Thou Shalt Not!
Are the Ten Commandments
"NEGATIVE" and therefore
OFTEN we hear the basic Law of God impugned as negative, and therefore not good. God is often conceived as a stern, wrathful God, who angrily says to us: "THOU SHALT NOT!"
God's truth is sometimes looked upon as "a religion of FEAR," and therefore not desirable for modern, advanced, enlightened man. It ought to be POSITIVE, they say, not negative.
Thus God, the Truth of God, the purpose and plan of God, the method of God, and the Law of God are relegated to the primitive, the imperfect - something enlightened man has now outgrown. Modern man thereupon looks upon himself as elevated to a plane of rational thinking, and knowledge higher than God, or Christianity, or God's Law. Of course when we UNDERSTAND, God's TRUTH is the most powerful religion or philosophy there is - it eradicates fear!
It is the way of FAITH!
But is the negative form, "Thou shalt not," then, wrong? Is it outmoded? Should a PERFECT law contain only "DO's" and "DON'Ts"? Just what is TRUE CHARACTER? Just what is the perfect life?
I have defined character - that is, true, righteous, holy character - as
Character, then once the true knowledge is acquired and the right decision made, involves SELF-DISCIPLINE. The truly educated person is a self-disciplined person.
What, then, does this SELF-DISCIPLINE involve?
Suppose one rejects the negative as faulty and something to be discarded altogether. Suppose one applies the positive only. He impels the self to DO those positive things to be done, but he exercises no restraint to resist those things which, by habit, impulse, desire, or custom of others ought not to be done. Because human nature is what it is, the very nature in such a man will pull him constantly in the wrong direction. Thus CHARACTER is destroyed. He is out of balance.
We find present in NATURE both the positive and the negative. Electricity functions and performs its work by use of both the positive and the negative. All elements are either alkaline or acid. All living things and beings in this world of matter are male and female. There are SINS both of OMISSION and COMMISSION.
Frequently we read the pitiful, feeble efforts of a man who fancies in his ignorant egotism he is wiser than God, setting forth his idea of TEN POSITIVE COMMANDMENTS. Ten "do's" and no "don't's." And what do we find? How much character would such a list of "commandments" produce? Just about as much character as an electric light bulb would produce light with merely the one positive wire leading into it. Just about as much character as the male alone, without the female, could reproduce his kind. He might DO a few good things, but all his good things would be nullified and canceled out by the unrestrained evil he would commit.
No basic LAW OF LIFE, forming the basis of perfect CHARACTER, could be a perfect law unless it contains, in perfect balance, both positive and negative.
Examine now again God's basic code, upon which all His laws, social, economic, civil, and religious, hang:
THE WHOLE ISSUE IS ONE OF GOVERNMENT. Adam and Eve rejected God's government, refused His rule over their lives, disobeyed four of the Laws of His government. Christ came preaching the "KINGDOM of God," which is the government of God - commanding men to repent of their rejection of that government and the transgression of its laws (sin is the transgression of the law -1 John 3:4) - providing the way of atonement for that transgression, and reconciliation to the worship and government of GOD.
Here is a PERFECT LAW (Psalm 19: 7). It outlines, in broad detail, man's right relationship with the true GOD that be my have all the needed guidance, help, and blessings from God; and also man's right relationship toward human neighbors - including parents, children, husband and wife, and all neighbors. This law provides for both WORSHIP of God, religiously, and OBEDIENCE To God, and BLESSINGS FROM God - every need of man for his own good in living, active, continuous relationship with the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God.
This perfect Law forms the basis of ALL human relationships, as well as man's God-relationship. It provides the wide, basic general rules affecting every phase of his life -
a) Religious, in his relationship to GOD;
b) Family, in his relationship to parents, children, wife and husband, and is designed to preserve the blessed sanctity and dignity of the HOME:
c) Next-door and personal neighbors and friends;
d) Civil relationships - here are found the very BASIC civil laws respecting murder, larceny (theft), adultery, perjury;
e) Economic life - honesty, not coveting other's money, goods, or property or possessions, which coveting is the very root source of today's economic principle of competition;
f) Social life - such commands as those respecting adultery, false witness against, coveting. stealing, form the foundation principle of right social attitude and relationship with neighbors.
This Law, in its basic principles, defines THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN (Eccl. 12:13). It is the basis, in principle, for ALL THE BIBLE. The entire Bible is, so far as its TEACHING is concerned, a magnification in specific detail of these basic principles.
This Law is COMPLETE. It contains in brief summation-principle, all the positive and negative obligations of the PERFECT, rightly-balanced life. It expresses and reflects the very character of God.
The whole law is summed in one word, LOVE. It is like God, for God is LOVE. Just as His law is LOVE. It was given in love for us, and LOVE is the fulfilling of the law - LOVE IN ACTION.
It is love to GOD, and love to NEIGHBOR. It is PERFECT. It is complete.
by Herbert W. Armstrong