I want to study the ten commandments and relate how following them will solve all of the worlds problems.
A few things to note first about the commandments in general.
1. The ten commandments are preparatory laws.
The ten commandments are not the beginning nor the end of the list rules and laws, nor the ultimate way to live. Just as you first learn addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division, then algebra, geometry and calculus, there is a progression in commandments that we must follow.
Isaiah discusses this principle that we must learn one level of commandments in order to progress to another level. In chapter 28, verses 9 through 13, Isaiah shows how we must learn line upon line, and precept upon precept.
9 Whom shall he teach aknowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are bweaned from the cmilk, and drawn from the breasts.
10 For precept must be upon precept, aprecept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, aprecept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little
Isaiah teaches us here that we must learn first the easy commandments and doctrine, and when we are able to live up to those commandments, then we will receive more and greater commandments.
Nephi reminds us that we will be able to live the commandments that we receive from the Lord for, said he, “I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3: 7). When we recieve a commandment, we will be able to do it. Then we will recieve more commandments that will improve our character, enlighten our minds, lift our hearts, and build up our souls. Through living these higher laws, we become more like our Savior Jesus Christ (which happens to be another commandment, see 3 Nephi 27: 27; Matthew 5: 48; 3 Nephi 12: 48).
I would like to quote a rather lengthy excerpt of a speech given by Steven R. Covey at a BYU devotional on 27 May 1975. Here he discusses this principle of keeping commandments and receiving more commandments until we are guided by the Holy Ghost himself.
I was very interested in President Lee’s and President Kimball’s first press conference after they were made Presidents of the Church. The basic message which they gave to the world and to the Church was to keep the commandments. Keep the commandments. And, of course, if we study the messages of all of the prophets, that seems to be the burden of those messages . What would this mean in light of this subject focusing upon the role of the Spirit of Christ and the role of the Holy Ghost?
Let’s first examine the meaning of this message from the point of view of nonmembers of the Church. It seems that this message would have application for them: Keep the commandments. What are the commandments that they are familiar with? They are at least familiar with those in the Judeo-Christian tradition. They have received the Ten Commandments, and most of the laws of Western civilization are based upon those Ten Commandments. We are told in modern revelation that if people will follow the light that they have been given, it will lead them to the covenant gospel.
Let me quote from section 84 of our Doctrine and Covenants: “And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit” (D&C 84:46). The Spirit of Jesus Christ is given to every person coming into the world, and particularly it will be manifested in those who have received the laws of God given through ancient prophets, particularly the Ten Commandments. “And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father. And the Father teacheth him of the covenant” (D&C 84:4748). In other words, if people outside this Church will keep the Ten Commandments and follow their consciences, they will be led to the covenant gospel. Then when they enter into the covenant relationship with the Lord, they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. They become members of his church and kingdom. For those who then are members of the Church and kingdom, what are the commandments of the Lord? They would comprise the Ten Commandments and the basic laws of the land. The Ten Commandments would be the predicate or the foundation for those laws. Plus, they would keep the covenants they have entered into in the ordinances of the gospel, the promises they have made which would give them a more educated conscience. They are more fully aware than anyone outside the kingdom of who they are and what their mission and role in life are and who God is and the role and mission of the Savior. That is a higher understanding, and it places, therefore, a greater responsibility or burden on them. They have a more educated conscience. They are more convicted by a feeling of guilt if they violate certain covenants of which the world is not even aware.
In addition to these general commandments and these Church principles and ordinances which apply to all members of the Church, they have the Holy Ghost. If they truly receive it, the Holy Ghost will give to them personal commandments. President Lee’s and President Kimball’s counsel to “keep the commandments” is such a distillation expression, because those who are not members of the Church will receive not only the general commandments which the world has received, but also the ordinances and principles of the gospel applicable to all members of the Church and, in addition, personal commandments from the Holy Ghost, giving guidance and direction in all of the activities and the affairs of their life. Their conscience is more educated than ever. They’re educated regarding the world’s enlightenment and the Church’s basic principles and doctrines, all of which is revelation–general revelation. But they are also educated with regard to personal revelation, personal commandments regarding each individual stewardship. We have been told many times by the Brethren words to this effect, that you and I as members of the Church have the same right to personal guidance and revelation in our area of jurisdiction, our stewardship, as the President of the Church has in his stewardship.
Basically, as we keep the commandments which God has given us, the ten commandments for example, we are drawn to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We then want and are able to live more of God’s laws, even the covenants and commandments which are made in the temple. As we continue in obedience, we are brought to a third level where we are guided by the Holy Ghost who gives us guidance and counsel and commandments for our personal improvement until we obtain the goal of being “perfect even as [Christ], or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48).