As Paul instructed Timothy to continue in the duties of biblical leadership among the people of God for their edification and Christ-like growth, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith,” (1 Tim. 1:5). 

 

However, the Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 99 principles for interpreting the moral law are not developed enough to show this derivative connectivity to all kinds of practical discipleship. Reforming the moral law hermeneutics of WLC 99 and reinterpreting the moral law in light of those expanded principles will enable the Reformed churches to vivify discipleship in ways that more fully accord with the new covenant promise to write the moral law on the hearts of the elect.

 

The connecting insights above lead us to reform our hermeneutics of the moral law as initially defined by WLC 99 (original eight principles are full sentences highlighted in bold below), developing a larger set of principles for interpreting the moral law that lead us more readily to modern-day practical theology topics. One of the key expansions needed could be called meta-moral-law hermeneutics, meaning, principles for understanding and applying the moral law in-total to various practical theology topics, not just principles for individually interpreting each command. We will also consider how each commandment or related sets of commandments give illuminating perspectives on obedience to the other commands. We need to derive these meta-moral-law hermeneutics from the biblical texts that describe the moral law in-total, giving meta-perspectives on the moral law.

 

Question 99: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
Answer: For the right understanding of the Ten Commandments, these rules are to be observed:

Theological Perspectives on the Commandments as a Whole System

1)     That the moral law is a reflection of the Lord’s omni-attributes in derivative reflections in the regenerate believers. Though it oversimplifies in some measure, we can see how some commands have closer affinities with the specific derivative attributes of God in man, and Yates’ eight derivative attributes have been inserted below in [   ].

 

“All the original attributes of God impart specific derivative attributes that make elect believers awaken to the fullness and beauty of the commandments: God’s omni-holiness (gives love for God and man), omniscience (gives knowledge of himself and all the commands), omnipotence (gives power to do all the commands) omni-faithfulness (gives us faithfulness to keep the commands, gives us final resurrection to unchangeable righteousness), omni-historicity (gives us existence within chronological time to obey the law and in then in eternity; shapes our view of time past that he gave the law, present that the moral law is my duty, and future that he will judge law-breakers), omni-harmoniousness (gives us the law to submit for our earthly shalom), omni-sufficiency (gives material, pastoral, and civil-social resources to support obedience to the commands and gives us contentment in keeping all the commands derived from the self-existence of God), and omnipresence (gives us existence in physical space and is with us by the Spirit to apply all his attributes to bless us in fellowship/communion to do the commands with us).”

 

“Blessed-Face Applications of the Ten Commandments

 

Here is a simple list providing the most obvious logical links between major omni-attributes, their derivative reflections and each commandment (Deut. 5:7-21). There is overlap, such that we could explore all eight omni-attributes’ blessed faces in relation to each command, but only one is selected for representative purposes.

1st “You shall have no other gods before me.”  Omni-holy: proper love and hate defined by the true God. [holiness]

2nd “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or . . . bow down to them or serve them.” Omnipresent: proper worship of the invisible, present LORD [presence]

3rd “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” Omniscient: proper reverence to revealed truth. [knowledge]

4th “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, . . . Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Omni-historical: proper structure of historical memory and routines of time. [theosynchrony]

5th “Honor your father and your mother.” Omni-harmonious: proper relations of authority and submission. [unity]

6th “You shall not murder.” Omnipotent: proper use of power. [rule]

7th “You shall not commit adultery.” Omni-faithful: proper fulfillment of promises. [integrity]

8th “You shall not steal.” Omni-sufficient: proper stewardship of material resources. [provision]

9th “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Omniscient: proper witness of reality. [knowledge]

10th “You shall not covet.” Omni-sufficient: proper contentment. [provision] (Yates, Foundations: God’s Glory as an Integrating Perspective on Reformed Theology, 2017, pp. 105-106)

