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The Ten Commandments of God’s Law.

  1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shall have no other gods beside Me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, nor that is in the earth beneath, nor that is in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them.
  3. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
  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.
  5. Honor thy father and thy mother that it may be well with thee and that thy days may be long on the earth.
  6. Thou shalt not kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife; thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any of his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

The Ten Commandments of the Law were arranged on two tablets because they legislate two aspects of love: love for God and love for neighbor.

Indicating these two aspects of love, the Lord Jesus Christ in answering the question, Which is the greatest commandment in the Law? said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37-40).

To love God is our first and most important obligation, because He is our Creator, Provider, and Saviour. For in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).

Then follows the obligation to love our neighbor, which serves as an expression of our love for God. Whoever does not love his neighbor does not love God. The Apostle John the Theologian explains, If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (I John 4:20).

By loving God and neighbor we discover true love for ourself, because true love for ourself consists in fulfilling our obligations towards God and neighbor. It is expressed in care for one’s soul, in cleansing oneself of sin, in subordinating the body to the spirit, in limiting our personal necessities. We must guard our health and care for the development of our spiritual strength and capacities in order to manifest our love to God and neighbor.

By this concept, love of ourself is shown not to be a detriment to our neighbor. On the contrary, we owe love to ourselves in order to bring sacrificial love to our neighbor. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (his neighbors) (John 15:13). Love toward ourself and love toward our neighbor must be offered as a sacrifice of love to God. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks about this thus: He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross (i.e., who, from all his superfluous burdens of life, refuses the suffering and trials which the Lord sends, but instead goes the easy path of wickedness) and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me (Matt. 10:37-38).

If a man first of all loves God, then naturally he cannot fail to love father and mother and children and all his neighbors; and this love is sanctified by Divine Grace. If a man loves anyone of these without loving God, then such love may even be criminal, as, for example, when a man for the happiness of a beloved friend might deprive others of their happiness, treat them unjustly, cruelly, etc.

Thus, although all the commandments and the Law of God are contained in two commandments of love, in order to more clearly show us our obligations to God and neighbor, they are further broken down into the Ten Commandments. Our obligations to God are described in the first four commandments, and our obligations to our neighbor — in the last six commandments.

The First Commandment of the Law of God.

I. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me.

The first commandment of the Lord God asserts His existence and admonishes us to honor Him, the One true God. We must not render divine homage to anyone but Him. That is, we must study what is written by God and about Him, or theology.

Theology is the highest branch of knowledge. It is our first and most important obligation. All scholarly human knowledge loses its true meaning, its underlying idea and purpose, if it is not illumined by the light of theology. Instead of good, such knowledge leads to a life of much evil.

In order to acquire knowledge of the true God, we must:

1. Read and thoroughly study the Holy Scriptures, which convey to us true and most perfect knowledge of God.

2. Read the works of the Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, which is necessary in order to understand the Holy Scriptures rightly and to guard oneself from incorrect interpretations and thinking.

3. Frequently attend church, because in the church services are contained lessons about God and His works.

4. Listen to the sermons of the priest and read books of religious and moral content.

5. Study the works of God — nature, as well as the story of the race of man, which reveal to us God’s marvelous plan.

This commandment imposes on us definite obligations of worship. We must:

1. Believe in God, that is, have the most sincere and firm conviction of His existence.

2. Walk before the Lord, that is, always be conscious of God and do everything as before the eyes of God (behave carefully), and always remember that God sees not only our deeds but also our thoughts.

3. Place our hope in God, love God, and obey God. Always be ready to do what He commands and not grumble when He does not do for us as we ourselves would like. In fact, only God knows when and what to give to us, and what is profitable and what is harmful to us.

The highest form of love of God is respect, or fear of God — fear to become estranged from God because of our sins.

4. Do homage to God, glorify and give thanks to the Lord God, our Creator, Provider and Saviour, remembering all His gifts and mercy to us.

5. Fearlessly confess God before all. Acknowledge that He is our God, and do not abandon the faith even though this confession might bring suffering and even death.

Sins against the first commandment are:

1. Atheism — when people completely reject the existence of God. Such people the Prophet David calls fools. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God (Ps.l3:l).

2. Polytheism — when instead of the One true God, people acknowledge many imaginary gods.

3. Unbelief — when people, while acknowledging the existence of God, do not believe in His Divine Providence and Revelation. This unbelief often comes from incorrect education and upbringing, from pride and conceit, from enthusiasm for evil examples, from careless regard for the guidance of the Church, and from a sinful life.

