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Summary: All of us have broken the 10 commandments in our lives. In fact the NT says that they were given so that I would realize that I am a sinner in need of a Saviour. Boundaries aren’t enough.

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Exodus 20 - Boundaries and Freedom

I remember stealing a bag of lollies from a shopping centre as a kid. I would have done it again and again, except the guilt of that act stayed with me for years. I regretted being so dishonest. All of us have broken the 10 commandments in our lives. In fact the NT says that they were given so that I would realize that I am a sinner in need of a Saviour.

Exodus 20 is a very familiar part of our Bibles. In this passage of Scripture we have the 10 commandments. God spells out how Israel is to live in relationship with Him and eachother - no other gods, no idols, no speaking the Lord’s Name in vain, keep the Sabbath, honour parents, no murder, no adultery, no stealing, no lying and no coveting. The people stand in awe of God at Sinai. They are also given guidelines for sacrifices and making altars - no idols, no cut stones and no steps.

In a generation where positive thinking is encouraged, this set of laws seems at first glance to be very negative. But think about it. God spells out what He doesn’t want. He makes it clear. It seems to me this gives Israel an incredible amount of freedom to do anything else. If it had been the other way around and God had spelled out what He does want, we would have a very narrow set of rules for living - walk only on this line and that’s it - this is how to live and nothing else. Instead, God provides the boundaries and gives us a whole field of other options from which we can choose - don’t walk past this line, but you can go everywhere else.

Taking these laws and the spirit of these laws gives us freedom to live. They also show us just how holy God is and how sinful man is. We need a Saviour. Each of them is repeated in the New Testament as God’s standards for living. The first 4 deal with our relationship with God and the last 6 deal with our relationship with others. Our basic theological beliefs are found here - true worship of God and family relationships - honour, marriage, property, and truth are all covered. Love God and love others - Jesus said that about wraps it all up.

When Israel inevitably disobeyed the laws, they went to the altar to make sacrifices. He has made provision for believers through the Cross. A sacrifice was made once and for all. Our love for God doesn’t mean we will be sinless, but we will sin less. The emphasis is not on keeping the law but on loving God, and because of Christ and because of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, we are able to live in a way that pleases God. Because of Christ and His death, we can walk in forgiveness. Because of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives we can walk in truth.

God bless you Church as you draw near to God, not in fear but in freedom, and express your love for Him and your trust in Christ as your Lord and Saviour today.


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