2)    That, the first table of the law (man relationship to God) has parallel commands in the second table (man’s relationship to man) such that each table mutually reinforces the other table. The two tables together form an irreducible complexity, such that one table cannot long be honored in family, church, society or nation without insistence on, proclamation of and maintaining the integral harmony of the other. Love for God (defined by the 1st-4th commandments) establishes the patterns of love for our neighbor (5th-10th commandments). The authorities we should honor (5th commandment) will honor of the true King (1st commandment) and his kingdom laws (Rom. 2:10; 13:3-4, 7; Phil. 2:29; Rev. 7:12). Seven-day cycles of labor and worship-thanksgiving-rest are the Lord’s requirement (4th commandment). By these cycles, God gifts and enables mankind to produce personal goods and services, which shall not be coveted or stolen by authorities or neighbors (Deut. 8:18; 10th & 8th commandments). God’s covenant faithfulness is the pattern for marital faithfulness (Ephesians 5:24-33; 7th commandment). The Lord’s name and reputation must be represented with integrity (3rd commandment) even as we truthfully represent our neighbor’s reputation (9th commandment). Contentment in God and his saving grace brings contentment with relationships and material goods in this world. There are no contradictions between the tables, since God is both loving and all-powerful to permit sins among men and suffering in the world that breaks the second table of the law. The second table of the law is a God-designed reality for human flourishing, such that Christians modeling this type of sub-culture will be light and salt for the society and the nations (Matt. 5:3-20). The second table depends on the first table, such that a family, culture, marketplace, or nation that fears, knows and worships the true Lord has the new covenant transformed heart to keep the second table as well (Prov. 1:7; Heb. 8:10-12). Those ignoring, contradicting and supplanting the second table of the law will usually bring individual, familial, marketplace, socio-cultural and national chaos (Rom. 1:18-32). The second table depends on the first table, such that any family, workplace, culture or nation that seeks to adhere only to the second table as a kind of free-floating morality,[1] while denying and supplanting the first table (atheism, humanism, deism, communism, other false religions), will ultimately suppress and resist the church’s ministry proclaiming the power of Word-Spirit heart-transformative ethics promised in the new covenant for individuals, families, the marketplace, and the socio-cultural-national contexts. These suppressing cultural and national contexts will simply try to establish their own “first table” with something or someone other than the true God as king to be worshipped. In democracy, the people are king, and the moral code is subject to every wind of popular culture vote. In totalitarianism (communism, fascism, socialism, islamism), the dictator or the ruling council is king, and any subject that threatens their absolute authority, either actually or only suspected, is liable to deprivation, torture or death, but still expecting a kind of social morality of the second table among their subjects that they themselves do not model.

3)     The Westminster Standards theological meta-narrative structure (confirmed by Romans) could briefly be enumerated as the glory of the Lord’s righteousness[2] revealed to man in history by general and special revelation, election to moral-law-righteousness, defining the fall and sin as lack of conformity to moral-law-righteousness, moral-law-righteousness fulfilled by the humanity of Christ, showing propitiation as removing the wrath and curse due to moral-law unrighteousness, justification as the crediting of moral-law-righteousness, sanctification as the Spirit uses assembly ministries to accomplish the new covenant promise to write moral-law-righteousness on the heart, and glorification as an eternity of perfected moral-law-righteousness with the Lord and all the saints and angels in the new creation. All ministries of the people of God are structured on moral-law-righteousness, how we fit into the meta-narrative of righteousness, the moral-law-righteousness modeling of the variously gifted individuals within a flourishing community of faith, coupled with moral-law-righteousness applied to all practical theology. Missions-evangelism-preaching will proclaim, nourish and demonstrate a community of moral-law-righteousness and call men before God to account for their unrighteousness. Apologetics will bring every darkened worldview into submission to moral-law-righteousness, the standard to which all nations and people will be called to account.[3] Biblical counselors will model moral-law-righteousness and counsel using applied moral-law-righteousness for the comparative categories that both affirm present maturity and point to areas of needed growth, and teaches counselee to integrate, reform or reject all other forms of knowledge based on conformity to moral-law-righteousness. Similar to the task of a Christian doing psychological research and writing, Christian journalists will understand their task to help readers connected truthful, original, particular stories with man’s moral imagination, universalizing human experience within the grand meta-narrative into which we all fit (Sillars, “the abolition of journalism,” November 10, 2018, World Magazine).      

4)    That the works of the Lord’s blessings and judgments throughout the Bible are based on either the individual’s relationship to the moral law, or a representative leader’s relationship to the moral law. Egypt’s Pharaoh resisted the 1st Commandment to listen to the voice of the Lord through Moses. Canaan’s judgment by the Israeli post-Exodus conquest was for their wicked worship practices of idol worship and child sacrifice (contra 1st, 2nd and 6th commands). Israel’s Babylonian Captivity was for their disobedience to the moral law. The cross of Christ is the judgment of the moral law declared on a representative substitute. Also, the pronouncements of blessing and cursing throughout the Bible represent the Lord’s perspective, and are linked to the moral law, from the Great Cultural Mandate of God blessing Adam and Eve, to the blessing on (Gen. 12:3) and by patriarchs (Gen 49:1-27), to the Deuteronomic blessing-curse pronouncements (Deut. 28-30), Balaam’s blessings (Num. 22-24), Psalms (ie. Ps. 1 as gateway to the Psalms) and Prophets, the four Gospels and the teaching of Christ, and the rest of the New Testament (Acts 8 Peter to Simon the magician; Paul’s curse on the Judaizers in Galatians 1:8-9 represents God’s assessment of their disobedience to the 2nd commandment, circumcision as an idol of false worship, and the 3rd commandment, circumcision as false witness about the Word, works and way of salvation proclaimed by the true Lord; the decisions of the elders acting in unity binding some to the Lord in membership and loosing some to excommunicative discipline parallel the perspective of the Lord’s blessing or cursing Matt. 18:17-19). The Lord will judge the nations using the moral law (Ps. 119:126). As people all over the earth suffer injustice, including Christians who suffer additional persecutions for their adherence to God’s holy law and their proclamation of the New Covenant accomplished in Christ, we wait for the justice and wrath of God to be poured out on his and our enemies (Ps. 1:5; Rom. 1:18-32; Rev. 18:20; 21:8; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Pet. 2:23; 4:1-4, 19; Matt. 5:10-20; 1 Cor. 15:19, 30, 32; Acts 4:16-22). If they will not be converted, we pray that God would “look upon their threats” and intervene with the extension of his kingdom rule as well as his evil-limiting, proud-humiliating, rich-impoverishing, throne-displacing judgments (Psalm 2 as used in the prayer of Acts 4:24-31; Luke 1:51-53; Acts 12:20-23; Dan. 4-5). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” (Heb. 10:31). 

