XV. — At First God Deemed it Sufficient to Inscribe the Natural Law, or the Decalogue, upon the Hearts of Men; but Afterwards He Found it Necessary to Bridle, with the Yoke of the Mosaic Law, the Desires of the Jews, Who Were Abusing Their Liberty; and Even to Add Some Special Commands, Because of the Hardness of Their Hearts.

Immortality comes through obedience to the commandments of Yahweh. The first set of commandments the Israelite’s disobeyed, and their hearts went back to Egypt, so he gave them according to their heart the burden of the letter to discipline them to salvation. Salvation comes from the obedience of the commandments.

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  1. They (the Jews) had therefore a law, a course of discipline, and a prophecy of future things. For God at the first, indeed, warning them by means of natural precepts, which from the beginning He had implanted in mankind, that is, by means of the Decalogue1 (which, if any one does not observe, he has no salvation), did then demand nothing more of them. As Moses says in Deuteronomy, “These are all the words which the Lord spoke to the whole assembly of the sons of Israel on the mount, and He added no more; and He wrote them on two tables of stone, and gave them to me.” (Deu_5:22) For this reason [He did so], that they who are willing to follow Him might keep these commandments. But when they turned themselves to make a calf, and had gone back in their minds to Egypt, desiring to be slaves instead of free-men, they were placed for the future in a state of servitude suited to their wish, — [a slavery] which did not indeed cut them off from God, but subjected them to the yoke of bondage; as Ezekiel the prophet, when stating the reasons for the giving of such a law, declares: “And their eyes were after the desire of their heart; and I gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments in which they shall not live.” (Eze_20:24) Luke also has recorded that Stephen, who was the first elected into the diaconate by the apostles, and who was the first slain for the testimony of Christ, spoke regarding Moses as follows: “This man did indeed receive the commandments of the living God to give to us, whom your fathers would not obey, but thrust [Him from them], and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us; for we do not know what has happened to [this] Moses, who led us from the land of Egypt. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifices to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their own hands. But God turned, and gave them up to worship the hosts of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets: (Amo_5:25, Amo_5:26) O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to Me sacrifices and oblations for forty years in the wilderness? And ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of the god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them;” (Act_7:38, etc.) pointing out plainly, that the law being such, was not given to them by another God, but that, adapted to their condition of servitude, [it originated] from the very same [God as we worship]. Wherefore also He says to Moses in Exodus: “I will send forth My angel before thee; for I will not go up with thee, because thou art a stiff-necked people.” (Exo_33:2, Exo_33:3)

 

  1. And not only so, but the Lord also showed that certain precepts were enacted for them by Moses, on account of their hardness [of heart], and because of their unwillingness to be obedient, when, on their saying to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a writing of divorcement, and to send away a wife?” He said to them, Because of the hardness of your hearts he permitted these things to you; but from the beginning it was not so;” (Mat_19:7, Mat_19:8) thus exculpating Moses as a faithful servant, but acknowledging one God, who from the beginning made male and female, and reproving them as hard-hearted and disobedient. And therefore it was that they received from Moses this law of divorcement, adapted to their hard nature. But why say I these things concerning the Old Testament? For in the New also are the apostles found doing this very thing, on the ground which has been mentioned, Paul plainly declaring, but these things I say, not the Lord.” (1Co_7:12) And again: But this I speak by permission, not by commandment.” (1Co_7:6) And again: “Now, as concerning virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.” (1Co_7:25) But further, in another place he says: “That Satan tempt you not for your incontinence.” (1Co_7:5) If, therefore, even in the New Testament, the apostles are found granting certain precepts in consideration of human infirmity, because of the incontinence of some, lest such persons, having grown obdurate, and despairing altogether of their salvation, should become apostates from God, — it ought not to be wondered at, if also in the Old Testament the same God permitted similar indulgences for the benefit of His people, drawing them on by means of the ordinances already mentioned, so that they might obtain the gift of salvation through them, while they obeyed the Decalogue, and being restrained by Him, should not revert to idolatry, nor apostatize from God, but learn to love Him with the whole heart. And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver (doctor) of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that “many are called, but few chosen;” (Mat_20:5) and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world (foris); and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged (condemned) because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who have obeyed and believed on Him should be honored with immortality.

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book IV Vol. 1

Love and the Kiss of Charity

To greet each other with a holy kiss is mystical, it’s not a physical kiss. Our expression of love towards each other and showing our love to God is by keeping His commandments. By teaching other, the commandments, we are greeting each other with a holy kiss. An unholy kiss would be poisonous (as Jesus said beware of the venom of the Pharisees).

