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How to Live the Way God Wants

Understanding and Obeying the Ten Commandments

William B. Girao

the Way God Wants Understanding and Obeying the Ten Commandments William B. Girao OMF Literature Inc.

OMF Literature Inc.

Manila, Philippines

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked

NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

RSV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: REVISED STANDARD VERSION. Old Testament section, copyright © 1952 by the Division of the Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of the America. New Testament section, copyright © 1946 by the Division of the Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of the America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

TEV are taken from the GOOD NEWS BIBLE: TODAY’S ENGLISH VERSION. Old Testament section, copyright © 1976 by the American Bible Society. New Testament section, copyright © 1966, 1971, 1976 by the American Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

TLB are taken from THE LIVING BIBLE. Copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Understanding and Obeying the Ten Commandments Copyright © 2010 by William B. Girao

Cover design by Jonathan de Vera Page design by Marianne Ventura

Published (2010) in the Philippines by OMF Literature Inc. 776 Boni Avenue Mendaluyong City, Metro Manila

ISBN 978-971-009-069-3

Printed in the Philippines

Table of Contents



one 1

two 2



four 4

five 5

6 six





nine 9

10 ten

Loyalty Is Exclusive

Visible Representations Would Never Do

In a Class All by Himself

Rest Is Not Optional

Every Day Should Be Parents’ Day

Killing Solves Nothing

Marriage Breakups Lead to Social Breakdown

It’s Not Just Money

Nothing but the Truth Greed Never Has Enough










Epilogue 166 Acknowledgments 169 Appendix: Exodus 20:1-17




We live in a dark new age. Having elevated the individual as the measure of all things, modern men and women are guided solely by their own dark passions; they have nothing above themselves to respect or obey, no principles to live or die for. Personal advancement, personal feeling, and personal autonomy are the only shrines at which they worship. 1

SO LAMENTED AND WARNED Charles Colson—part of Richard Nixon’s notorious Watergate cast but who later became a Christian—about American society in particular, and the West in general. This worship of the individual, thankfully, is not yet a dominant fea- ture of Asian society. Nevertheless, with instant

1 Charles Colson with Ellen Santilli Vaughn, Against The Night—Living in the New Dark Ages (Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1989), p. 108.

How to Live the Way God Wants

global communications and borderless trade, what is happening in the West will soon become a global pattern. Society is on its way to disintegration when men and women “have nothing above themselves to respect or obey, (and) no principles to live or die for.” We need to go back to God’s original intent for man, society and nature—to go back to the instructions from our Mak- er. And nothing is clearer about our Maker’s intent for man and society than what He has laid down in the Ten Commandments. In many of our churches today, the teaching of the Ten Commandments has, regrettably, become neglect- ed. This neglect has, among other things, resulted in the neglect of church discipline. Church discipline is often not imposed even when there is clear sinful conduct by the leaders or the members. Consequently, the Church has lost much of its spiritual vitality, moral authority and mandate to be the conscience of society and a pillar of righteousness for the nation. The way back to regaining the Church’s spiritual vitality, moral authority and man- date to proclaim righteousness to our nation is by going back to God’s moral law as dened and summarized for us in the Ten Commandments or the Decalogue.



An objection to the use of the Decalogue

The term decalogue comes from DEKA which means “ten” and LOGOS which means “word” or “statement” or “proposition.” Decalogue, literally, means, “The Ten Words” or the “Ten Commandments.” The terms “Decalogue” and “Ten Commandments” are used inter- changeably in this book. There are some who object to giving emphasis to the Ten Commandments because of its supposed nega- tive approach to morality. Of the Ten Commandments, only the 4 th and the 5 th are not stated in the negative. All the other commands dene what we are not allowed to do. Modern psychology, they say, indicates that chil- dren, even adults, tend to do exactly what you tell them not to do. The Ten Commandments then, they say, is counter-productive in that it encourages precisely the behavior that it prohibits. The apostle Paul answered this objection to the Law in his lengthy letter to the Romans. In this letter, we read that the negatives of the Decalogue actually give us the freedom to fulll the positives of Christian love. When we neglect to observe the negatives of the Law, we destroy the very arena where we may fulll the pos- itives of Christian behavior.


