Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ,
The study material that the friendship class have used the second half of the year is called Living God’s Way. And the material works through the Ten Commandments. So the implication is that to live God’s way is to keep the Ten Commandments. And while some of you will be thinking, Duh! That’s pretty obvious! not everyone agrees that we must obey the Ten Commandments. One example is Pastor Andy Stanley. Andy Stanley is the son of Charles Stanley, the TV preacher. He is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, which has six campuses and over 32,000 attendees each week. He has just written a book called ‘Invincible’ that is about the NEW of the New Testament. And the book’s main thrust is that modern Christianity relies too much on the OT. And this, says Andy Stanley, is why Christianity has lost its mojo. And one of the OT things that Andy Stanley takes aim at is the Ten Commandments. He says to NT believers, and I quote, “The Ten Commandments have no authority over you. None. To be clear: Thou shalt not obey the Ten Commandments.” And Andy Stanley is not alone in this view. Many websites answer the question about whether the Ten Commandments are binding on us today with a resounding No!
So, today we want to spend a bit of time thinking about the Ten Commandments. We will begin with some general comments about the Ten Commandments. We will then look at each commandment and an example from Scripture of how each Commandment was broken or kept. And then, lastly, we will consider the three ways that the Ten Commandments function today and especially how they bring us to Jesus.
- So, let’s begin with some general comments about the Ten Commandments:
- They were originally given by God to the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land. God commanded Moses to make two tablets of stone. He then wrote the commandments on the tablets with His own finger. But do you boys and girls remember what happened to those first tablets? When Moses brought them down the mountain, he found the people worshipping a golden calf, and “he threw the tablets out of his hands and broken them at the foot of the mountain.” So then God told Moses to cut two new tablets and He wrote the words the commandments on the tablets with His finger, again. And those tablets were eventually put into the Ark of the Covenant and stored in the Holy of Holies. So all of this already makes it clear that the Ten Commandments are extremely special.
- But when you think abut it, the laws found in the Ten Commandments did not begin at Mt. Sinai. Already, at Creation, we see that God established the pattern of six days work and one day of rest. We also see marriage, which is to be lifelong and between one man and one woman. And soon after that we learn from Cain and Abel that murder is bad. And then from Abraham and Jacob that lying is bad. So the Ten Commandments collect these important moral laws and they become part of the written Word of God.
- And when Jesus came to earth, we learn that He kept the Ten Commandments. And he had to do this in order to be an acceptable Saviour; He had to do what we cannot do. And listen to what He said about them in Matthew 5:17-19; He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Well, that’s not good news for Andy Stanley, is it!
- We also find that the Commandments are quoted or restated or applied in the NT, with the resurrection of Jesus becoming the reason why NT worship changes from Saturday to Sunday in relation to the fourth commandment.
- And then there are these very plain words of Jesus in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And even in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
- And just in case anyone suggests that the commandments Jesus taught are different from the Ten Commandments, have you ever heard anyone talk about the two tables of the Law?
- The term comes in part from the fact that God told Moses to chisel out two tablets of stone. In the KJV, they are called tables of stone.
- But you will remember also that when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He said Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself, “on these two commandments hang the whole law and prophets.” So this was Jesus’ summary of the law.
- And putting all this together, it is commonly believed that God wrote the first four commandments – the ones that are mainly about love for Him – on one tablet or table, and the last six commandments – the ones that are mainly about love for neighbour – on the other tablet or table.
- The main point though is that if we want to know how to love God and our neighbour, then look at the 10 Commandments, and if you want to know what the Ten Commandments are all about, then look at the summary of the Law!
- So the commandments of Jesus are the Ten Commandments.
- Well, let’s look now at each commandment and consider a biblical example of how they were broken or kept. And I will use the simplified version of each commandment that the Friendship class has been using and the examples they have looked at in class.
First – Do not have any gods except the One true God; trust God alone.
In Judges we have the account of Gideon – In Gideon’s time, Israel was oppressed by Midian because they were worshipping the gods of the Amorites – Baal and Asherah. And we worship idols when we put self or money before God.
Second – Do not make images of God or worship Him with them; worship God the right way.
Earlier I mentioned the time when the people of Israel worshipped the golden calf. They made this calf to represent God. So they were not worshipping another God but they were worshipping God the wrong way. And we would be worshipping the wrong way if we tried to make a picture of God or we worshipped a statue of God or if we worship Him in any way that He has not commanded.
Third – Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God; speak with respect about God.
When Job had lost all his children and his possessions, his wife blamed God for this and she told Job to curse God and die. What a wicked thing for her to say. But Job refused to do this! And we too must never use God’s name lightly or carelessly. Instead, we should use our voices to praise God and tell others about the Lord Jesus!
Fourth – Remember to set aside a day to honour God; take time to be with God and His people.