5)     That it is the fountainhead of all righteousness, such that its proper exposition will be able to connect the two great commands and specifics of the moral law with all corollary biblical commands that are relevant to the new covenant believers, including principles for meta-theories in epistemology. “Your commandment is exceedingly broad,” (Ps. 119:96). “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts,” (Ps. 119:99). Adapting the realist interpersonal covenant knowing model of Esther Meek (Loving to Know 2011, pp. 400-403, 408-409, 411, 417, 425-468), such that reality responds favorably to this kind of etiquette with self-disclosure:

a.     10th commandment: Spirit-Word renewed desires (passive longing, active loving of the law of the Lord Ps. 119:10, 16, 20; 103, 135);

b.     9th Commandment proper witness to self about self: personal qualities relating to self that are required to know (called composure: fidelity to our renewed nature, knowing and being ourselves as righteous before God (Ps. 119:30, 73), knowing and comfortable with our healthy self-differentiated virtue (Ps. 119:21-23, 29, 37, 136), skillfully developing use of our five bodily senses to engage reality and appreciating how body senses confirm correct perception of human flourishing reality (Ps. 119:18, 38), , openness to learn (Ps. 119:26-27), and embracing pain (Ps. 119:50-51, 71, 75-76);

c.      5th commandment, (Scripture represents the authority of God, the superior to which all other superiors must submit, condensed into the beauty and harmony of the Ten Commandment, an irreducible complexity representing God as superior Lord, to which all the nations and all epistemologies must submit; humility to learn from godly superiors, elders who faithfully represent biblical authority and the moral law); 6th commandment (many details of daily-life knowledge acquisition is related to functional living, safety and good health); personal qualities needed to engage or relate to the yet-to-be-known (called comportment or candidacy: a pledge to invest in, care about learning, trust that the investment is worthwhile, responsible submission-obedience to the reality revealed, humility to receive what is revealed, patience to slowly learn, alert to reflections of God in the reality we find);

d.     5th commandment to learn from superiors (Scripture represents the authority of God, the superior to which all other superiors must submit; psychology establishment as misusing their authority, lording their theories over the population, exceeding their rightful authority to heal the body, and claiming to heal all types of mental disorders with a false “gospel”); methods to learn (called strategy: pursue the best means of knowing from the life and words of authoritative guides (Phil. 2:19-23; 4:9), developing foundational  competencies and skilled use of tools to grasp new patterns of reality (God defines all reality, so we reject false religions and gods, and all theories and philosophies that claim independent authority to define reality and truth 1st; using biblical vocabulary to describe God and his world in his terms 3rd; work, proper structure of historical memory, interpretation of history and events in history and routines of time. Proper interpretation of sovereign cause over all effects 4th, living 6th, gender and sexual boundaries 7th, economics and property stewardship 8th, communication and truth-telling, proper witness of reality, using biblical vocabulary to describe what we see. Psychologies are bearing false witness to reality of man, the way of change, the goals and standards for change, denying the existence of God and his definition of man in the fallen world 9th, moderation of desires to learn, without faith in an all-sufficient Creator-Provider, false religions and humanism can only promote lifeless forms of self-control or promote sublimated desires, exchanging one kind of coveting for another, to obtain various kinds of this world’s treasures and pleasures, or trying to avoid its trials and troubles 10th), creative-value-assigning-attention-to the law (Ps. 119:66, 72, 104, 111, 127, 136; 1st-10th), collaboration and active listening (5th), integrate a subsidiary range of knowledge or academic fields looking for unrealized or unexpressed integrative possibilities or interpretations of the reality by the moral law (1st-10th), indwelling the moral knowledge to use as a lens to seeing more patterns, as a connected knower, seeing with fear and delight (Ps. 119:112, 120; 1st) ; and

e.      consummation: (in the likeness of the covenant the Creator established and sustains with all creation, developing new loving, creation-caring, transforming friendships and shalom-healing communions with the constitution of reality—blessing all the created world, including ourselves and other people, to be more fully itself/ourselves/themselves (4th-10th, Ps. 119:63, ), and responsibly voicing or characterizing the Lord’s righteous self-disclosure into the known world (3rd, Ps. 119:54, 62, 64), to a cloud of witnesses that accord interpretive value to our efforts (5th)—that lead us to ultimate conversation-communion with the Lord, knowing and being known, seeking and being sought out, through the “sacramental” eating and drinking of all reality 1st-4th).

