Thesis: God's instruction is for our own good.
1. Many of you will remember the TV game show, "Family Feud" with Richard Dawson.
a. 100 members of studio audience are surveyed and the contestants are asked to guess what the "survey said."
b. The audience was once asked to complete this sentence: "God's commands are ..."
c. The responses most often given were:
1) Hard [tough/difficult].
2. There's a tendency to view God and his commandments this way.
a. Why does God give us commandments?
1) To condemn us? (so we can fail?)
2) To prove who's boss? (cosmic battle of wills?)
3) To test us? (to see if we are faithful?)
b. These answers are all inadequate.
c. "Why does God command what he does?" This AM we turn to book of Deuteronomy for an answer.
I. LOOKING AT THE OLD TESTAMENT WITH DIFFERENT EYES.
A. Deuteronomy seems to embody everything we don't like about OT.
1. It is in the Old Testament (old = bad vs. "new & improved")
2. We're not under the OT any longer; not practical.
3. It's got a lot of laws in it (legalism, Pharisees).
B. Let's look at these reasons a little more closely.
1. Simply because something's old doesn't mean it's bad!
2. Not under OT any longer--still has great value.
a. Rom. 15:4--"Whatsoever was written aforetime ..."
b. The Old Testament was the Bible of the early Christians.
3. Big difference between obeying laws and legalism!
a. "Law" carries negative connotations; torah = instruction.
b. Law can be made legalistic; not God's intention!
C. For the next few weeks some of our Sunday AM lessons are going to come from the book of Deuteronomy; to fully appreciate its message we may need to look at the OT differently.
II. HOW DEUTERONOMY VIEWS GOD'S COMMANDMENTS.
A. For example, let's go back to the question of: "Why does God give us commandments?" [condemn, restrict, frustrate, oppress?]
1. Illust. Last Spring--putting together a new desk with drawers. 16-17 pp. of instructions. Complicated. Do you think someone at company said: "You know, we've got this really great product but we don't want anyone to enjoy it do we? Who cares if we make any money? Who cares what they say about the company! Let's confuse & frustrate them. Let's make the instruction booklet so long and complicated that no one will ever be able to put it together!"
2. Psalm 19:7-11.
3. Listen to these texts from Deuteronomy:
a. 4:1-2. e. 8:6-9.
b. 4:39-40. f. 10:12-13.
c. 5:28-33. g. 30:11-20.
d. 6:24. h. 32:44-47.
B. God's commandments are for our own good!
1. Illust. Jonathan and Zachary got hamsters for Christmas. Both hamsters have cages. Wonder how those hamsters feel about those cages?"Restrictive!" "Slavery!" "Can't go where I want!" Why do hamsters have cages? To make their lives miserable? No! To protect them!!! That's what God's commands are all about!
2. Illust. God's commandments don't restrict us as much as they free us. A number of yrs. ago a psychologist in Calif. passed a school playground on a busy highway on his way to work each day. Kids played, but were bunched in middle of playground. One day he went by and a fence had been put up. Kids were scattered all over the place within the fence. They had a safe, clearly defined place to play.
C. The goal of law-to get us to do what is right because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to.
1. Illust. Early one morning, a mother went in to wake up her son. Mom: "Wake up, son. It's time to go to school!"
Son: "But why, Mom? I don't want to go." Mom: "Give me two reasons why you don't want to go." Son: "Well, the kids hate me for one, and the teachers hate me, too!" Mom: "That's no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready." Son: "Give me two reasons why I should go to school." Mom: "Well, for one, you're 52 years old. And for another, you're the principal!"
2. Close with this piece written by Ernie Thigpen: The most unreasonable threat I ever made to my parents was in response to one of the things parents are always telling their children to do. Every night, right in the middle of my favorite TV program (my favorite being what was on at the moment) they would say, "Time for bed." I would usually argue. But on one particularly inspired occasion I replied, "I'll go to bed this time. But when I'm on my own, I'm staying up forever." I have not been able to make good on that threat. But in my youthful fantasies of revenge, I planned to one day call my parents to get back at them for all their "unreasonable" rules and show them just what I could do as a man on my own. "Hello, Mom. It's 4:30 a.m. Nothing's wrong, but I just wanted to let you know I didn't go to bed tonight. And guess what, Dad? The refrigerator door is wide open. And every light in the house is on. I played outside today in the street and I was barefooted the whole time. I didn't brush my teeth or take a bath, Mom. My room is a mess with all my clothes scattered all over the floor. I used a hammer today, Dad, and I didn't put it back where I found it. And right this minute, I'm watching TV and I'm sitting only 4 inches from the screen." That would've shown them! Now that I am 36 and on my own, guess how many of those parental rules I break? You got it. Zero. And amazingly, I don't even want to. --Ernie Thigpen (Spartanburg, SC)