Not long ago our church studied through the Ten Commandments together. In preparation for considering this formidable and famous piece of Old Testament law, it was helpful for me to consider, or reconsider, the goodness of God in all that he does, including giving us the law.
More than just a list of do’s and don’ts, Jesus later summarizes all the law, including these “top ten,” in terms of love. So, we might well approach each commandment as an answer to this question first and foremost: how can I better love God and love my neighbor? And, like everything that God says and does in this world, it is for our good as well as his glory. This is why God himself says, in the same book in which he reiterates the law, “Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Everything God says and does in this world is for our good as well as his glory.
If sin really does lead to death, then one of the kindest things God does is define it for us and warn us against it. We ought not, then, to see the law as the “No Trespassing” sign of a grouchy old neighbor who doesn’t want us to have fun enjoying the extra space in his yard (this is how the devil framed the issue for Eve). No, the law serves more as a “Warning: High Voltage” sign that draws attention to the real danger of getting too close to deadly things.
It is the goodness of God to forbid us from sin. It is the goodness of God also to describe sin for us in his moral law, so that we might know it when we see it and keep from it with all our might.