6)    That it is the fountainhead of all righteousness, such that its proper exposition will be able to connect the two great commands and specifics of the moral law with all corollary biblical commands that are relevant to the new covenant believers, including principles for all practical theology foundations, such as Reformed worship, hermeneutics, administration of sacraments, biblical counseling, family ministry, marketplace ministry for any type of work, apologetics, missions, evangelism, leadership, pastoral ministry, Christian education, preaching, church planting, elder-deacon qualifications see (Biblical Eldership Resources Team, 2018) and Christian journalism. Practically speaking, this exposition should be able to root all the biblical practical theology principles and practices developed in the history of the church and in modern day seminary education. Our Christian goals, vision statements, purposes, church-Christian-school- seminary educational objectives, discipleship agendas, must all be shaped by the goals of the moral law to produce lovers of God and man, and haters of sin and evil. Failure to do so will fragment practical theology from its new covenant knowledge of sin leading us to repentance and faith in Christ’s propitiation for the forgiveness of sins, fragment practical theology from its natural faith foundation in Christ’s credited righteousness and fragment practical theology from the Spirit’s promised work to write the law on believers’ hearts. Because of this failure, practical theology, with its various specialty seminary courses, has become abstracted principles and methods with no organizing or integrating core.

7)     That the 2nd commandment’s duties (in addition to proper worship of God) are to view created things, including mankind, as God’s display of his eternal power and divine nature and to be thankful and delight in God by that glory revealed in created things, such that we also use those created things to their full potential to support worship of the true God and human flourishing. We hate all false worship or service to the creature and created things (Rom. 1:20-25). This duty preserves and enriches the duties of the other commandments, for example, 5th God’s glory is revealed through godly authorities, equals, inferiors, 6th 8th 10th God’s glory is revealed in his provision for physical life and teaching contentment, 7th God’s glory is revealed in sexually respecting and honoring all people made in his image, taking advantage of none, using no one for personal pleasure, seeking godly marriage to satisfy sexual desires, 9th God’s glory is revealed in valuing and speaking truthfully and honorably about others made in his image.

8)    That man’s sin, meaning moral unrighteousness, lack of conformity to the moral law, has brought the Lord’s curse on knowledge of Himself, such that Adam’s offspring, born in sin, no longer know the Lord, their Creator or Redeemer, directly introducing chaos into 1st-4th commandment flourishing.

9)    That man’s sin has brought the Lord’s curse on harmony in human relationships, directly introducing chaos into 5th commandment flourishing (Gen. 3:16).

10)Not only is the moral law a reflection of God’s original attributes, but God’s two faces of blessing and cursing are shown in response to man’s obeying or disobeying the moral law.[4] In the New Covenant, the Spirit writes the law on our hearts,[5] and elect disciplers will delight in it, meditate on it, and obey it to the bearing of good fruit, rejecting all counsel (philosophies, education, psychology, sociology, genetics), behaviors (joining the majority culture in lawless excess) or seats of authority (governments, rulers, governors, commissioners, security police, judges) that ignore, belittle, discredit, deny or falsify the moral law.[6] They will model, teach and correct disciples based on these laws which illuminate sin, highlight the need for a Savior, and teach them what to love and hate, what to do, and what is forbidden.

11)  This section developed from ideas in Stoker (Conscience, 2018, pp. 28-30, 49-50, 120-124, 138-140, 143-146, 270, 315-318, 321-322, 325, 328-333).

a.     That the law is written on the core of the individual conscience of every person and is reflected in the social ethics and laws of the nations. Mankind shows general conformity to the second table of the moral law (4th-10th commandments) in their families and societies, awareness of and behaviors that conform to the moral law and grief over relational and social chaos caused by immoral behaviors.

b.     The depraved conscience operates in relation to any subjective sense of what is my personal evil (any ultimate conviction or moral value about what should not be, what is abnormal, sick and evil in me revealed in my various duties and roles), combined with relative knowledge and values learned from social history, biological personality and choices, that are integrated into the emotionally-felt soul, called “ontical transformation” (Stoker, 2018, p. 140). As such the depraved conscience can be wrong due to God giving them up because they suppress the truth of the moral law written on their hearts, have incorrect moral knowledge, are deceived by erroneous moral values, are defiled, have ignored pangs of true guilt, have numbed themselves by distractions, or have doubts about whether any absolute values exist (Rom. 1:18-32; 2:15; Tit. 1:15-16). A primary bad conscience gives embodied, immediate, authoritative accusations of emotional guilt and disclosure of own’s own real, personal choice to be or do evil (I did what I thought was evil), a warning conscience is stirred when one contemplates or sees self as desiring possible personal evil (I was tempted by what I perceive to be evil), and a good conscience is choosing to seek what I perceive as good, desiring and loving good, giving ourselves in humility and love to what is valuable, and realizing it, though tempted by personal evil (I choose to do good, rather than what I thought was evil). The primary bad conscience makes an emotionally-felt judgment that “I am bad,” (Rom. 2:14-15) usually causing a secondary bad conscience that produces “You are bad” responses of deep inward self-estrangement, self-hatred, isolation, torment, alarm, dread, anxiety, depression, alienation, shame, hiding, remorse, fear of being found out, some forms of mental illness, self-punishment or injury, and anger toward ourselves, or alternately, causing a secondary relieved conscience  because of self-defense, self-deception, or excuse-making to pretend innocence.

