The Ten Commandments: God’s Will for Us
The Holy Spirit commands us: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12:1-2) Lent is the special season when Jesus’ Church calls her members to be transformed by the spiritual renewal of their minds. That means refocusing on God’s will in order to find what’s truly good, pleasing, and perfect. The desire for the fullness of being, truth, goodness, and beauty is implanted in everyone by God and only He can fulfil it. The tragedy is that we follow our own will in trying to satisfy these desires rather than God’s will. We then end up with unreality, lies, evil, and ugliness. It’s like looking for love in all the wrong places.
Our own weakened will is lured into thinking that what’s good, pleasing and perfect can be provided by the false gods of self-gratification, power over others, possessions, and popularity. All of these are destined to betray us because they’re fleeting. So we have to make a decision between following our will or God’s will in our search for what’s good, pleasing, and perfect. Because we live in a materialistic world the incessant advertising of the false gods can deafen us to God’s voice. This bears serious reflection during the Lenten season. We need to realize that it’s in doing God’s will that we’ll find contentment, interior peace, and a spirit that, in the immortal words of Mary, “finds joy in God my Saviour.” (Lk 1:47)
Where do we find God’s will? We find it in His revelation as He formed His people and entered into covenants with them, making the Ten Commandments their charter outlining His will for them. Thus God gradually revealed His love for man and woman whom He designated as the stewards of the earth. Finally God fully revealed His will in the Person of His Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, who is God-with-us in human form. Jesus summarized God’s will for human beings in His Law of Love: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” and “your neighbour as yourself.” (Lk 10:27) He enshrined the necessity of doing God’s will in the prayer He taught His disciples by including it as one of the petitions: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” (Mt 6:10)
The Holy Spirit revealed that “The love of God consists in this: that we keep His Commandments – and His Commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jn 5:3) Not only are the Commandments not burdensome, they are essential for Godly living. The Commandments are “a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105) They’re essential for wise and joyful living. “The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.” (Ps 19:8-11) So the Commandments reflect God’s love lighting up our darkness in order to see where we are, perfecting and refreshing our soul. His Law is always trustworthy and obeying it is always in our best interest, giving wisdom to the simple. Obeying it brings joy to our heart and helps us see clearly what’s good or bad for us. To help us obey His Law God promised: “I will put my Spirit within you and make you live by my statures, careful to observe my decrees.” (Ezek 36:27)
Obeying the Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-7) displays love for God and neighbour. The nature of love is to care for the wellbeing of the other. In His first three Commandments God shows us who He is and how to relate to Him lovingly, reverently, respectfully, and worshipfully. To love God means putting Him first (1st) before all and above all. That means revering His Name (2nd) and worshipping Him (3rd), especially on the Lord’s Day, to rest in prayer with Him and His Church. The more we love God the more we love ourselves and His creation. The more we love God, who is Love, the more we receive His love that enables us to have a deeper love to share with one another. Respecting and reverencing God’s name also respects all that God has named as His creation, especially man and woman as His image and likeness.
The Commandments express God’s will for us in our relationships with our neighbour. In His last seven Commandments God tells us how to love our neighbour beginning with honouring our parents, (4th) the first man and woman in our life and who, in cooperation with God, gave us life. God tells us that human life is sacred and must be respected always (5t), and that deliberately destroying it is always evil. Marriage is a sacred covenant (6th) and sexual intercourse is primarily for the purpose of procreation and secondarily to express loving union between husband and wife, and therefore is reserved solely to solidify the marriage bond. The right to private ownership is sacred (7th) and must always be honoured. Speech (8th) is sacred and must always be used to speak only the truth. And finally God shows that there is no room for envy and jealousy (9th & 10th) in human relationships. Here we see what God wills for us in our relationships with our neighbours. Here we have the blueprint for building a just community where its members can live and love and value one another.
If the Commandments are so essential for human living and are written on the hearts of everyone, why aren’t they widely observed? Because, like the traders who were driven out of the Temple by Jesus, (Jn 2:13-25) we ignore what God wills and follow our own will? Because, like Adam and Eve, we think we don’t need God to tell us what’s good, pleasing and perfect for us. God willed the Temple to be a holy place signifying His presence. But instead of using it for God’s loving purposes they used it for their own selfish purposes. Therein lies our problem. Our will leads to selfishness and sin. God’s will leads to generosity and graceful living. So that we don’t conform to the dictates of the false gods we must renew our minds with God’s Word and His Church’s teaching so we can judge what is His will and choose it. Jesus’ crucifixion shows that what God wills always lasts – it’s eternal. (fros)
The Ten Commandments: God’s Will for Us