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𝒬 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the Ten Commandments?

𝒜. For the right understanding of the Ten Commandments, these rules are to be observed:

  1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.1
  2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures.2
  3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.3
  4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden4; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded5: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included6; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.7
  5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done;8 what he commands, is always our duty;9 and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.10
  6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.11
  7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.12
  8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them;13 and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.14

  1. Psalm 19:7

    The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
    the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;

    James 2:10

    For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

    Matthew 5:21-22

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (ESV)

  2. Romans 7:14

    For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

    Deuteronomy 6:5

    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

    Matthew 22:37-39

    And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    Matthew 5:21-22

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

    Matthew 5:27-28

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Matthew 5:33-34

    “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

    Matthew 5:37-39

    Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

    Matthew 5:43-44

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (ESV)

  3. Colossians 3:5

    Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

    Amos 8:5

    saying, “When will the new moon be over,
    that we may sell grain?
    And the Sabbath,
    that we may offer wheat for sale,
    that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
    and deal deceitfully with false balances,

    Proverbs 1:19

    Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
    it takes away the life of its possessors.

    1 Timothy 6:10

    For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (ESV)

  4. Isaiah 58:13

    “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
    and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
    if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;

    Deuteronomy 6:13

    It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.

    Matthew 4:9-10

    And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

    “‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

    Matthew 15:4-6

    For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (ESV)

  5. Matthew 5:21-25

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.

    Ephesians 4:28

    Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (ESV)

  6. Exodus 20:12

    “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

    Proverbs 30:17

    The eye that mocks a father
    and scorns to obey a mother
    will be picked out by the ravens of the valley
    and eaten by the vultures. (ESV)

  7. Jeremiah 18:7-8

    If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.

    Psalm 15:1

    15:1 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

    Psalm 15:4-5

    in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
    who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
    who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
    He who does these things shall never be moved.

    Psalm 24:4-5

    He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
    He will receive blessing from the Lord
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (ESV)

  8. Job 13:7-8

    Will you speak falsely for God
    and speak deceitfully for him?
    Will you show partiality toward him?
    Will you plead the case for God?

    Romans 3:8

    And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    Job 36:21

    Take care; do not turn to iniquity,
    for this you have chosen rather than affliction.

    Hebrews 11:25

    choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. (ESV)

  9. Deuteronomy 4:8-9

    And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

    “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children—

    Luke 17:10

    So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (ESV)

  10. Matthew 12:7

    And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. (ESV)

  11. Matthew 5:21-22

    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

    Matthew 5:27-28

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

    Matthew 15:4-6

    For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.

    1 Thessalonians 5:22

    Abstain from every form of evil.

    Jude 1:23

    save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

    Galatians 5:26

    Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Colossians 3:21

    Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. (ESV)

  12. Exodus 20:10

    but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

    Leviticus 19:17

    “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.

    Genesis 18:19

    For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

    Joshua 24:15

    And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

    Deuteronomy 6:6-7

    And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

    Hebrews 10:24-25

    And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (ESV)

  13. 2 Corinthians 1:24

    Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith. (ESV)

  14. 1 Timothy 5:22

    Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

    Ephesians 5:11

    Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (ESV)


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Based on Calendar of Readings in the Westminster Standards by Dr. Joey Pipa. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.