10 Commandments- living a full life. – UR

Living a full life

A pictorial interpretation
of the Ten Commandments

D I R K

V A N D E R M E R W E

 

 

Orion Publishers, Halfway House

Copyright 1995

All rights Reserved

ISBN 0 7987 0651 1

Cover and Consept: Marc Achleitner

Illustrations: Friedel Eloff

 

Contents

Preface

How to read and understand this book

God gives the Ten Commandments

The division of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments

God, who is the only God, must always come first

Worship God in truth

Honour the name of God

Honour the day of the Lord

Respect your parents

Respect the lives of other people

Respect marriage

Be a good steward of your possessions

Always speak the truth

Be content with your possessions

The Objectives of the Ten Commandments

Works Consulted

 

Preface

In many churches Christians hear the Ten Commandments read on a weekly basis, but they don’t really know what the message is all about. Yet, it is extremely important to know this message for it directs the whole of life. We can compare the Ten Commandments to the steering mechanism of a big ship, used to steer the ship towards its destiny. We are challenged to receive the ‘Law of God’ as our guide for Christian living. In John 15:14 Jesus says, ‘You are my friends if you do what I command’ (NIV).

This book is one of a series of books which will assist Christians to memorise and remember the content of the Bible easily. It is hoped that these books will stimulate and motivate Christians to study the Bible.

This book may be used as a guide to explain the powerful message of the Ten Commandments in the following situations:

1)    in family devotions by parents and their children,

2)    in catechism,

3)    in public worship when the Ten Commandments are read,

4)    in teaching children who study Biblical Studies at school,

5)    in instructing students of Biblical Studies at universities and colleges,

6)    at Bible schools, and

7)    in missionary situations.

 


HOW TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS BOOK!

 

The message of the Ten Commandments will be presented on the basis of colour and number association to help us to remember it. A brief description and application of each commandment will also be given to help us to comprehend its meaning.

 

1. The Title

The term ‘Mastering’ has been chosen by the author as part of the title to indicate that you will remember the message of the Ten Commandments after reading this book.

 

2. The Background colours

There are two background colours which have been used in the presentations:

Blue: blue is the colour of the sky and reminds us of God and heaven. Therefore a blue background

indicates that a commandment makes a comment about God.

Green: green is the colour of growth on earth to reminds us of life. A green background thus indicates that a commandment relates to one’s neighbour.

 

3. The Numbers

The numbers indicate the relevant commandments and have been presented in two colours:

Red: red is the colour of blood and speaks of the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood flowed on the cross so that we might receive redemption from our sins.

Black: black is the colour of darkness and reminds us of sin.

The employment of these two colours relates the Ten Commandments to sin and Jesus Christ. This relationship will be discussed later on under the heading ‘The Objectives of the Ten Commandments.’

 

4. Points to remember

a)    Each commandment is only a summary or a heading of many other relevant aspects which are related to that commandment. Another name for the Ten Commandments is The Decalogue, which means the Ten Words. The Bible often uses the number ten as a symbolic number, representing fullness and wholeness. These Ten Words may therefore be seen as keys that unlock the full meaning of the laws of God, covering every aspect of our lives—in every place and at all times.

b)    Each commandment is also like a battery which has two opposite poles. The negative pole represents what we are forbidden to do and the positive pole speaks of what we are commanded to do. Both poles work together simultaneously. As we turn aside from what is forbidden, at the same time, we have to make sure that we do what is commanded.

 

God gives the Ten Commandments

In Exodus 31:18 we read: ‘When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the Testimony (the Ten Commandments), the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.’ (NIV)

The Ten Commandments must be seen in the context of a covenant. A covenant relationship exists between God and His people (whether it was Israel centuries ago or the Christians today). Basically a covenant is a relationship between two or more parties. Each of the parties binds himself to the fulfilment of certain promises on the basis of stipulated conditions. In the Covenant of Grace (where God took the initiative and alone has stipulated the conditions) God will redeem us while on our part, we as Christians should obey his instructions, most of which are concentrated in the Ten Commandments. These Ten Commandments may be found in Exodus 20:1–17 and Deuteronomy 5:6–21. Also read Exodus 19.

