Summary: Duties to God and to others, a summary of God's will for us.
The Ten Commandments…a Sermon Series…Pastor Bob Leroe, D.Min...Cliftondale Congregational Church
Introduction to the Ten Commandments
Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
~Definition: The Law of God is God’s absolute, unchanging, eternal standard regulating the conduct of all people.
A. The Purpose of the Law:
1. To define our boundaries
2. To inform us of the holy nature of the Law-Giver
3. To reveal God’s will for us
4. To point us to the One who perfectly kept the demands of the Law
5. To lead people to God (and His grace)
B. The Nature of the Law:
1. The Law is perfect
2. The Law is unalterable
3. The Law is holy
C. Understanding, Interpreting & Applying the Law:
1. The 10 Commandments demand internal and external obedience
2. Both main and lesser sins must be avoided
3. Negative commands imply positive responsibilities, just as each positive command indicates a negative restriction
4. Divided into 2 sections—Duties to God (1-4) & Duties to others (5-10)
5. We cannot keep God’s commandments by our own strength
“Heavenly Father, open our eyes that we may be shown wondrous things out of Your Law” (Psalm 119:18).
The First Commandment—Putting God First
A university professor handed out copies of the Ten Commandments to his students and then asked them to arrange them in order of importance. 90% of the students reversed the order, putting the commandments about how we should treat others first (1-4) and the commandments about how we are to relate to God (5-10) last.
The Jews understood the reason for the original arrangement. Our relationship with God provides the basis for living a life of character. The first 4 commandments are foundational; they provide the reason for treating others fairly. If we are in right relationship with God, we will treat others properly.
The first commandment starts by letting us know Who God is: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). God begins with His personal covenant Name, “I AM”, a Name that indicates His eternal, unchanging character. And by stating “I am” He is saying that all those other gods—are NOT.
This can be a dangerous teaching. When German Lutheran minister Martin Niemoller published his sermon on this very same commandment he was immediately arrested by the Nazis. They correctly saw this message as a threat to their tyranny.
The tragedy of our times is that people today put themselves first and want little to do with God—they don’t want to be under His authority, yet they get upset with God when life doesn’t go as expected. It would be fitting to repeat this statement of God’s deliverance before each individual commandment. After establishing Who He is and what He has faithfully done for His people, God announces His first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (verse 3).