10 Commandments – Plus and Minus

10Com This is from last Sunday’s message:

The Ten Commandments have a positive and a negative side.

Most of the 10 are written in the negative.  “Thou shalt not…”  Yet when we think of them, we need to consider them to have a positive and a negative side.  Take each commandment and think of it like a coin. There is a head and a tail. There is a negative “do not do this” and a positive “because you should do this instead.”

John Calvin said this:

“Thus in each commandment we must investigate what it is concerned with… until we find what the Lawgiver testifies there to be pleasing or displeasing to himself….from he same thing we must derive an argument on the other side, in this manner:

            If this pleases God, the opposite displease him;

            If this displeases him, the opposite pleases him;

            If he commands this, he forbids the opposite;

            If he forbids this, he enjoins the opposite.


            “Therefore in the commandment, “you shall not kill” men’s common sense will only see that we must abstain from wronging anyone or desiring to do so.  Besides this, it contains, I say, the requirement that we give our neighbors life all the help we can….God forbids us to hurt or harm a brother unjustly because he wills that the brother’s life be dear and precious to us.”

(Calvin, Institutes 2:8.8)


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