|Keith Hunt's Studies||Jesse's Articles|
Ten by Ten:
Each Commandment Reflected Within Every Other
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Or, The First Commandment: Know the True God.
Summary: In this declaration, God identifies Himself, so we can begin to know Him, at least in contradistinction from false gods. We cannot keep any of the other commandments without knowing the true God. And we cannot know God if we do not love Him: to paraphrase the words of the song, "to know Him is to love Him." If we do not love God, we do not know Him.
How do we know if we love God? The Bible says, over and over, that those who love Him keep His commandments. Yet, if keeping the commandments is how we show we love God, how can we keep them without knowing Him?
There are many answers to this, since it is a mystery.
One: we can never truly and completely know the true God while we are in mortal form, as "no one can see my face and live," and Paul, who was instructed by Christ for 15 years -- 5 times longer than the regular disciples were -- says, regarding knowing God, "now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face." So, we are promised to see and know God fully in the resurrection, but now our knowledge must be only partial. A full knowledge of God would kill us.
So, since we know our knowledge is, and must always be, limited, the declaration of God's identity, and the implication that we are commanded to know him, must be something other than complete knowledge. The most likely meaning to this declaration is to separate God from all false gods, and false ideas of Who He is.
This is easier said than done, but God gives us a few guidelines: he forbids us to worship Him in any way like the nations worship their gods, and calls this an abomination to Him. So, there is something in forms of worship that implies something about the identity of God. In other words, "syncretism," the mixing of religious traditions and ideas, is absolutely against God's commands. Paul warns against following "another Jesus, whom we have not preached,", and Christ Himself speaks, in the parable of the sheep and the goats, that many people will claim to have done great religious works in His name, and He will say, "I never knew you." ; by implication, they also never knew Him. Yet, He also says, "my sheep know my voice." God's Spirit helps us to know Him, with the help of God's Word (the Bible) and the revelation we gain by following God's commandments, which we do out of love for God.
Two: since we can never fully know God, we need to be always growing in knowledge of Him. But the fact we are growing in knowledge of Him does not mean we are not fulfilling this command. I believe this is why this first commandment is in the form of a declaration, not a commandment, since knowing God is an impossibility in this life, though we are to begin with what revelation we are given, and always grow towards greater knowledge of Him.
Not only must we avoid false worship and false ideas, derived either from false gods or false ideas men have about the true God, but we must begin with a good, solid foundation, and build on that. This is what I believe Christ meant in the parable of the two men, one building his house upon the sand, the other upon the rock -- and that Rock is Christ.
Christ is the revelation of what God is like. God's creation shows us many things; God's commandments shows us other things; Christ brings all those things together into an understandable form that helps us interpret the other two. In our day, Creation is denied by the secular world (and often compromised by the religious) and God's Commandments are denied by secular and religious alike. In this way, the world knows "another Jesus," who is not related to Creation or Commandments, when both came from the mouth of God.
So, we can say of many, they are "ever learning, and never coming to a knowledge of the truth," either because they are not learning from all the sources they should, or because they do not have the Spirit that leads us into all truth.
Knowing God in this lifetime is impossible, but avoiding falsehood about Him, and building on a foundation of Truth about Him is absolutely necessary. Without knowing and loving God, our worship is in vain.
First Commandment in the Second:
Images distort our ability to know God truly or worship him in Spirit and Truth.
First, images fix him into one form, where God has many attributes, and cannot be expressed as any creature. If the idol is in human form, this is backwards: man is made in the image of God; God is not the image of a man.
Second, images restrict him to one place, denying his Omnipresence. It gives the idea that one can enter into the presence of God in a place, and flee God by going somewhere else.
In this sense, every place of worship tends towards this error of idolatry, where a person feels it is necessary to go to that place to be with God. Because God wants people to assemble together, a place is necessary, but because people are physical, and exist in one place, not because God is or does. Even so, we are told "heaven is God's throne, and earth is his footstool," and he has no need for a temple to inhabit. David says, "Where can I flee from God?" something Jonah found out ; and Paul says, "nothing can separate us from the love of God" -- and moves beyond places into circumstances, since there is obviously no place where God is not present, but it is easier to believe there are some circumstances where God is absent.
The only image we are given of God is Christ, who said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." He also said to the Samaritan woman at the well that the debate about the correct place to worship God was irrelevant, since God was to be worshipped "in Spirit and in Truth," without regard to location.
If we know God, we will respect His name. To disrespect Godís name is to show one does not know Him. A personís name is part of them, and often that is why there are different levels of address: Mr. or Ms. Smith may not wish you to use their first name, since you do not know them well enough to earn that right. Or, if a first name, not a nickname, reserved for friends or family. Calling a strange woman "Baby" or "Honey" is an insult, because it presumes an intimacy not granted. When people hold certain offices, protocol dictates we use certain titles when referring to them, to show respect. If you know God, you will respect Him, not use His name in vain repetitions, or claim your own thoughts are His, or if you claim to be one of His, you will not do anything that will cause His name to be blasphemed because of you. Not knowing God leads us to tempt others to disrespect of Godís name through us.
First Commandment in the Fourth:
The Sabbath is a sign of the true God, the Creator, the Deliverer, the rest-giver, Who promises future rest. The Sabbath speaks of Creation, and creation, rightly understood, through revelation, can be cautiously used as a way to understand the mind of God, though there can be pitfalls in this. We need to remember Creation is now "in bondage," and not as originally intended, yet still we see Godís mind in the many wonderful and perfect things He has made. Without Godís revelation, though, we can fall into errors of idolatry, since Nature is the primary source of most idolatrous worship.
But, as God has created the world, so He can redeem it from its suffering state, and when the fullness of His redemption comes, He will usher in a Sabbath of rest on the whole earth.
First Commandment in the Fifth:
Parents are our earthly creators, and if we do not honour them, we cannot know God. That is why God promises us long life if we honour our parents, to help us to come to a knowledge of God as our Father.
First Commandment in the Sixth:
To murder is to kill God, since people are made in the image of God. How can we destroy Godís image, and know Him?
James says if we cannot love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we haven't seen?
Satan's two attributes are that of a murderer and a liar; anything he inspires is not in the nature of God.
First Commandment in the Seventh:
God declares Himself to be our Maker, and our Husband: Who He is demands devotion, obedience, and wholehearted love and loyalty. Sex is the physical picture of a spiritual truth: just as sexual union should be loving, considerate, and within the security and commitment of marriage, so godly worship is faithfulness to the one true God. Sexual sin is thus a metaphor for, and often found in, unfaithfulness to God, or idolatrous worship.
First Commandment in the Eighth:
This is a hard one. How does respecting property help us understand the True God? Property rights are part of Godís gift to man. Property is either given or earned. Work is one of the gifts God gave to man, and the thief does not work, but undoes the work of others, causing unexpected mental anguish. Until the industrial revolution, replacing stolen property would have been impossible, as each item was unique. Even now, each item represents time spent, choices made, and memories. Being robbed feels like a personal violation, almost like rape. Why? God made man in His image, and gave him dominion over certain things. A personís possessions are a measure of their work, hours of their life, or mark personal occasions.