4. Heresy — when people imagine or invent teachings contrary to God’s truth, or stubbornly and intentionally distort the truth of God.

5. Schism — self-willed deviation from the union of Divine worship, from union with the Orthodox Church.

6. Apostasy — when people disavow the true faith, fearing such things as persecution and mockery; or from enthusiasm for false teachings.

7. Despair — when people, forgetting the endless mercy of God, do not hope to receive from God help and salvation. Horrible examples of despair occur in cases of suicide.

8. Sorcery (witchery) — when people, abandoning faith in the power of God, turn to various occult and evil powers.

9. Superstition — when people believe in some ordinary thing or occurrence, attributing supernatural powers to it.

10. Laziness in prayer and in all pious deeds.

11. Love for creatures, including people, more than for God.

12. Flattery — when people care more about pleasing other people than pleasing God.

13. Self-sufficiency — when people hope more in themselves or in other people than in the mercy and help of God.

The commandment of God does not contradict our obligation to venerate angels and saints of God and to pray to them. We honor them not as God Himself, but as faithful servants of God, who are obedient and who lead God-pleasing lives. The angels and saints of God are close to God and are able to intercede on our behalf. We must ask their help and defense in firm trust that the Lord, for their sake, quickly hears our sinful prayers. The Word of God says, Pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him (Luke 20:38).

The Second Commandment of the Law of God.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.

The second commandment of the Lord God prohibits idolatry, that is, forbids making any idols for worship, or rendering homage to likenesses of anything that we see in heaven (sun, moon, stars), or that is found on earth (plants, animals, people), or found in the waters (fish). The Lord forbids worshipping and serving these idols instead of the true God, as pagans do.

In forbidding worship of idols, one must never be confused about the Orthodox veneration of holy icons and relics. Protestants and various sectarians criticize us for "worshipping them." But in venerating holy icons we do not consider them gods or idols. They are only likenesses, representations of God, or of the angels or of the saints. The word icon comes from the Greek and means likeness. In venerating icons and praying before icons, we do not pray to the material icons (the paint, wood or metal), but to the saint who is represented thereon.

Everyone knows how much easier it is to turn one’s thoughts to the Saviour when he sees His Most-pure Image or His Cross, than when he sees only empty walls, or a bookcase.

Holy icons are given to us for venerating the memory of the acts of God and His saints and for devoted elevation of our thoughts to God and His saints. Veneration of icons warms our hearts with love for our Creator and Saviour. Holy icons are similar to the Holy Scriptures, except that they are written with faces and objects instead of letters.

Even in the Old Testament icons were used. At the same time that Moses received the commandment forbidding idols, he received from God instructions to place in the Tabernacle, the mobile Hebrew temple, holy gold icons of Cherubim on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord said to Moses, Make them in the two ends of the mercy seat... and there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat from between the two Cherubim which are upon the Ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel (Exod. 25:18,22). The Lord also ordered Moses to make likenesses of cherubim on the veil separating the Sanctuary from the Holy of Holies; and on the interior side of the veil covering, a fine cloth of ancient times, thought to have been made of linen, fine wool, cotton or silk, which covered not only the top but the sides of the Tabernacle (cf. Exod. 26:1-37).

In Solomon’s Temple there were sculptured and embroidered icons of Cherubim on all the walls and on the Temple veil (cf. I Kings 6:27-29; II Chron. 3:7-14). The Cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant were consecrated (cf. II Chron. 3:10). When the Temple was ready, the glory of the Lord (in the form of a cloud) filled the temple (I Kings 8:11). The likenesses of the Cherubim were pleasing to the Lord, and the people, looking at them, prayed and worshipped.

There were no icons of the Lord God in the Tabernacle or in the Temple of Solomon, because He had not yet revealed Himself in the flesh as God incarnate. There were no likenesses of the Old Testament righteous men, because the people had not yet been redeemed and justified (Rom. 3:9,25; Matt. 11:11).

The Lord Jesus Christ sent a miraculous icon of His Face to King Abgar of Edessa. It was known as the Icon-Not-Made-By-Hands. Praying before the Icon-Not-Made-By-Hands of Christ, Abgar was healed of an incurable illness. The Evangelist Luke was a physician and an artist. He painted and left for posterity icons of the Mother of God. Several of them are found in Russia and in Greece.

