Exodus 20:13-14 The world cannot be changed by one who is lawful, but by one who loves.

Exodus 20:13-14 The world cannot be changed by one who is lawful, but by one who loves.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.


God called Israel to establish His kingdom and righteousness on the earth. The commandments are given as a foundation so that Israel may function as priests to transform humanity for good. God said to the people of Israel,

“Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” – Exodus 19:5-6

As we know it, not only did Israel fail to keep the commandments, they used it as a means to oppress others and safeguard their own interests. They had no intention to uphold morality or to function as priests to the world. Many churches today mirror the Jews of that time. These churches perceive the commandments as unimportant because they were given to Moses under the Law. They supposed that Jesus’s work at the cross has already fulfilled the commandments on their behalf. And believers of the New Covenant are no longer constrained by law but by grace. Indeed, acts of murder and adultery are not committed by one’s body, but by one’s heart. Jesus came to correct this misconception and to realign God’s people to His love and righteousness. The purpose of the commandments is not to make us lawful, but to lead us to love one another. Today’s devotion teaches us: The world cannot be changed by one who is lawful, but by one who loves.


13 “You shall not murder.

This commandment is founded on the sanctity of life, which is contained in the blood: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” – Genesis 9:6. The Hebrew word for “murder” is “rasah” which simply means to “kill”. The law requires a man who kills out of enmity, deceit or hatred to be put to death. But if a man kills unintentionally, cities of refuge are set aside for him. The commandment rejects violence and taking the law into one’s own hands.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

This commandment is directed towards maintaining the sanctity of the marriage. The Hebrew term “na-ap” means to commit adultery. It also implies to “sleep with”, and to “commit harlotry”. Ancient Israel viewed adultery with utmost seriousness. The Old Testament law requires the adulterer to be put to death (see Deuteronomy 22:22). Abimelech was terrified upon hearing that Sarah is Abraham’s wife. He accused Abraham of bringing on him and his kingdom a great sin (see Genesis 20:9). Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife, lest he sins against God (see Genesis 39:9). King David was given the death sentence for his adultery with Bathsheba.


Jesus taught on the fuller implications of the two commands in Matthew 5:21-30.

Murder and adultery are not committed by the body, but by the heart

The body always answers to the heart. The heart weighs its desires while the body carries them out. With that said, many have already committed murder and adultery in their hearts even though they did not do it. They develop the scenario in their minds short of carrying it out for fear of being punished. Jesus said concerning murder,

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. – Matthew 5:21-23

Here, Jesus equates chronic wrath and vengeance with actual murder. Full-blown hatred and unforgiveness if not dealt with, will send a man to fiery hell.

Jesus taught concerning adultery,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. – Matthew 5:27-29

Jesus equates lustful desires towards one who is not your spouse as having committed adultery. And the judgment for adultery is similar to murder, which is fiery hell. Wrath and lust are considered deadly sins of the heart if not dealt with will carry dire consequences.

The world cannot be changed by one who is lawful, but by one who loves.

One who does not break the law is considered lawful. But only the one who loves is perfect and capable of transforming the world for good. The law may restrain people from committing murder because of punishment. But it cannot remove man’s wrath and sinful inclinations. The reason why people commit murder and adultery in the first place is because there is no love in them. Therefore, Jesus came not to judge murderers and adulterers but to cause them to experience love. And through His love, sinners are transformed to become righteous and perfect. Jesus taught His disciples not to judge evil men but to love them,

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. – Luke 6:35-37

Jesus forgave the convicted criminal at the cross who showed remorse and reverence towards Him (see Luke 23:39-43). Jesus forgave a woman caught in the act of adultery (see John 8:1-10). Jesus was labelled as a friend of tax collectors and sinners (see Matthew 11:19).

How does Jesus transform sinners? By becoming an unassuming friend who is genuinely concerned for people’s wellbeing. He is not fixated on pointing out their mistakes but gives them space to know the truth in a spirit of unconditional love and acceptance.


How do you measure your spirituality? By your keeping of the law or by your love for God and others?

How do you treat those who fall under the category of “sinners and tax collectors”? Do you keep a distance, or do you accept them unconditionally?

Dear Lord, forgive me for I am not a person without anger and lust. Purify my heart by your blood and remove my darkness from me. Cause me to experience your love so that I can love others unconditionally. Use me to transform my family, my community and the nations. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

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