Property is a rightful part of a person: stripping people of their property dehumanizes them and takes away part of their unique identity, their history. Kidnappers and jailers first take away all property, including clothes, and may replace them with items owned by them. Since God is the God of true freedom and liberation, as shown in both the First and the Fourth Commandments, He opposes any way in which men may oppress or enslave each other. To deny someone their rightful property is to take away the freedom to enjoy what God has given them, and is a kind of bondage.
First Commandment in the Ninth:
To lie is to turn from He Who is Truth. Lying to ourselves or others destroys understanding of truth, and all truth eventually leads to God. All sin needs lies to cover it up. This is why Satan is called "a Liar." In the narrow sense also, to pervert justice is to turn from the Most Just God to Satan.
First Commandment in the Tenth:
To know God is to desire Him as the most Excellent and desirable thing one can want. To desire things is to look at the creation instead of the Creator, and this perverts our ability to truly understand God. Covetousness turns our hearts from God.
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There are many false ways of "knowing God" which take the place of Biblical revelation guided by the Holy Spirit:
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Or, Do Not Make Images of God.
Summary: After God declares Who He is, and mercifully refrains from commanding us to do the impossible, and know Him, though He implies we should acknowledge Him and begin on our journey to know Him, He tells us another way to avoid false ideas about him.
This is the only commandment that directly addresses any occupation among men: artists, particularly sculptors (though, by implication, all artists are included) are commanded not to make any image of anything that is to be used as an object of worship.
Artists are forbidden to pervert their God-given wisdom to lead people astray. If every artist who ever lived had refused to make any image of anything that would be worshipped, idolatry would never have had the hold on people it has had. While anyone can carve out a crude representation and worship it, most people are more easily seduced by a beautiful image.
Artists, above all people, know first hand what it is to create, and can relate to God as the creator in a way other people can't. They themselves create, and they know the pains they take, and how often what they do displeases them and needs to be destroyed. Artists should be the people who help lead people to God by reminding them of His creation, but of all professions, it is artists who have come under greatest attack by Satan, to ensure that they do not ever fulfil their God-given function.
We know, in the building of the tabernacle, that artists were given a special dispensation of the Spirit of God for their work, since God ideally wanted the arts to aid in people's understanding of His glory.
An artist's work is a pale imitation of God's creation, but it is the best we humanly have, and in the service of God, is most wonderful and sublime.
Just as Lucifer, the "morning star", the brightest angel, became the worst enemy of God, so artists, who have the greatest potential, through their works, to point people to God, they also can be used by Satan to deceive people.
One of the great deceptions Satan has foisted on the world is the perversion of the arts. They are used either to take glory away from God and towards themselves, other men, or various creatures, making idols and false images that mislead, or they are rejected by the churches as dangerous and evil.
In rejecting the arts, modern Protestant churches make themselves eunuchs, since they deny the creative power of God, and deny that man, made in the image of God, should rightfully use his creative powers. This is another way to deny God as creator, and make creativity disreputable. Just as begetting and bearing children is a true creative act most humans can participate in, creating works of art is a true creative act that artists participate in. Denying art and artists denies the power of the Creator God, who is able to make people capable of creating beauty and meaning out of simple materials.
Also, denying the arts makes the church a laughingstock to the world, since it is through works of excellence that even the staunchest unbeliever can get a glimpse of the glory and sublimity of God. When the churches are "Addicted to Mediocrity," (Franky Schaeffer's book), they deny the power of God, disconnect themselves from His vast, creative power, and show themselves to be "wretched and miserable and naked and blind and poor."
If the churches used all the arts in the Biblical way, as intended, they would be a greater witness to the world.
In the world, artists are the vanguard for every kind of evil behavior, feeling themselves to be gods unto themselves, so are often rightfully viewed with suspicion. This is because they have been rejected by the churches, and, knowing they have a gift, they become their own gods, and choose for themselves what is good and what is evil.
The redemption of artists, and the redemption of art would be a powerful witness to the glory and magnificence of God.
Do you think I exaggerate? Why, of all occupations, is only that of artists explicitly mentioned in the ten commandments, and put second only to the first great declaration of the identity of God?
The fact that Satan has spent so much time perverting the artistic world, and art itself, should tell us this is not something that God is indifferent to: it made it second in his "Top Ten List."
Those who are not artists are warned not to be led astray by arts that portray God in any form, and not to worship those works of art, but to remember that God is invisible and does not exist in time and space.
And yet, so as not to hold in contempt those wonderful gifts that God has given to artists (which includes all the arts: the visual arts and fine crafts and music and poetry and storytelling are either mentioned or used in the Bible, but there is no reason not to include any art in principle), we are told "whatsoever things are excellentÖthink on these things."
Art, by definition, is beyond mere workmanship and craftsmanship, and is excellence. Another way Satan has tried to pervert the arts is by trying to separate excellence in workmanship from artistic expression, though he has made the greatest inroads in the visual arts and poetry, two of the most powerful modes of affecting people's emotions. Visual artists no longer feel the need to learn how to draw, paint, or mix colours, though they still learn some composition. Poets no longer are taught to respect rhythm, sound patterns, and all the powerful poetic devices at their disposal, instead falling for an unmetrical outpouring of conversational declaration that is often personal, diaristic, confessional, nonuniversal and unmelodic. Still, great poetry is appreciated where it is found, and there is a resurgence in respect for "formal verse," but the visual arts continue to denigrate skilled work as being "mere illustration."
While there are popular modes of music, storytelling (in novel and film), in every other area, there is still a strong tradition of discipline: prose writers, novelists, playwrights, scriptwriters, sculptors, musicians, actors, cinematographers, etc., still pursue excellence in their fields.
Contempt for art in the contemporary world is rampant in the church, and most religious people I know do not watch much television or see many movies. Considering how little the world knows the Bible, these stories are the new mythology of the world, and showing contempt for the excellence of the work destroys our testimony, while ignorance of their messages denies us an avenue of dialogue. If Paul was not familiar with Greek poetry, what argument could he have used on Mars' Hill? He was too shrewd to quote Hebrew scriptures at these people who would have no idea what he was talking about: he left them somewhat enlightened, and at least intrigued, if not converted, but they were willing to hear more.
Second Commandment in the First: (above)
Second Commandment in the Third:
Images insult God as Creator, by giving him a name among animals, planets, or men.
