In his book The Disciplines of Grace, R. Kent Hughes traces out for us the first four commandments, calling them the first four words of grace. He compares them to a beautiful floral bouquet that must be held together for maximum effect. The maximum effect that he refers to is the “sweet power to love God.”
Before I get to the four words of grace, a few words about God’s law might be helpful. In Romans 8, Paul tells us that the Gospel gives us the power to fulfill the law and make it our delight. In other words, the power of the Holy Spirit fulfills the law in the lives of believers in Jesus Christ, who have been given new hearts that love God and desire to obey His word.
The first word of grace concerns the primacy of God—“You shall have no other gods before me.” We might rephrase this as having God and God alone. I sometimes lie in bed at night and think about my relationship with the God who created the universe. I know this God and the thought of it takes my breath away!
The second word of grace concerns the person of God—“You shall not make for yourself an idol.” We see God in His Word and in His Son, not in a material image or some imaginary image we create in our own thinking. When we see God in His Word, it clears our vision to see our crucified Savior. And behind Him stands the Father who loves us and we love Him in return (not the other way around).
The third word of grace concerns reverence for God—“You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.” When we reverently love God in our hearts, our speech and actions will display that love in multiple ways. Sadly, spending time anywhere outside my front door will quickly reveal a world that hates God and thinks nothing of dishonoring His name. At the same time, I’m convicted of the many ways that I confess Christ with my mouth and then turn around and worry, complain, and grow discontented with my circumstances.
The fourth word of grace concerns time for God—“Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” Do you consider the Lord’s Day a delight? Is it your favorite day of the week?
The path of the Gospel will always produce fulfillment of the perfect law of love in our lives—love for God and love for our neighbor.