How to Live the Way God Wants

“Do not murder,” the Decalogue commands—for how could you love your neighbor if you have already killed him? “Do not commit adultery”—for how could you love your wife, as Christ loved the Church, if you have already destroyed your marriage? “Do not steal”— for how could you feed the hungry if you have already undermined society by your lack of respect of private property? The divine law sets clear boundaries inside of which we have complete freedom to act out Christian love. Crossing the boundaries of the divine law would expose us to the chaos of humanism, secularism, pagan- ism and relative morality. Without God’s clear “don’t do this” or “don’t do that,” people would be at a loss as to what they are al- lowed to do. They would be like minors left alone in the house without clear instructions on what they shouldn’t do. Without knowing what they are not supposed to do, they wouldn’t know what they are allowed to do. But if parents left their young children with clear instruc- tions such as: “Never play with the match; never open the gate to strangers; don’t use the gas stove; never touch electrical sockets”—the children would then know ex- actly what they are free to do on their own. And so would the negatives of God’s Law, similarly, do for us.



The Law is our Maker’s instruction manual

By instinct, we react to rules and regulations in a nega- tive way. But have you noticed that whenever we buy household appliances—like a refrigerator, microwave oven or TV—printed instructions on how to operate these would always go with the purchase? Similarly, in God’s Law we nd instructions from the Creator on how to live our lives and how to care and preserve natu- ral creation. Many of us regard rules and regulations as something that stops us from having a good time. But to disregard God’s Law is to disregard instructions from our all-wise Maker. Without God’s Law, life will be like tinkering with a complicated machine. Having God’s Law is hav- ing God’s instruction manual on how we should live. The Ten Commandments are not mere suggestions or advice—that we may take or ignore. The instruc- tions are absolute and allow no exceptions. They are not optional; they are, in fact, demands—the demands of the One who made all things and who, therefore, owns everything. We either submit to the Owner’s demands; or we ignore them. To ignore the Ten Commandments is, in fact, to disobey them and displease the Owner of our very lives.


How to Live the Way God Wants

To disregard God’s instructions is not to be “free” or to be “mature” or to “come of age.” It is, rather, to invite destruction of the human person in its internal or spiri- tual malfunction, and subsequently, spur collision with other persons similarly mismanaged and out of control. The Law is “good,” the apostle Paul declares. 2 It is in the misunderstanding or misinterpretation and, consequently, in the misapplication of the Law where problems come in. The Law is good but some people misappropriate it by making obedience to the Law the ground for their approval by God or the basis of their “righteousness” before God. Our obedience to God’s Law is not the basis of our being accepted as God’s peo- ple. Our obedience, rather, is the visible manifestation of our being the people of God. Our submission to God’s Law is simply our response to who God is. In contrast with the gods of pagans whose demands are capricious, Yahweh Elohim of Israel, the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth, has not left us groping in the dark about what He wants. He tells us in His Law what pleases Him and what displeases Him. The Deca- logue, we should note, is a statement of principles, not a listing of specic responses to particular situations. The

2 See Romans 7:12, 16



divine law is not a handbook that sets out what is proper behavior in each and every conceivable situation. The divine law, in reality, is a denition of the character of the Lawgiver. And because of God’s unchanging nature and character, the prohibitions of the Law are, there- fore, absolute and unchanging.

The prohibitions of the Law are absolute

The Decalogue was given originally in Hebrew. In Hebrew language there were two words used to express the negative: AL and LO. AL was used to express a present prohibition (You are not allowed to do this now) or to express a conditional prohibition (If this happens, then don’t do this). While LO was used to express an absolute prohibition without conditions and without exceptions. It was a prohibition of permanent validity. It applied to all situations, at all times. The Decalogue uses the absolute LO in all its prohibi- tions, never the conditional AL. AL would translate “DO NOT”; whereas, LO would translate, “NEVER.” All the negatives in the Decalogue use LO, the unconditional prohibition: Never have another God; never worship a graven image; never take God’s name in vain; never bear false witness; never commit adultery; never steal; never murder; never covet.


How to Live the Way God Wants

The Decalogue is absolute and unchanging because it defines what our relationship with God and with our fellow men should be—namely, reverence towards God and respect towards our fellowmen. This required atti- tude towards God and towards our fellowmen accepts no exceptions.

