I’ve been away from blogging for a little while and eventually will be getting back to the Baptist Faith and Message, but for now I’ll be blogging about The Ten Commandments for the next several weeks.
Just a few weeks ago on January 11, 2017, I had the privilege to begin a new teaching series at First Baptist Church Felt, Oklahoma. I have decided to go on the course of teaching and instructing through the Ten Commandments, which is a set of guidelines, rules, more aptly put commands given to the Israelites to distinguish them from the other nations that surround them. In researching for teaching the Ten Commandments, I came across the understanding that there are three different ways in which the Commands are divided by different religious groups. Before studying for this series, I had not known there are other beliefs as to where the divisions take place. Here are the divisions:
A. The Jews count “the preface” (Exo. 20:1, 2) as the first commandment and then combine the first and the second commandments and make these combined commandments the second commandment and so “end up” with ten commandments.
B. The Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church combine the first and the second commandments and divide the tenth commandment into two commandments and so “end up” with ten commandments.
C. The Greek Orthodox churches and the Protestant churches enumerate the commandments as did Josephus and so give us ten commandments as we know them.
Gingrich, R. E. (2001). The Ten Commandments (p. 7). Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.
In this series we will be focusing on the third classification for devision of the commandments.
In introducing the commandments, it is important to note the need of the law and the love of the law we have as believers. We love the law because it points us to the understanding that we cannot do anything good of our own nature. We constantly seek other things in place of God violating the second command, we put other things before God in idolatry both of the heart and physically by using objects in worship services, we neglect resting in the LORD, and so on. As we dive deeper into the Ten Commandments, we will continue to see not only their relevance for the Israelites, to whom they were given to, but that they are still necessary and helpful for the believer today. Now to put out an understanding here, the Ten Commandments are not to be used as a legalistic. By legalistic I am referring to the position of people who may see these commands and in turn keep lists in their pockets, on their phones, or written in a daily journal to be checked off as completed as the day progresses.
These Ten Commandments are not to be used, or viewed, in this manner. The Commandments are acted upon in obedience to the love we have for the Father. We desire to put God first because we understand that God as authority and sovereignty over all things in and throughout our daily living. We no longer desire the idols we had in our life because we know that material possessions can not satisfy of fill the need of God dwelling within our life.
To begin the study with a declaration of “oh, how I love the law” seems odd and farfetched to the unbeliever. The law is what reveals the sins either external or internal. The quoted phrase above comes directly from Psalm 119:97-104:
97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 119:97–104). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
How could we love what seems to restrict and keep us from having fun? In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The believer thinks upon and loves the law because it points us constantly back to the need of a savior and what Christ has done for us on the cross. There is great wisdom and understanding in the law of the Lord and it makes us wiser than our enemies.
A few things the enemy attempts to throw at the believer in regards to the law is; “Hey, it was intended for the Israelites at the time and not us.” or “What makes this god think he is any better than the other gods?” “But that was the Old Testament, are we supposed to disregard the Old Testament and focus only on the New Testament and the words of Jesus?”
The thought that the Ten Commandments are no longer relevant for today could not be further from the truth. Here is what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 22:34-40 in regards to the law.
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40, ESV)
A lawyer attempted to ask a question to get Jesus to tell them what the greatest commandment is for them to follow. Jesus told them; “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.” (Matthew 34:37-38, ESV) If you notice the first four commandments given are a focus on the Lord. Then Jesus goes further and states; “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 34: 39-40, ESV) Then the last six commands focus on relationships with the people around us. We are supposed to focus on God and then in turn it will effect the way we interact within our relationships with each other.
One of the first things I had noticed in preparing for a study on the Ten Commandments is the fact that the scriptures state that God voiced the commands to the people before they were ever written on tablets of stone. “And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:1-2, ESV) God reminded the Israelites what He had done to deliver them from slavery in Egypt. Now it is as if God is telling the people I did this, now this is what I want you to do in obedience because I am the LORD your God. We to need to remember what God has done for us by sending His son to live a life pointing us to the LORD and in turn Christ’s death on the cross to pay the wages for our sin which is death.
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23, ESV)
There is salvation found through Jesus Christ our Lord and in turn we are given a desire to be a living sacrifice and devote the entirety of our lives to focus on and follow the Lord in active obedience. We, as believers, love the law. It is because of the law we are pointed back to the need of a savior and in turn rejoice because of the delight we find in being obedient to the Word of God.