In the book of Nehemiah, we read about a time when Ezra gathered all the people to worship. He told them that the day was holy to the Lord. And He read to them from the book of the law and he explained it to them. Now, in OT times, the day of rest was Saturday. But because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, that is the day when we rest from our ordinary work so that we can gather instead for worship and fellowship.
Fifth – Honour your father and your mother; respect those in authority.
The fascinating story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi was telling Ruth to go back to her homeland. But Ruth would not because she wanted to honour Naomi by staying with her to care for her as part of how she wanted to honour the God of Naomi. And we too must obey our parents and the laws of the land and the elders in the church. We are to respect those in authority.
Sixth – Do not murder people; treat people as you want them to treat you.
In 2 Kings 6 we read about Elisha and soldiers of Syria. They had been sent to kill Elisha. But God blinded them so Elisha could lead them into the city of Samaria. Well, when they got their sight back, they saw that they were surrounded and they were terrified! And the King of Israel wanted to kill them all. But Elisha said, No, prepare a feast for them, let them eat and drink, and then send them home. And that is what happened. And we too must not kill people or lose our temper with them or call them names because we hate them. Instead, we are to treat people as we want them to treat us and to love our enemies.
Seventh – Do not have sexually impure thoughts and actions; remember, our bodies are gifts from God.
King David spied bathing Bethsheba and he lusted after her and then committed adultery with her. And Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He also said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Eighth – Do not steal; share with others.
Zaccheaus was a tax-collector who took more tax than he should have. But when he came to know Jesus, He gave back four times as much as he had stolen! Not right to steal money or food or to illegally download movies. We must share.
Ninth – Do not tell lies about others; speak the truth in love.
King Ahab wanted a vineyard that belonged to Naboth. So he asked Naboth but Naboth said no, he could not sell it because it was his family inheritance from the Lord. Well, King Ahab was very upset! But his wife, Jezebel, arranged for men to tell lies about Naboth so that he was unjustly executed and then Ahab could have the vineyard. We must not tell lies. We should love to tell the truth!
Tenth – Do not be jealous of anything that belongs to others; be content no matter what happens.
In Genesis we read about Sarah and Hagar. What a story! God had promised Sarah a child. But time went by and no child. And Sarah was not content. So she convinced her husband to sleep with Hagar as his wife. Then Hagar had a baby. And Hagar was all nah nah to Sarah and Sarah was very jealous of Hagar. So Sarah sent Hagar and her child away. And this is the kind of pain and bad behaviour that happens when we are not content with what we have from God and we want what belongs to others.
- So there you have the Ten Commandments and biblical examples of them being broken or kept. What we want to think about lastly is the three ways that the Ten Commandments function today and especially how they bring us to Jesus.
- God has given us the Ten Commandments as a mirror.
What do you see when you hold up a mirror? Your reflection. Well, when we hold up the law up to ourselves, the reflection is not very pretty. Earlier in the service, we recited Jesus’ summary of God’s law. The next question asked, “Can you live up to all this perfectly?” And do you remember our answer? “No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbour.” And that is the truth, isn’t it congregation. A paraphrase of Romans 3:20 says, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” And the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. We deserve eternal condemnation in hell.
But God hasn’t just given us the Law; He has also given us the gospel! And the Gospel tells us that Jesus came “to save His people from their sins.” It tells us that Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” And it tells us, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So like a kind of mirror, the Ten Commandments show us our sin that we might seek Jesus as our Saviour.
- The Ten Commandment also restrain evil.
What do you think would happen if the government announced tomorrow that there are no more road rules and no more fines or penalties. Speed – WOF – giveway – side of road… Do you think the roads would become safer or more dangerous? The fact is that road rules make for safer roads. And in the same way, the Ten Commandments make for a safer and happier society. We need rules and we need the threat of punishment to keep each person from doing what seems right in his or her eyes. And because God created the world, it is His law that we should follow. So the Ten Commandments are given to restrain evil.
- And thirdly and lastly, the Ten Commandments are a guide for Christian living.
The law as a restraint of evil applies to absolutely everyone. But what we are talking about now is for believers. One of the verses we looked at as a general comment about the Ten Commandments was John 14:15. There Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” You see, the believer is an adopted child of God. And the believer is so thankful for their adoption in Christ, he or she wants to know how to please our Father in heaven. So the law becomes our school of love and thankfulness and righteousness. We study the law of God so that we might learn what pleases God and what offends Him. And in this way the Ten Commandments are a guide for Christian living.
So congregation, contrary to what Andy Stanley says, The Ten Commandments do have authority over you. Thou shalt obey the Ten Commandments. As believers, we have been set free from the curse of the law, but not from our duty to obey them. We are saved by faith in Christ alone, but we are saved that we might obey God’s law because we love Christ and because we are thankful to God.
And all God’s people said? Amen.