Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Ten Commandments made easy

Exodus 20:1 – 17
The Ten Commandments made easy

1. Most of us do not know them, even though they are easy to learn.

a. 97% of Americans say they are important while only 5% can name only three of them. (Jerry Shirley)

b. 10 fingers, 10 commandments (teach)

[READ Exodus 20:1 – 17]

(Ill.) of the person who has a small 10lb dog. Macho… barks fiercely through a window at a big German Shepherd that walks past his house, like he wants to tear the big dog apart. It would see the small dog is despising the window because it’s keeping him from getting at the German Shepherd. He’d like nothing better than to break through the window.

Question: what’s the one thing that’s saving his life? The window.

God is not separating us from dangerous things because He hates us. God is not trying to spoil our fun. It is because God loves us. “Love and law go together.” (Jerry Shirley)

2. Most of us break at least one of them regularly.

a. “No other gods:” The first “god” we had was ourselves. “People are incurably religious.” When was the last time you skipped church for something that seemed important or desirable?

b. “No idols:” Explain “household gods.” Represented “god” or represented something that divided loyalties.

c. “Not misuse the Lord’s name,” to say something false (vain) about God, speak in God’s name when you don’t, uses God’s name as a swear word, use God to invoke a curse, using God’s name without meaning it (like “Christians”).

d. “Remember the Sabbath,” When did you work, fix a meal, cause someone else to do work for you, eat out, buy or sell.

e. “Honor your father and mother,” Ever disobey your parents?

f. “You shall not murder,” (not the word “kill”)

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, `Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' [22] But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, `Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, `You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.” [Matthew 5:21 – 22]

(“Fool” was someone who lived like there was no God… technically this may be judging someone’s salvation.)

g. “You shall not committee adultery,” Anything that breaks the marriage trust or divides loyalty. Men: lust… women: worry. Men are visual so we naturally notice, but we don’t have to think about it. Women naturally connect things continually and divide loyalty to their marriage.

h. “You shall not steal.” (Self explanatory)

i. “False testimony,” the New Testament version would be “gossip.” Telling a story to deliberately hurt someone.

j. “Covet,” We call this “commercialism.” The desire to “keep up with…”

3. Jesus said our righteousness was to go beyond the externals.

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20]

a. Everyone of the commandments has a New Testament internal, heart attitude.

b. Die to self, die to the world, yes or no, shadow of the things that were to come, “heavenly father,” forgive, the mind of Christ, cheerful giver, pray for, walk by faith not by sight.

c. In other words, if we follow Jesus, righteousness will be defined about the things that go on inside our attitude, the choices we make in the heart…. It is very possible to do or not do the externals yet still violate the essence of the law.

“And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! [10] For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,' and, `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' [11] But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: `Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), [12] then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. [13] Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.” [Mark 7:9 – 13]

4. How are we to surpass this righteousness?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" [37] Jesus replied: “`Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' [38] This is the first and greatest commandment. [39] And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' [40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." [Matthew 22:37 – 40]

a. “ALL”… anything less is technically sin… (We are comfortable with way less than “all.”)

b. “as yourself” … seriously?

Free to be sons, not slaves

Romans 8:15
Free to be sons, not slaves.

Wesley noted there were three spiritual states a person can be in: the natural (no fear or love of God), the legal (under the law without love for God), those that loved God. Looking at Romans, we see these three spiritual conditions.

I. What spiritual conditions are there?

A. There are people who are “amiss.” (The word “sin” originally was an archery term that meant to “miss the mark.”) [Romans 3:10 – 18]

1. Paul runs many verses from the Old Testament together to paint a picture of how bad we actually are...

a. We are not righteous in our own efforts.

b. We do not understand or seek God on God’s terms. (Which is why we have so many versions of “god” in this world.)

c. We are on the broad path leading to destruction and not the narrow path.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. [14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” [Matthew 7:13 – 14]

2. The natural state of humanity is “lost.”

a. No fear or love of God.

b. No desire for spiritual things, no concept of holiness.

c. It is at rest because there is no sense of danger and is not troubled by sin.

d. Life is measured externally: an illusion of happiness and liberty.