Second Commandment in the Fourth:
The Sabbath is the major aid God gives us so we donít need images. We do not worship God by going somewhere, or by having images of him, but by spending time with Him, particularly on the Sabbath, the day He set aside for us to get to know him. We do not worship God only in a place, which is where images can be, but in time, which is everywhere, like God. Wherever you are in the world, the Sabbath will come to you, just as God is near, no matter where we are. It is too easy to think of God being confined to a place, and even to picture worship as only being in one place, so we imagine we can escape God by going somewhere else, like Jonah did. To tie God down, in your mind, to a place, can eventually lead to a kind of idolatry. Even the temple worship, an acceptable method God uses to teach about Him, will be eventually abolished, as men learn to worship God "in Spirit and in Truth."
Second Commandment in the Fifth:
Another "aid to worship" God gives us, besides the Sabbath, is the family. The love of ordinarily good parents gives us a picture of Godís love for us. Honouring our parents, just for being our parents, whether we agree with them or not, or like them or not, teaches us how to honour God, whether or not we always understand His ways, or whether His will is always our will. As children, we also obey our parents, and if we have good enough parents, we learn obedience and trust, which helps us in our relationship with God as our Father. As adults, this obedience ceases, but the "honour" does not. Parents, who represent God to their children, blaspheme God if they sin against their children. Christ says, "if any one offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Mat. 18:6. This is why Malachi says, in the last days, God will "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Mal. 4:5
Second Commandment in the Sixth:
Respecting other people is another aid to worship. This is based on the command to "love your neighbour as yourself." We are told, "If you cannot love your brother, whom you have seen, how can you love God, whom you have not seen?" This is why we are told, if our brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift on the altar, be reconciled first to our brother, and then offer our gift. Offense between people hinders our worship, and hinders our prayers. If a man has offended his wife, his prayers are hindered. This is why it is traditional for Jewish people, before the day of Atonement, to reconcile with anyone they are estranged from. This is a good custom, and Biblical in intent. I also believe that, not only should we ask forgiveness from those we have offended, but I think we should go further, and give thanks to those who have done us good: many times, we neglect to thank others (like the nine lepers out of ten who did not thank Christ for their healing), and lack of gratitude is the flip side of resentment, and itself can often cause resentment. Also, it reminds us that sin is not only of commission, but more often of omission.
As instructions regarding worship, in many times and places it was (and still is) necessary to make it clear that no worship or belief should involve killing another person. While human sacrifice in worship is not a common problem in most parts of the modern world, we see religious hatred leading to killings in Ireland, the Middle East, and other parts of the world, where religion gives strength to murderous actions. Even the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre was a suicide mission made possible by a religious belief that this killing would guarantee the terrorists a place in heaven. And, even in a smaller way, it is not uncommon for religious differences to lead to beatings and other violence short of killing.
Christ said hatred itself is the root of murder, and hatred does play a part in many peopleís religious beliefs: any worship or belief that promotes hatred comes from Satan "who was a murderer from the beginning." A very common form of this is the hostile, judgmental, slanderous attitude many "believers" have towards "unbelievers": an extreme version of this can be seen in people like the one who owns the website "godhatesfags.com". It is very easy to forget that God hates sin because it not only offends His perfect righteousness, but because of the natural consequences (curses) it brings on sinners. Hatred of homosexuals is often so promoted or at least tolerated in the churches that believers who are homosexual by nature, but remain celibate to avoid sin, are still afraid to let other people know "their secret," because they know they will be faced with revulsion and hatred.
The minute hatred becomes part of oneís religion, it becomes tainted. Post-Nicene Christianity became tainted with the sin of anti-Semitism, and this one hatred, upon which many church teachings and practices are based (the date of Easter, for example), has been a curse that has blinded many Christian people, and prevented them from worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth, "for if a man hate his brother, the Truth is not in him."
Human sacrifice was a common practice in many pagan religions, particularly fertility religions, since a dead body makes the ground fertile, as I saw when walking through an abandoned graveyard full of trees. To my horror, I saw that each tree represented a grave, and the tree had taken root and nourishment from the body buried there. This, I believe, is why the tree is a symbol of resurrection in religions based on the Babylonian system. It is an obvious, but horrifying step from this observation, to the actual sacrifice of a person, to ensure the fertility of the soil. It is interesting that the year before Christmas was adopted from paganism, the last human sacrifice was done on that day: while it may have seemed humane to stop this practice, the logic in adopting an observance so closely associated with human sacrifice is difficult to comprehend.
Interestingly, human sacrifice is linked to vegetarianism, as such cultures are agricultural, rather than herding. Another interesting point, that the first murderer, Cain, raised vegetables, and gave them in sacrifice. While vegetarianism was the original plan in Eden, meat eating was the new order after manís expulsion from Eden. So Paul calls vegetarianism "a doctrine of devils," though he advises us not to offend those of weak conscience through our eating.
Second Commandment in the Seventh:
Another "aid to worship" God gives us is the erotic love between a man and his wife. The intimacy, tenderness, love, joy, and fulfillment of a loving marriage bed, makes it clear that our relationship to God should be similarly exciting, joyous, and satisfying. We learn new dimensions in understanding of worship through the adoration of each other in godly sexual union. We are the Bride, and Christ is the Bridegroom. The Song of Solomon is a tale of erotic longing to be joined with the Beloved, and has always been understood to picture God and His people. Our bodies are the temple of the holy spirit, and if we respect ourselves, and keep only to the marriage bed, we experience the sacredness and exclusivity sex was meant to have. This pictures our faithfulness to God alone. Unfaithfulness to God is like unfaithfulness to oneís mate: this sin is still the leading cause of divorce in first marriages. Idolatry is pictured as adultery throughout the Bible, and was even acted out in the prophet Hoseaís life, where he was commanded to marry a promiscuous woman, to experience how God felt with Israelís idolatry with other gods. It is easier to understand Godís jealousy of us when we imagine how we would feel if our mate were unfaithful to us.
Second Commandment in the Eighth:
Yet another "aid to worship" God gives us is our work. With the Sabbath, he gives us rest; for the remainder of the week, he gives us work. Through our work, we learn many practical lessons that can help us understand God. God wants us to do work we love, and are suited for, to learn the proper skills, and do it diligently. It is said, "work is prayer," and there is a kind of worshipful gratefulness to God one feels when one enjoys oneís work, and then again enjoys the rewards of our labours. When we do work suited to us, we are becoming what God intended us to be. If we are forced to do work unsuited to us, the best we can do is to be diligent, and do the work as though it were towards God, not some boss or company. As the thirteenth-century tempera painter, Cennino Cennini rightly said, "Always do your best work. This is acceptable in the eyes of God." (Il Libro delíArte). Solomon says, "There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour." (Eccl. 2:24)
Stealing not only removes property, it is against work: theft itself steals work from two people, the work that bought the victimís goods, and the work the thief would have done instead. The thief thus robs both the victim and himself. "Let him that stole steal no more, but work with his hands."