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And if we are called to the kingdom of God, let us walk worthy of the kingdom, loving God and our neighbor. But love is not proved by a kiss, but by kindly feeling. But there are those that do nothing but make the churches resound with a kiss, not having love itself within. For this very thing, the shameless use of a kiss, which ought to be mystic, occasions foul suspicions and evil reports. The apostle calls the kiss holy (Rom_16:16).

When the kingdom is worthily tested, we dispense the affection of the soul by a chaste and closed mouth, by which chiefly gentle manners are expressed.

But there is another unholy kiss, full of poison, counterfeiting sanctity. Do you not know that spiders, merely by touching the mouth, afflict men with pain? And often kisses inject the poison of licentiousness. It is then very manifest to us, that a kiss is not love. For the love meant is the love of God. “And this is the love of God,” says John, “that we keep His commandments;” (1Jo_5:3) not that we stroke each other on the mouth. “And His commandments are not grievous.” But salutations of beloved ones in the ways, full as they are of foolish boldness, are characteristic of those who wish to be conspicuous to those without, and have not the least particle of grace. For if it is proper mystically “in the closet” to pray to God, it will follow that we are also to greet mystically our neighbor, whom we are commanded to love second similarly to God, within doors, “redeeming the time.” “For we are the salt of the earth.” (Mat_5:13) “Whosoever shall bless his friend early in the, morning with a loud voice, shall be regarded not to differ from cursing.” (Pro_27:14)

~Clement- Instructor Book III Vol.

Commandment Twelfth. — On the Twofold Desire. The Commandments of God Can Be Kept, and Believers Ought Not to Fear the Devil.

By clothing ourselves with the fear of the Lord it will clothe us with a righteous desire and will be armoring to protect us from every evil inclination. We are able to easily walk out the commandments if we have it in our mind that they can be kept by us. If we neglect them we will not be saved.

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Chap. I.

He says to me, Put away from you all wicked desire, and clothe yourself with good and chaste desire; for clothed with this desire you will hate wicked desire and will rein yourself in even as you wish. For wicked desire is wild, and is with difficulty tamed. For it is terrible, and consumes men exceedingly by its wildness. Especially is the servant of God terribly consumed by it, if he falls into it and is devoid of understanding. Moreover, it consumes all such as have not on them the garment of good desire, but are entangled and mixed up with this world. These it delivers up to death. “What then, sir,” say I, “are the deeds of wicked desire which deliver men over to death? Make them known to me, and I will refrain from them.” “Listen, then, to the works in which evil desire slays the servants of God.”

 

Chap. II.

 

Foremost of all is the desire after anothers wife or husband, and after extravagance, and many useless dainties and drinks, and many other foolish luxuries; for all luxury is foolish and empty in the servants of God. These, then, are the evil desires which slay the servants of God. For this evil desire is the daughter of the devil. You must refrain from evil desires, that by refraining ye may live to God. But as many as are mastered by them, and do not resist them, will perish at last, for these desires are fatal. Put you on, then, the desire of righteousness; and arming yourself with the fear of the Lord, resist them. For the fear of the Lord dwells in good desire. But if evil desire sees you armed with the fear of God, and resisting it, it will flee far from you, and it will no longer appear to you, for it fears your armor. Go, then, garlanded with the crown which you have gained for victory over it, to the desire of righteousness, and, delivering up to it the prize which you have received, serve it even as it wishes. If you serve good desire, and be subject to it, you will gain the mastery over evil desire, and make it subject to you even as you wish.”

 

Chap. III.

 

I should like to how, say I, in what way I ought to serve good desire. Hear, says he: You will practice righteousness and virtue, truth and the fear of the Lord, faith and meekness, and whatsoever excellences are like to these. Practicing these, you will be a well-pleasing servant of God, and you will live to Him; and everyone who shall serve good desire, shall live to God.

 

He concluded the twelve commandments, and said to me, You have now these commandments. Walk in them, and exhort your hearers that their repentance may be pure during the remainder of their life. Fulfill carefully this ministry which I now entrust to you, and you will accomplish much. For you will find favor among those who are to repent, and they will give heed to your words; for I will be with you, and will compel them to obey you. I say to him, Sir, these commandments are great, and good, and glorious, and fitted to gladden the heart of the man who can perform them. But I do not know if these commandments can be kept by man, because they are exceeding hard.” He answered and said to me, If you lay it down as certain that they can be kept, then you will easily keep them, and they will not be hard. But if you come to imagine that they cannot be kept by man, then you will not keep them. Now I say to you, if you do not keep them, but neglect them, you will not be saved, nor your children, nor your house, since you have already determined for yourself that these commandments cannot be kept by man.”

