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From Eternity Past

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    Conceptions of God Affect Human Behavior

    Many heathen nations claimed that their images were mere symbols by which the Deity was worshiped; but God has declared such worship to be sin. The attempt to represent the Eternal One by material objects would lower man's conception of God. The mind would be attracted to the creature rather than to the Creator. As his conceptions of God were lowered, so would man become degraded.EP 211.3

    “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” The close relation of God to His people is represented under the figure of marriage. Idolatry being spiritual adultery, the displeasure of God against it is fitly called jealousy.EP 211.4

    “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and forth generation of them that hate Me.” Children are not punished for parents’ guilt, except as they participate in their sins. It is usually the case, however, that by inheritance and example the sons become partakers of the father's sin. Wrong tendencies, perverted appetites, and debased morals, as well as physical disease and degeneracy, are transmitted as a legacy from father to son, to the third and fourth generation.EP 211.5

    “Showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.” To those who are faithful in His service, mercy is promised, not merely to the third and fourth generation as is the wrath threatened against those who hate Him, but to thousands of generations.EP 211.6

    (3) “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.”EP 212.1

    This commandment forbids us to use the name of God in a light or careless manner. By the thoughtless mention of God in common conversation, and by frequent, thoughtless repetition of His name, we dishonor Him. “Holy and reverend is His name.” Psalm 111:9. It should be uttered with reverence and solemnity.EP 212.2

    (4) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”EP 212.3

    The Sabbath is not introduced as a new institution but as having been founded at creation. Pointing to God as the Maker of the heavens and the earth, it distinguishes the true God from false gods. Thus the Sabbath is the sign of man's allegiance to God. The fourth commandment is the only one of the ten in which are found both the name and the title of the Lawgiver, the only one that shows by whose authority the law is given. Thus it contains the seal of God.EP 212.4

    God has given men six days wherein to labor, and He requires that their own work be done in the six working days. Acts of necessity and mercy are permitted on the Sabbath. The sick and suffering are at all times to be cared for; but unnecessary labor is to be strictly avoided. To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character. And the commandment includes all within our “gates.” The inmates of the house are to lay aside their worldly business during the sacred hours. All should unite to honor God by willing service upon His holy day.EP 212.5

    (5) “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”EP 213.1

    Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect due to no other person. He who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers.EP 213.2

    (6) “Thou shalt not kill.”EP 213.3

    All acts of injustice that tend to shorten life; the spirit of hatred and revenge, or the indulgence of any passion that leads to injurious acts toward others (even to wish them harm, for “whoso hateth his brother is a murderer”); a selfish neglect of caring for the needy; self-indulgence or excessive labor that tends to injure health—all these are, to a greater or less degree, violations of the sixth commandment.EP 213.4

    (7) “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”EP 213.5

    Purity is demanded not only in the outward life but in the secret intents and emotions of the heart. Christ, who taught the far-reaching obligation of the law of God, declared the evil thought or look to be as truly sin as is the unlawful deed.EP 213.6

    (8) “Thou shalt not steal.”EP 213.7

    This prohibition condemns manstealing and slave dealing, wars of conquest, theft and robbery. It demands strict integrity in the minutest details of life. It forbids overreaching in trade and requires the payment of just debts or wages. Every attempt to advantage one's self by the ignorance, weakness, or misfortune of another is registered as fraud in the books of heaven.EP 213.8

    (9) “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”EP 213.9

    An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. Even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. Every effort to injure our neighbor's reputation by misrepresentation, slander or talebearing, the intentional suppression of truth by which injury may result to others is a violation of the ninth commandment.EP 213.10

    (10) “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's.”EP 214.1

    The tenth commandment strikes at the very root of all sins, prohibiting the selfish desire, from which springs the sinful act. He who refrains from indulging even a sinful desire for that which belongs to another will not be guilty of an act of wrong toward his fellow creatures.EP 214.2

    God proclaimed His law with exhibitions of His power and glory, that His people might never forget the scene. He would show to all men the sacredness and permanence of His law.EP 214.3

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