The Ten Commandments
John 14:21, 23
Jesus said, He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father; and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him, and We will make our abode with him.
TCR 329. The Ten Commandments of the Decalogue contain all things that belong to love to God, and all things that belong to love toward the neighbor. In eight of the commandments of the Decalogue—the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth—nothing is said of love to God and love toward the neighbor; since it is not said that God should be loved, that His name should be hallowed, that the neighbor should be loved and consequently that he should be dealt with honestly and uprightly. It is only said, “Thou shalt not,” that is, in general, that evil, either against God or the neighbor, is not to be cherished in will or thought, nor to be done. The reason why such things as relate directly to love and charity are not commanded, but only such things as are opposed to them are forbidden, is that so far as man shuns evils as sins, so far he wills the goods that belong to love and charity. That the first of love to God and the neighbor is not to do evil, and the second is to do good, will be seen in the chapter on Charity.
TCR 330. It has been said that so far as man shuns what is evil, he wills what is good. This is so because evils and goods are opposites; for evils are from hell and goods from heaven. Therefore, so far as hell, that is, evil, is removed, so far heaven approaches and man looks to good. That this is so, is very manifest from eight commandments of the Decalogue when so viewed. Thus: (1) So far as one refrains from worshiping other gods, so far he worships the true God. (2) So far as one refrains from taking the name of God in vain, so far he loves what is from God. (3) So far as one refrains from the wish to commit murder, or to act from hatred and revenge, so far he wishes well to his neighbor. (4) So far as one refrains from a wish to commit adultery, so far he wishes to live chastely with a wife. (5) So far as one refrains from a wish to steal, so far he pursues honesty. (6) So far as one refrains from a wish to bear false witness, so far he wishes to think and say what is true. (7 and 8) So far as one refrains from coveting what belongs to the neighbor, so far he wishes the neighbor to enjoy his own. From all this it is evident that the commandments of the Decalogue contain all things of love to God and love towards the neighbor.
TCR 331. Good and evil cannot exist together, and so far as evil is put away, good is regarded and felt as good. The reason is that in the spiritual world a sphere of his love exhales from everyone, and it spreads itself round about and affects others, and causes sympathies and antipathies. By these spheres the good are separated from the evil. That evil must be put away before good can be recognized, perceived, and loved, may be compared to many things in the natural world. For example: one cannot visit another who keeps a leopard and a panther shut up in his room (himself living safely with them because he feeds them), until those wild beasts have been removed.
TCR 331:2. Who enters the bridal chamber with his bride after marriage before he has washed himself wholly, and clothed himself with wedding garments? Who does not purify ores by fire and separate the dross, before he obtains the pure gold and silver? Who does not separate the tares from the wheat before putting it into his granary?
TCR 331:4. Man himself ought to purify himself from evils and not wait for the Lord to do this without his cooperation. Otherwise, he would be like a servant going to his master with his face and clothes befouled with soot and dung and saying, “Master, wash me.” Would not his master say to him, “You foolish servant, what are you saying? See, there are water, soap, and a towel. Do you not have hands of your own and the power to use them? Wash yourself.” So the Lord God will say, “These means of purification are from Me, and your ability to will and do are also from Me. Therefore, use these My gifts and endowments as your own, and you will be purified.”
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- John 14:21, 23: Sometimes it feels hard to love God, but here He tells us how we can do it: keep His commandments. TCR 329e tells us that He especially means His Ten Commandments. The more we keep them, the more the Lord will be able to manifest or show Himself to us.
- TCR 329–330: Why are the Commandments expressed in a negative form? Why are they not really “negative” at all?
- TCR 331: How much do “spheres of love” exhaling from other people affect us in this world?
- How does the warning to shun evils apply to people who are doing or saying bad things? Or does it not apply to people?