I trust your Lord’s Day yesterday was a blessing to you and your entire family. It is great to be refreshed by fellowship and strengthened and challenged by the teaching of God’s Word. I have been blessed to be on the receiving end of preaching after 35 years dishing it out. Well, mostly blessed…
You know what I mean? There are those sermons that really meddle in your life. Does the pastor have video cameras in my home or what? And then there are those parts of God’s Word that don’t always sound too appealing. Say, like a sermon series through Leviticus (I still haven’t found the preacher willing to tackle that) or like finding out that the next few sermons would be devoted to the Ten Commandments.
Well, that’s where we are at in our church. When it was first announced, I braced myself, “Here we go with a healthy dose of the Law.” Perhaps we needed something to offset the gospel of grace? Actually, I have been pleasantly surprised.
The series started out with the question, what good are the Ten Commandments anyway? “You can’t fix yourself with the Ten Commandments,” my pastor said, “any more than you can wash your face with a mirror.” Of course, my mind immediately wandered to mental pictures of me trying to do just that. As I pictured the futility of smearing my face against the bathroom mirror, I then switched gears to listen to what he had meant.
He said that the Ten Commandments can reveal how dirty your heart is, just like a mirror shows whatever dirt is on your face. I liked that; and was ready to listen to more.
The first Sunday dwelt on God’s jealous love for us and His desire to be the only God in our lives. Anything else we turn to for satisfaction, meaning and security is just an idol. He also spoke about how we can even try to turn God into an idol, trying to control God for my purposes. Just like with the ancient gods, if I do everything right and follow all the rituals, then God will have to bless me.
Regarding the commandments, Jesus said this, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40) And this is true for the Ten Commandments, isn’t it? The first four deal with loving God and the last six with loving our fellow humans.
Have you ever tried to train your children with the Ten Commandments? I remember talking with our girls and we covered similar ground. I pointed out that the Ten Commandments are like a thermometer — they can tell you how sick you are but cannot make you well. We also made it clear that they are called the Ten COMMANDMENTS, not the Ten Suggestions. These were non-negotiable and covered broad areas that govern how we live and reveal the conditions of our heart.
In yesterday’s sermon, the preacher pointed out that each commandment spoke to things that we need to Honor and Protect, beginning with the PARENT RELATIONSHIP. We discussed the destruction of our society as we have neglected this and made parents, especially dads, the object of ridicule in movies and TV shows.
Other things that need to be Honored and Protected Include:
  • LIFE — Do not murder.
  • MARRIAGE and SEXUAL PURITY — Do not commit adultery.
  • OTHERS’ RIGHTS & PROPERTY — Do not steal.
  • TRUTH — Do not bear false witness.
  • OTHERS’ BLESSINGS — Do not covet.
Each of these could be a Christopher’s Corner in and of themselves. In covering these, it was observed that Jesus intensified each commandment so that we all are without excuse — see the Sermon on the Mount, most notably Matthew 5:21-22 and 5:27-28. Here Jesus revealed that anger and hatred is murder in the heart, and lust is adultery in the heart. Each of these sins do not start out as intentions. No one says to him/herself, I hope to grow up to be a murderer or adulterer. However, murderous hearts give way to murderous hands. 
Our children need to learn that God is speaking to sins of the heart as much as He is addressing outward actions. We can train our children by asking them, “What do you see as the intent of various commands?” “Do not steal” protects private property. Why? Ownership is stewardship. God has entrusted things to particular people to maintain properly so that they can be used for His glory for a long, long time. Theft is a disruption of that stewardship. It is stealing from God as well as the owner.
What does God mean when He says, “Do not bear false witness”? Obedience to this command would guarantee justice and would prevent gossip and slander. Obedience honors God since He is Truth — John 14:6 and Numbers 23:19. Satan is the opposite of God, he is the Father of ____. We can all fill that blank, can’t we? He was a liar from the very beginning as he slandered the Father to Adam and Eve and lied about the consequences of their sin.
Our culture has become very cavalier about these commandments. Adultery and pre-marital sex are the linchpins of many romance stories. We are now numb to things that were a capital offense since they were so destructive. We steal indirectly when we cheat on our taxes or fail to give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay; when we underpay employees or turn a blind eye on those who prey on the poor.
One of the chief things I taught my children was the heart of God in making a command. I said that in every command God is trying to protect us and provide for our greater good. I pointed out that God was not bored one day and thought, “I should make up a bunch of rules just to torment the people whom I have created.” When we don’t understand a command, we should trust, obey, and wait for wisdom down the road.
Years ago when I was a hippy, we all thought we knew better than God. We thought the old taboos against sexual immorality and divorce were outdated. We no longer needed them since we had penicillin, birth control and a social safety net. Our foolish thoughts have borne fruit in the destruction of the family, the multiplication of diseases, and millions of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, many ending in abortion.
God’s commands are a kindness. I appreciate the reminder yesterday. While they cannot clean us up, they cannot save us, they can keep us on the right track and save us from harm. May the Lord help us to show this to our children, Christopher.
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