My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.
Monday, March 29, 2010
How to apply the 10 Commandments
I've been working on developing a chart for how to understand and apply the 10 commandments, based on some key doctrines I've been learning from the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Doctrines relating to the Lord's mercy, His love for the human race, and the true consequences of our choices and actions. This study stems from the Writings' assertion that it is the love of adultery, not necessarily the act of adultery, that condemns a person to hell (which - in more accurate terms, because the Lord personally condemns nobody to hell - means that a person will choose to live in hell.) The act of adultery is bad and harmful to oneself and one's neighbor, but it does not condemn a person unless they love it. (See Conjugial Love number 423 and also the chapter on 'Adultery in its Kinds and Degrees') I began to see how this holds true for all of the 10 commandments.
So I've started creating a chart with five columns. In the center is the 10 Commandments themselves. The column to the right of that is a column entitled, "Bad Things To Do Which Are Repentable and Forgiveable and Won't Necessarily Lead to Hell" I know it's a pretty long title, but there it is. In this column are listed the actual acts of disobeying the 10 Commandments: Killing, Committing Adultery, Lying, Stealing, Coveting, etc. These acts in themselves are bad, but won't necessarily send a person to hell. A person can repent of all of the acts of disobeying the 10 Commandments, and with the Lord's Divine Mercy get themselves to Heaven.
The column to the right of that one is called "Things That Will Lead To Hell." In this column are listed the loves of disobeying the 10 Commandments, as opposed to simply breaking them in act. Loving to kill, loving to commit adultery, loving to steal, loving to lie, etc. These things will send a person to hell, not simply the acts in themselves.
The column to the left of the center column is called, "Good Things To Do Which Won't Necessarily Lead To Heaven." In that column are listed all of the acts of literally obeying the 10 Commandments. Going to church, never taking the Lord's name in vain, not committing adultery in act, not killing, not stealing, not lying, etc. These are great things to do. But all of these things could be done from a sense of honor, reputation and personal gain. They could be done in act, but without a love for them. They are good in the sense that they keep a person from harming their neighbor. But if they aren't taken to heart, in themselves they will not get a person into Heaven.
The column to the left of that is called "Things That Will Lead To Heaven." In this column are listed all of the loves of obeying the 10 Commandments. Loving the Lord, loving one's neighbor, loving marriage, being honest, being content, etc. These are the things that lead to Heaven.
This is important to remember because we need to be careful about making spiritual judgments. If a person disobeys a particular commandments, we cannot assume that that act is filled with a love of Hell. Likewise if a person obeys a particular commandment we cannot assume that that act is filled with a love of Heaven. People in Heaven are filled with a genuine love of the Lord and the neighbor. People in Hell are filled with a genuine hatred of the Lord and the neighbor. The acts that we do or do not commit here on Earth, in themselves do not determine those loves. Good acts are definitely good. Bad acts are definitely bad. But salvation and condemnation are bigger than that.
The 10 Commandments are given primarily for us to judge ourselves. They are the guide for telling us where we are on our spiritual path.