Many holy icons have been glorified by miracles.

Likenesses of animals or even of the Devil do not defile a holy icon if they are necessary to depict an event necessary for visual instruction. As is known, mention of them in writing does not defile the Holy Scriptures.

Nor does veneration of holy relics contradict the second commandment. In the holy relics we honor the Grace of God, which acts through the remains of the saints.

For Christians, idolatry in the form handed down to us from pagans is impossible. However, instead of uncivilized idolatry, there exist among us much more subtle forms of idolatry, such idolatry as worship of sinful passions like greed, gluttony, pride, vanity, lust and so on.

Covetousness (greed) is the desire to acquire wealth. The Apostle Paul says that covetousness... is idolatry (Col. 3:5). For the rich man love of gain is an idol which he serves and worships more than God.

Gluttony consists of love of dainty dishes and drunkenness. The Apostle Paul says about people who put the feeling of satisfaction for food and drink as the highest thing in life, that their god is their belly (Philip. 3:19).

Pride and Vanity. The proud and vain man has an excessively high opinion of his worth, his intelligence, beauty, and wealth. The vain man considers only himself. He considers his ideas and wishes higher than the will of God. He regards the opinions and advice of other people with contempt and derision, but his own ideas he does not reject, no matter how false they may be. The greedy and vain person makes an idol of himself, both for himself and for others.

By prohibiting these lesser idols, the second commandment inspires the following virtues in their place: unacquisitiveness, generosity, self-denial, fasting, and humility.

The Third Commandment of the Law of God.

3. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

The third commandment forbids us to pronounce the name of God in vain, without due reverence. One uses the name of God in vain when one pronounces it in empty conversation, in jest and in sport.

Forbidding the use of God’s name thoughtlessly or disrespectfully, this commandment forbids the sins which come from thoughtlessness and irreverence in regard to God. Among such sins are:

Swearing — thoughtless, habitual oaths in casual conversation;

Blasphemy — audacious words against God;

Sacrilege — when people scoff or jest at sacred things;

Breaking promises given to God;

Perjury (oath breaking);

Making false oaths by the name of God.

The name of God must be pronounced with awe and reverence, in prayer, in studies about God, and in lawful vows and oaths.

Reverent, lawful vows are not forbidden by this commandment. God Himself used an oath about which the Apostle Paul reminisces in his epistle to the Hebrews: For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath (Heb. 6:16-17).

The Fourth Commandment of the Law of God.

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.

The fourth commandment of the Lord God directs that six days be spent in labor and devoted to duties such as one’s vocation, but that the seventh day be devoted to the service of God, for holy work and acts pleasing to God.

Holy works and acts pleasing to God are understood to be: work for the salvation of one’s soul, prayer both in church and at home, study of the commandments of God, enlightenment of the mind and heart by wholesome learning, reading of the Holy Scriptures and other spiritually helpful books, pious conversation, helping the poor, visiting the sick and prisoners, comforting the grieving, and other good deeds.

In the Old Testament, the Sabbath (which in Hebrew means rest, peace) is celebrated on the seventh day of the week, Saturday, in remembrance of God’s creation of the world (on the seventh day God rested from acts of creation). In the New Testament, at the time of the Apostles, it began to be celebrated on the first day of the week, Sunday, in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ.

In the category of the seventh day it is necessary to include not only the day of the Resurrection, but also other feast days and fasts established by the Church. In the Old Testament the Sabbath also included other feasts: Passover, Pentecost, the Feast of Tabernacles, etc.

The most important Christian feast day is called "The Feast of Feasts" and "The Triumph of Triumphs," the Bright Resurrection of Christ, called Holy Pascha (Easter), which occurs on the first Sunday after the spring full moon, after the Jewish Passover, in the period between the 22nd of March (April 4th new style) and the 25th of April (May 8th, new style).

Then follow the twelve great feasts established to honor our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother, the Holy Virgin Mary:

  1. The Nativity of the Theotokos September 8 (21, n.s.).
  2. The Entry into the Temple of the Theotokos, November 21 (December 4, n.s.).
  3. The Annunciation of the Most-holy Virgin Mary, March 25 (April 7, n.s.).
  4. The Nativity of Christ, December 25 (January 7, n.s.).
  5. The Entry of the Lord, February 2 (15, n.s.).
  6. The Theophany (or Epiphany), January 6 (19, n.s.).
  7. The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, August 6 (19, n.s.).
  8. The Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), the last Sunday before Pascha.
  9. The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the fortieth day after Pascha.
  10. Pentecost, or Trinity Sunday, on the fiftieth day after Pascha. ~
  11. The Elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, September 14 (27, n.s.).
  12. The Dormition of the Mother of God, August 15 (28, n.s.).