 

How to understand this presentation

The outstretched arms coming from the sky with the two stone tablets in the handpalms indicate God giving the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai as described in the above text.

 

 

The division of the Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments may be divided into two sections, one containing four and the other six commandments. The stone tablets depicted in the presentation indicate the division of the Commandments as well as the two tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. The first four commandments concern God: their background colour is blue. These commandments are indicated by the arrow pointing upwards (as we normally indicate heaven). The last six commandments concern our neighbours: their background colour is green. The arrow pointing to the right indicates that the last six commandments are directed towards our neighbours.

 

 

The Ten Commandments

 


THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

 

God, who is the only God, must always come first

This commandment concerns the position God should be given in the Christian’s life. The Bible teaches us that there is only one God, the God the Bible presents to us, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He must come first because He is first and wants to be the only God in people’s lives. He will not tolerate anything which is put in His place. False gods are those things we promote above God, or which we consider to be more important than God. They can be the pursuit of money, one’s job, children etc.

Christ once said: ‘No man can serve two masters …’ For the real Christian there is only one God, the God who loves us and comes to us as our Father in Jesus Christ. He wants us to love Him, worship Him, and serve Him. This is the cost of discipleship—to follow God in the person of Jesus Christ and Him alone.

 

The negative aspect

Do not reckon anything in your life to be more important than God.

 

The positive aspect

Make God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only God in your life. He is the Person you want to worship and to whom you want to dedicate your life.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 1 indicates the first commandment. The blue background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with God. If we add another arm to the top right hand side of the 1, we get an arrow pointing upwards (heaven is normally presented and indicated as being above us). This helps us to remember that there is only, and can be only, one God, the God of the Bible and He must always come first in the life of the believer.

 

 


THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

 

Worship God in truth

Where the first commandment concerns ‘Whom shall we worship?’ the second concerns ‘How shall we worship?‘ The Bible prescribes that we must ‘Worship God in Spirit and Truth’ (John 4:24). The purpose of this commandment is to keep our worship pure. All false forms of worship are idolatry. Worship is to give honour to a superior being, in this case God. To worship God is to offer something to Him, to prostrate ourselves before Him with a sense of respect, awe, honour and homage. Ultimately worship is an earnest desire to give to God, and primarily involves to adore and glorify Him for what He is and has done. Some of His attributes are that He is holy, almighty, omnipresent, and omnipotent. We see His acts in the fact that He loves us and forgives us if we really mean it when we confess our sins. These are only a few of the things He has done for us.

Jesus Christ once offered his life for us on the cross. He did this in order that we might give our lives to God, through accepting Christ as our personal Saviour and Lord. This is the greatest form of worship we can offer God.

 

The negative aspect

This commandment forbids the making of images of God, or idols to be worshipped.

 

The positive aspect

God is a jealous God who wishes to be honoured and worshipped exclusively. Do this by giving yourself totally to Him as an offer (Romans 12:1–2).

 

How to understand the presentation

The 2 indicates the second commandment. The blue background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with God. If we add a ‘head’ and ‘arms’ to the 2 it looks like a person praying; indicating the worship of God. This helps us to remember that we have to give ourselves (our everything) to God if we want to worship Him in sincerity.

 

 


THE THIRD COMMANDMENT

 

Honour the name of God

This commandment concerns respect for the name of God. In biblical (ancient) times, names were important. A name was not just a label or used to identify a person. It suggested that person’s personality. Thus God’s name reveals who He is and what He does. His name is His person. What we do to God’s name we do to Him. How then must we use His name? We should use His name only when we talk to Him and witness about Him. This should be done with the necessary respect, piety and adoration.

In Matthew 7:21 Jesus says, ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’. So if we confess the name of God in our words our deeds must correspond with our words. If not, we have broken the Third Commandment as surely as if we had used blasphemy.

 

The negative aspect

Do not dishonour God’s name by using it carelessly, in false or unnecessary oaths, or refusing to use God’s name to tell others about Him.

