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The Ten Commandments used to be a part of every Christian’s diet. Now it’s more of a speciality course. This is unfortunate.
For centuries, the church used the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Ten Commandments to instruct believers in the fundamentals of the faith. We lose something important when Christians are no longer discipled in the obligations and prohibitions implicit in the Decalogue.
Just as importantly, we see that the New Testament often turned to the Ten Commandments as a shorthand summary of God’s revealed will. We see Jesus’ do this with the rich young man, and we see Paul do it in 1 Timothy 1 and Romans 13.
Great question. I was impressed again, while working on the third commandment, to think of how majestic God’s name is and how important it is to honour the divine name properly. I was both convicted (do I treat God’s name too casually?) and encouraged (what a mighty God we serve!).
As to the second question, I always find it difficult to write about the fourth commandment. The theology is complicated, and even good Bible-believing Christians don’t approach the Sabbath in the same way. I think some Christians have turned the Lord’s Day into an unimaginable burden, when God made the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. On the other hand, there are so many Christians today who go to church on Sunday (maybe), and then treat the day like any other. This is problematic too.
We often think of law leading to gospel, and in a theological sense this is certainly true. The law shows us our sin, and then, in turn, the gospel shows us our Saviour. But from a redemptive-historical perspective, it’s just as true to say that gospel leads to law. First God unilaterally delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, then he gave them the Ten Commandments. The Commandments were never designed for self-salvation. God gave the law to his people so they might serve him rightly and know the fullness of life with him.
My advice: don’t read every book the same.
There are books I read carefully from cover to cover with copious underlining and marginal notes. Other books I skim, looking for the big idea (perhaps reading the introduction and conclusion and then flying through the rest). And then there are the books I know will present so much new information or be beyond my area of expertise that I don’t get bogged down in trying to understand everything.
In other words, I think the most effective readers learn how to get out of their books what they need at the time.