Second Commandment in the Ninth:
Truth is the pathway to God. All truth eventually leads to God. Honesty and integrity (oneness with the truth) will eventually lead a person to knowledge of God. Another major aid to worship is knowledge (right information) and wisdom (judgment in using knowledge). Wisdom comes by hearing the Word of God, and this helps us to know Him truly. "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." We are to worship God "in truth," and without truth, we do not know Him. People who "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" deny others the opportunity to know the truth, and are judged harshly for this.
Second Commandment in the Tenth:
The unfulfilled desire of oneís heart is another pathway to God. Christ is "the desire of all nations." God is what people feel a deep longing for. Redirecting this longing for God towards ownership of things is a perversion of this longing of the heart, and blocks the path of oneís search for God. This is why the Bible says "covetousness is idolatry."
Covetousness is an obsessive desire for things, particularly things one can never rightfully have. Since any good thing can be rightfully pursued, only those things belonging to another are forbidden. Coveting leads to jealousy and envy of your neighbour, being angry at his good fortune, and desiring to take away what he has.
True covetousness only wants what it canít have, and the pleasure is not in the owning, it is in the taking away from others. This desire often leads to adultery or theft, but the desire itself is forbidden separately, because a covetous man compares himself to others, and is only happy if he is better off in comparison to others.
He canít even enjoy his own things unless they are better than others, and his highest pleasure is not in the things themselves, but in his triumph over those he has taken them from, and the envy of those who do not have them.
Such attitudes are obviously a worship, not just of things, but of status and prestige. Covetous people "love the praise of men more than the praise of God."
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The counterfeit of knowing God "in Spirit and in Truth" is to know him though "worship aids" that come between ourselves and God. These can be:
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Or, Respect God's Name and Shun Blasphemy.
Summary: Philip Yancey, in his "The Bible Jesus Read," quotes Professor Robert Webber, in a chapel message in the 1970's as saying the third commandment meant, "never live as though God didn't exist," or, positively, "Always live in awareness of God's existence."
In other words, the Jewish concept of "the practical atheist," the person, regardless of creed, who lives as though God didn't exist, is taking God's name in vain.
Third Commandment in the First: (above)
Third Commandment in the Second: (above)
Third Commandment in the Fourth:
If we keep God's Sabbath, we respect his name as Creator, Lawgiver, and Redeemer. To respect is to obey, and to "enter into His rest." To defile the Sabbath is to insult the God Who made it holy. It is unbelief and disobedience that makes God into our "pet" rather into the sovereign God Who alone can decide between what is holy and what is profane.
In the Lord's Prayer, we say, "Hallowed be your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
We respect God's name by keeping holy all that He has made holy, looking forward to His coming Kingdom, and ensuring that, in our own lives, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Also, if we do not keep the Sabbath, it is often because we believe lies about God as Lawgiver that make Him seem vengeful and hateful and unloving because He has given us His law.
To break God's Sabbath often involves some kind of rationalization that insults God and the perfection of His Creation and His Laws, and blasphemes His name and all He has made holy.
Third Commandment in the Fifth:
If we honour our parents, we not only honour God's name as our Father, but we are a good example to others, so cause them to honour God through our honour to our mother and father, a duty understood and respected throughout the world. To be disobedient, dishonour, and rebel against our parents is to cause God's name, through us, to come into disrepute. Also, to disrespect our parents is to disrespect God, since He is our heavenly parent.
Third Commandment in the Sixth:
If we commit murder, we cause dishonour to fall on God's name. We also blaspheme God, because He alone gives life, and He alone is empowered to take it, except in cases where He has explicitly allowed the taking of human life. As man is made in the image of God, we blaspheme against God in the worst way, by destroying His image, which is greater even than His name.
Third Commandment in the Seventh:
Sexual sin also causes people to blaspheme God; those who are unchaste often feel it is necessary to curse or deny God and His name in order not to feel guilty for this sin. People who claim to be believers, and wear the name of God can cause unbelievers to blaspheme God if they are shown to be involved in sexual sin, something the world generally understands to be wrong, despite their fervent protests to the contrary. Also, to commit sexual sin is to sin against one's own body, made in the image of God, which is a travesty of God doing something unclean. Also, for a believer, one is defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit by sexual sin. If Christ was angry with the moneychangers defiling the physical temple, how much more would He be angry with His people defiling the temple of His Holy Spirit?
Third Commandment in the Eighth:
It is not so easy to see how theft can be blasphemy.
Theft is dishonest, and dishonesty is against all truth and right. God is the author of truth, honesty, and righteousness, so theft is an insult to Him.
Also, God made the earth, and all that is in it, and allowed men to have dominion over it, and work for their possessions. The thief dares to change the natural order of things, and take things without earning them, which is an insult to work, which is one way that man imitates God, and an insult to property, which is given by God and not to be taken away, and an insult to God's blessings, or his forbearance to judge, in the case of the unrighteous who are increased with goods.
The thief, if he refuses to do honest work, perverts his human destiny, and instead of being productive, is a parasite on others, which is unworthy of one made in the image of God.
The thief who steals for ideological reasons, because he believes he has a greater right to the goods than the owner, presumes to be a judge of men, which is an insult to God, Who is the only judge.
Any believer who steals destroys his testimony before the world by his dishonesty and lack of trust and faith in God's ability to provide for him in his need, and causes God to be blasphemed by others.
Third Commandment in the Ninth:
To bear false witness against another in a court of law -- the literal meaning -- is to pervert justice. Since God is the ultimate Judge, the perversion of justice is an insult and a blasphemy against the divine Judge.
To slander another is to bring someone made in the image of God into disrepute, and is a kind of slander upon God himself.
To lie in general is to pay allegiance to Satan, the father of all liars, which insults the God of Truth. Lying also hinders others from coming to know the truth, and this also insults God and His name.
To lie is also to dishonestly gain advantage, which is an insult to God, Who is well able to help and to save without one dishonoring the truth.
This said, there are many examples in the Bible of situations where, to save a life, people have lied without fault (Jonathan, to protect David). Lying is not the ultimate sin, and is permissible at certain times when there is no other alternative.
Generally, though, it is better avoided, and God relied on to save one from the situations that may seem to require a lie.
Because lying is a necessary adjunct to cover up almost every other sin, a willingness to lie indicates a willingness to sin, which shows a presumptuous contempt for God and His holy name.
Third Commandment in the Tenth:
To covet is to dishonour God, because it makes Him less important than created things, and puts him below the works of His own hands.
This is an insult, and covetousness is one of those things that prevents a person from clearly seeing God.
If one's heart desires anything above God, then He is being dishonored.
This is much like ogling women in front of your own wife: she would rightfully be insulted! When you are with her, you should have eyes only for her, and when you are not with her, you should not lower your standards of behaviour.
So also is God insulted and jealous of His name if it is taken so lightly that He rates below mere objects in our desires.
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There are many counterfeits to honoring God and not taking His name in vain:
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Or, Work Six days, and rest on the appointed Seventh day Sabbath.