 

The positive aspect

We must use God’s name in a dignified way: with piety, and in honour. Primarily the commandment calls us to put our hearts into our worship of God—in church, in family devotions, in personal meditation, and in our daily lives. It means that all our words and deeds in the full range of our daily lives must bear witness to the honour of God, whose children we are and whose name we bear.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 3 indicates the third commandment. The blue background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with God. The 3 looks like the outline of a closed mouth (or lips). This closed mouth indicates that we should not take God’s name in vain. All this helps us to remember that we must be careful when we use God’s name and should honour and respect His name.

 

 


THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

 

Honour the day of the Lord

This commandment concerns respect for the Day of the Lord. Our Sunday is different from and a substitution for the Jewish Sabbath. After God had led His people out of slavery in Egypt, He commanded this new nation at Mount Sinai (where He entered into a covenant with them) that they should work for six days. The seventh day could be used for physical and spiritual refreshment. The Sabbath was a call to rest. God also rested on the seventh day after He created the universe (Genesis 2:1–3). On this day believers should worship Him and have fellowship with Him in a special way, in order to be renewed for service in God’s world.

Through Jesus Christ a change came from the Sabbath to a Sunday as the day of rest. As the full meaning of the resurrection of Christ dawned upon the early church, they spontaneously shifted their day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday) to the Sunday (the first day of the week). Because this was the day on which Christ arose, it became known as the Day of the Lord.

 

The negative aspect

Many things could be mentioned which ought not to be done on a Sunday. We can always add more to the list. Unfortunately many devoted Christians concentrate on this negative aspect and see abstinence from activities as a means of keeping this day holy.

 

The positive aspect

We have to stress what ought to be done on a Sunday, such as:

•     attending church services/worship,

•     teaching and listening to God’s word in catechism,

•     partaking of the sacraments,

•     entering into works of mercy, and

•     seeking spiritual food for the following week.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 4 indicates the fourth commandment. The blue background indicates that it concerns our relationship with God. The 4 has been converted into a modern church building to remind us of the Day of the Lord when we usually attend church services. This will help us to remember that we ought to keep Sunday holy, and do what God expects us to do on this day.

 

 


THE FITH COMMANDMENT

 

Respect your parents

This commandment concerns our attitude and acts towards any form of authority; to obey all authoritative people and authorities appointed over you, and to respect them (Romans 13:1ff). The home is the heart of society, the training centre and proving ground for living under the rule of God’s law of love in every part of life. However, the implications of the fifth commandment are that it reaches all areas and levels of life where we find authority. In a court of law a person has to submit to the authority of the judge, and the citizens of a country submit to the laws promulgated by the ruling regime. God has established various centres of authority in life to govern human relations. True respect for authority begins at home. How we are going to act in society outside the home, depends greatly on how we act in the home. Children have to listen to their parents and obey their rules and leadership.

In the Gospel of John we read frequently that the primary objective of Jesus Christ was to do the will of his Father, and He succeeded. He gives us an example of how we ought to behave towards any form of authority. Read the whole Gospel of John.

 

The negative aspect

    Do not disregard or feel ashamed of your parents because of their personality, occupation or weaknesses.

•     Do not disobey any rules, regulations and laws to which you are bound.

 

The positive aspect

    Love your parents and obey their commands and submit yourself to their authority, notwithstanding who they are.

•     Respect and submit yourself to the authorities under whose jurisdiction you find yourself.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 5 indicates the fifth commandment. The green background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with our parents. The 5 has been converted to form part of a man’s body. The 5 indicates the figure of a father with quite a large belly who definitely will not have any discipline problems. This 5 will then remind us of our fathers, parents, or the authorities to whom we are subject.

 

 


THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

 

Respect the lives of other people

This commandment concerns the respect we ought to have for our own lives and the lives of other people. Violence has become almost an accepted way of life: everywhere on a daily basis people are getting killed. Through racial discrimination the worth of human beings is devalued. Even through destructive words people’s lives are destroyed. This is what sin has done to the people who actually belong to God. Even the Son of God was not spared. They also killed Him. Yet through His death God opened our eyes to the meaning of life, and its worth. Life is a gift of God. Every man is God’s man. We are made in the image of God to reflect His glory. To harm anyone is an act directed against God.

You see, God sent His only Son into the world as ‘the Life’ (John 14:6) in order that we ‘may have life, and may have it abundantly’ (John 10:10). Do you believe this? Do you possess this life, eternal life, by the grace of God and the power He gives you to accept it?

