Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As we begin to look deeper into God’s Word for our lives through the lens of Luther’s Small Catechism it is imperative that we begin in the same place Luther did: the Ten Commandments. For Luther the Ten Commandments were essential to a person’s faith because they rightly put into place our standing with God; namely that we are sinners. This is not a difficult concept to agree with. If we pay attention to our everyday lives we would come to realize that through a day we are constantly sinning against God. When we know the Ten Commandments we are able to see exactly how we sin against God.
So what are the Ten Commandments? In Scripture we are given two accounts of the Ten Commandments being given to the Israelite people (Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5). In each account God gives them the commandments by saying that God is the one that brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from the hand of slavery. God gives them these rules because they are embarking on a new way of life and these rules will help guide and protect that life. Through the Ten Commandments God makes a covenant with the people. The sort definition of a covenant according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “a formal and serious agreement or promise.” God promises to be the God of the people and when the people keep God’s commands they are promising God to be people of God.
This particular covenant between God and the Israelite people can then be split up into two separate sections. In the first section the commands are focused on the people’s new life as it pertains to their relationship with God. In the second section the commands focus on their relationship with the other people in that new life. The first section consists of the first three commandments and the second section the last seven. If we were to sum up the Ten Commandments into two (continued) commandments they would be to love God and love our neighbors.
Next month we will be taking an in depth look into those first three commandments. We will be focusing on our relationship with God and what it means to keep those commandments.