Of the remaining feast days, some of the most important are:

The Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ, January 1 (14, n.s.).

The Protection of the Mother of God, October 1 (14, n.s.).

The Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, October 22 (November 4, n.s.).

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist, June 24 (July 7, n.s.).

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, August 29 (September 11, n.s.).

The feast of the Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, June 29 (July 12, n.s.).

The Apostle John the Theologian, May 8 (May 21 n.s). and September 26 (October 9, n.s.).

The feasts of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, May 9 (May 22, n.s). and December 6 (19, n.s.).

Fasts established by the Church are:

1. The Great Fast, before Pascha.

The Fast lasts for seven weeks: six weeks are the fast itself and the seventh week is Holy Week — in remembrance of the suffering of Christ the Saviour.

2. Nativity Fast, before the feast day of Nativity, the birth of Christ.

It begins on the 14th of November (27, n.s.), the day after commemorating the Apostle Philip and is therefore sometimes called the fast of St. Philip. The fast lasts for forty days.

3. Dormition Fast, before the feast day of the Dormition of the Mother of God.

It lasts for two weeks, from the 1st of August (August 14, n.s). until August 14 (27, n.s.).

4. The Apostles’ or Peter’s Fast, before the feast day of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

It begins one week after Trinity Sunday (Pentecost) and continues until the 29th of June (July 12, n.s.). Its length is determined by whether Pascha is early or late. The longest it can be is six weeks, and the shortest is a week and one day.

One day fasts:

1. Nativity Eve — the day before the Birth of Christ, 24th of December (January 6, n.s.). An especially strict fast during the Nativity Fast. Customarily, one does not eat until the appearance of the first star, and then only strict lenten food, no meat, fish or dairy products.

2. The Eve of the Theophany — the day before the Baptism of the Lord, the 6th of January (January 19, n.s.).

3. The day of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, 29th of August (September 11, n.s.).

4. The day of the Elevation of the Cross of the Lord, in commemoration of the finding of the Cross of the Lord, 14th of September (September 27, n.s.).

5. Wednesdays and Fridays of every week. Wednesday — in remembrance of the betrayal of the Saviour by Judas. Friday — in remembrance of Christ’s suffering and death on the cross.

There is no fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays in the following weeks: in Bright Week, the week of Pascha; in the interval between Christmas and Theophany; in the week of the Holy Trinity (from Pentecost until the beginning of Peter’s fast), in the week of the Publican and the Pharisee (before the Great Fast); and in Cheese-fare week immediately preceding the Great Fast, when dairy products, but not meat, are allowed.

At the time of the fasts it is especially necessary to resolve to cleanse oneself of all bad habits and passions such as anger, envy, lust and enmity. One must refrain from a dissipating, carefree life, from games, from shows and spectacles, from dancing. One must not read books which give rise to impure thoughts and desires in the soul. One must not eat meat or dairy products, since according to the experience of the Saints these foods strengthen our passions and make it more difficult to pray, but only permitted fasting foods such as vegetables, and when permitted, fish, and only making use of these foods in moderation. During a fast of many days one should have confession and receive Holy Communion.

Those who break the fourth commandment are those who are lazy on the first six days, doing no work, as well as those who work on a holy day.

No less guilty are those who may cease worldly pursuits and work, but who spend the time in amusements and games, who indulge in pleasure and drunkenness, not thinking about serving God. Especially sinful is indulging in distractions the evening before a feast day, when we should be at the Vigil, and in the morning, after the Liturgy. For Orthodox Christians a feast day begins in the evening when the All-night Vigil is served. To devote this time to dancing, movies, or other diversions instead of prayer, is to make a mockery of the feast day.

The Fifth Commandment of the Law of God.

