Summary: Expositional look at the ten commandments
Exodus 20:1-3 “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
So, why do we study the Ten Commandments? I mean, are they even relevant anymore since we live in the age of grace? Some say ‘no’ we’re no longer under law and if we’re subject to these or any other commandments from the Old Testament then we’re no longer under grace.
And then there are others who just say ‘no’ to the Ten Commandments because they react against rules in general. I remember when the seatbelt laws came into effect; people had all kinds of excuses for why they weren’t going to wear one. Some said they felt constrained and some were afraid they’d have an accident because they thought the strap would somehow stop them from driving safely and others just said, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.” I remember one of my friends said, “He wasn’t wearing one and that was that.” And then a few weeks later he drove up and he had his seatbelt on. I asked why and he said, “A really nice police officer gave me a ticket for not wearing one and I found out real quick that it was quite comfortable and easy to use.”
Just as we’re not saved by keeping the commandments we’re certainly not going to gain anything by ignoring them. So, it’s not a matter of salvation but it’s a practical matter of God’s direction in our lives.
So, how are the commandments useful today? First, they describe for us the personality of God and they also tell us what He expects from each of us. I mean, these commandments provide a formula for holiness and they teach us how we are to demonstrate our love for Him because as Romans 5:8 says, “He first loved us.” And they also show us how to honor Him and as Matthew 6:33 tells us, “When we put Him first then all things are added to us” and here we have the promise that He’ll provide us with everything we need. And these commandments also teach us we are to be like Him because He doesn’t do any of the things He tells us not to do.
And then second, they also demonstrate God’s love because He wants to communicate with us through His word.
And then third, these commandments work as a searchlight by exposing our sin and driving us to God for mercy. Dr. Sydney Sharman is a psychiatrist and not a professing Christian, but he wrote a book called, “The ten commandments and you” and he’s been able to help many patients; not by probing their subconscious but by confronting their conscious minds with the principles and standards of the Ten Commandments. He calls the Ten Commandments, “a recipe for mental health.”
So, these commandments tell us about God, they show us His love and they act as a searchlight by exposing our sin and finally they also play the part of what the scripture calls, ‘a schoolmaster in guiding us to Christ.’ And they do this by pointing out the love of God in creation, His holiness as it’s revealed in the word, His moral standards for mankind and His mercy; because the Old Testament law both gives us the bad news about our condition but it also prepares our heart for the gospel which is the good news.
So, as we focus on the first of the Ten Commandments; there are three questions I want to ask and hopefully answer about God. And the first one is, “Who is God?” The second is, “What did God do?” And then the third, “What does God command or want from each and every one of us?”
So, let’s begin with the question, “Who is God?” And that’s a good question but you would be amazed if you asked people by the answers you’d get. Madeline Murray O’Hare the famous atheist used to say, "God is nobody." And she’d say that all the little children that kneel by their beds in simple faith to pray are wasting their time. She’ll tell those who were sick and call on divine power for healing to save their breath. She’d tell those with needs who ask for help their wasting their time; because as far as she’s concerned, there’s no God to hear and no one cares. And if you asked her where everything came from she tell you the equation on which the universe is built; is nobody times nothing equals everything.
Then the deist comes along and he’s someone who believes in God but God isn’t personal or involved and this guy says, "Oh yes, there is a cosmic force but he couldn’t care less about you and I because He just put the whole thing together and now he’s letting it run and He’s gone off to do something else.” You see, his view of God is that He doesn’t care and He’s waiting for the whole thing to wind down.