Ten Commandments: Summary of #1 through #4

Yesterday I reviewed the first four of the Ten Commandments.  At the end, I promised I’d give you a summary of them today.  You’ll find it in the bold print section of the outline below.

  • God is love
    • You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
      • 1 – You shall have no other gods before Me.
      • 2 – You shall not make for yourself an idol.
      • 3 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
      • 4 – Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
    • You shall love your neighbor as yourself; that is, treat people the same way you want them to treat you.
      • 5 – Honor your father and your mother.
      • 6 – You shall not murder.
      • 7 – You shall not commit adultery.
      • 8 – You shall not steal.
      • 9 – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
      • 10 – You shall not covet.

Here’s how we know that this is a summary of the first four commandments:  When Jesus was asked which commandment in the Bible was the greatest, He responded that it was to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He went on to say that the second greatest commandment was to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.  Since it’s clear that the Ten Commandments can be easily divided into those that apply to the Lord (the first four) and those that apply to our fellow human beings (the rest), Jesus was summarizing the first four commandments as “Love the Lord!”  That is, the execution of those four commandments amount to love for God.  Therefore, if you want to love God, do those four things.  Or, in other words, if you’re not keeping those four commandments, you have no right to say, at least from the Lord’s point of view, that you properly love Him.

To help us understand this summary even better, Jesus gave us a definition of what it means to love with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.  He did this when He said that the greatest love any person can have is to “lay down his life for his friends.”  If you’ve been following our discussion of the first four commandments over the last few days you are able to see that rejecting other gods and idols (#1 and #2), while always taking the Lord’s name seriously (#3), and living an eternal Sabbath in which everything you do in life is for the Lord rather than for yourself (#4) equates to “laying down your life” for God.  Therefore, keeping the first four commandments is the equivalent of laying down your life for the Lord and of loving Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This is the supreme love that is to characterize our lives: love for God.

As to this supreme love, it is clear both from Jesus’ answer about the greatest commandment as well as from the Ten Commandments themselves, that God expects us to have a greater love for Him than we do for anyone else.  Jesus emphasized this point when He said that we must love Him even more than we love our own family members.  Some people have been put off by this demand of His, but it is just one more example of why we must embrace Him as true or reject Him as false because assuming He was just a nice guy who meant well is not an option.

Love first and foremost for our Creator and Redeemer, therefore, is what He requires of each of us.  There can be no ambiguity about this.  Christ demands first place in our hearts.  If we understand anything at all about God’s commandments, it must be this.  And we cannot move on to understand the rest of the Ten Commandments unless that we are receiving them in that context.

While all this makes sense, and there is no reasonable basis for questioning it or trying to bargain with God about it, there is nonetheless something strange about it – something seemingly missing from the first four commandments and Jesus’ summary of them.  Until we address this “odd omission,” we cannot move on to the rest of the commandments.  I will address it with you tomorrow.  Between now and then, I hope you’ll think about what might be missing from this “all-in” requirement God has laid on us in the first section of the Ten Commandments.


If you want to know where to find all of these commandments in your own Bible, see the post Ten Commandments: Scriptural Locations which gives the chapter-and-verse reference for each commandment and statement in the outline.

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