***** The fact is that every human is polluted by the natural state of sin. It is our “human nature.” *****

B. There are people who are “ambivalent.” (Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone. – Oxford) [Romans 7:14 – 25]

1. The progression of Paul’s argument, and the use of the first person “I” indicates this can be the conflicted state believers.

a. Want to do good... but fail.

b. In fact, Paul recognizes “sin” as a spiritual law “living in me that does it.”

c. Sin, as a spiritual law wages war in his mind and makes him a “slave” and a “prisoner.”

d. He sees “sin” as a separate body, one that is dead and decaying, strapped to him.

2. Self-effort, trained by the law (list of “do this not that”) will only get us so far.

a. We can see God as “loving” and “merciful” but “angry” at our failures.

b. We can understand there is right and wrong, and struggle with it.

c. We can become frustrated because we never seem to be good enough...

Symptom: Thinking good things “reward” are from God and bad things are “punishment” from God.

(Ill.) Woman TV evangelist preaching on getting what you want from God... if you don’t get it then “it is because you are not ready for it yet.” She told the story of wanting a new fur coat, asking God. Friend came over and showed her a new fur coat that just happened to show up unexplained on her door step. She said, “I thought the angel had delivered it to the wrong house.”

[Context: This was aired the day before the earthquake in Haiti. I dare you to go to Haiti, with a cold bottle of water in your hand and tell someone who is suffering with thirst, the reason they do not have a cold bottle of water in their hand is “because you are not ready for it yet.”]

***** There are two problems here. First, we measure ourselves against someone else (the Bible says that person is a fool). Second, sin and repentance comes in cycles. *****

C. There are people who are “adopted.” [Romans 8:15 – 17]

1. Children KNOW beyond any doubt their relationship.

a. The key for the believer is the Spirit... Holy Spirit.

b. Children do not have to make an effort to maintain relationship of being the child.

2. Children LOVE.

a. It’s not a matter of effort, it is a matter love (relationship) that motivates.

b. Love generates obedience.

II. What are the honest problems we have?

A. We think religion is about our effort.

1. We create ritual that help us focus or attention. They are good unless they distract us from the reality.

2. We turn the Bible into a list of “do this not that.” The Bible makes many moral demands on us. There are many “do this not that” requirements... many things please God... many things displease God. They are good unless we replace the doing with genuine relationship.

3. Our effort will only take us so far. “Not enough.”

B. We think we can measure relationship in concrete terms.

1. Imagine if a parent starts a chart of bad things a child does with a line. When the child reaches that line, then we buy them a bus ticket and wish them luck. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

2. Yes, there are consequences to our actions... but grace is not an accountant that weighs things against one another.

C. We think that performance creates relationship.

1. Some people are givers, others are takers... but keeping track of points is deadly to a relationship.

2. Why? Because we *always* give ourselves massive bonus points and extra credit. We tend to give others massive negative points they can never make up.

3. This reasoning is backwards... and possibly abusive.

III. What is the reality?

A. Here is what we know from the Bible:

1. If you are outside God’s grace when you die you are eternally separated from God...

2. If you are convicted by God’s grace, and feel uncomfortable about your spiritual destiny; it means God is awakening you. You must chose because the window of opportunity is limited.

3. If you conflicted after you have chosen to accept God’s grace, it means you will struggle with self-effort and cycle between failure and repentance.

4. If you have, through the Spirit of God, accepted your adoption by God’s grace you will be in love with God.

IV. How do you make the transition?

A. To move from being “amiss” to becoming a child of God, you must believe.

“and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” [Romans 3:24]

1. Believe means you accept that you can be redeemed (saved) ONLY through Jesus.

2. The issue is trust. Do you trust God’s grace or do you trust your own effort, a church, a ritual?

B. To move from being “ambivalent” to becoming a child of God, you must fail.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, [2] because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” [Romans 8:1 – 2]

1. The failure of your “self” must be so complete you have no choice but to be dependent on Christ Jesus.

2. While the “law of sin and death” may be active, God has intervened with the “law of the Spirit of life.”

C. To be “adopted,” you must trust the Spirit of God, who produces the condition of adoption.

“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, [14] because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” [Romans 8:13 – 14]

1. What’s this going to look like?

a. We trust only on God’s mercy given to us through Jesus Christ.

b. The reign of sin is broken, we not only struggle against sin but we win.

c. We keep in step with the Spirit of God.

d. We live in joy.

e. We love.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” [Galatians 5:6b]