God’s Law defines our relationship with God and with our fellow men

Our Lord Jesus summarized the Law as “(loving) God with all your strength, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your heart”; and “(loving) your neigh- bor as you love yourself.” Reverence for God and respect for man are inseparable. As William Barclay, a respected New Testament scholar, puts it:

No man dare say that he loves God, unless he also loves his fellowmen; and no man can really and truly love his fellowmen, unless he sees that the true value of man lies in the fact that he is a child of God.

Worship of God without responsible concern for man is remote and detached mysticism. Looking at man, on the other hand, without relating him to God is to reduce man into a thing, or an economic entity as it is in totali- tarianism. One cannot love God the Creator without loving His creatures; and one cannot respect his fellow



creatures unless one has reverence for the Creator. The divine law defines our relationship with God and our relationship with our fellowmen. God’s Law, moreover, is for all of life.

God’s Law is for all of life

There are some whose Christianity is only for Sundays. Religion, they believe, should not impinge on our secu- lar employments and our behavior during Mondays to Saturdays. This compartmentalized behavior is not bib- lical Christianity. True Christianity covers all of life. God’s Law is for all of life. God is not just concerned with our worship. He is also concerned with our homes, our economics, our Law courts, and our marriages. True piety is not like paganism where for as long as you observe the proper rites and rituals, it does not then matter how you live your personal or social life. In God’s eyes, on the contrary, there is no delineation between the sacred and the secular; or between the holy and the ordinary. All of life is to be lived in obedience to God. Christianity is a way of life, not mere assent to a particu- lar creed; and not the mere observance of rituals. God’s Law is for all of life and for everyone. No one is exempted from the demands of God’s Law.


How to Live the Way God Wants

The demands of the divine law applies to everyone

God’s Law is universal. It applies to all nations, all cul- tures, and all times. And it applies to all regardless of their station in life. The sanctions of the divine law are not to be mitigated because of the privileged position of the wrongdoer nor should they be withheld because of the lowly social standing of the offender. The demands of the divine law are the same for all—whether rich or poor; powerful or powerless; educated or ignorant.

“If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so

You are to have the same

law for the alien and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.”

he is to be injured

Leviticus 24:19-22

The punishment of the wrongdoer should be based on the wrong he did, not on who he had wronged, thus declared God in the Mosaic Law. In contrast, the Baby- lon King, Hammurabi, who was more or less a contem- porary of Moses provided in his Code that:

If one of citizen status has struck the cheek of his equal, he shall pay one mina of silver. (Code #203)

If the serf of a citizen has struck the cheek of one of citizen status, they shall cut off his ear. (Code #205)



In the Code of Hammurabi, the punishments were dependent on the status of the one who committed the wrongdoing. There is nothing of this kind of discrimina- tion in the divine law. Before God, in fact, those in positions of high privilege and power are to be more severely treated when they disregard the divine law. This was what Christ our Lord partly meant when He declared: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48 NASB).

Obedience to the Law is a personal response

While the Divine Law is universal, it is also personal. It is addressed to the nations as well as to individuals. Per- sonal obedience to the Law is not predicated on the state of popular morality at a given time. No one may rightly say, “I will tell the truth provided others also tell the truth,” nor may anyone validly say, “It is OK to be sexu- ally immoral since many are doing it anyway.” The call to obey the divine law has no preconditions. Obedience is required regardless of whether the demands of the Law are popularly accepted or popularly rejected. Be- cause of the absolute nature of God’s Law, William Penn was correct to declare:

Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.


How to Live the Way God Wants

The Law calls for our personal response regardless of our neighbor’s response. And no matter how rebel- lious our culture may be, the Law still demands our personal submission. God’s moral law proceeds from God’s perfect, holy and righteous nature and is valid for all time and will continue forever. It is comprehensive—it covers all of life. It is good—obedience to it brings true freedom, peace of heart and peace of mind, and hence, true happiness. It is necessary—without it community life will be impossible. It is universal— its demands are for everyone. It is absolute—it allows no exceptions. The Divine Law tells us how to live the way God wants. May this book help you to better understand and fully obey God’s Law.