~Hermas- The Pastor Book II Vol. 2

XVI. - Gnostic Exposition of the Decalogue.

The Decalogue, or the Ten Commandments, have a lot more depth and meaning than just a list of do’s and don’ts. They are said to contain the images of heaven and earth, and contain the power of the universe since they were written by the finger of God, which is the power of creation. The ten commandments are given to teach us how to have dominion over our carnal nature.

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Let the Decalogue be set forth cursorily by us as a specimen for gnostic exposition.

The number “ten.”

That ten is a sacred number, it is superfluous to say now. And if the tables that were written were the work of God, they will be found to exhibit physical creation. For by the “finger of God” is understood the power of God, by which the creation of heaven and earth is accomplished; of both of which the tables will be understood to be symbols. For the writing and handiwork of God put on the table is the creation of the world.

And the Decalogue, viewed as an image of heaven, embraces sun and moon, stars, clouds, light, wind, water, air, darkness, fire. This is the physical Decalogue of the heaven.

And the representation of the earth contains men, cattle, reptiles, wild beasts; and of the inhabitants of the water, fishes and whales; and again, of the winged tribes, those that are carnivorous, and those that rise mild food; and of plants likewise, both fruit-bearing and barren. This is the physical Decalogue of the earth.

And the ark which held them will then be the knowledge of divine and human things and wisdom.

And perhaps the two tables themselves may be the prophecy of the two covenants. They were accordingly mystically renewed, as ignorance along with sin abounded. The commandments are written, then, doubly, as appears, for twofold spirits, the ruling and the subject. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” (Gal_5:17)

And there is a ten in man himself: the five senses, and the power of speech, and that of reproduction; and the eighth is the spiritual principle communicated at his creation; and the ninth the ruling faculty of the soul; and tenth, there is the distinctive characteristic of the Holy Spirit, which comes to him through faith.

Besides, in addition to these ten human parts, the law appears to give its injunctions to sight, and hearing, and smell, and touch, and taste, and to the organs subservient to these, which are double – the hands and the feet. For such is the formation of man. And the soul is introduced, and previous to it the ruling faculty, by which we reason, not produced in procreation; so that without it there is made up the number ten, of the faculties by which all the activity of man is carried out. For in order, straightway on man’s entering existence, his life begins with sensations. We accordingly assert that rational and ruling power is the cause of the constitution of the living creature; also, that this, the irrational part, is animated, and is a part of it. Now the vital force, in which is comprehended the power of nutrition and growth, and generally of motion, is assigned to the carnal spirit, which has great susceptibility of motion, and passes in all directions through the senses and the rest of the body, and through the body is the primary subject of sensations. But the power of choice, in which investigation, and study, and knowledge, reside, belongs to the ruling faculty. But all the faculties are placed in relation to one – the ruling faculty: it is through that man lives, and lives in a certain way.

Through the corporeal spirit, then, man perceives, desires, rejoices, is angry, is nourished, and grows. It is by it, too, that thoughts and conceptions advance to actions. And when it masters the desires, the ruling faculty reigns.

The commandment, then, “Thou shalt not lust,” says, thou shalt not serve the carnal spirit, but shall rule over it; “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,” (Gal_5:17) and excites to disorderly conduct against nature; “and the Spirit against the flesh” exercises sway, in order that the conduct of the man may be according to nature.

Is not man, then, rightly said “to have been made in the image of God?” – not in the form of his [corporeal] structure; but inasmuch as God creates all things by the Word (λόγῳ/logos), and the man who has become a Gnostic performs good actions by the faculty of reason (τῷ λογικῷ /to logic), properly therefore the two tables are also said to mean the commandments that were given to the twofold spirits, – those communicated before the law to that which was created, and to the ruling faculty; and the movements of the senses are both copied in the mind, and manifested in the activity which proceeds from the body. For apprehension results from both combined. Again, as sensation is related to the world of sense, so is thought to that of intellect. And actions are twofold – those of thought, those of act.

~Clement- Stromata Book VI Vol. 2

XVI. — Perfect Righteousness Was Conferred Neither by Circumcision nor by Any Other Legal Ceremonies. The Decalogue, However, Was Not Cancelled by Christ, but Is Always in Force: Men Were Never Released from Its Commandments.