 

The negative aspect

Do not be reckless with your own life, nor endanger the lives of other people.

 

The positive aspect

God calls us to respect our own lives as well as the lives of other people for life is the most valuable asset we have. Do all you can to promote the welfare of your neighbours. ‘Love your neighbour as yourself, even your enemies’ (Matt 22:39; 5:44).

 

How to understand the presentation

The 6 indicates the sixth commandment. The green background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with our neighbours. The 6 in a human hand indicates an object which can be used to hit and kill people. This will help us to remember not to kill (hurt) anybody, but to respect his life and consider his worth as a person.

 

 


THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT

 

Respect marriage

This commandment concerns sexual life, and marriage in all its facets. Sexual attraction is a gift from God. He created us male and female so that we can complement each other, because we need each other. The sex impulse is God’s way of leading us to courtship and marriage in the bond of Christian love. But sin spoiled it. Instead of love, we often find ungoverned passion. Instead of true marriage we experience prostitution, divorce and broken homes.

Marriage can be compared to a business consisting of two equal partners. Both have equal shares. What they invest now, they will receive with interest later. If this business is managed or controlled correctly every day, both partners will share in the dividends. If there are losses, both partners will suffer.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to renew not only our lives but also our marriages and love relationships. We should remember that a good marriage is built upon the capacity to love, to trust each other, and the pure attitude of each partner’s heart.

 

The negative aspect

Do not become involved in any sexually corrupt practices such as prostitution, homosexuality etc. Do not be unfaithful to your marriage partner and be alert to the dangers of the presence of a third party in your marriage.

 

The positive aspect

Respect other people’s marriages. Control your desires. Work daily on your own marriage to ensure you have a healthy relationship. Respect and love your marriage partner as God loves you. Try to concentrate on your partner’s skills and not on his/her weaknesses. Read Ephesians 5:20–31.

 

For the children

This commandment means that they should not play their parents off against each other, or talk about one of their parents behind the other’s back. They should rather make positive comments in the presence of both parents.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 7 indicates the seventh commandment. The green background indicates our relationship with our marriage partner. The 7 is a broken stick to remind us of something broken. The couple indicates a (broken) marriage relationship. This will help us to remember that divorce is destructive. We should rather endeavour to have a successful and happy marriage relationship.

 

 


THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

 

Be a good steward of your possessions

This commandment concerns good stewardship of our possessions and refraining from damaging or stealing other people’s possessions. Gordon Spykman once wrote that ‘There are roughly four kinds of people in the world.

“What is yours is mine, and I’ll take it,” says the robber.

“What is mine is mine, and I’ll keep it,” says the miser.

“What is mine is yours, so I’ll share it,” says the humanist.

“What is mine is God’s, so I’ll share it,” says the Christian.’

Which category applies to you?

We must remember that none of our possessions really belongs to us. All that we have is a gift from God. In Psalm 24:1 we read, ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it; …’ Jesus says,

‘… do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear, but first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.’ Also read Matthew 6:25–34.

 

The negative aspect

This commandment prohibits any kind of stealing such as:

1)    shoplifting, gambling, any form of robbery;

2)    hoarding possessions for yourself without any form of sharing it with the poor;

3)    obtaining possessions without working for them (gifts and inheritances are exceptions).

 

The positive aspect

It commands us to respect the property of other people and share the abundance of our goods with the poor. It also calls on us to trust God to supply our needs.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 8 indicates the eighth commandment. The green background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with our neighbour. The 8 has been converted to a pair of handcuffs. We all know that handcuffs are used when a robber is caught. These handcuffs will help us to link the eighth commandment with ‘do not steal’, and call us to be good stewards of our possessions.

 

 


THE NINTH COMMANDMENT

 

Always speak the truth

This commandment concerns always speaking the truth.

John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the father of lies. To lie is to live in darkness; a person who lies always wants to hide something. Lying can be compared to what happens if one gets stuck in an umbrella-thorn bush. Once you get stuck you can’t get out. The more you struggle, the more you get stuck. To live a false life is to destroy yourself. There are different forms of lying:

1)    To lie outright: this is to deliberately state what is known to be the opposite of the truth,

2)    To make false promises: some politicians, for example, deceive people to gain support with promises they never intend to keep,

3)    To use selective bits of truth, and not the full truth, in order to give a wrong impression, is wrong: even ministers can mislead their congregations with a gospel that is not true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Remember that the truth will always reveal and conquer lies.