Summary: The command is "Remember the Sabbath," so indicating the Sabbath was given long enough ago to be forgotten: this makes little sense if one foolishly ignores Genesis and assumes the Sabbath was given to the Israelites in the wilderness.
Sabbath was the final creation, following the creation of man, and was created for him, to keep him in relationship with God, as well as to give him physical rest from his work.
Most of the world has forgotten the Sabbath, and many of those who remember the Sabbath either subjugate man to the Sabbath, as Christ rebuked the Pharisees for doing, or make an idol of the Sabbath, rather than looking to the Sabbath-giver, the Lord of Our Rest.
To remember the Sabbath is to go back to its creation, and recall Who made it, when He made it, and what He did (He rested, and made it holy). Christ tells us God made the Sabbath for man, as a perpetual blessing for him.
First, we must recognize the true Bible Sabbath. Second, we must remember it. Third, we must not profane what God has made holy.
Fourth Commandment in the First: (above)
Fourth Commandment in the Second: (above)
Fourth Commandment in the Third: (above)
Fourth Commandment in the Fifth:
To keep the Sabbath is to honour our first parent, the Creator of us all, and to acknowledge Him weekly as our Father and God. We honour Him by obeying Him, by ceasing to do anything of our own, by respecting what He has made holy, and by spending time drawing close to Him.
Just as honouring our earthly parents guarantees us long life, so keeping this commandment, and honoring God points towards eternal life, when we can fully enter into God's rest.
Fourth Commandment in the Sixth:
It is hard to see how keeping the Sabbath fulfills the commandment against murder.
We know that murder is the unlawful taking of life. A person's life consists of time, and if we steal his time, we steal a part of his life. So, to steal 1/7th of a person's life, when they have the divine right to rest, is to commit a "little murder", robbing a part of that person's life.
Also, if we do not let people rest, we do them physical harm, which can easily lead to sickness and death. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, they were being worked to death, and there was no rest. The Sabbath rest was the first thing God gave them when they escaped, as a sign of their freedom. To make people work on the Sabbath is to enslave them.
Also, to prevent people from entering into God's present physical rest is to prevent them from having the time and knowledge to pursue their connection with their Creator and Saviour, which can lead to their spiritual death.
If we refuse to enter into God's rest, we make ourselves slaves to others, to Satan, and do ourselves physical and spiritual harm, which is a kind of slow suicide. We slowly kill ourselves, inside and out, if we do not enter into the holy, blessed freedom and rest that God has so mercifully provided for us.
Fourth Commandment in the Seventh:
To profane the Sabbath is to forsake the worship of the true God, which leads to false worship of false conceptions of God, which is idolatry, and spiritual adultery.
Also, in the physical sphere, strangely enough, Sabbath-breaking and sexual sin do seem to go together in practice, though the logical connection is not at first clear.
Since the Sabbath keeps us in mind of the true God, and helps us meditate on His ways, and makes us grateful for His freedom from bondage, it makes us more humble, and less likely to enslave another person in any way.
Sexual sin enslaves another to our desires, and often costs them dearly.
Since the Sabbath is meant to keep us in right relationship with the true God, and sexual union is a metaphor for worship, false worship or disrespect towards God often leads to disrespect of one's own body and those of other people.
The Sabbath is often argued against as being "done away" as the law is done away. One of the favorite laws people want to do away with is the Seventh Commandment, and if one does not like to retain a knowledge of God in one's mind, that leads both to idolatry and sexual sin. (Romans 2)
This does not mean that Sunday-keeping churches are more likely to have people who commit sexual sin than Sabbath-keeping churches: I have never seen any studies even looking into such a thing. What I do know is that, in Sabbath-keeping churches I have been aware of, Sabbath-breaking was almost always a precursor to sexual sin, particularly among the ministry.
Fourth Commandment in the Eighth:
To profane the Sabbath is to steal time from God and from man.
The Sabbath belongs to the Lord, and to use it for our own things is to steal what is His.
To force others to work on the Sabbath is to steal their time with God, and their chance to learn of Him, and also to steal God's time with that person from Him.
We are to "render unto God that which is God's," and one of those things which are God's is the Sabbath.
Conversely, to interfere with another person's Sabbath worship, and make it a burden instead of a delight, is to steal the true meaning and joy of the Sabbath, as the Pharisees did in many ways, such as forbidding healing on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath, so the Sabbath is a divine gift to man, that no one should dare to steal away.
Fourth Commandment in the Ninth:
Sabbath-breaking often is caused by a lie or leads to a lie.
Innocent Sabbath-breaking is caused by other people lying about God's commandments, convincing people they need not keep the Sabbath, or making them believe Sunday is the Sabbath.
Culpable Sabbath-breaking comes from people deciding for themselves whether or not they want to keep a day, and choosing their own day, or deciding to somehow making every day special, or any other strange ideas.
This leads to the lie that this is something people can decide for themselves, that man can decide to make something holy that isn't, or ignore something God calls holy.
This leads to the big lie about the nature of God: that we can decide Who He is and how to worship Him.
Ignoring the Sabbath also makes it easier to ignore God as Creator, and lends itself to lies like Evolution.
The Sabbath is the "test" commandment, and when the the test is failed, it leads to various lies to rationalize the Sabbath-breaking, such as "the law is done away," or "grace abolishes the law" or the idea that one can keep a law "in spirit" without keeping it "in fact," though no one would say this about any other commandment.
You can break the seventh commandment "in spirit" by entertaining lust in your heart, but there's no way you can keep it "in spirit" if you physically commit adultery. So for blasphemy, dishonoring parents, murder, theft, and false witness. You cannot "keep them spiritually" if you break them physically. Imagine the foolishness of a Mafia don saying, "I know I killed my rival, but I didn't hate him, it was just business, so I didn't kill him in my heart." Yet, somehow, with the Sabbath (and the commandment against idolatrous images), there is this silly little tap-dance about doing something physically, but not "spiritually." Kind of like the man who protests that his adultery was not really unfaithfulness to his wife because "it didn't mean anything to me."
The very fact that it didn't mean anything to him is why it is doubly bad! So, how will God respond to those who say that even though they broke the Sabbath physically, they "kept it in their heart, spiritually," because the physical day God made holy "didn't mean anything" to them!
So, lies about the Sabbath lead to lies about the Commandments, about Law and Grace, about God as Lawgiver, and distort the whole message of salvation.
Fourth Commandment in the Tenth:
Sabbath-breaking involves coveting what is not ours, that is, God's holy time.
We want to use that time to our own ends, and spend it on our own desires, instead of using it to grow closer to God.
So, again, by desiring something else above God, we covet that time he has set apart for us to draw near to Him, and we make our own desires and pastimes idols above God.
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The Sabbath has many counterfeits:
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The First Positive Commandment (after the Declaration of God's Identity in the First), and the First Commandment with Promise.
Summary: "Honour your mother and your father, that your days may be long in the land."
