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Summary: Introduction to the Ten Commandments

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Exodus 20:1-17

Intro: Ill. Ted Turner has declared the Ten Commandments obsolete, "We’re living with outdated rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to them because they’re too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out!"

Turner is wrong when he declares that the Ten Commandments are outdated. As we will see in upcoming messages, they are as fresh as ever. He was right, however, when he says that nobody likes to be commanded. In fact, modern society mocks the truth and exalts the lie. We live in a time when right is classified as wrong and wrong as right.

“20Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.” Isaiah 5:20

The Ten Commandments are part of the Torah, which means instruction or command. The Torah comprises the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses. In theological language the Ten Commandments are called the Decalogue.

There is something about the Ten Commandments that demand something from us. They hold us accountable. They force us to face “the man in the mirror.”

When the commandments are ignored and kept out of sight, when they are treated like nothing more than a quaint relic of the past, they trouble no one. But when they are taken seriously, held up as an immutable standard, and perchance, actually obeyed, they instantly bring conflict. Why, because God’s Ten Words challenge the most passionate notions of moral autonomy. “Don’t you try to impose your morality on me!”

“I’ll decide for myself what is right and wrong!”

What would a society look like in which each of its members decided for themselves what is right and wrong? It would be like living in a town where stopping at a stop sign was left up to the relative decision of each individual driver.

We have as a nation basically caved in to the “live and let live” mentality.

Today, in America, many believe that there are no "moral absolutes." Many hold to a philosophy of "moral relativism." How many times have we heard statements like these: "What’s right for you may not be right for me."; "If it feels good do it."; "Anything goes."; " Nothing is right or wrong, there are just different opinions?" All of this is the result of the feeling that there is no absolute truth. You are entitled to your truth and I am entitled to mine! A recent poll found that 67% of Americans do not believe in moral absolutes. Among "Baby Busters", those born between 1965 and 1983, the percentage was even higher at 78%. Even 62% of professing Christians said that there was no absolute standard of right and wrong. This nation was founded on biblical principles of right and wrong. Today, that foundation is crumbling beneath our feet! James Madison, the 4th President of the United States said this, "We stake the future of this country on our ability to govern ourselves under the principles of the Ten Commandments."

Today, we begin a series of messages on the Ten Commandments. My aim is to show you their relevance for our day. Today I will lay a foundation for the future messages by looking with you at the background of the Ten Commandments and why they were given.

1. What is the reason for the law?

A. Why did God give the Law?

Was it to save people from their sins? No! Israel was already in a covenant relationship with God, according to Gen. 15. The Law cannot save. We read in Rom 3:20: “20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Rom. 3:20.

Let me give you some reasons why God gave Israel the Law:

To reveal His glory and Holiness. “Surely the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness.” Deut. 5:22-28

To reveal man’s sinfulness

“8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law[a] is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God,” 1 Tim. 1:9;

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25

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