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Lesson 16
Ten Rules for a Happy New Life

You will remember that in earlier lessons we spoke a great deal about sin and evil. We described sin as selfishness, that urge within us to have our own way.

The Bible's Definition of Sin

The Bible tells us clearly what sin is:

"Whoever sins is guilty of breaking God's law,
because sin is a breaking of the law."
(1 John 3:4.)

In order to understand this definition, we need to know more about God's law. A law is made by somebody in authority to tell people what to do and what not to do. So God also gave us his law. He made us and understands us. Therefore his law is the secret of a happy life. If we obey God's law, we will fulfil his purpose with us. If we disobey God's law, we allow our self-will to take control of our lives. We revolt against God's law and become unhappy, because the wonderful relationship between a Christian and his heavenly Father is broken.

God gave his law to his people

Long ago God saw that the human race was lost in sin. Then he revealed his ten rules for a happy life. He called a man named Moses to be his prophet. God patiently prepared Moses for his future role as a prophet to his people.

At last God called Moses to a certain mountain named Mount Sinai. After Moses fasted for forty days and nights God's law was given to him. You can read the whole inspiring history in your Bible in the book of Exodus, chapters 1 to 20.

In Exodus 20 God revealed his will to his people in the form of the Ten Commandments: God said:

"I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you  were slaves."

1. "Worship no God but me."

2. "Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth  or in the water under the earth. Do not bow down to any idol or worship  it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals."

3. "Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord your God,  will punish anyone who misuses my name."

4. "Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which  to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me."

5. "Respect your father and mother, so that you may live a long time  in the land that I am giving you."

6. "Do not commit murder."

7. 7. "Do not commit adultery."

8. "Do not accuse anyone falsely."

9. Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves,  his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns."
10. (Exodus 20:1-17.)

The Two Parts of the Law

If we study the Ten Commandments carefully, we will soon see that the first four commandments mainly refer to our relationship with God, and the remaining six mainly to our relationships with our fellowmen and women. The first four commandments deal with our worship of God, and the other six teach us to live peacefully and happily with our fellow human beings.

The Lord Jesus was once asked which commandment is the greatest. He replied with great wisdom as follows:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all you soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and most important commandment.
The second most important commandment is like it:
Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
The whole law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets
depend on these two commandments."
(Matthew 22:37-40.)

The command to love God includes the first four of the Ten Commandments, and the command to love your neighbour cover the other six commandments.

Guidelines for Every Day

All of us need to study these commandments every day. They may seem simple at first, but each has a deep and rich meaning. The more we study them, the more we will discover that they cover every part of our life: our religious life, our married life, our business life and every other aspect of our life. Jesus explained that these commandments even deal with our thoughts. For example:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.'
But now I tell you:
Anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her
is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart."
(Matthew 5:27,28)

Love Is the Test of Obedience

Even although we can see that the law consists of two parts, this does not mean that the two parts are separate. As the Bible says:

"If someone says he loves God,
but hates his brother,
he is a liar.
For he cannot love God, whom he has not seen,
if he does not love his brother, whom he has seen."
(1 John 4:20.)

The Christian faith, therefore, is the direct opposite of selfishness. A true Christian is concerned about all who suffer and are oppressed. It leads to action:

"If a rich person sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against his brother,
how can he claim that he loves God?
My Children, our love should not be just words and talk;
it must be true love, which shows itself in action."
(1 John 3:17-18.)

Answer God's Love with Obedience

No man can save himself from sin by trying to keep God's law. There is only one way to be saved, and that is by trusting in Jesus Christ. But anyone who discovered how much God loves him, wants to answer that love. He wants to thank God for his love. The only way to do this is by obedience to God.

"We love, because God first loved us."
(1 John 4:19.)

Look again at the Ten Commandments. If it is true that there is only one holy, all-powerful, living, loving God (and it is true), then no man can be disobedient to any of these commandments without harming himself. But obeying God's commands will bring happiness not only to yourself, but also to everybody that you meet. A well-known Christian hymn sums it up:

"Trust and obey,
for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus,
but to trust and obey."

Obedience is only possible if we surrender ourselves to be filled by the Holy Spirit, as we have seen in the previous chapter.

Do not become discouraged if you find you have been disobedient. Confess  your sins to God, leave them, and receive God's forgiveness and victory  (1 John 1:8 - 2:2).

Test Yourself No. 16

Answer the following questions and compare your answers afterwards with the answers given when you click here: [answers]

1. In how many parts can the Ten Commandments be divided?

2. Complete the following sentences:

2.1 The first ____ commandments tell us how to show our love to _______________.

2.2 The last ____ commandments tell us how to show our love to our ________________.

3. What two things are needed if you wish to be a happy Christian?

Now you can print out your Course Test, complete it, and post or email  it to Biblecor. Please do not send the whole electronic book. Send only  the test.