c.      Satan, as accuser, seeks to manipulate a bad conscience to bring further chaos and destruction (John 13:27; Acts 1:16-20; Rev. 12:10), or deceive with false guilt or false assurances of self-righteousness (Rom. 9:30-10:3; Phil. 3:4-6; Gal. 5:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:23-26) or to fabricate other superstitions, magic arts or works of religions to placate angry spirits or gods (Rom. 1:20-25; Acts 17:16-31; 19:18-19).

d.     Both our depraved conscience and our actual moral guilt for personal evil requires punishment or forgiveness from transcendent Judge who calls all men to account because the conscience factors in our biological morality and the promise of eternal life or eternal death (Rom. 1:32). By the Spirit working through the Word, after regeneration to saving faith, our consciences can be “indirectly” ontically transformed, influenced by knowledge and love, by learning from and following the examples provided by the best and wisest leaders and integrating knowledge, life-experienced harmony created and maintained by moral values or the grief over relational and social chaos resulting from lack of moral values (Ps. 119:136, 139), moderation of the will and affections to conform to the moral law, causing guilt for what is truly sin, leading to true grief and sorrow for sin that leads to repentance (“those feel guiltiest who are morally best” (Stoker, 2018, p. 145) 2 Cor. 7:10-11; Heb. 5:11-14) and showing us the way of forgiveness through the propitiation of Christ and the way of liberty in obedience. Yet no one can boast for any righteousness, as salvation comes from the Lord (1 Cor 1:29-31; 15:10; Jas. 4:16).

e.      “The world’s greatest preachers [we could add apologists, biblical counselors, story-tellers, journalists, evangelists and worship leaders] have mastered the art of influencing these deeply important human emotions” (Stoker, Conscience, 2018, p. 112). Thus, the moral law provides a foundation for influencing the conscience, and should be used in all practical theology to give us knowledge of sin and lead us to self-examination, but our most important tasks are to use the moral law to display the active moral righteousness and passive moral-law-curse-bearing righteousness of Christ and call all men, no matter what their ignorant debaucheries or their self-made religious legalisms against the flesh, to look to the whole Christ in saving faith (Pederson, 2016, pp. citing Ferguson, 2016), and to display the moral value of the law’s application to liberating worship of the true God and human flourishing (Ps. 119:165, 175) and conversely expose the religious and human chaos that results from discrediting the value of the moral law (Ps. 119:158), proclaimed by witnesses with modeled integrity of love for God and man. 

12) 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. Thus, the moral law is a reflection of the omni-attributes of the Lord (TH perspective on moral law), fulfilled in derivative forms the perfect humanity of Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead. The moral law is the definition of righteousness, including the righteousness of Christ. That the authority of God controls all human thought: (Sola Scriptura and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th commandments substantiate presuppositional apologetics perspective on moral law, because the moral law is binding on all humanity and will be used to judge humanity Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8): Because there is only one true Lord who defines himself as the source and interpreter of all reality, and defines the content, practices and timings of our worship and character of our witness, all our foundational life-orienting thoughts must be analogical to his Word and all other fields of knowledge must be brought into submission to his Word (2 Cor. 10:5). The moral law also critiques all other theories of knowledge (epistemologies), religions and worldviews and knowledge based on conformity to or distortion of the moral law, whether it tends to or can be used in service of true worship of the true God (1st-4a C’s), or tends to or can be used in service of human flourishing (4b-10 C’s).

13) 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. Thus, the moral law defines and gives the knowledge of sin, and leads us to Christ for forgiveness, since he bore the law’s curse of death on himself, on behalf of the elect. The moral law is revealed in the perfect righteousness of Christ, proven by his resurrection from the dead. The Spirit’s primary work in the new covenant, and best and more sure evidence of his saving application of the work of Christ, is to write the moral law on our hearts (Heb 10:16; 1 Cor. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 1:5). All abiding New Covenant biblical commands or instructions are contained in seed form in the moral law, such that we can start with any new covenant instruction, and trace it back to a corresponding commandment. Example: ‘humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.’ (1 Pet. 5:6) 4th commandment Lords Day rest requires humility to put away our doing and enjoy being in communion with Christ. 1st commandment to have God alone as our God, to submit to all his disciplines, since he is our good and powerful God who orders all things for our good and his glory. No other gods or supposed gods can compare with his mighty hand or exalt the humble in due time.  