When Christ is living in you, you ought to speak the truth because He (Christ) is the truth

(John 14:6) and the Spirit of truth will lead you into the truth (John 16:13) and the truth will make you free (John 8:31). The person telling the truth lives in the light.

 

The negative aspect

Do not lie, twist the truth or tell only bits of truth. Also, do not twist or distort other people’s words to create a wrong impression.

 

The positive aspect

Defend the honour and good name of your neighbour. Combat lies, and love to speak and do the truth.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 9 indicates the ninth commandment. The green background indicates that this commandment concerns our relationship with our neighbours. The 9 has the appearance of a musical note. But a musical note is the other way round, therefore we can identify this as a false note. This 9 then correlates the false note with the “false witness” of the ninth commandment. This will help us to remember not to live a false life, but to always tell the truth and live in the light.

 

 


THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

 

Be content with your possessions

This commandment concerns loving other people’s possessions instead of loving them for themselves. The word ‘covet’ or ‘desire’ means to have an earnest longing for … ‘To desire’ is not forbidden by the Word of God; we may desire a healthy life, a good marriage, etc. What is forbidden is to desire to have something that belongs to our neighbour: his car, his house, his wife, his job etc. The tenth commandment forbids this. If you covet something belonging to your neighbour, your desire will influence your attitude towards him, and this will again influence your behaviour. The end of the story is that you will be so unhappy and restless that you will not find peace until you get what you desired. The tenth commandment seeks to free us from wanting the wrong things: those to which we have no right, and those which God has given to others. It also frees us from enmity with or bad attitudes towards other people.

Jesus Christ, who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18) promised his disciples, ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you’ (John 15:7). When we abide in Christ we experience the guidance of His Spirit which enables us to ask only for what we need.

 

The negative aspect

Do not be jealous about what others have and you do not have. You will certainly also have things which they would like to have. Do not make others jealous by bragging about the things you have or are able to do.

 

The positive aspect

Be thankful for the many things with which God has blessed you—talents, gifts, possessions, health, faith etc. If you don’t have much, trust God to provide what you need.

 

How to understand the presentation

The 10 indicates the tenth commandment. The green background indicates our relationship with our neighbours. The 1 has been changed into a person standing with outstretched arms towards the things he desires. In the 0, three desires have been inserted. The background of the 0 is a darker green than that of the 1 to indicate that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.’ This will help us to remember to be content with our possessions and to trust God for our needs.

 

 

The Objectives of the Ten Commandments

Following the fulfilment of the Law by Christ, the Ten Commandments have three objectives for Christians. These objectives occur in the following logical sequence:

1)    To make us aware of sin (Galatians 3:24; Romans 7:7)

2)    To lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24)

3)    To direct us towards living a fulfilled Christian life.

 

How to understand this presentation

The two grey objects represent the stone tablets on which the Law was written. The arrows indicate direction:

1)    The black square indicates sin. Together with the arrow it means that the law makes us aware of sin. This is accomplished by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8–11).

2)    The cross within the square indicates the death of Jesus Christ on the cross which brought about redemption. His blood was spilt there. Together with the red arrow it means, the Law leads us to Christ. After we become aware of our sins, we will realise that we need Jesus Christ for our redemption.

3)    The pointed finger within the white square at the bottom points to a new way of life in Christ. Together with the arrow it means that, after a person becomes a child of God, the Law now has the objective and function of directing him as to how to live a new fulfilled Christian life. This way of life plays no part in redemption, but flows as a gesture of thankfulness for that redemption.

 

 

Works consulted

Berkhof, L 1976. Systematic Theology. London: Cox & Wyman Ltd.

MacAthur, J 1985. True Worship. Chicago: Moody Press.

Spykman, GJ 1969. Never on your own. Grand Rapids: Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church

Published: March 27, 2015, 11:31 | Comments Off on 10 Commandments- living a full life. – UR
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