The Ten Commandments
Life 113. The Lord says in Matthew:
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also (Matt. 23:26).
And in Isaiah:
Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your works from before My eyes, cease to do evil; and then though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they have been red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:16, 18).
Life 108. If anyone shuns evils for any other reason than because they are sins, he does not shun them, but merely prevents them from appearing before the world. There are moral men who keep the commandments of the second table of the Decalogue, not committing fraud, blasphemy, revenge, or adultery. And such of them as confirm themselves in the belief that such things are evils because they are injurious to the public welfare and are therefore contrary to the laws of humane conduct, practice charity, honesty, justice, and chastity. But if they do these goods and shun those evils merely because they are evils, and not at the same time because they are sins, they are still merely natural men, and with the merely natural, the root of evil remains imbedded and is not dislodged. For this reason, the goods they do are not goods, because they are from themselves.
Life 109. Before men, a natural moral man may appear exactly like a spiritual moral man, but not before the angels....
Life 110. The covetings of evil that constitute the interiors of man from his birth can be removed by the Lord alone....
Life 111. There are many and various causes that make a man moral in the outward form, but unless he is moral in the inward form also, he is nevertheless not moral. For example: if a man abstains from adulteries and whoredom from the fear of the civil law and its penalties; from the fear of losing his good name and respect; from the fear of the consequent diseases; from the fear of his wife’s tongue in his home, and the consequent inquietude of his life; from the fear of the husband’s vengeance or that of some relative; from poverty or avarice; from disability caused by disease, abuse, age, or impotence—in fact, if he abstains from such things on account of any natural or moral law, and not at the same time on account of the spiritual law, he nevertheless is inwardly an adulterer and whoremonger, for he nonetheless believes that such things are not sins. Consequently, in spirit he makes them not unlawful before God, and so in spirit he commits them, although not in the body in the sight of the world. And therefore after death, when he becomes a spirit, he speaks openly in favor of them. From all this it is evident that an ungodly man is able to shun evils as injurious, but only a Christian can shun them as sins.
Life 112. It is the same with thefts and frauds of every kind, with murders and revengeful acts of every kind, and with false witness and lies of every kind. No one can of himself be cleansed and made pure from such things, for within every coveting there are infinite things which the man sees only as one simple thing, whereas the Lord sees the smallest details of the whole series. In a word, a man cannot regenerate himself, that is, form in himself a new heart and a new spirit, but the Lord alone can do this, who Himself is the Reformer and the Regenerator. Therefore, if a man wills to make himself new by his own sagacity and intelligence, it is merely like painting an ugly face, or smearing a skin detergent over a part that is infected with inward corruption.
Life 114. To what has already been said shall be added the following:
- Christian charity, with everyone, consists in faithfully performing what belongs to his calling, for by this, if he shuns evils as sins, every day he is doing goods, and is himself his own use in the general body. In this way also the common good is cared for, and the good of each person in particular.
- All other things that he does are not the proper works of charity, but are either its signs, its benefactions, or its obligations.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Life 108: What’s the difference between “evils” and “sins”?
- Life 110: Why can only the Lord pull out the roots of evil?
- Life 114: Put this together with TCR 329 at the end (Day Four). What should be the main focus of our lives in following the Lord? How do these two, “the first of love to God and the neighbor” and “Christian charity,” fit together?