14) That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments. Thus, while the Two Great Commandments enjoin us to love God and our neighbors and seek their shalom (Ps. 119:165), the commandments also enjoin hatred of all that God hates and hatred of all that destructs and destroys the shalom of our neighbors and the human community (by self-discipline and repentance, church discipline, and where possible, social-legal-citizen engagement). That various genres of Scripture give support to the moral law’s duties and prohibitions (Biblical Theology perspective on moral law): narrative that approves obedience to it, and condemns and shows consequences for disobedience to it; poetry and songs that praise the law and its faithful followers and heap just condemnations and judgments on the wicked; prophecy that enjoins moral obedience and shows condemnation, captivity and rejection/divorce of the Lord’s people for their perpetual disobedience; Gospels that show Jesus’ reinforcement of the spiritual dimensions of the moral law; apocalyptic that shows eternal rewards and eternal judgment in relation to the moral law and that the moral law is eschatologically fulfilled in the new heaven’s and new earth.

15) That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included. That where ever a command or a corresponding prohibition is given (and its implied opposite), we can discern principles and connections for all practical theology foundations, such as Reformed worship, administration of sacraments, biblical counseling, family ministry, marketplace ministry, leadership, pastoral ministry, Christian education, preaching and church planting.

16) That: What God forbids, is at no time to be done: What he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto. Practically speaking, this means that all the trajectories of new covenant obedience and all New Testament commands directing believers to any sort of obedience or any sort of prohibition are founded in the moral law. Thus, all biblical practical theology principles and practices developed in the history of the church and in modern day seminary education can be derived from the moral law. Essentially, each commandment forbids lusts within the heart and the behaviors that spring from those lusts, together with resistance to acceptance or integration of “all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations.” Thus, because the seventh commandment forbids sexual immorality in the heart or the behavior, it also forbids integration of any worldview, philosophy, religion, that would promote sexual immorality, create a culture of opportunity for sexual freedom, and resistance against all media (graphic arts, literature, movies, poetry, music, theater, website, chat rooms, social media groups) that might incite or promote sexual immorality. Other commandments are relevant in that we are told to resist integration with anything that causes provokes or give the appearance of permitting or encouraging disobedience to it. WLC proof texts related to the bold print, show how relationally we might sinfully provoke or incite others to sin as a cause, means or occasion of sin, how we might give the impression that we support sinful deeds, or on the other hand, how we might provoke others to express more love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24-25. And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 1 Thessalonians 5:22. Abstain from all appearance of evil. Jude 23. And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Galatians 5:26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Colossians 3:21. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

17) The irreducible complexity of the righteous community obeying all the commandments together as witnesses to each other and the world: like the capstone case-study of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 showing the attractive qualities of God-fearing wisdom, Romans’ most significant worldview engagement presents models of righteous saints within the righteousness-nourishing community. They will be lovers of God and men (Rom. 12:1-2, 9-10; 13:9-10; 2 Tim. 1:7). They will model social constructivity with an excellent work ethic, using gifts, skills and time to provide life support for their families, pay taxes to government and social mercy for the weak and poor (4b [7], 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th commands; Rom. 6:19; 12:11, 13; 13:6-14). They will model social harmony with a proper honor and submission to various positions of authority, proper respect for equals, and proper use of authority to bless those they serve, and proper witness to the best in others (1st, 5th 9th commands; Rom. 12:3-8, 14-16; 13:1-7; Eph. 5:23-6:9). They will model social integrity in duties, promises, contracts and vows, and speak with integrity about those social relationships (7th 8th 9th 10th commands; Rom. 12:9-12; 13:1-10). They will model social enjoyment by contentment with their own life situations (10th command; Rom. 13:9; 7:7-8; 1:29). The righteous individual participating in the community of the righteous will share the Spirit-confirmed, moral-law in-total, social identity affirmation of being “in Christ Jesus,” “acceptable to God and approved by men” (1st-10th commands; Rom. 14:18; 8:1-16; 5:1-2; Acts 2:47; 5:13; 7:10). The Christian community living with righteous integrity will be the best apologetic witness to the surrounding communities living in darkened worldviews. The witness of peace-loving, moral-law righteousness will put enemies and false accusers to shame and overcome and convert some of them with good (Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Pet. 3:1-16; 1 Cor. 14:24-25).

18)The tenets of the righteousness that pleases God have been defined in their broad contours, so all other sources of integrated knowledge can only serve as applications of this pre-defined righteousness (Rom. 12:1-2). All regenerate engagement of the elect with the world must be processed through and compatible with this new covenant operating system of righteousness.   

