First Table: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.

First Commandment:

We learn from the Bible to know, acknowledge and worship Him as our God. This worship must not be mere lip service.

We fear God above all things with our whole heart and revere Him as the highest Being and avoid what displeases Him. To "fear" means to be afraid of God's wrath and punishment, as Adam was afraid when he had sinned.

We love God when we cling to Him as our God and gladly devote our lives to His service. To "love" means to have a longing for someone, a desire to be with him.

We trust God above all things when with our whole heart we commit our lives to His keeping and rely upon Him for help in every need.

The fulfillment of all Commandments must flow from the fear and love of God.

Second Commandment:

We do not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

Our obedience must proceed from the right motive, from fear and love of God: the fear of the Lord is to avoid what is forbidden, the love of God is to do what is commanded.

We do not carelessly or uselessly employ the name of God.

We do not blaspheme God by speaking evil of Him or mocking Him. We speak evil of Him when we call His acts into question, when we doubt His steadfast love.

We do not even wish that God would hurt, harm, punish, or damn someone even in our hearts.

We do not teach false doctrine or support false teachers or teachings.

We do not cover up an unbelieving heart or a sinful life by a show of piety. (Hypocrites)

We do not treat the teachings of God's Word as though they were merely the ideas of men.

We live to thank God for all His blessings-even trouble.

Third Commandment:

We do not despise preaching but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. We despise preaching of the Word when we do not attend public worship and when we do not use the written Word of God and the Sacraments.

We do not carelessly listen to the Word and become "forgetful hearers."

We honor and support the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

We diligently spread the Word of God.

Second Table: Thou shalt love every one of our fellow men as yourself.

Fourth Commandment:

We do not despise our parents and masters, nor provoke them to anger, but give them honor, serve and obey them, and hold them in love and esteem.. We are by nature inclined to disregard authority.

We do not treat authority as if they are not God's representatives, look down on them, mock, ridicule them, or be ashamed of them.

Our government and our teachers do much good to us, and we should show our appreciation by doing good to them.

Children and subjects may ask and petition their parents and masters, but have no right to command them.

In school, children should obey their teacher, both in learning their lessons and in general behavior. The lesson of obedience, well learned and practiced in youth, will carry over into later life.

Fifth Commandment:

We fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.

We neither take the life of another or our own life.

We are guilty of murder when by carelessness, neglect, or bad workmanship we cause fatal accidents, or when a person loses his life, because we purposely did not warn him of impending danger and did not help him to escape.

We do not unnecessarily expose ourselves to danger.

We do not harm our neighbor in his body by hurting his feelings, causing him grief, worry, sorrow, and distress, and thus embitter his life.

We do nor harm ourselves by worry, overwork, by neglecting our health and indulging harmful habits.

We do not nurse anger.

We do good to our enemies.

Sixth Commandment:

Marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman unto one flesh. Marriage was instituted by God and is entered into by rightful betrothal, or engagement.

Secret engagements are not valid.

We abstain from filthy talking, dirty jokes, suggestive movements of the body, and lustful expressions of the eye.

We lead a chaste and decent life in thoughts, desires, words, and deeds.

We avoid everything that might lead others into temptation.

Seventh Commandment:

We do not take our neighbor's money or goods, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him improve and protect his property and business.

We are most happy when we are neither rich nor poor, but have sufficient for our needs. Much of man's poverty is due to his laziness, thriftlessness, or extravagance.

We avoid every kind of robbery, theft, and fraud.

We rejoice when we see our neighbor prosper, as much as if it were own own prosperity.

Eighth Commandment:

We do not deceive, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

We do not intentionally ruin his good reputation.

We do not break a confidence.

We do not have evil thoughts against our neighbor or plot against him.

We shield our neighbor against false accusations.

We praise his good qualities and deeds so far as it can be done in keeping with the truth.

Ninth Commandment: A Holy Heart.

We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor's inheritance or house, nor obtain it by a show of right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

We do not have s strong desire and longing for something our neighbor possesses.

Our hearts are filled with holy desires only.

Tenth Commandment:

We do not estrange, force, or entice away from our neighbor his wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

This Commandment condemns us not only for what we do, but also for what we are by nature.

Covetousness moves us to estrange from our neighbor his wife, children, servants, friends, to cause them to feel and to act as strangers to him, alienate their affection, so that they no longer love and trust in him.

We do not press him with our requests that he finally lets us have what we want, to "talk him into something."

We acknowledge that in God's sight evil desire, or lust, in indeed sin and deserves condemnation.

Because evil lusts arise of themselves in our hearts, men generally do not regard them as sins. We must not dally with these lusts, for they will lead us to sinful words and deeds, and these will bring forth death.

"Although I am a sinner according to the Law, judged by the righteousness of the Law, nevertheless I do not despair. I do not die, because Christ lives who is my righteousness and my eternal and heavenly life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, conscience, and death. I am indeed a sinner according to the present life and its righteousness, as a son of Adam where the Law accuses me, death reigns and devours me. But above this life I have another righteousness, another life, which is Christ, the Son of God, who does not know sin and death but is righteousness and eternal life. For His sake this body of mine will be raised from the dead and delivered from the slavery of the Law and sin, and will be sanctified together with the spirit." Martin Luther, Volume 26, p. 9.

"Give no more to the Law than it has coming, and say to it: 'Law, you want to ascent into the realm of conscience and rule there. You want to denounce its sin and take away the joy of my heart, which I have through faith in Christ. You want to plunge me into despair, in order that I may perish. You are exceeding your jurisdiction. Stay within your limits, and exercise your dominion over the flesh. You shall not touch my conscience. For I am baptized; and through the Gospel I have been called to a fellowship of righteousness and eternal life, to the kingdom of Christ, in which my conscience is at peace, where there is no Law but only the forgiveness of sins, peace, quiet, happiness, salvation, and eternal life. Do not disturb me in these matters. In my conscience not the Law will reign, that hard tyrant and cruel disciplinarian, but Christ, the Son of God, the King of peace and righteousness, the sweet Savior and Mediator. He will preserve my conscience happy and peaceful in the sound and pure doctrine of the Gospel and in the knowledge of this passive righteousness.'" Martin Luther, Volume 26, p. 11.

"It seems a trivial matter to teach the Law and affirm works, but this does more damage than human reason can imagine. Not only does it mar and obscure the knowledge of grace, but it also removes Christ and all His blessings, and it completely overthrows the Gospel. The cause of this great evil is our flesh. Steeped in sins, it sees no way to extricate itself except by works. This is why it wants to live in the righteousness of the Law and to rest in trust in its own works. Therefore it knows nothing or nearly nothing about the doctrine of faith and grace, without which the conscience cannot find peace." Martin Luther, Volume 26, p. 55.

This was compiled in honor of Tom White who asked me to do this. Statements about the Ten Commandments were taken from Luther's Small Catechism.


Tim Vance
November 10, 1999