How to Use the Ten Commandments

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I just read through the Westminster Standards; The Confession of Faith, Larger, and Shorter Catechism.  I try to read it through once a year. My conclusion at the end of this reading is that the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) is a sorely neglected document and needs to be studied more, especially by ministers.  Like all catechisms the WLC works through the ten commandments in questions 98-149. This section provides an in depth commentary on what each commandment requires and forbids, as well as discussion of the promises and threats. Before diving into the commandments the Larger Catechism lists eight rules for right understanding of the ten commandments. Here they are with my comments below each one.

Q99: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
A99: For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:
1. That the law is perfect, and binds everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.

The ten commandments are binding upon all men and require complete and total obedience. Here is one reason we need Jesus. The law requires perfection, which we cannot achieve.

2. That it is spiritual, and so reaches the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.

The second rule is the commandments govern not just our outward actions, but also our inner life. As Jesus said, you have not obeyed the commandment to not murder if you hate your brother in your heart. Men love to believe that external obedience is all that the law requires. Too many Christians, especially in our fast paced world with little time for reflection, do not examine their will, affections, desires, loves, as they ought to. We obey outwardly, but our hearts are not bent to the law.  Continue reading