Friday, July 12, 2019
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
As we finish the study of the Ten Commandments, we should consider the all important application question. What does this all mean? My father-in-law, who was a very practical man, told me to keep my teaching practical. A body of truth should be both insightful and helpful. “Let’s find a handle for this suitcase.”
We have examined the 10 “dos” and “don’ts” of the Israeli Law, now, let’s try to understand the reason these are important to you. What should I do about these commands personally? To develop a handle for this suit- case, let’s answer two questions carefully:
- What happens if I don’t obey all the Ten Commandments all the time?
- What is the ultimate purpose of the Ten Commandments?
What Happens if I Don’t Obey the Ten Commandments All the Time?
Perhaps at this point in our study you can name each of the Ten Commandments. That’s great! However, the primary purpose of our study is not just so that you would know each one of the Ten Commandments. The pertinent question is, “Have you kept them perfectly?” Think through some of the commands we have previously considered:
- Have you desired something that was not yours (Tenth Commandment)?
- Have you looked at someone with lust (Seventh Commandment)?
- Have you reacted in anger toward someone who mistreated you (Sixth Commandment)?
- Have you loved anything more than you love God (First Commandment)?
- Have you taken God’s name in a light or flippant way (Third Commandment)?
- Have you stretched the truth even just a little bit (Ninth Commandment)?
Have You Obeyed Them Internally?
As we examined each of these Commandments, we also found how our Lord Jesus confronted the Pharisees who thought they had kept them. These were the most religious of the most religious. They could go toe-to-toe with our world’s most religious, most strict groups and out-strict them all! But Jesus said this was not enough.
In His famous sermon, He decried those who kept the external commands but broke the internal intent of the commands. If you hate, then you are guilty of committing murder of the heart! Look at how Jesus applies these commands internally:
Jesus told the multitudes that their righteous deeds needed to supersede the religious rituals and deeds of the super-elite religious people of the day. Have you obeyed these laws internally?
Have You Obeyed Them Perfectly?
All of us will have to admit that we have broken one (or probably most) of these commandments on a regular basis. The Bible makes that same conclusion. So, if you say that you have never broken one of the Ten Commandments, then you are lying (which is breaking the Ninth Commandment)! And if you admit to breaking one or most of them, then you are in agreement with the Bible - read the following passages that teach this very clearly.
“All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).If you were honest and said that you have broken one of these Laws, then you are only admitting what the Bible already says is true. So where does this leave you? What happens to those who are lawbreakers? Let’s look carefully to a couple of verses from the Bible that speak directly about this.
Group Activity: Read the following verses and answer the questions below:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ‘do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:10-11).
- How many times does someone have to stumble to be guilty of the whole Law?
- What two commands does James lump together under the one umbrella of breaking the Law?
- How does James refer to those who have sinned?
When you break one link in a chain, you break the entire chain. Similarly, breaking one of the Ten Commandments (just one time) is breaking the entire Law! Each Commandment is like a link in the entire chain. If you break one link, you break the whole chain. So, there are no minor infractions that don’t matter as much. What happens to those who break the Law? The Bible is clear on this and it is not very good news.
“For the wages of sin is death . . . ” (Romans 6:23).
“Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:19-20).
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:3).
In Romans 3:19 above, we are told that through the Law “all the world has become accountable to God.” The word “accountable” is a legal term. It has reference to becoming liable in a court because of losing a suit. All the world has lost the suit and is guilty in the courtroom of heaven.
“For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the Law, to perform them’” (Galatians 3:10).
According to Galatians 3:10, we are “cursed.” The Gospel of John describes this condition as “condemned.” This is another legal term that carries the idea that the verdict against us is guilty and we deserve an eternal punishment. Our rightful punishment is not just a life sentence, but an eternal sentence—in this life and the next. All are under the condemnation of God. That is why the verse above describes people as naturally “children of wrath.” These are people that are under God’s wrath. If they die and appear before God’s judgment seat, they will be condemned.
This condemnation is complete in this life, but the sentence is carried out after death. This is when all those who reject God’s message will experience the wrath of God fully when they are sentenced eternally in the lake of fire. This is a place that was made to punish the Devil and demons, but since mankind rebelled against God’s commands, they bear the same penalty. Unlike the way people represent Hell in popular culture, it is not a place where the Devil reigns and persecutes humans. It is a place where the Devil, and any other being that has risen in rebel- lion to God is punished. At the final judgment, hell will be cast into the lake of fire.
“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10- 15; For Jesus’ description of hell, read Luke 16:19-31.)
What Is the Purpose of the Ten Commandments?
Perhaps you feel a little nervous after reading the verses above. You may be squirming inside. That is the way we should feel after reading those verses. Consider the following flow of thought from what we have considered so far in our study.
This is actually the primary purpose of the Ten Commandments—to bring us to the point that we realize we have no hope in ourselves. As we learn how specifically God applies these commands, we are left with no hope through our own eﬀorts; no one is going to be perfect all the time. So we really have no excuse, and it is when we have no excuse that we are ready to receive God’s pardon. It is when we are on death row that we will call the governor and ask for a pardon.
