Summary: In this message, we’ll see how we can all be guilty of breaking God’s first commandment and how breaking the commandment actually brings ruin to our lives. We’ll also learn how to live out this command and be rescued from ruin.

Have you ever wondered, “Why do I find myself in mess after mess after mess?” Several weeks ago, I shared with you that God uses troubles… to protect us.

Maybe you’re headed in a wrong direction or find yourself in a place you shouldn’t be in. God will arrange some trouble to come to remove us danger. God uses troubles to protect us and … to inspect us.

We’ve talked about this before. Imagine yourself as a pot, a glass container, a vase. Troubles come and push us over. What is on the inside ends up on the outside. What’s supposed to come out is love, joy, and peace. What often comes out is resentment, anger, and worry. God uses troubles to protect us, to inspect us, and… to correct us.

It’s this last point that we’re concerned with today. It’s a good thin to go to God and ask Him, “What’s the reason I’m facing this particular mess?” A failure to follow the first commandment fully will result in a messed up life. Here’s what God says:

… do not… walk after other gods to your own ruin…

Jeremiah 7:6

The first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before Me” If we do have other gods, then we add ruin our own lives. The Hebrew word for ruin is ra’. It’s translated in various places as distress, misery, injury, adversity. You want to insure misery and adversity for your life? Just walk after other gods! You want a messed up life? Just have the wrong god!

We don’t want to go there, do we? And God doesn’t want us to go there either. That’s why He says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Today, as we think about our lives in light of the 1st commandment, we’re going to see…

How to be rescued from ruin

Text – Exodus 20:1-3, p. 56

Series – God’s Top Ten: 10 Timeless Truths for Life

Even a casual look at current morality will lead us to see that our world is hurtling blindly down the dead-end road of moral relativism. We are witnessing the moral bankruptcy of our “free” society. We need a guide to point the way back to sanity, restoration, and life.

Tucked away in the pages of the Bible are truths that can reawaken us to the timeless absolutes of right and wrong. We call the truths the Ten Commandments. They are a guard for healthy, holy living. Just 177 words in the Hebrew OT. Just Ten commands. But who’s going to say, “God, You missed one!” Who’s going to say, “I think we ought to add an eleventh… or twelfth?”

Some people say that these commands are out-of-date and out-of-style – that we’ve left them behind. George Barna says that one out of every five adults maintain that the Ten Commandments are not relevant for people living today. The problem is not that we’ve left the Ten behind. The problem is that we haven’t caught up with them! They are still out ahead of us!

Truths about the Ten…

1. The Ten do not restrict our freedom; they restore our freedom.

Some say that the Ten Commandments are too negative and limit us. But God says, “You shall not” like a mother tells her two-year-old, “Don’t touch that stove because I want you to be free to live without being burned!” God only says “no” to anything that will steal our joy, our hope, our security, our love, our life. These are ten timeless truths for life!

Why should I learn and live the Ten? Because…

1. …of who God is. v. 2a

Our belief about God – our understanding of who He is – will determine whether we are willing to listen to what He says. That’s why He begins these ten laws for living by introducing Himself. Look at verses 1-2…

1 Then God spoke all these words, saying,

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Exodus 20:1-2

This is a preamble to the entire list of Ten Commandments. “I am” gives the foundation to the “You shall.” We cannot divorce the “I am” from the “you shall.”

We are a rebellious group. We don’t like anyone telling us what to do. But sometimes, who the person in authority is can move us to action.

The other evening, I was traveling back from Canton after taking Alan to college. I passed a police car and looked down at the speedometer to see how fast I was going. I wasn’t going too fast so I didn’t have anything to worry about. But I noticed that the police car pulled out and zoomed right behind me. He stayed on my tail for several minutes. Finally, the lights came on! I pulled over.

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