Summary: Use the 10 Commandment to know God, to know yourself, and to know love.
Some time ago, A. J. Jacobs, a Jewish author, decided to spend a year putting into practice everything he read in the Bible. At the end of that year, he wrote a book, called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible.
For example, on Day 62 of his experiment Jacobs came across the command where it says adulterers should be stoned. That day, he wandered into Central Park and met a man in his mid-70’s sitting on a park bench. Jacobs tells the man, “I'm trying to live by the rules of the Bible: the Ten Commandments; stoning adulterers; etc.
“You're stoning adulterers?” the man asks.
“Yeah, Jacobs says, “I'm stoning adulterers."
“I'm an adulterer,” the man replies.
“You're currently an adulterer?” Jacobs asks.
“Yeah,” the man replies, “Tonight, tomorrow, yesterday, two weeks from now. You gonna stone me?”
“If I could, yes, that'd be great,” Jacobs replies.
To which the man says, “I'll punch you in the face. I'll send you to the cemetery.”
The man is serious. He isn't a cutesy, grumpy, old man. He is an angry, old man with seven decades of hostility behind him.
Jacobs fishes some pebbles from his back pocket and tells the man, “I wouldn't stone you with big stones, just these little guys.” He opens his palm to show the man his pebbles, and the man lunges at Jacobs. He grabs one out of Jacobs’ hand and flings it at his face. It whizzes by his cheek.
Jacobs is stunned for a second. He didn’t expect the grizzled old man to make the first move. But now there is nothing stopping Jacobs from retaliating. He figures, “An eye for an eye”, so Jacobs takes one of the remaining pebbles and whips it at the old man’s chest. It bounces off.
The man says, “I'll punch you right in the kisser.”
To which Jacobs responds, “Well, you really shouldn't commit adultery.” (J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically, Simon & Schuster, 2007, pp. 92-93; www.PreachingToday.com)
That’s very true, but that’s no way to use God’s Law. 1 Timothy 1:8 says, “Now we know that the law is good, IF one uses it lawfully.”
We’ve just finished a sermon series in the book of Galatians, which makes it very clear: every believer in Christ is free from the law, but that does not mean we’re lawless, no! There is an appropriate way for the believer to use the law, not to try and get God’s approval or to stone others with it, but to…
Well, let’s look at the law itself to see how we’re supposed to use it, because the law has some very useful purposes for the believer. In fact, it can be very beneficial if used correctly. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Exodus 20, Exodus 20, where we see the benefits of the law in the introduction to the law itself, the 10 commandments.
Exodus 20:1-20 And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (ESV)