 

Each Command can serve as an interpreting perspective on all the others:

19)  1st, 5th & 9th commandment perspectives:

a.       As an epistemological authority over all creatures: Scripture represents the authority of God, the superior to which all other superiors must submit, the norm which evaluates all other norms, condensed into the beauty and harmony of the Ten Commandment, an irreducible complexity representing God as superior of the universe, the Triune Lord, to which all the inferior creatures, their cultures, religions, philosophies, epistemologies, languages, thoughts, affections, wills and practices must submit, either in obedience to reward or disobedience to judgment.

b.      As a relational perspective on all the others, inferiors, equals and superiors all supporting obedience and resistance to disobedience for each person’s places and callings (such as, some married, some single, have various duties to perform and sins to resist, but assist each other in righteous living), in the fear of the one true God, not the fear of men, thus boldly critiquing false witness and proclaiming the truth, derived from omni-harmonious reflections, That: What is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.  (That in: What is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in: What is forbidden them. This relational perspective has implications for true friendships whose purpose should be to reinforce new covenant moral-law righteousness in one another and shows the differences between other religions and their views of relationships that are modeled on their relationship to gods or spirits or athiestic humanism or idol worship, with a lack of emphasis or standard for teaching on relationships. Christianity can show its attractive value stems from relational modeling of the Lord to his people, and his people with each other.

20)        That the 2nd and 3rd commandments are the gateways to the Gospel, defining the way God must be worshiped: the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5; 16:26). The full demanded righteousness of the law has been satisfied in Christ’s active righteousness (proven by his resurrection, shattering the curse and bondage of death) and the terror of the law’s curse has been broken by Christ’s passive righteousness (enduring the declared curse of the law on the cross for the propitiation of his elect, meriting forgiveness to all who believe in his substitutionary atonement), so that the helpless sinner need only look in faith to the whole work of Christ, (past, present and promised future), bringing whatever confused or correct legal conviction for unbelief and sin he or she may have, but with no necessary required prior qualifying repentance or preparatory sorrow, and further, than no such convictions have any saving merit. Such repentance (grief, sorrow and separation from sins against the moral law) and vivification (delight in righteous submission to the moral law) shall commence after regeneration to saving faith (Alexander, 2016, pp. citing Ferguson, 2016). We can obey the 6th commandment to put off anger and resentment and forgive those who sin against us because the Lord has shown us saving mercy.

21)   That the 2nd C is a perspective on all the other C’s: all visible creation is a reflection of the eternal power and divine nature of God, and God-reflective creation must never be turned into objects for worship, nor commanded to worship itself as his/her idol. (so uttering blasphemies 3rd C. as though it were representing a god, submitting to human philosophies and traditions as idols above the Word of God or a cult leader commanding submission to himself or his principles, 1st -5th- 6th C’s using for selfish advantage, slavery, unjust government, anger and oppression to command others to do our absolute bidding as their god, 4th C: corrupting their God-given orders of time; 7th C: corrupting their conjugal faithfulness) 8th C: prohibiting or removing their right to private property 8th , 9th C: abusing and slandering their good name for our own advancements, 10th C: inciting them to economic slavery by offering them trinkets of the world for their allegiance. Plurality of mature elders as prevention of human idolatry, the little emperor-pastor or ministry leader who gathers worshipers of himself, and punishes all who disagree.    

22)       That, What is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound according to our integrity to use the Lord’s name properly to witness for the Lord’s Word and works (3rd C), to do so in the fear of God, not the fear of men, thus boldly witnessing to the truth (Matt. 13:21; Rev. 21:8 contra cowardly in face of persecution, as seed on rocky soil)

23)      That man’s sin has brought the Lord’s curse on man’s labor, the fruits of the earth and the human body with pain, disasters, deformities, frustrations, sickness and death (Gen 3:16-19), directly introducing chaos into 6th commandment flourishing. The moral law puts a priority on individual priestly-mercy-ministry-apologetic engagement with the ungrateful and evil people of the world, such that the Lord’s people should reflect the 6th commandment merciful kindness of the Lord to the ungrateful and evil, and when they are falsely cursed by persecutors, or hated, abused or mistreated, should bless, do good, pray for them and lend in return (Luke 6:27-36; Rom. 12:14), seeking to overcome evil with good, leaving it the Lord to curse them and take vengeance (Gen 12:3; Rom. 12:17-21). This can include use of law, lawyers, magistrates, police or military to protect or ensure safety in societies that have such protections, even as Paul appealed to Caesar for protection from his Jewish accusers as a Roman citizen (Acts 25-26).  Thus, we could extrapolate that the evangelistic-apologetic task is directed not only to the contradictions of the mind using Scriptural epistemology (didactic doctrinal teaching) and the harmony of the Christian worldview with all reality (as typified in the Christian liberal arts college), but especially toward the will and emotions of the conscience using models of mercy ministries that restore peace among men (medical, family and marriage counseling, pro-life ministries from conception to death, elderly care, sexual integrity support, marketplace ministry training & ethical business, media and academia truth-telling, care-groups), God-felt-glory displaying preaching (???Biblical narrative, Psalms, parables and apocalyptic literature may have better appeal to the seeker’s emotions) in Lord’s Day worship and personal and small group use of creative arts that touch the soul (worship, story, illustration, poetry, music, drama, movie clips and songs) either illustrating the veracity of the moral law as the most liberating relationship to the Lord (compared to other religions and gods) and the most harmonious relational reality among men OR showing how relational chaos and tormenting guilt result from rebellion against the moral law, and pointing to Christ as the righteous one who fulfilled the law’s demands for us, applied by the Spirit in saving faith (propitiation and justification; repentance and vivification; glorification). Doing movie discussions, (Turnau & Turnau, “How to Run a Movie Night” on Ted Turnau’s website 2009) when led by moral-law-mature believers who can briefly compare and contrast the moral law with the movie, may be an excellent approach to evangelism. To engage the psychological professionals or its psychologized counselee-disciples, we need authentic mercy ministries, God-delighting preaching and personal evangelism-apologetics.