5. Honor thy father and thy mother that it may be well with thee and that thy days may be long on the earth.

The fifth commandment of the Lord God orders us to honor our parents and for this promises a happy and long life. To honor parents means to love them, to be respectful toward them, to refrain from offending them by either word or act, to obey them, to help them in labor, to care for them when they are in need, especially when they are sick and old, and also to pray for them to God both during this life and when they die. Disrespect toward a parent is a great sin. In the Old Testament, anyone who slandered his father or his mother was punished by death (Mark 7:10; Exod. 21:17).

We must also give equal honor to those persons who have authority over us as parents to us. Among such people are pastors and spiritual fathers, laboring for our salvation, instructing us in the faith and praying for us; government officials, who work for our domestic tranquility and defend us against oppression and plundering; teachers and benefactors, who try to teach us and provide everything that is good and useful to us; and in general, our elders, having much experience in life and who therefore can give us good advice. It is a sin not to respect our elders, especially those in old age. It is a sin to regard their experience with distrust, indifference, and sometimes to refer to their remarks and instruction with derision, to consider them "backward" people, and to consider that their view is outmoded, has served its time. Even in the Old Testament the Lord said through Moses, Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God (Lev. 19:32).

But if it happens that parents or superiors require of one something that goes against our faith and the Law of God, then one must say to them, as the Apostles said to the leaders of the Jews: Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye (Acts 4:19). Then one must suffer for the faith and the Law of God no matter what happens.

The Sixth Commandment of the Law of God.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

The sixth commandment of the Lord God forbids murder, taking the lives of other people, or taking one’s own life (suicide).

Life is the greatest gift of God. Therefore, to deprive oneself or someone else of life is a most terrible, grave, and enormous sin. Suicide is the most terrible of all sins committed against the sixth commandment, because in suicide, besides the sin of killing, there is also the grave sin of despair, grumbling against God, and insolent uprising against the

Providence of God. Furthermore, suicide precludes the possibility of repentance.

A person is guilty of murder even if he kills another person accidentally, without thinking. Such a murder is a grievous sin, because in this case the murderer is guilty due to his carelessness.

A person is guilty of murder even when he does not commit the murder himself, but promotes the murder or allows someone else to do it. For example:

  • A judge, condemning the accused to death when his innocence is known.
  • Anyone who does not save a neighbor from death, when he is fully capable of doing it.
  • Anyone who helps another commit murder by his decree, advice, collaboration, or rationalization; or who condones and justifies a death and by that gives opportunity for more killing.
  • Anyone who by hard labor or cruel punishment exhausts victims into a weakened state and thus hastens their death.
  • Anyone who through self-indulgence in various vices curtails one’s own life.

Other sins against the sixth commandment are: wishing that someone were dead, not rendering help to the indigent and sick, not living with other people in peace and concord, but on the contrary, maintaining hatred, envy, and malice towards others, instigating quarrels, brawls, and distress among others. Sin against the sixth commandment is doing anything which injures the weak, children in particular. The Gospel of Christ says, Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer (I John 3:15).

Besides physical killing, there is yet a more terrible and accountable murder: spiritual killing. Among the sins of spiritual murder is seduction. That is, when one leads astray or seduces his neighbor into unbelief or into a life of vice, and by this renders the soul of his neighbor liable to spiritual death.

The Saviour said, But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea... woe to that man by whom the offense comethl (Matt. 18:6-7).

In order to avoid sin against the sixth commandment, Christians must help the poor, serve the sick, comfort the sorrowful, lighten the conditions of the unfortunate, with everyone be kind and loving, reconcile themselves with anyone who has grown angry, forgive offenses, do good to enemies, and refrain from harmful examples, either by word or deed, especially before children.

It is impossible to equate criminal murder with the killing that occurs in battle. War is a great social evil, but at the same time war is an enormous catastrophe permitted by the Lord for a lesson and correction of people, just as He permits epidemics, starvation, fires, and other misfortunes. Therefore, killing in a war is not viewed by the Church as a particular sin of man. Furthermore, every soldier should be ready, according to the commandment of Christ, to "lay down his life for his friends," for the defense of his faith and his homeland.

Among the military there are many saints glorified by miracles.

However, even in war it is possible to be guilty of murder, when, for example, a soldier kills someone who has surrendered, or when a soldier allows brutality, etc.

Capital punishment of a criminal applies also to social ills and is a great evil. But it is allowed in exceptional cases when according to justice, it appears that it alone can stop a multitude of murders and crimes. But in terms of justice, the administrators carrying out the execution answer before God. Capital punishment of hardened criminals is often the only means by which they will be brought to repentance. Note that without the will of God, not a hair would fall from anyone’s head.

