For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q80


This catechism question has a lot to consider. So, we’ll dispense with the opening comments and get right to the topic at hand. Let us remember to do our study prayerfully, that the Lord might make these things real to us in our daily walk with him and with one another.
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WSC Q80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A.   The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition[a], with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his[b].
[a]   Ps. 34:1; Phil. 4:11; I Tim. 6:6; Heb. 13:5
[b]  Luke 15:6, 9, 11-32; Rom. 12:15; Phil. 2:4
Question 80 asks what the tenth commandment requires, and answers that the tenth commandment requires us to be completely satisfied with our own status in life and to have a proper; loving attitude toward others and their possessions.
Comments and considerations:
As we commence our consideration of what is required is this 10th commandment, look for a moment at how the answer has been paraphrased above: the tenth commandment requires us to be completely satisfied with our own status in life and to have a proper, loving attitude toward others and their possessions. We could spend a lot of time ruminating on what that means to possess “full contentment.” But “completely satisfied” captures the idea and gives us pause, since it’s clear that human nature is given over to sinful self-centeredness that is rarely satisfied. As we observed in the previous study, there resides a war within that keeps us from knowing contentment as God would have it, contentment which is truly satisfied with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.
The verses our fathers linked to this catechism answer are instructive, like pearls of wisdom strung together to adorn our thinking in the right path of understanding and doing:
Ps. 34:1 says, “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” But how is that possible when we know we go through difficulties and wants? The context of the verse does not ignore this fact: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (vs. 19). “The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing” (vs. 10).
But we struggle to know and accept these things. They must be learned over time, as Paul demonstrates:
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content” (Phil. 4:11). And “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim. 6:6).
What’s in your box? That is a question I put to the children at school one day when giving Christian Character Trait instruction on the topic of "contentment."  The root of contentment is content, like the contents of a box. So the definition of contentment is 1) “that which is inside of something or someone,” or 2) “being satisfied with one’s present circumstances,” like “the box” (circumstance) you find yourself in at any given moment! Our English word for contentment comes from both forms of a verb meaning: “to hold together, bind, limit, enclose, surround.” When we think of contentment, we sometimes think of not having a thing; but true contentment fosters real appreciation for what we already have rather than the anxious pursuit of what we do not possess. Here is where we find our true treasure of contentment—not what we seek, but in what we already have; especially what we already have in the Lord! See again what our fathers recorded for our instruction from the list of verses above:
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).    
You see, we are his redeemed, and he rejoices over us! Read and consider carefully Luke 15:6, 9. Then read and consider carefully Luke 15:11-32, that timeless narrative of the Prodigal Son. Here we see one who pursued his own advancement, but eventually came to find true contentment in the embrace of a father’s love that money could not buy; it was something he possessed from birth but needed to learn to appreciate and enjoy forever (WSC Q1). “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all. …The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned” (Ps. 34:18-19, 22).
The sad part of the Prodigal narrative is that the older brother, though he possessed all, was discontent and could not “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). We hope that lesson was eventually learned by that older brother, as we pray it will be for us as true followers and imitators of Christ, who looked out “not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).  May we be, as Christ was, full of contentment in keeping the first and second tables of the law. Only then will we be able to say from Ps. 34 once again, “My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps. 34:2-3).    
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.        Read I Tim. 6:6-7. How ought we to regard our status in life? How easy is this? What things can we point to that define or make up our status and position?
2.        Read Gen. 32:10. In the context of what Jacob is saying, how does he view the merits of what he received at the hand of God?
3.        Through our studies in the Shorter Catechism we have learned that God is provident over all our circumstances. For his own glory and purpose, he has made us who we are, where and when we are, and provided us with what we have or don’t have (WSC Q7 & Q11). Job had many good things, and then lost them all. How did Job understand and react to his situation in Job 1:21?
4.        Not everything that happens to us is good, but what do Ps. 119:75 and Rom. 8:28 teach us about this?
5.        We often think things will bring us happiness, and that having more things will make us happier. We know this is an illusion. What did Jesus encounter, and what did he teach out of that encounter in Luke 12:13-21?
6.        We sometimes see the ungodly prosper while God’s people suffer. It is good to meditate upon Ps. 73 when considering this apparent injustice. Especially compare verses 2-4 & 12, with 23-26. What does it mean in verse 26 when it says (NKJV), “God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever”? What does the word portion mean? (Look it up in a dictionary.)
7.        When we find ourselves coveting, it is because we are focusing our attention, desires, and energies towards ourselves. But what ought to be the focus of the attention, desires, and energies as disciples of Christ? See Rom. 12: 9-16.
Harmony of the Standards: WSC Q80 and WLC 147
WSC Q80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A.  The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition[a], with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his[b].
[a]   Ps. 34:1; Phil. 4:11; ITim. 6:6; Heb. 13:5
[b]   Luke 15:6, 9, 11-32; Rom. 12:15; Phil. 2:4
WLC Q147. What are the duties required in the tenth commandment?
A.  The duties required in the tenth commandment are, such a full contentment with our own condition[a], and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbour, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his[b].
             [a]   Heb. 13:5; 1Tim. 6:6
             [b]   Job 31:29; Rom. 12:15; Ps. 122:7-9; 1Tim. 1:5; Esth. 10:3; 1Cor. 13:4-7
Question(s) for further study:
What is the difference between the Larger and the Shorter Catechism in what is asked and answered?  What might our father’s have purposed to teach us by this; what implications and lessons can be drawn from this? 

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