This is Part 2 of my highlights from The Ten Commandments by A.W. Pink. You can read Part 1 here if you missed it. Again, if you use an eReader, there are some free resources available online. To read it for free on your iPhone/iPad click here; on your Kindle click here.
6. Thou shalt not kill
It should be pointed out that anger is not, as envy, simply, and in itself, unlawful. There is a virtuous anger, which (so far from being sin, is a noble and praiseworthy grace, see Mark 3:5). To be moved with indignation for the cause of God when his glory is degraded, His name dishonored, His sanctuary polluted, and His people vilified is a holy anger.
“In the temple He found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And He told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'” The word teaches us some things that we need wisdom from the Holy Spirit to balance. May we strive for peace with everyone, and also know how to be angry when God is angry, and zealous for His truth.
Think often of the infinite patience and forbearance of God. How many affronts does He bear with from us. How often we give Him occasion to be angry with us, yet “He hath not dealt with us after our sins.” Let this great example be ours.
“‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’” These are the final words of the master in The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18. We are the ones with the debt that could not be paid but were granted mercy, and may we not follow in this servant’s example. This doesn’t mean we take offenses and sweep them under the rug. But with every offense we meet, may we look to the cross and say, “If the Lord has shown me grace in this way, I can surely extend grace to my fellow man in this situation.”
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
This commandment forbids all degrees or approaches to the sin prohibited, as looking in order to lust.
Though this commandment is expressed in the form of a negative prohibition, yet positively it enjoins all the opposite duties, such as cleanliness of the body, filling the mind with holy objects, setting our affection on things above, and spending our time in profitable occupations.
I appreciate the way Pink has helped me see all sorts of little areas of application that I’d never seen before, here and in each other commandment. He takes time to pull out the implications, both positively and negatively. The Christian calling is much higher than to abstain from a set list of external actions, so the idea of sowing and reaping is helpful here. In any given circumstance we can ask ourselves, “Does this thought or action, when sown into my life, reap purity or tend to sin?” And as Pink helpfully points out, we don’t reduce this to a list of things to not do. Christian life is not merely about avoiding certain things, but actively seeking God’s kingdom and walking in the Spirit.
8. Thou shalt not steal
The root from which theft proceeds is discontent with the portion God has allotted, and therefrom a coveting of what He has withheld from us and bestowed upon others.
God is robbed when we withhold from Him the glory which is His due, and we are spiritual thieves when we arrogate to ourselves the honor and praise which belong to Him alone.
It’s so easy to think of stealing only in human relationships, so I like how he applied it to the Lord as well. While God’s glory can’t be taken away from Him since it is intrinsic to His being, fallen mankind continually fails to recognize that fact. Even though we can’t add to His glory, or provide Him with glory He didn’t already have, it is wholly necessary to properly attribute that glory. “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name.”
Idleness is a species of theft. It is playing the part of the drone and compelling the rest of the hive to support us.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
The duties concerning our tongues may be summed up in two words: our speech must always be true and spoken in love (Eph. 4:15). Thus, as the eighth commandment provides for the security of our neighbor’s property, so this one is designed to preserve his good name by our speaking the truth about him in love.
Be not swayed by party spirit if you would be kept from slandering others. The spirit of sectarianism begets prejudice, and prejudice makes us unwilling to receive and to acknowledge good in those who walk not with us, and ready to believe the worst of them. How often writers are guilty here. Denominational bigotry has caused many a man to misinterpret one who differs with him and to impute to him errors which he does not hold.
I think it’s safe to say there are even more denominations now than there were in Pink’s time. I don’t think that’s a good thing, nevertheless, that being the case, his statement only hits home harder because of that. I can definitely be guilty here. In this whole list of quotes, this is one I needed the most. I tend to have preferred authors, teachers, and preachers that I look to, and I don’t think that’s bad at all, on the contrary, I think it’s a good thing. However, the thing to be avoided is dismissing persons just because they’re not in your circle. It feels good to our flesh to run away with assumptions and make villains of people, but that’s not discernment. I’m thankful for my wife. I can easily get fired up about certain things, and she is there to faithfully bring perspective so I don’t make mountains out of molehills.
10. Thou shalt not covet…
Thus the soul of fallen man, being destitute of Divine grace and spiritual life, craves sinful objects to the slighting of God, and inordinately lusts after things which in themselves are harmless, but become evil because he neither receives them as from God nor uses them for His glory.
St. Augustine inquires, “what is that which we call evil but the absence of good?” If you follow his philosophy, what he is getting at is that while evil is very real, it only exists in a certain sense. In order for there to be evil there needs to be a good to pervert and distort. Think of all the things we encounter in life. Take sexuality, money, possessions, and relationships just as a few broad categories. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of them. In fact, it is God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. But it doesn’t matter how good a thing is, Satan will try to corrupt it. Every sin is some kind of perversion of God’s design.
It would be vain for men to impose statutes upon that of which they can take no cognizance, and therefore our desires and lustings are free from their censure, except so far as they discover themselves by overt acts. But though they escape the commands and notice of men, yet they escape not the scrutiny and sentence of God, for He sees not as men see, neither judges He as men judge. The secrets of all hearts are open and naked before His eyes; not the least breath of a desire can stir in our souls but it is more distinctly visible to Him than the shining of the midday sun is to us.