The Commandments of God

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We now turn to examine the commandments of the LORD God within the confines of the current question. It is necessary to restrict the examination of the commandments to these limits, as we would otherwise end up with a very broad dissertation of the commandments of God and what they are, without adequately focusing on the issue at hand. By all evidence, it is demonstrated that regardless of the transgression, we are transgressing against the LORD God every time we transgress against our fellow man. Nonetheless, the statement of King David is not yet proved true, as the statement uses the word “only” in describing who we transgress and sin against. This wording is very limiting and narrow in scope – to the point of being exclusive. Therefore, if we re-frame King David’s statement into a question, we need to answer that question:

How is it that we sin against the LORD God and Him only?

In every previous element, the evidence is clear that we violate the LORD God every time we act unlawfully against our fellow man. Nonetheless, there is no other exclusive statement in Scripture which shows that we transgress against the LORD God, and yet nothing against our fellow man.1 Hence, we now turn to the commandments of the LORD God to determine if it is indeed possible to transgress against the LORD only, fully excluding our fellow man.

Though many will cite the Ten Commandments as part of the commandments of God that are applicable, this is not accurate. Rather, the Ten Commandments are the covenant with ancient Israel, and are not generally applicable to all men everywhere and at all times.2 What we require are those commandments which are applicable to all men at all times, everywhere, without question. Thus, the only commandments we can actually point to, which govern our relations with the LORD God and our fellow man, regardless of time and place, are the first two:

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-31)

That the second commandment is inclusive of all other possible commandments, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 13:

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

Since to love they neighbor as thyself fulfills every other conceivable commandment, it is clear that we need only focus on the first two commandments and what they demand of us.

The First Commandment
There should be no question concerning the meaning of the following commandment. Equally, it should be understood that it transcends each and every period of history, and all places wheresoever man may be, as the command is to man generally, and to every individual specifically.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:… (Mark 12:30)

Here we have the Lord Jesus Christ replying to a scribe about the commandments in response to his question concerning the hierarchy of laws as to which is the greatest of all commandments. In His reply, the Lord Jesus makes clear that to love the LORD God is preeminent. In so doing, He quotes the Old Testament:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

So it is that in carrying over the Old Testament commandment into the New, which is not restricted to Israel, the LORD is showing us that this commandment, and the one following are indeed applicable to all men everywhere at all times. By quoting the commandment, the Lord Jesus Christ sets the applicability of the first commandment to all men everywhere at all times. He then immediately follows it with the second, placing no qualifiers or restrictions on it. In so doing, He sets the second commandment as also applicable to all men everywhere, at all times.

The Second Commandment
At the risk of being flippant, it seems this commandment is utterly burdensome to man, in that man’s typical response seems to be “Do I have to?” The short answer is “Yes, you do.” There is no mistaking this commandment and its clear meaning. Like the first commandment, it does speak for itself:

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Mark 12:30)

What is not well understood is the reasoning behind it, and the outworking of it. It is fine to read it and say it. But, we must ask:

Why does it exist, and what does it really mean?

In answering the first part, we need only look to the creation of man, and the fact that man is made in the image of God.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. (James 3:8-9)

The meaning of man being created in the image of God is covered elsewhere, and should leave no doubt that the LORD God intentionally elevated man above all creatures on the earth. Of necessity, since man is made in the image of God, and set upon earth to fulfill the LORD’s will, to transgress against our fellow man is to also transgress against the LORD God.

This brings us to the second part of the question, having answered why the second commandment exists, which is “what does the second commandment really mean?” This is best answered by the passage in Romans 13:

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10)

In explaining what it means to fulfill the second commandment, the apostle Paul, by the Holy Ghost, states: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Without going into great detail, essentially what this means is that we, individually and collectively, are to respect the rights of our fellow man, that is: the person and all that pertains to that person. In sum, we are commanded to work to the good of everyone we meet, without doing harm to anyone else. We are, by the commandment, not free to perform actions which benefit some at the expense of others. To do so is being partial, and is iniquity and sin as the Scripture illustrates:

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)

If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (James 2:8-9)

Here is a hint: Though we may claim that we love everyone we meet, if we treat one individual any differently from another, we are not fulfilling the commandment. Rather, we are transgressors of the law, and in sin. It is not what we say that matters so much. Instead, it is what we do day in and day out that demonstrates where we are with respect to the commandment.

In all the foregoing passages of Scripture, we should note who is referenced as issuing the commandment in every case: There is no instance of man issuing this commandment, but the LORD God only. Hence, violations of the commandment are violations of the LORD God, His Person and will. Though we experience the effects of that violation, and that seems to be an unfortunate aspect of the situation that exists, we ought to consider our own thinking and behavior toward others and the possible effects of that thinking and subsequent behavior. If we place ourselves above others in our thinking, we will behave accordingly. Thus, we are not fulfilling the second commandment, but are dealing hypocritically with the LORD God and our fellow man.

The Scriptural Case Against Abortion
— Table of Contents —
Appendix F: Against Thee, Thee Only Have I Sinned
— Table of Contents —
If Ye Cannot Forgive…
  1. There is a rule from Scripture which states that no prophecy, teaching and/or preaching of Scripture is of any private interpretation – and neither is this one. This one is just harder to follow. In this one, the LORD God did not give us a short and quick confirmation of the doctrine. Rather, this is one which tries the heart as to whether we are willing to actually follow the LORD God or to fashion a doctrine more to our preferences.
  2. It is easily observed that the content of the Ten Commandments (barring one commandment) fall within the scope of the first and second commandments quite handily. Thus, though the specifics of the Ten Commandments do not apply to men generally (that is, elements which are specific to the Ten Commandments, which are: mode of implementation, scope of application, and blessings and cursings for compliance/non-compliance, etc.), the content of the Ten Commandments does with one exception – the observation of the Sabbath.
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