This is the first commandment with promise. There are two commandments that sanctify the family: the fifth and the seventh. The commands are to remind children to honour their parents, and to remind couples not to be unfaithful to one another. There are no explicit commands here for parents to love or nurture their children, those these are given elsewhere: presumably, the assumption is that most people will naturally love their children, as even the heathen do.
But within this command is the implication that, as parents, we should do what we can to be honourable, and not be a stumblingblock or an offense to our children.
Fifth Commandment in the First: (above)
Fifth Commandment in the Second: (above)
Fifth Commandment in the Third: (above)
Fifth Commandment in the Fourth: (above)
Fifth Commandment in the Sixth:
Jewish tradition teaches that humiliating a person is like murder, in that the whiteness of their face is like shedding of blood.
It is true that humiliation feels like a kind of death, and that is why death metaphors are commonly used for it: "I could have died"; or of comedians, humiliated by an unresponsive audience, "I died out there".
Christ taught that to hate someone is to be a murderer at heart.
So, too, hating or humiliating our parents is like killing them.
I would say anything that dishonours our parents is like murdering them. To do the same to God would be to kill Him, which mankind had the sorry opportunity of doing when He came in the form of the human Messiah. Jesus was not surprised: the people who stoned the prophets would not be beyond killing their saviour -- and this is not just the Jewish people: the Roman Empire, the foundation of modern civilization, allowed and participated in, and carried out the execution of Christ, so all nations, Jew and Gentile, are guilty of His death.
If we honoured God, we would not dishonour those He sends. Not only does He send his prophets, and civil authorities, He also gives us our parents.
Murder is the destruction of one made in the image of God. Dishonouring parents is to destroy the special authority and relationship that God has given to us.
Obviously, many parents these days commit horrible atrocities that would have earned them the death sentence in Israel. In these cases, we must honour our heavenly father above all else, and step away from the wicked ones as those God-fearing relatives stepped away from Korah's rebellion, rather than sharing in their condemnation.
Fifth Commandment in the Seventh:
Sexual sin dishonours our parents, because it brings disrepute on their name and on their house. It also allows for confusion in their descendants, as illegitimate children may be born of such unions.
Sexual sin also can render us, as parents, disreputable, and be a stumblingblock to our children, whether or not they are the product of illicit unions. To bear children through sexual sin is to bring dishonour also to them, who are innocent, yet marked with their parents' sin.
Further, sexual sin and uncertain paternity can cause problems with later marriages, leading to inadvertent incest, which has occurred in some cases of Artificial Insemination donors' offspring.
Fifth Commandment in the Eighth:
To dishonour your parents is to steal from them the respect due to them.
To steal someone's honour or reputation is worse than stealing money, since it does so much more damage.
By extension, to disrespect lawful authority, such as parents, and rulers, is to rob them of the exercise of the position than God gave to them.
God gave parents and other authorities honour, and to steal that from them is to steal honour from God as well.
Fifth Commandment in the Ninth:
Not to honour your parents is to lie about the nature of one's duty to one's parents, as well as to one's heavenly Parent, God.
This leads to further lies about authority, and leads to lawlessness in general.
Conversely, parents who "provoke their children to wrath" or who "offend them" lie about the nature of the authority of parenthood, and, by extension, lie about the nature of the God Whom they represent, as parents.
Those who understand the truth about the nature of loving authority bear the truth about God. Those authorities who are from God are servants to the people ; those who lord it over them are teaching a lie about authority, and bearing false witness against God.
Fifth Commandment in the Tenth:
To refuse to honour one's parents is to covet that honour for one's own self.
Those who cannot in humility honour those above them in authority cannot be proper authorities to those below them.
Authorities who covet people's adoration and the prestige of their office, rather than being willing to serve and sacrifice, covet the kind of worship that belongs only to God.
God saves some of his most vehement rebukes for leaders who abuse their power, and holds the fathers responsible for turning their hearts to their children, thus leading to the children turning their hearts to the fathers. If they don't do this, God promises to smite the earth with a curse.
So, children who honour their parents are promised blessings and long life.
Parents whose hearts are not towards their children are cursed, and if they offend their little ones, they would be better thrown into the sea with a millstone around their neck.
This also holds true for all authorities, secular and religious.
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There are many counterfeits of this commandment and its relation to authority, inside the family and outside, and these bad practices and false ideas form a child's impression of God the Father, which should cause us to be afraid for the consequences of our actions:
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Or, Do Not Kill People, outside Exceptions God Allows.
Summary: Most societies recognize murder as the worst sin, since it cannot be undone, and it destroys a person's entire life, and robs his or her family of the victim's presence.
Murder usurps God's right to determine the length of a person's days, and is an insult to the Creator who made man in His own image.
Murder also creates fear and terror in a society, and leads to revenge, or hatred, and turns people's minds from positive pursuits to the need to protect one's self from attack in peacetime.
Murder can cause people to doubt the existence or goodness of God, and creates deep wounds in those left behind, as well as though who hear about it.
Murder also creates an entire industry, from forensic pathologists to police to profilers -- many of these things existed in some form because of other crimes, but as the murder rate rose, and as serial killers grew more common, more and more resources go towards finding and capturing killers; while this work is necessary, it ultimately drains resources that could be used, in a more peaceful society, to make life better for greater numbers of people.
Also, as murder increases and the kinds of murders become more horrific and the numbers of victims increase, people become desensitized to the violence, so their hearts are increasingly hardened, and they become harder to shock, and thus harder to reach.
Murder is one of those things, I believe, spoken of regarding the last days, when "because iniquity will abound, the love of many will wax cold."
Sixth Commandment in the First: (above)
Sixth Commandment in the Second: (above)
Sixth Commandment in the Third: (above)
Sixth Commandment in the Fourth: (above)
Sixth Commandment in the Fifth: (above)
Sixth Commandment in the Seventh:
One popular Victorian novel of the day had the seducer stepping away from his victim as though he had murdered her, which he had, socially. He had destroyed her best chance of acceptance and happiness in her future life.
The fact that people are no longer outcasts after premarital sex does not alter the fact that their future marriage will carry the shadow of their indiscretion.
Sexual sin murders innocence, and innocence is an aid to contact with God. In this way, one is spiritually murdered, or at least mortally wounded, by sexual sin, and even though God can resurrect our spirits, and heal us, we have lost our natural innocent connection to Him we would otherwise have had.
One sexual sin abhorrent to most people is rape, which is a kind of murder where the victim is left alive to suffer. Police find the profile of a rapist is halfway between that of a thief and a murderer. A high percentage of rapists also kill their victims, so rape and murder, both involving making a person into a thing, easily go together.
I do not believe it is a coincidence that, despite all the horrible sins mentioned in the Bible, including gang rape and dismemberment, homosexual rape, murder, bestiality, incest among adults, and child sacrifice, never once is child rape mentionedÖthis horrible crime, rampant in our time, remains unspoken of in the Bible. The only hints are the "hearts of the fathers" speech in Malachi, and the "millstone" speech of Christ's, but these could refer to many other things.
