.

It is true, we are not to commit murder. But instead of spending all our energy on preventing ourselves from killing someone else, we should be spending it instead on reconciling our differences to others, building respectful relationships and strengthening the love we have for others so we never find ourselves in that place in the first place.

We are not to commit adultery. Rather than place ourselves in a position that a person could err in this, our energies should be focused on making our marriages the best they can be. Enjoying and loving one another, building the relationship up and strengthening it so there is no possibility that a person could stray from their covenant. For those who are unmarried, that time is best spent becoming the best possible husband or wife you can be for your future mate.

A focus on the positive application of God’s law in our lives can prevent us from even reaching a point where we are in danger of breaking that commandment physically or spiritually, and it also gives us a more effective understanding of what God intended for His people in His law in the first place.

Jesus’ filling up of the law to its brim

Jesus Christ summed up the entirety of the Ten Commandments (and indeed the whole Old Testament law) into two categories, what become known as the two great commandments (Matthew 22:36-40 Matthew 22:36-40 [36] Master, which is the great commandment in the law? [37] Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. [38] This is the first and great commandment. [39] And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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):

1. Love God

2. Love your fellow man (or “neighbor,” as He put it)

What Jesus Christ was communicating to His followers was that the intent behind each one of these Ten Commandments fit into one or both of these categories. For example, we don’t take God’s name in vain because following that command shows love and respect to God. We don’t commit adultery because it is a way of showing love to our brother, and respect for his marriage relationship.

But in addition to the act of physically keeping these commandments, Jesus Christ also fulfilled—or filled to its brim—the Ten Commandments by illuminating the spiritual component (Matthew 5:21-22 Matthew 5:21-22 [21] You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You shall not kill; and whoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [22] But I say to you, That whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
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; Matthew 5:27-28 Matthew 5:27-28 [27] You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery: [28] But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
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). It was no longer enough to simply avoid murder and adultery physically. He told His followers that anyone who lusts after a woman has already broken the commandment in his heart, and whoever was angry with his brother without cause has already broken the spirit of the law against murder.

He upped the ante, teaching that these things begin in the heart and mind, and must be taken captive before the temptation is acted upon (2 Corinthians 10:5 2 Corinthians 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
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). God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us was to transform our lives through the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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).

Take a look at the Ten Commandments with a fresh set of eyes. See the beauty of what God has given us in His law. It’s not simply a series of “don’ts,” it is God-given permission to do within the boundaries which have been placed. God desires us to live an abundant life, full of joy and love—and His law gives us the freedom to live a godly life and reap its many benefits.

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