Righteousness comes from walking the commandments in the Spirit. Examples of how Enoch, Abraham and Noah were all righteous men before Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai. The righteousness of the Torah was written in their hearts. The Ten Commandments is the means by which we become the friends of Yah. There is no other way to come into the glory of God outside of the preparation for that life with the commandments.  By receiving the power of liberty we will be tested at a higher level to see if we revere, love, and fear the Lord.

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  1. Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognizable. For it declares: “God said unto Abraham, every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you.” (Gen_7:9-11) This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” (Eze_20:12) And in Exodus, God says to Moses: “And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations.” (Exo_21:13) These things, then, were given for a sign; but the signs were not unsymbolic, that is, neither unmeaning nor to no purpose, inasmuch as they were given by a wise Artist; but the circumcision after the flesh typified that after the Spirit. For “we,” says the apostle, “have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands.” (Col_2:11) And the prophet declares, “Circumcise the hardness of your heart.” (Deu_10:16, LXX. version) But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. “For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;” (Rom_8:36) that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. (Mat_6:19) Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.

 

  1. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows, — that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” (Jas_2:23) Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The Lord thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The Lord formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you.” (Deu_5:2)

 

  1. Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men.” (1Ti_1:9) But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls, that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbour. There was therefore no occasion that they should be cautioned by prohibitory mandates (correptoriis literis), because they had the righteousness of the law in themselves. But when this righteousness and love to God had passed into oblivion, and became extinct in Egypt, God did necessarily, because of His great goodwill to men, reveal Himself by a voice, and led the people with power out of Egypt, in order that man might again become the disciple and follower of God; and He afflicted those who were disobedient, that they should not contemn their Creator; and He fed them with manna, that they might receive food for their souls (uti rationalem acciperent escam); as also Moses says in Deuteronomy: “And fed thee with manna, which thy fathers did not know, that thou might know that man doth not live by bread alone; but by every word of God proceeding out of His mouth doth man live.” (Deu_8:3) And it enjoined love to God, and taught just dealing towards our neighbor, that we should neither be unjust nor unworthy of God, who prepares man for His friendship through the medium of the Decalogue, and likewise for agreement with his neighbor, — matters which did certainly profit man himself; God, however, standing in no need of anything from man.

 

  1. And therefore does the Scripture say, “These words the Lord spoke to all the assembly of the children of Israel in the mount, and He added no more;” (Deu_5:22) for, as I have already observed, He stood in need of nothing from them. And again, Moses says: “And now Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul?” (Deu_10:12) Now these things did indeed make man glorious, by supplying what was wanting to him, namely, the friendship of God; but they profited God nothing, for God did not at all stand in need of man’s love. For the glory of God was wanting to man, which he could obtain in no other way than by serving God. And therefore Moses says to them again: “Choose life, that thou mayest live, and thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, to hear His voice, to cleave unto Him; for this is thy life, and the length of thy days.” (Deu_30:19, Deu_30:20) Preparing man for this life, the Lord Himself did speak in His own person to all alike the words of the Decalogue; and therefore, in like manner, do they remain permanently with us, receiving by means of His advent in the flesh, extension and increase, but not abrogation.

 

  1. The laws of bondage, however, were one by one promulgated to the people by Moses, suited for their instruction or for their punishment, as Moses himself declared: “And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments.” (Deu_4:14) These things, therefore, which were given for bondage, and for a sign to them, He cancelled by the new covenant of liberty. But He has increased and widened those laws which are natural, and noble, and common to all, granting to men largely and without grudging, by means of adoption, to know God the Father, and to love Him with the whole heart, and to follow His word unswervingly, while they abstain not only from evil deeds, but even from the desire after them. But He has also increased the feeling of reverence; for sons should have more veneration than slaves, and greater love for their father. And therefore the Lord says, “As to every idle word that men have spoken, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.” (Mat_12:36) And, “he who has looked upon a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart;” (Mat_5:28) and, “he that is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment.” (Mat_5:22) [All this is declared,] that we may know that we shall give account to God not of deeds only, as slaves, but even of words and thoughts, as those who have truly received the power of liberty, in which [condition] a man is more severely tested, whether he will reverence, and fear, and love the Lord. And for this reason Peter says “that we have not liberty as a cloak of maliciousness,” (1Pe_2:16) but as the means of testing and evidencing faith.

~Irenaeus- Against Heresies Book IV Vol. 1