The murder of innocence is a far more horrible sin than any should ever dare contemplate. One would be better off dead than committing this sin.
Sixth Commandment in the Eighth:
Murder, of course, is the stealing of a life. It steals time that a person would otherwise have on the earth, and it steals from God the right to determine a person's length of days.
However God is working in a person's life, that is cut short when he or she is murdered.
Murder is a sin against the very earth, since the earth cries out to receive the blood of the innocent. In some way, the groaning and travailing of the earth itself, and our environmental crises are tied in with murder.
Of course, destroying the environment itself steals the blessings of the earth from people, and is another form of murder.
Sixth Commandment in the Ninth:
To murder is to lie about the nature of man, and the nature of God.
Man is made in the image of God, and cannot be killed without God's authority. To imagine one can judge such things apart from God is to make one's self the supreme Judge, which is a lie against the Holy One.
I've heard a story, which well may apocryphal, that there is a question regarding murder victims in Texas, "did he need killin'"? Whether this is true or not, it is a question in the minds of jurors during a murder trial everywhere, which is why the victim's character is often put on trial.
To murder a person is to lie to one's self that one has the right to judge another, and to execute that judgement, apart from clear divine allowance. Death was never part of God's original plan, and killing was not done in Paradise.
After the Fall, an animal was killed to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness, and the land was cursed. Still, when Cain murdered his brother, his punishment was not death, but banishment. Only after the Flood, because of man's supreme wickedness, did God allow the death penalty, as the lesser of two evils. At that point, God also put the fear of man into the animals, to give them a fair chance against people, who would now need to eat flesh to remain healthy. The greater evil of war was only allowed as a working out of God's specific purposes: those Israel fought against are spoken of as having merited God's punishment, and when Israel is conquered, it is because God is bringing punishment on them.
But war was so far removed from God's perfect way that, even though he allowed it, he abhorred it, and would not let David, the man after God's own heart, build God's temple, because of the blood on his hands. The temple represented something untouched by war and murder, which is the violent taking of another's life by force. Ironically, the temple worship included continual bloodshed, but this was the blood of sacrifice, offered freely. The blood of sacrifice, which was giving what was one's own, was never to be confused with the blood of murder, which is taking what could never be one's own.
In the future Paradise, they will "beat their swords into ploughshares," and "they will not learn war anymore," and "they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain." Even the animals will be vegetarian, so, by implication, man will once again live on the fruit of the earth, and not kill animals for food. When the Lion lies down with the Lamb, there will be no need for fear; so also, the animals will no longer need to fear man. Christ reminds us that this is the ideal to strive for. He says a higher law than "an eye for an eye" is "turning the other cheek," that is, instead of violent taking of vengeance, the humble offering of oneself in suffering or sacrifice. This is for the present time of our mortality, before all harm is done away in Paradise.
God says he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and the death of the innocent He will avenge.
Sixth Commandment in the Tenth:
To murder is to covet the place of God, who alone decides on who shall live and who shall die.
This is well known, to the extent that when one makes arbitrary personal judgments about life and death issues, people say one is "playing God."
Satan is the first one who coveted God's place as judge and ruler; he wanted to decide who lived and died, so tempted our first parents into eating the forbidden fruit, thus bringing death upon them and their progeny.
Those who would covet God's Judgment Throne are murders at heart, as Cain was, and as Satan was from the beginning.
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There are several counterfeits for the sixth commandment:
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Summary: Sexual sin affects human beings profoundly in ways that are akin to the affect of murder.
Hardening of the heart, separation of body and mind, and walling off of emotions to avoid being hurt are among the results of sexual sin.
To have sexual contact with another person is to become extremely vulnerable; when one does this without any commitment, one has to smother natural feelings of trust, and love, and try to numb one's heart to possible pain: even so, this is not successful unless people have engaged in many such contacts.
This is so different from the trust, assurance, and freedom one can feel in marriage, when one is loved, known, committed, and secure. There is no fear or wondering, and a truly intimate relationship can emerge. Conflicts can be dealt with openly without fear of losing the beloved, and children can be brought into a stable home.
Absence of jealousy or comparisons from past relationships cannot mar the specialness of such a union, and many problems have no ground in which to grow.
When sexual love continues throughout a marriage, it strengthens the bonds, and keeps people close through life's changes.
Because sex has not been cheapened or trivialized by many casual contacts, the marriage bed can deepen the love between two people, and reaffirm their special love for each other.
This loving relationship makes sense as a metaphor for the soul's love for God, and a loving marriage, like loving parents, help a person to understand God's love.
Without this, a person needs to struggle through more difficulties to understand the nature of the relationship between God and his people.
Seventh Commandment in the First: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Second: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Third: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Fourth: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Fifth: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Sixth: (above)
Seventh Commandment in the Eighth:
To commit sexual sin not only may involve stealing innocence, but also involves stealing the other person's body, including often compromising their health.
The intimacy of sex involves the exchange of bodily fluids that can do much damage to another person's body, much like too many blood transfusions. Not only can pregnancy result, but blood-borne illnesses can be transmitted, and tissues can be genetically damaged and altered.
Cervical cells in a woman are damaged by interaction with sperm, and the more varieties, the greater the damage. Early intercourse (before the age of 15) leads to a huge increase in later cervical cancer, whereas later promiscuity is also implicated in a rise in this disease.
If unwanted pregnancy results in an abortion, further physical damage can result, both in terms of future childbearing, and in terms of psychological scars. Not that every unplanned pregnancy leads to abortion, but this is one possible consequence.
Generally, in the case of sexual sin, women suffer more consequences than men. Even bisexual men with AIDS who pass the virus to their wives often live for years after their wife has died of the disease.
Sexual sin can rob a person of future chances of happiness, health, the ability to have children, or even their very life.
Of course, rape is the theft, not only of sex, but of the security of a person's body, and causes great trauma. Police find the profile of a rapist is halfway between that of a thief and a murderer.
Even so-called "victimless crimes" like pornography involve the subjects of the material, who are slaves living in unconscionable situations, and such places as peep shows create a public health hazard from physical contamination.
Seventh Commandment in the Ninth:
Sexual sin is based on many lies:
Seventh Commandment in the Tenth:
To commit sexual sin is to covet a pleasure that is not one's by right. It is also to treat the person who will be the source of that pleasure as an object, like one's neighbours other possessions.
Either the other person is married to another, so there is no proper way to rightfully make them your own, or the person is single, and one wants to enjoy a marital connection with them without marital responsibilities. Either way, it is coveting what one has no right to.
This also means one is making a person into an object, which is an insult to God, in whose image that person was made. And, since covetousness is idolatry, this insults God by making sensations one covets more important than loving God and obeying His commandments, and loving others, so one will not exploit them or risk doing them harm.
