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Mt Calvary Evangelical Lutheran ChurchLike

userimgAnd so we finish the Ten Commandments in the Large Catechism with Luther's comments on Exodus 20:5-6. What motivates a believer to keep the Commandments (even if imperfectly and with much struggle)? Fear and love. Fear is not abject terror, but rather the proper understanding of God's power and earnestness as Judge. I do not want to make Him angry. Furthermore, in my old nature, ever the rebel, it is the threat of God's anger that keeps me from great vice. Some would suggest that it is hypocrisy to pursue the good simply because one fears punishment - that it is somehow inauthentic to do the good when in your heart your desire to do what is not good. Foolishness, I say! This is the same reasoning that leads some to say: "if it's as bad to do the deed as to think it, I might as well do it...." What? Do two wrongs now make right? Id the good less good simply because you do it to keep yourself out of trouble? No one one is suggesting that you earn anything with such obedience - but at least you are not making matters worse. But, God willing, in faith one is also moved by love. Love naturally seeks to do what pleases the beloved. And there are blessings too. Want to be free of guilt and shame? Then stop doing what is shameful. Want a good conscience? Then do what is good and right. Now, none of this is to say that we're capable of being perfect, or that we can get righteousness by the Law. But it is ever right to note that in Christ, in the new life, we do have the ability to pursue the good and avoid evil. And that's an ability we'd do well to exercise somewhat more energetically that we often do.... Anyway, here's some Luther: For I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments. [Exodus 20:5-6] .... Now, there is comprehended in these words (as said before) both an angry word of threatening and a friendly promise to terrify and warn us, and, moreover, to induce and encourage us to receive and highly esteem His Word as a matter of divine earnestness, because He Himself declares how much He is concerned about it, and how rigidly He will enforce it, namely, that He will horribly and terribly punish all who despise and transgress His commandments; and again, how richly He will reward, bless, and do all good to those who hold them in high esteem, and gladly do and live according to them. Thus He demands that all our works proceed from a heart which fears and regards God alone, and from such fear avoids everything that is contrary to His will, lest it should move Him to wrath; and, on the other hand, also trusts in Him alone and from love to Him does all He wishes, because he speaks to us as friendly as a father, and offers us all grace and every good. Just this is also the meaning and true interpretation of the first and chief commandment, from which all the others must flow and proceed, so that this word: Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, in its simplest meaning states nothing else than this demand: Thou shalt fear, love, and trust in Me as thine only true God. For where there is a heart thus disposed towards God, the same has fulfilled this and all the other commandments. On the other hand, whoever fears and loves anything else in heaven and upon earth will keep neither this nor any. Thus the entire Scriptures have everywhere preached and inculcated this commandment, aiming always at these two things: fear of God and trust in Him. And especially the prophet David throughout the Psalms, as when he says [ Ps. 147:11 ]: The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy. As if the entire commandment were explained by one verse, as much as to say: The Lord taketh pleasure in those who have no other gods. Thus the First Commandment is to shine and impart its splendor to all the others. Therefore you must let this declaration run through all the commandments, like a hoop in a wreath, joining the end to the beginning and holding them all together, that it be continually repeated and not forgotten...... (Large Catechism, Part I.320, 322-26)