To the members of Faith: As some of you know, I traveled to Texas for my niece's wedding last Friday. It was such a happy time, and I'm including a picture below. Coming up this Sunday, we'll install our Sunday School teachers, and I'll have a special Thanksgiving-themed sermon for you (complete with a little "homework" assignment). In ABC we'll review the First Commandment and move on to the Second and Third. Have you memorized the first three commandments?
The Ten Commandments use the word "no" or "not" a total of eight times. As a result, people hear the Commandments as a bunch of "no's." And as a result of this, they hear only part of them, and the smaller part at that. But for every one of the no's, there is a Yes standing behind, bigger and taller than the no in front of it.
This is something Martin Luther saw and communicated in the Small Catechism. Let's take one example - the Second Commandment: "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God." According to the Catechism, this means the following:
"We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks."
I have put the no in bold and the Yes in italic.
See how the commandment opens up into a Yes. The Second Commandment becomes an invitation to worship God and receive His help.
The no is still there but now is dwarfed by the Yes.
To say a little more, the old man (the sinful flesh) hears only the no. This is the language he understands. While the new man (born in Baptism) hears the bigger, louder Yes behind it. And so to him the Ten Commandments are a choir of Yes's. And that is the purpose of the Commandments: to check the old man, but to direct the new in the way of love.
Ask the Holy Spirit to perform both these tasks in your heart.