WSC 43: What is the preface to the ten commandments? A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Exod. 20:2).
WSC 44: What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us? A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments (Luke 1:74,75; 1 Pet. 1:15-19).]
Memory Verses: “…That we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (ESV Luke 1:74-75).
An Explanation: Zechariah’s song of praise in Luke 1:74-75 summarizes how we are to think of and live out our lives before God as His beloved children: God has delivered believers “from the hand of our enemies” so that we might serve Him without fear “in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days”! Believers are to live out their lives before the face of God, in fearless, courageous, holy, and righteous obedience to His commands. Why? Because God is Lord and King, and in Jesus Christ, He has become our Redeemer and Father!
Before God reveals the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, He reveals His saving love, grace, and power for believers, so that we might remember that we need His love, grace, and power from His Spirit in order to live the holy and righteous lives He has called us to in Christ. Without grace, not one sinner could ever please God and perfectly keep God’s commandments in our words, thoughts, and/or deeds.
Yet the Law revealed in the Ten Commandments is a revelation of the character of God and the will of God, and because we are God’s creatures, we should all seek to honor Him by glorifying Him and enjoying Him through obedience. Because of our sinfulness, we need God’s effectual call by His Spirit to make us alive and bring us by His grace into the light, granting us His immeasurable power so that we might truly desire to obey and enjoy Him!
In the preface to the Ten Commandments, we see, as Dr. Joel Beeke has written, that in the time of the law there is grace; in the time of grace, there is law. In justification, law and grace are opposed; in sanctification, law and grace are friends (Rom. 8:1-4). God teaches believers that our deliverance is all because of His grace—nothing that we have done, merited, or earned—all of grace: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you…out of the house of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). Salvation is a deliverance from slavery, and not merely a slavery of the real, physical bondage of Egypt, which was typical for the Old Covenant Church, but of the spiritual bondage and oppression of sin and the evil one. Once delivered from that terrible bondage, believers are brought into a state of grace (Col. 1:13-14), so that we are obligated (privileged!) to live holy and righteous lives before God, displaying to the world how man was created to live. This way of freedom in Christ is a life of holiness and righteousness that is particularly revealed in the Ten Commandments.
As we go through the Ten Commandments in the next few questions and answers from the Shorter Catechism, let us keep an illustration in mind. The Law of God can be likened to an enchanted mirror. The mirror can be seen in, but it can also be seen through. We look through the mirror of God’s commandments to see the wonderful and perfect character of our God, and His perfect holiness and righteousness. We look into the mirror and see the reflection of how we are living in light of His character and righteousness. As we look through the mirror, so we see a gracious and forgiving God who provides all the grace and power we need to live holy lives. As we look into the mirror and see our own reflection, we learn where we specifically need to repent of our sins and seek in Christ the grace and power to live holy lives. We look through the mirror to behold the happy and joyful life we were created to live, and in the mirror to behold both the progress we may be making in living before Him and the ongoing need of repentance and forgiveness in Christ Jesus!
Prayer: Father and God, thank you that you have delivered me from slavery and bondage to sin and Satan. Let me live before you all the days of my life in holiness and righteousness, serving you without fear.
In Christ’s Love,