Love fulfils the Law

11) What does God require in the sixth, seventh and eighth commandments?

Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbour, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love.
Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them.
Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
“The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.” (Romans 13:9,10)

Love

Life and death are ultimately in God’s hands (Deuteronomy 32:39). Only He has the right to take away human life – although that authority can be delegated to the judicial systems of human societies (Romans 13:4). Murder, however, usurps His authority; the murderer places himself at the centre of his universe and ‘plays God’ with the life of someone else. Murder was the very first crime (Genesis 4:8), and the ultimate antithesis of the fundamental command to love one’s neighbour.

Why is murder so serious? It is a crime against God as well as man – because human beings bear God’s image (Genesis 1:26). How we treat others is how we treat God Himself (Matthew 25:31-46). So other people must always be treated with respect (Philippians 2:4). Our example and model is Jesus – whose perfect love for us was carried to its logical conclusion when He died on our behalf. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (I John 3:16)

Read more about the sixth commandment here.

Faithfulness

Immersed as we are in an environment in which sexual licence is not merely permitted but encouraged, it is extremely difficult for believers to hold to moral standards that are widely ridiculed as old-fashioned, repressive and unnecessary. Why worry about extramarital sex when we have contraception to prevent pregnancy, and condoms and antibiotics to deal with sexually transmitted infections? Yet the physical, psychological and emotional fallout is immense. Unwanted pregnancies (most of them aborted) are as common as ever, a global HIV epidemic continues to rage, and a high proportion of people may never enjoy the stability and security of a committed, long-term relationship.

It has been said that there are a hundred ways to destroy a marriage, and that adultery is only one of them. Nobody embarks on a marriage with the intention of wrecking it. Yet the break-up rate is high: in the UK, 45% of marriages will end in divorce (and half of these within 10 years). So no-one can say smugly, “It won’t happen to us.” We therefore need to nurture our marriages, and continually work on our relationships with our partners (Proverbs 5:15-20).

Read more about the seventh commandment here.

Honesty

The way of the world is the way of selfishness: to maximise one’s own profit wherever and whenever possible – even if it is at the expense of others. Burglary may be frowned upon; but it is ‘allowable’ to cheat, pilfer from one’s workplace, fiddle one’s tax returns or business expenses, make exaggerated insurance claims, give short change, etc, etc. Dishonesty of this kind is not, however, a minor sin (Proverbs 20:23).

The way of Christ is totally different, as Paul demonstrated by his own example (Acts 20:33-35). “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” So it is the responsibility of Christian believers to provide for themselves and their families (and give to those in need, whenever possible) by honest means (Ephesians 4:28). This may well mean that we have to live more modestly than we might otherwise expect. Rather than seeking to profit at the expense of others, we who follow Christ are told to go out of our way to allow others to profit at our expense! (Luke 6:29,30)

Read more about the eighth commandment here.

 

Lower my vengeance,
My anger and my hatred,
And banish my wicked thoughts from me;
Send down a drop from heaven of Your Holy Spirit
To vanquish this heart of rock of mine.
                 (from Celtic Daily Prayer: Cuthbert)

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