The Seventh Commandment of the Law of God.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

The seventh commandment forbids adultery, that is, unfaithfulness to one’s spouse and all unlawful lust.

God forbids a husband and a wife to break the bonds of mutual faith and love. Of the unmarried, God requires pure thoughts and desires, to be chaste in word and deed, in thought and desire.

In order to do this it is necessary to avoid everything that could give rise to unclean feelings in the heart: obscenity, immodest and shameless songs and dances, suggestive plays, movies, and pictures, immoral books, drunkenness, etc.

God’s word commands us to maintain our bodies in purity, because our body is a member of the body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Fornicators, and all who indulge in lustful acts or imagination sin against their own bodies, they weaken the health of their body, inflict illness upon it and impair its spiritual capability, especially imagination and memory.

The Eighth Commandment of the Law of God.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

There are many forms of stealing:

  • Theft, to steal someone else’s property.
  • Robbery, taking someone else’s property by force.
  • Sacrilege, to misuse that which belongs to the Church.
  • Extortion, or bribery, to unlawfully accept gifts from people for goods or services which are supposed to be rendered free of charge.
  • Parasitism, to accept renumeration or payment for services which are supposed to be rendered and then fail to do the work.
  • Usury, to charge an exorbitant rate of interest on a loan.
  • Fraud, to appropriate someone else’s property by cunning. For example, to avoid paying debts, to embezzle funds without regard for the proprietor’s things or money, to cheat in measuring or deceive in weighing for a sale; to hold back the wages of a hired worker; to take a sum of money for some needy person, and then keep it for something else, and so on. Also, children deceive when they are lazy students, while at the same time their parents and society pay for their education, and teachers expend labor on their behalf.

Forbidding every form of taking property of a neighbor, this commandment instructs us to be unmercenary, honest, industrious, merciful and truthful. In order to avoid sin against this commandment, one must love one’s neighbor as much as oneself, and not do anything to him that he would not like to have done to himself.

The highest virtue inspired by the eighth commandment is complete poverty, renunciation of all property. But God does not obligate everyone to this virtue. He proposes it only to those who wish to attain high moral perfection. If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven (Matt. 19:21).

Many spiritual heroes have followed the advice of this Gospel passage: St. Anthony the Great, St. Paul of Thebes, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, and many others.

The Ninth Commandment of the Law of God.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

The ninth commandment of the Lord God forbids us to speak falsehoods about our neighbor, and in general forbids all lies. For example:

  • Perjury in court.
  • False complaints.
  • Gossip, slander, and defamation, which are diabolical acts since the word "devil" means libeler, slanderer, defamer.

Repugnant to Christians are even those little white lies which are not intended to cause harm to a neighbor. Lying is not becoming to the calling of a Christian and not in harmony with love and consideration for one’s neighbor. The Apostle Paul says, Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another (Eph. 4:25).

It is never appropriate to blame or judge others, if we have not been specifically required to do so because of the responsibility of our position or duty. Judge not that ye be not judged, says the Saviour.

It is necessary to keep in mind that judging, reproach, and mockery will not reform a neighbor; only love, tolerance, and good harmony will. It is also necessary to always bear in mind that each of us has many weaknesses and faults.

One must always keep a restraint on his tongue. One must speak only the truth and curb oneself from disparaging remarks and idle chatter. Speech is a gift of God. Jesus Christ said, But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matt. 12:36-37).

The Tenth Commandment of the Law of God.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, nor his land, nor his manservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

The tenth commandment of the Lord God forbids not only doing something bad to someone near us, but also forbids even bad desires and thoughts in connection with them.

The sin against this commandment is called envy. A person who is envious, who entertains the idea of wanting something that belongs to someone else, can pass from the desire to the evil deed.

But beyond this, envy in itself can defile the soul, rendering it impure before God, as it is stated in the Word of God, The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 15:26, Wis. of Sol. 2:25).

One of the main tasks of true Christianity is to cleanse one’s soul of all impurity, in accordance with the admonition of the Apostle, Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1).

In order to avoid sin against the tenth commandment, it is necessary to maintain a pure heart, free of any earthly attachment, free of all wicked thoughts and desires, and to be satisfied with that which one has, to thank God for it, never to desire anything that is anyone else’s, but to rejoice for others in what they have.

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