The purpose of the Law then, is not to show us how to be right with God or how to get to heaven
on our own. It is to show us that we cannot be right with God in our own eﬀort. It shows us that we need someone else to forgive us. In the letter of Galatians, Paul uses an illustration to teach this truth.
“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. ²⁵But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. ²⁶For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:24-26).
Paul teaches that the Law is actually a teacher. It is an instructor that leads us to another person. The tutor is not to be over us forever, but serves to guide us to someone who can actually deal with our guilt. Who is that someone? Verse 24 above states that the person is Christ. How does Jesus Christ come into the picture?
Jesus is the solution. He was the only One who perfectly kept the whole Law of God. He was completely without sin. Scripture teaches that God will actually allow His perfect obedience to the Law to be reckoned to your account. God makes a legally binding declaration that Jesus’ righteousness can be substituted on your behalf.
We could think of it like this. When a person dies their estate is divided and given to the beneficiaries. If there is cash or an insurance policy, the money is placed into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. Similarly, because of Jesus’ death, His positive goodness (perfectly obeying the
Ten Commandments) can be placed into the “moral bank accounts” of others.
“He made Him Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, emphasis mine).
This works the other way too. Not only is Jesus’ positive obedience placed in our account, but He also had to take the penalty for our disobedience. He suﬀered God’s wrath for sins committed by you and me. Because God is a just judge, He cannot simply sweep sin under the rug. Someone has to pay for it, and that is what Jesus did on the cross. He took the sin of the world upon Himself and died in our place. Because Jesus is God—an eternal Being—He can take upon Himself the eternal penalty of sin.
“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:7-9, emphasis mine).
This is the Gospel. This is the story of the Bible and the true meaning of the cross. Jesus’ death was not just an example of sacrifice. It was the ultimate sacrifice—the innocent dying for the guilty. Let’s try to picture the transaction below.
So how does this become true of you? How are you transferred from condemned to forgiven? How do you receive the pardon that Christ provides? You may have read it in the above verses. You are declared to be right with God based on your faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf. God does not accept people who are puﬀed up in their self-righteousness. He accepts people who are humbled at their condition and trust in Jesus’ righteousness.
Group Activity: Read the following verses and answer the questions below:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:28).
“A man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
- In John 3:18, what are the two conditions of people and what is the basis of their condition before God?
- How is someone justified (declared to be right) before God? How many times is this word or concept mentioned in the above verses?
- What would you say to someone who tries to be right with God by doing what is right?
You see how clearly this goes against the popular view of “religion” today. Contemporary forms of religion are all based on self-works. The type of works varies: following the Ten Commandments, Five Pillars, Seven Sacraments, Six Hundred and Thirty Laws, or good karma. But the Bible teaches a diﬀerent story. It is the story of being right with God based on someone else’s works—the works of Jesus Christ. “Religion,” as it is popularly considered, is bad news. The Bible gives “good news!”
Let me encourage you to trust in Jesus’ works on your behalf today. To receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus provides, you must trust in Jesus and repent. Trust is reaching out for the pardon that Jesus provides. Repentance is acknowledging you are on death row and need pardon. You give your future to God by changing your mind about your current path.
This is the kind of trust that asks for help. If you truly believe that Jesus died for your sins, then you will call upon Him for forgiveness. Do you believe Jesus died to take away your sins?
“As many as receive Him to them He gave authority to become children of God—to the ones who believe into His name.”
The other condition of your heart that God demands is repentance. Repentance is a change of mind about yourself and your sin. You must go beyond only feeling sorry that you have sinned and you must forsake that sin. You cannot choose God’s way and your own way. Today if you will receive Jesus’ gift of salvation you must be willing to go His way—you must be willing to give your life into His hand. He is a loving and caring Master. The Bible says that “God commands all men everywhere to repent.”
Of course, this does not mean that you must stop sinning in order to receive God’s gift of salvation—salvation is a free gift of forgiveness. However, you cannot come to God with
half your heart. You must present your life to Him completely. “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” I often use the illustration of keys. You can’t give up sinning completely, but you must put all your sin on the table and forsake it. “Lord, I can’t stop this on my own. But I don’t want it and I give it all to you!” We give Him the keys of our life.
If you believe and are ready to give your life to Jesus, please call upon Him today! “Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved.” He will save a heart that cries for mercy. Some have just cried, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Others have prayed sincerely something like this:
“Dear God, I know that I have sinned. I have done things that grieve You and have disobeyed Your commands. I know that I deserve punishment for my sin. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place. I believe He died and rose again in order to pay the penalty for my sin. Please forgive me and cleanse me from my sin. I give you my whole future and my life. Please save me now because of Jesus. Amen.”
This is Lesson 4 of a booklet entitled "Do you obey God? How good is good enough?" To order the whole booklet on Amazon or Kindle click here.
Friday, June 14, 2019
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Facts that promote faith. This week's blog gets to the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Enjoy! Reasonable Design - Facts that promote faith. https://youtu.be/SIFrevtTBwU via @YouTube #Theology #ForestHills #Construction