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There are many counterfeits of correct sexual practice taught in various religions:
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Summary: Theft appears to be a much lesser sin than crimes against the person, but property crimes truly are crimes against the person.
Victims of home burglaries report feeling "violated" or "raped" and are robbed of more than their goods: they are robbed of their sense of safety and security in their own home.
Also, theft perpetrated by a friend or family member, more common than one would suppose, damages relationships and destroys trust. We have been through this with one friend, and the sense of betrayal and helplessness can be overwhelming.
Also, one's insurance will not cover theft by someone you have allowed into your home, so there is no recompense for this crime. Also, due to the nature of the crime, chances of a successful prosecution are low, even if one felt socially able to proceed.
One man I know had a birthday party in which he was given an electric drill. One of his guests stole the drill, and he does not know who. This left him suspicious of every friend who was at the party, and created distrust and division that has never left him. No matter which person he deals with, he always asks himself, "were you the one?" The sadness and betrayal of the friendship is far, far worse than the loss of the object.
Objects are often items of sentimental value that are irreplaceable, so one's history is also stolen. If a number of objects are taken, it is often impossible to record them all, so even months later, one reaches for an item, and realizes that it was one of the stolen things, so the loss is felt repeatedly over time.
Theft continues to hurt people long after the event.
There is also the matter of professional thieves, who are a great danger to the safety of their victims. When we were managing a high-rise apartment building, we discovered there had been two thefts within six months of each other, so insisted the locks be changed. The locksmith told us a professional thief had been "working the building" for years, but the management company preferred tenants to take a loss rather than pay for new locks. With the theft before we had the locks changed, the tenant had a friend sleeping over on her couch, and the friend woke up, and startled the burglar. He was near the door, so he escaped. The locksmith told us that, if trapped, a pro will kill his victim to avoid losing a lucrative "hit spot."
Of course, with tales of carjacking and home invasion, theft becomes robbery, and violence is an ever-present possibility.
Even less-violent forms of theft, like shoplifting or insurance fraud cost people more money for goods and services to cover the losses.
Theft is not a victimless crime, and it is not trivial to the victims. It is often cruel, and can have unforeseen consequences. My friend and I were shopping for clothing at a huge second-hand place, and I discovered they did not take Interac. I borrowed some of my friend's rent money until I could get to the bank and repay her. When I was trying on my clothes, someone stole my purse. I had my card on me, so I was able to replace her rent money, but I was out the money for the clothes, couldn't buy the clothes I had to have for a presentation at work, my daughter was in tears, we were all upset, and we didn't dare tell my husband, who was scheduled for surgery in two days. I left the clothes with the clerk, in case my purse turned up, and went home, saying nothing to my husband. The next day, I got a call from one of the mothers of the two girls involved, and they bought my clothes, returned my money, and had the girls clean up the fall leaves on our lawn. They also asked me to say something to the girls about what the event had meant to me. When they heard about my job, my friend's rent money, my daughter crying, my husband's surgery, and the general anguish, they were horrified, but their mothers wanted them to learn the lesson that there were people with lives and stories behind the money, and it had an impact on the girls. I very much respected those mothers for their actions, and told them so.
Eighth Commandment in the First: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Second: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Third: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Fourth: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Fifth: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Sixth: (above)
Eighth Commandment in the Ninth:
Theft, of course, must be covered up by lying, as most sins and crimes must be.
The lie is that "it's only stuff" and "it's materialistic to worry about things." makes this sin seem OK to people, and less like a serious crime.
This leaves out the trauma to the victims, and what the property represents, in terms of one's personal history.
Eighth Commandment in the Tenth:
Of course, coveting often leads to theft. To desire something unlawfully is the first step towards stealing, much as lust is the first step towards sexual sin.
In both cases, the focus is on the objects desired, rather than something of greater value.
In some cases, what is desired is not so much the goods, but the "thrill" of the danger involved, and the "rush" of "getting away with it," which is a kind of sensation-seeking that can lead to more reckless behaviour, such as road racing, doing excessive amounts of drugs to see how far one can go, taking extreme physical risks, or even committing acts of violence.
In this case, if the "thrill" is coveted, then what is actually stolen is the victim's peace of mind, and the society's sense of safety.
The results are more locks, more suspicion, more fear, less trust, and great amounts of energy, effort, and money going to solve something that should not be a problem in the first place.
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There are so many counterfeits to this commandment, it makes me wonder if it isn't more important than I had first thought it was!
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Summary: Not bearing false witness is meant to ensure justice is not perverted, and people do not suffer by being wrongfully accused.
By extension, slander and lying about someone is also false witness against one's neighbour. Gossip is often under this category, and even if the tale is true, it is unfair to reveal private matters to the world at large.
Lying in general is a very dangerous thing. It is the one sin that is absolutely essential as a support for other sins. A person who tells the truth cannot live a sinful life, since they will admit their error, and stop.
To continue in evildoing, one must become an accomplished liar. While lying is not thought to be very serious, it is the very root of every sin. Satan was a liar from the beginning, and he lies still.
Lying is the theft of free will: people who believe a lie will act according to false information, and make decisions they would never make if they knew the truth.
God is the one who believes in, and protects, a person's right to make their own choices, so He never lies to us.
Satan, on the other hand, has no interest in our right to make informed decisions, so he lies at every turn, robbing us of our freedom of choice.
Ninth Commandment in the First: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Second: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Third: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Fourth: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Fifth: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Sixth: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Seventh: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Eighth: (above)
Ninth Commandment in the Tenth:
People often lie under oath because they covet some reward: perhaps a reduced sentence, an expert witness fee, or the winnings in a civil suit.
In private matters, people often lie or slander people because they covet their skill, reputation, or job, and hope their lies will lead to themselves reaping a reward.
One pernicious example of lying out of coveting I know was a friend of mine who cares for the elderly in a nursing home, whose workmate coveted her seniority and better work shift, taking advantage of a time when my friend was off work for surgery to file a report that my friend had sexually abused many of the old people.
Still recovering from surgery, my friend had to face these accusations, and the suspicions of people who think every accusation must be true ("where there's smoke there's fire"), though the old people themselves, and all the people who knew her well testified on her behalf, and she was cleared.
The matter remains on her record, and I have advised her to insist it is expunged, and ask that her coworker be reprimanded, because a new boss without knowledge of the circumstances could see this record and take action against her in the future. This, then, could haunt her for the rest of her life, and make it impossible for her to do the work she loves.
Covetousness led to lies that nearly destroyed a person's livelihood.
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There are a few counterfeits of this idea, as well:
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Summary: Covetousness is a matter of the heart, and, strangely, it is the only commandment that explicitly forbids a state of mind. All other commands are declarations, such as God's existence, or commands to do specific deeds, or refrain from doing other deeds.
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There are also counterfeits for the idea of coveting:
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