24)         7th command as perspective on all others: omni-faithful reflections or unfaithfulness to promises and covenants.

25)      4th, 6th, 8th and 10th commandments form mutually reinforcing perspectives on all others: that the command to labor six days, to care for human life, to cultivate stewardship of property and cultural-social flourishing and to be content with our lot has a direct relationship to the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:26-28) and that these and all the other commands have much to do with contentment in, loving and caring for physical, created things, including our own bodies, not only in relationship to loving God and man. The 5th commandment proper duties of superiors include provision of all things necessary for the physical needs of their inferiors’ bodies. The 7th commandment to sexual fidelity to spouse or to chastity as a single has much to do with how physical resources are preserved and prospered, as well as the security and provision for those children born from that fidelity bound couple. Bearing false witness about physical things is also part of the sins against the 9th commandment. The source of all physical and material produce is the Lord, who should be glorified, worshiped, thanked and petitioned for our daily bread and all the things He knows we need and provides so richly (Matt 6:11, 25-34; Phil 4:19-20; 1 Tim. 6:17; Rom. 1:20-21; 1 Tim. 4:3-5)

26)      9th command as perspective on all others:

a.       truthful witness involves knowing the reputation of persons with whom we have dealings. We should require time-tested and trusted testimonial proof of Ten-Commandment-integrity for before entering into relationships, like friendship (Prov. 17:17; 18:24; 27:6, 9-10), engagement to marriage (1 Cor. 7:39), setting apart for church leadership (1 Tim. 3:2-10; 5:22), taking vows, signing contracts or business deals (Prov. 6:1-5; 11:15) with more responsibilities, longer commitments and higher risks if failure happens. We should never make high risk commitments with strangers.

b.       9th C is a perspective on all extra-biblical knowledge, such that science, psychology, news reporting, history writing must be normed by truth-telling about reality, as much as we can certify, and where uncertain, we either remain silent or indicate our uncertainty. We recognize the sociology of prevailing knowledge held by gate-keepers and power-players in any profession or institution will seek to deny, suppress or contradict negative information or alternate theories that discredit their professions or institutions. We integrate witness that is truthful into our larger meta-narrative of righteousness or use apologetic redefinition to make the ideas or words compatible with the biblical worldview, and support truth-tellers and use truth in ways that enhance and promote both tables of righteousness, in other words, so that hearer-readers can receive a benefit because it fits the occasion and gives grace (Eph 4:29; 1 Cor. 13:4-7). All doctrines of men that deny plain biblical teaching about man’s nature, the power of God to change man into the image of Christ (goal/standard) by the Word (method/tool) and Spirit (mysterious, God-directed and timed power that resists scientific replication) in the assembly of the righteous (body life context or various gifts building up each other) are wrong.

10th command as a perspective on all others, omni-sufficient, omni-holy reflections: sinful desire or coveting is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:9; Jam. 4:1-2; 1 John 2:15-16), together with corollary ungodly affections like fear of not having what we sinfully desire or having it taken away, pride at obtaining what we sinfully desire, and every prohibition in each command begins with controlling the desires of the heart (Prov 4:23; Matt. 15:19-21). Holy desire, love and joy in the glory of God and the flourishing of man, and contentment with and thankfulness for our lot, are the roots of all righteousness.


[1] This term adapted from Keller (Reason for God, 2009:148-164).

[2] Righteousness is not a single attribute, but a meta-attribute describing all the Lord’s perfections, similar to holiness, godliness and spiritual (Yates, Foundations 2017, pp. 96-97), shown in justification as imputation of Christ’s righteousness, all that God requires of believers, because of all that Christ accomplished (Rom. 5:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:18). Heavenly glory is described as the hope of righteousness, a summary of the beauty and perfections of the new heavens and new earth, where righteousness dwells (Gal. 5:5; 2 Pet. 3:13).

[3] Sillars (“Abolition of journalism” in World magazine Nov. 10, 2018), writing about Christian journalism, notes that there are good non-Christian journalism publications that “tell great stories, and have the broad credibility to inform, build community, hold the powerful accountable and foster discussion across cultural and political divides.” Using the moral-law to engaging darkened worldviews of journalism, we can integrate non-Christian knowledge that tells the truth by artfully informing or exposing evil (9th), and builds community and civil discussion (5th).  

[4] Deut. 28-30

[5] Heb. 10:16

[6] Ps. 1:1-3

[7] 4b means the second part of the 4th command “six days you shall labor, and do all your work” (Exod. 20:9). 4a means the first part of the 4th command to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod. 20:8).

Comment