Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Summary of the Moral Law

Moses holding the tablets of the ten commandments
Q. 41: Wherein is the moral law summarily comprehended? 
Answer: The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.

Q. 42: What is the sum of the ten commandments?
Answer: The sum of the ten commandments is, To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves. (WSC

God’s moral law is not random and arbitrary, but is ultimately unified, capable of being summarized in basic principles as well as being applied to particular situations. When Jesus was asked about the great commandment, he did not merely give them the most important commandments. He gave them two commandments which were foundational to the rest of the law and the prophets.
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40)
These two commandments summarize the ten commandments, which in turn summarize the rest of the moral law. The ten commandments command us to love the Lord our God through exclusive religious commitment, pure worship, a reverent use of his name, and the observance of his holy day. The ten commandments command us to love our neighbor by honoring human authorities, by preserving our own and our neighbor’s life, chastity, wealth, and good name, and by a content, just, and charitable frame of mind toward our neighbor and his belongings. These duties ought to be done from love and in love as ways to express this love for God and neighbor. Romans 13:7-10 exemplifies how the ten commandments are summarized in Scripture with the duty to love. 

The moral law is explained and taught throughout Scripture. But it is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments in such a way that further explanation can be seen as drawing out what is implied by the ten commandments themselves.

It is important to note that the same law that condemns us as sinners is the same law that believers are taught to live by (Rom. 7-8:9, 13:7-10). The law which was given to Adam and Even in the garden is the same law to which we are being conformed as we are being renewed by Christ. It was given to Adam and Eve as a covenant of works, and it was given again at Mount Sinai as part of the covenant of grace, to be observed by his people who were redeemed by grace. The law which is that perfect expression of God’s character is the same law we follow as his people, to show our love, gratitude, loyalty, and likeness to him.

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