Sabbath, August 15, 2015

“The precepts of the Decalogue are adapted to all mankind, and they were given for the instruction and government of all. Ten precepts, brief, comprehensive, and authoritative, cover the duty of man to God and to his fellow man; and all based upon the great fundamental principle of love. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.’ Luke 10:27.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 305. 

Important guide for all mankind

1. What did the Lord give as a daily guide for His people and indeed for all mankind? How important is the observance of His holy law? 

Deuteronomy 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. 

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (in some versions, verse 15) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 

“Those commandments Christ shows to be exceedingly broad, reaching even the thoughts, intents, and purposes of the heart. Here is where many are delinquent. Their heart imaginings are not of the pure, holy character which God requires; and however high their calling, however talented they may be, God will mark iniquity against them and will count them as far more guilty and deserving of His wrath than those who have less talent, less light, less influence.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 594. 

“The commandments of God are comprehensive and far reaching; in a few words they unfold the whole duty of man.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 320. 

Effective in the patriarchal age

2. What role did the Ten Commandments play in the time of the patriarchs? How is this shown in the book of Genesis? 

Genesis 4:10; 39:7-9 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;… 39:7And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 

“The law of God existed before man was created. The angels were governed by it. Satan fell because he transgressed the principles of God’s government. After Adam and Eve were created, God made known to them His law. It was not then written, but was rehearsed to them by Jehovah.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 145. 

“The descendants of Cain were not careful to respect the day upon which God rested. They chose their own time for labor and for rest, regardless of Jehovah’s special command. There were two distinct classes upon the earth. One class were in open rebellion against God’s law; while the other class obeyed His commandments, and revered His Sabbath.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 53. 

Jesus taught fidelity 

3. What did Jesus teach concerning the Ten Commandments? What is said of those who view lightly even one of the holy commandments? 

Matthew 19:16-19; 5:18, 19 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself…. 5:18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

“If God’s commandments are to be binding for a thousand generations, it will take them into the kingdom of God, into the presence of God and His holy angels. This is an argument that cannot be controverted. The commandments of God will endure through all time and eternity. Are they, then, given us as a burden?” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 413, 414.

“The most eloquent sermon that can be preached upon the law of Ten Commandments is to do them. Obedience should be made a personal duty. Negligence of this duty is flagrant sin. God lays us under obligations not only to secure heaven ourselves, but to feel it a binding duty to show others the way and, through our care and disinterested love, to lead toward Christ those who come within the sphere of our influence. The singular absence of principle that characterizes the lives of many professed Christians is alarming. Their disregard of God’s law disheartens those who recognize its sacred claims and tends to turn those from the truth who would otherwise accept it.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 58. 

The law of love

4. What did the apostles teach in this regard? What is the foundation of God’s law? 

James 2:10, 11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 

Romans 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 

“The first four of the Ten Commandments are summed up in the one great precept, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.’ The last six are included in the other, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Both these commandments are an expression of the principle of love…. And only as we love God supremely is it possible to love our neighbor impartially.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 607. 

“The law of God, from its very nature, is unchangeable. It is a revelation of the will and the character of its Author. God is love, and His law is love. Its two great principles are love to God and love to man. ‘Love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Romans 13:10.” –The Great Controversy, p. 467. 

The commandments in practical life

5. How fully do you value the first four commandments in your practical life? With your view of God, in what ways are you tempted to follow worldly customs and ideas in place of Scripture?

Exodus 20:1-11 And God spake all these words, saying, 2I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 

“Those who would be worshipers of the true God must sacrifice every idol…. The first four precepts of the Decalogue allow no separation of affections from God. Nor must anything share our supreme delight in Him. We cannot advance in Christian experience until we put away everything that separates us from God.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 329. 

“Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The god of many professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists–the god of polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some theological institutions–is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phoenicia. 

“No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven,… none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine, so rapidly gaining ground, that God’s law is no longer binding upon men.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 583, 584.

6. When you compare the last six commandments with your personal experience and character, what do you see? How is God’s love evident in every commandment? 

Exodus 20:12-17 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 13Thou shalt not kill. 14Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15Thou shalt not steal. 16Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. 

“Let those who feel inclined to make a high profession of holiness look into the mirror of God’s law. As they see its far-reaching claims, and understand its work as a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, they will not boast of sinlessness. ‘If we,’ says John, not separating himself from his brethren, ‘say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’ ‘If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.’ ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:8, 10, 9.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 562. 

“God’s law is the mirror presenting a complete reflection of the man as he is, and holding up before him the correct likeness. Some will turn away and forget this picture, while others will employ abusive epithets against the law, as though this would cure their defects of character. Still others who are condemned by the law will repent of their transgressions and, through faith in Christ’s merits, will perfect Christian character.” –Faith and Works, p. 31. 

Divine help

7. Is it natural for us to keep these fundamental principles? What makes it possible to do so? 

Romans 7:12; 8:7, 3, 4 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good…. 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be…. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 

“In the ten commandments God has laid down the laws of His kingdom.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1105. 

“If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new-covenant promise is fulfilled, ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.’ Hebrews 10:16. And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life? Obedience–the service and allegiance of love–is the true sign of discipleship. Thus the Scripture says, ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.’ ‘He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ 1 John 5:3; 2:4. Instead of releasing man from obedience, it is faith, and faith only, that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 60, 61.

8. What does the Lord promise to those who love and obey His holy commandments? 

Isaiah 48:18 O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.

Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. 

Are the ten commandments only orders and prohibitions? “The ten commandments, Thou shalt, and Thou shalt not, are ten promises assured to us if we render obedience to the law governing the universe.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 56. 

“Through love ‘the righteousness of the law’ will be ‘fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:4.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 77. 

“Obedience to the law is essential, not only to our salvation, but to our own happiness and the happiness of all with whom we are connected. ‘Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them’ (Psalm 119:165), says the Inspired Word.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 218, 219.

  • How are the Ten Commandments like a wall of protection? 
  • What can we do in this time of the end to help people receive the light of the Ten Commandments? 
  • What will be the result when the Commandments and the gospel are shown to be inseparable?