SBC Philippi 11/28/04 pm
Rev. Jeff Simms
The Ten Commandments
Primary Purpose: To examine the ten commandments and what the basis for them is.
About one year ago, there was a lot made about a two ton monument of a Bible that had on it the ten commandments. Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama allowed it to be placed there only to have a higher court remove it and to remove him as well for not honoring their authority. Not only has the ten commandments been removed from court rooms, but from schools. We have removed prayer and the ten commandments from our schools, told the children they came from apes and then we are surprised when they act like apes. The ten commandments are God’s Word to us about how we are to behave and honor each other. Sadly, there seems to be very little difference in the behavior between those who call themselves Christians and those who don’t today.
“Addressing a national seminar of Southern Baptist leaders, George Gallup said, "We find there is very little difference in ethical behavior between churchgoers and those who are not active religiously...The levels of lying, cheating, and stealing are remarkable similar in both groups. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves Christians, Gallup said, yet only about half of them could identify the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount, and fewer still could recall five of the Ten Commandments. Only two in ten said they would be willing to suffer for their faith.”
Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 76.
(Read Exodus 20:1-17)
First, when we look at these commands we should recognize what the basis for the commandments themselves is. I would suggest to you that it is two things. First, the person of God Himself. In the first two verses we see the word God used which is the word Elohiym (el-o-heem) which stresses the role of God in creation. Then we see the word Lord used in verse 2 which is the word Jehovah which stresses his power, his eternal nature, his existence. God proclaims this word because he has the right to rule based on the fact that He is creator and sustainer of all creation. In John 1:3 it is said this way, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Then again in Col 1:16-17 it says, “For by him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created by Him and for Him.” So, the basis for these commands is God’s person. He has a right to set the rules and command us to follow.
God says an interesting thing about Himself in verse 5. He calls Himself a jealous (kaw-naw’) God. Don’t you find that unusual? We don’t normally think of jealousy as a good thing. But what is God jealous of. This statement is linked to not worshipping other things besides Him. This can be anything that we have placed in a place of importance that hinders or is above our relationship with God. God jealousy desires a strong relationship with you. When you put other things first His holy nature is offended that we have placed an idol in our hearts. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says that if anyone wishes to follow Him then he is to hate his own father, mother, sister, brother, children and wife and even his own life. If he doesn’t then he cannot be his disciple. The idea isn’t hating other people, but rather that our love for others would love like hate in comparison to our love for God. It is to be that much of a priority.
The second thing is absolute truth. Our society seems to believe there is no absolutes anymore. But, the commands of God clearly say otherwise. They are absolute because God and His standards are absolute. They cannot change simply because of public opinion. There is a manual out by psychologist called the DSM manual. There are different versions that have come out, but if you notice homosexual behavior was once in the manual before 1970. It was removed because so many people were engaging in that behavior. Before it was considered a sign of mental illness or depravity. Where the DSM changes, God’s Word doesn’t change. It calls sin a sin based on God’s holy nature and His holy word.
I would suggest to you that then there are two foundational principles that these commands are under. One is the principle of relationships. The other is the principle of priorities. I say relationships because all of these commands are related to a relationship with either God or others. The first 4 commands have to do with our relationship with God and our worship of Him. The second have to do with our relationship with others. So, loving relationships are the key to understanding the commands of God. That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-39 that to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind is the most important commandment of all. The second is “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” For if you are truly doing these things then you are fulfilling all of the ten commandments. We should obey what Paul says in Ephesians 5:2 “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
The second principle is the principle of priorities. What I mean by that is that these commands first deal with our relationship with God because by getting my priorities right with God and having a right relationship with Him allows me to have a right relationship with others. The two are links together and cannot be separated. This is what John meant in 1 John 4:7-8 when he said, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. So, then the true evidence that I really know God must show itself in relationships with others. If I am cold or unconcerned about others then how can I say I love God. The Bible calls me a liar. How can I murder or steal or commit adultery or covet if I really love the person I am hurting.
Do you really love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength? I have said that the test of this is our relationship with others. If you said “yes” to this question how does that demonstrate itself in the way you treat other people. Do you really love your neighbor as yourself? How can you demonstrate that love this week?