The Principle of the Decalogue
This is my third post on the Ten Commandments using Buddy Dano’s study: FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM. This installment continues to introduce the Ten Commandments by defining the principle behind the commandments. I often see both believers and unbelievers who state that the Ten Commandments are part of God’s theocratic law for Israel. These same people believe that to follow the Ten Commandments (which is only a small part of the Mosaic Law) is either the Christian way of life or, on the opposite extreme, some form of legalism. Pastor Dano spends a little time in this section making the case that neither of these positions is correct! The Ten Commandments are for believer and unbeliever alike.
In general I believe that it is up to people if they want to mess up their own lives and that their bad decisions are between them and God. However, when enough people in a nation make enough bad decisions then it hurts us all (see the Five Cycles of Discipline for more information). I do believe that the United States has become so degenerate that we are getting far along in the five cycles of discipline and I don’t really want to be caught up in the Divine discipline headed our way. So, to say the least, it hacks me off when fellow Christians cry “legalist” or “theocracy” whenever the Ten Commandments are mentioned.
I hope you will thoughtfully consider Pastor Dano’s words:
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE DECALOGUE.
While the Ten Commandments were given specifically to the Jews and while they also fulfill the spiritual purpose of proving that a man is a sinner and needs a Saviour as per Galatians 3:19-25, the principles contained in these Divine Laws are designed to protect the human race from self-destruction and to perpetuate the human race during the course of the unseen conflict.
‘‘Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.”
‘‘Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,’’ Galatians 3:19-25.
Absolute, and unchanging, they have been given to insure freedom for evangelism in every generation and to provide a framework for human happiness. Now keeping the Mosaic Law itself is not happiness. The Law merely provides a ‘‘house,’’ as it were, where happiness can live and be sustained. The DECALOGUE was not intended as a set of prohibitions by which sin is defined. The biblical definition of sin is much greater and far more extent.
Proverbs 6:16-35, ‘‘These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
‘‘My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:
To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.
‘‘Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.’’
Colossians 3:5-10, ‘‘Mortify therefore your members which are upon the Earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.’’
Ephesians 5:1-6, ‘‘Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.’’
In stating a set of principles of freedom, it is inevitable that certain prohibitions will parallel certain sins, for these sins are an encroachment upon freedom. Since the DECALOGUE sets up a summary of laws dealing with principles of protection, the last five commandments mention some specific forms of sin. However, these relate not only to overt acts of sin, but to principles of sin as well. Remember, we are dealing with principles which when adhered to, stabilize a nation.
Now in order to understand the principles of freedom contained in the DECALOGUE, it is necessary to study them exegetically, beginning in Exodus 20:1.
Exodus 20:1, ‘‘And God spake all these words saying.’’ The first thing to notice is that the DECALOGUE did not come from Moses, but from the Lord. Moses simply had the privilege of being God’s spokesman. The Hebrew word ‘‘spake’’ indicates that these words are categorically correct, that their order is logical, and therefore, the principles involved are vital to the survival of any national entity.
Remember that these principles were given to a people who had just been set free to establish their own nation. A stabilized nation must be preceded by stabilized souls, and the Ten Commandments were given for that very purpose. The phrase, ‘‘God spake,’’ establishes the Commandments as a Divine law with God as the source. In other words, the Divine Viewpoint of personal freedom. Moses began to speak the Commandments unto the people by means of first stating the source, God.
The verb ‘‘saying’’ in the Hebrew means ‘‘to bring to light.’’ It was therefore God’s purpose to bring to light certain standards, certain principles, which in summary provide for the protection of the human race as it is involved in an unseen conflict. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews, not until they came out of slavery. Therefore the Ten Commandments are for people WHO HAVE FREEDOM. These laws of freedom were designed to keep the Jews from going back into slavery. ‘‘FREEDOM DOESN’T STAND LONG IN IDLERS’ HANDS.’’
Jeremiah referred to the ‘‘covenant’’ in chapter 11, because he was God’s spokesman to warn Judah of impending national disaster. The breaking of the covenant was the breaking of the DECALOGUE, God’s principles for human freedom and prosperity. Had the Jews observed these commandments, they would have preserved their freedom, but because they ignored these principles and broke God’s covenant, national disintegration resulted, and they went back into slavery in the year 586 B.C.
It is important to note that soul slavery precedes physical slavery. When a maximum number of people in a national entity are in emotional rebellion in their souls, the nation is destroyed. The emotional rebellion of the soul results from a negative attitude towards God’s norms and standards. Therefore, the first principle that must be understood in this context is that the Ten Commandments are designed for a people who possess physical freedom. These Jews in context had just come out of slavery in Egypt. EVERY ‘‘THOU SHALT NOT,’’ PROHIBITION IS A CHALLENGE TO FREE WILL OR DIVINE INSTITUTION NUMBER ONE. The exercise of your own volition.
This means that once you have physical freedom, you can, by your own free will, use or abuse your own personal freedom. If you maintain your freedom you will have inner happiness. But if you abuse your freedom, you will not only become a slave to your emotions under your emotions being in rebellion. But this will put you under physical slavery which eventually will end up in the fifth cycle of discipline whereby you will be removed from your own country and be placed in slavery in another country which is alien to you. Therefore, the whole purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show you the principles by which the freedom of your soul can be maintained. This individual freedom in turn provides the objectivity necessary to protect the freedom of your nation.