Tag: Ten Commandments

Who Will Deliver Me?

Exodus 20:17

Previous commands emphasize outward conduct, how we demonstrate love for neighbor. This one gets under skin, unmasks feelings and desires. Not a repeat of commands against stealing, adultery… goes right to heart of those issues, the issue of the heart. Maybe think like young fellow who asked Jesus, “ok, what else do I have to do, I’ve kept all those”. How about #10? How are you doing with that one? Not what do you believe, not how do you act – who do you love? This one completes the circle – You shall have no other gods before me… including gods in your heart. Fits perfectly conclusion in Deut. 6:5 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Many advantages to living where we do… and some disadvantages. Surrounded by stuff, continual supply of more, encouragement to acquire in whatever way possible. Can easily become like:

“A man said to his psychiatrist, “Doc, you gotta help me. Life has become intolerable to me. Here’s my problem: My home is worth about $400,000. I have a 6-month-old Mercedes 560. My wife drives a Porsche. We have a 32-foot boat in the harbor. We have two maids and a cook, plus a part-time gardener. I really have problems!” The doctor said, “With all those things, what’s your problem?” The patient answered, “I only make $62.50 a week!”” Dan Betzer

Might be extreme situation, amusing on one hand yet too close to reality for comfort on other. A thinking Christian might not be in that kind of trouble, doesn’t mean are immune… or always where ought to be in our desires. To covet is to set one’s heart on something, often in comparative way. Want what someone else has because you don’t have, what they have is more desirable.

Coveting and closely related sin of envy corrosive, destructive to relationships – impossible to rightly love neighbor when we give in to envy. Since is sin that begins in heart with our desires, interferes with love for God also.

A. focus of attention

possessions

do not desire his house, ox, donkey – things that neighbor has right to own… could have significant sweat equity in all

especially true in our day, things not always as they seem – remember man with problem… could be creditors real owners

whichever the case, are things rightly belonging to someone else… according to God’s design… even for unbeliever

tangible things

what can be bought and sold – could be considered real or personal property – see, touch, appraise, evaluate

look in their direction, see size of new addition to house, 14-day plates on new pickup, shiny Kubota with attachments

color of soil, lay of land and its exposure, nicely matched yoke of oxen / team of horses, color/texture of hay going into mow

can include people and intangibles

wife, servants – doesn’t have to be “I want her/them”… often expressed as “I wish my wife / servants / children were like…”

right along with idea “he’s got it made… with _____ like that” – correct response: thanks, God, for blessing him that way!

recognition, position, power, financial security, health – things people value highly but not able to put in package

real focus that of comparison between us and neighbor, what he has compared to what we have and sense of entitlement

if he can, we should…; how come I don’t, I really deserve…; resenting God’s blessing on neighbor, failure to acknowledge God’s blessing on us

continual pressure from culture in which we live to be discontent – economy depends on it, advertising uses every trick to appeal to desire… equating desire with need

even world’s version of bumper sticker theology: “he who dies with the most toys wins” – Jesus said, “beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

B. desires of heart

things of limited ability

are finite – packaging often promises far more than product can actually deliver… most Christians know that, fall for line anyway – can be seduced by what we see, hear, touch

standard promise of marketing: this will satisfy desire, need, make your life complete – may be pictured rather than stated

all the things that surround the product – carefully picked and posed to communicate powerful statement w/ images

usually not the right thing for the need – most of time need not on radar of desire, sometimes people even admit that

press them, hard put to defend basis of need, instead comes back to wants, desires, things we should control, not indulge

limited duration

get tired, sick, or die – true of work animals, were affected by Adam’s sin just like he was; likewise true of servants

neighbor’s servant, competitor’s employee may be most clever ball of fire ever known to humanity… for now, not forever

wear out or break

don’t make things like they used to, partly on purpose… so you’ll have to replace it, partly by God’s design

one of ways God helps keep right attitude toward things – keeps from getting too attached when becomes burdensome to continue fixing / using

limited to this life

nothing we typically covet lasts beyond this age / life – often, and this is really sad, desire doesn’t last even that long

have told about Jerry, desire for 4-wheeler of his dreams – warranty longer than desire… for that one; moved on to another; and… how often does that happen with relationships?

even people / relationships will not have same kind of characteristics in eternity – Bible doesn’t say much, does seem clear kinds of things we think are important relationally now won’t rank so high in next life

think that’s enough reason to leave off coveting? but wait, there’s more! and it’s of greater significance, too

C. attitude toward God

is progression in way of thinking and feeling that goes along with coveting, directly impacts relationship with God

discontent

to desire something someone else has means are not satisfied with what God has provided, absence of contentment

enough other teaching to make point, yet author of Hebrews came right out and said: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.” Heb. 13:5

immediately follows with reason for requiring contentment: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” — leads into next level of wrong attitudes

distrust

not sure God can / will provide what is desired – might say otherwise, of course God can provide that, then act like don’t believe it… go after it anyway

if God really can provide that, and hasn’t, must have reasons – but… starting to think like Eve, not trusting God’s motives

and along comes pride that says I know as well as God or better what I need, what is best for me, he’s holding out on me

probably thinking: I’d never say anything like that; likely true… but what about actions – do you act in discontented way, as if you distrust God

disloyalty

if discontent allowed room in your thoughts and actions, desire for something other than God takes 1st place

God, because of who he is, his character, deserves loyalty, to be #1 object of our desire , love and trust

has graciously given eternal life… besides whole lot else – coveting says that isn’t enough, need to look elsewhere to satisfy needs and desires

D. winning the struggle

“just say no” doesn’t work – cannot turn off desire, can turn desire to right things

apostle Paul describes conflict: what he knows / what he does, struggle between what he knows to be right, what he wants

Rom. 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – notice he does not look within him for strength/ability to have victory

no one has adequate ability to do what is right – is especially true when comes to desires – we do have power to regulate desires… to some extent, more than we often do

requires changed heart

not something we can do – Jer. 13:23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

to even get started, God must first give us new changed heart able to make right choices, then need to begin doing right

Paul said “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Phil. 4.11-12

an undivided heart (Psa. 86:11)

David: “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” heart divided, pulling in contrary directions depending on circumstances

Holy Spirit by his sanctifying power can unite our heart, give us more consistent God-ward focus… when we give him material to work with

a rightly inclined heart (1 Cor. 12:31; Gal. 5:22-23)

David prayed: “Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.” – heart inclined in two directions, flip-flopping Psa 119:36

if Holy Spirit is going to unite our heart, incline it toward God and his truth, must have knowledge of God and truth… and providing constant supply – time with God and his word

what do we find there? – “covet earnestly the best gifts” – God made us with capability of desire, does not expect us to stuff it… expects us to direct desires properly

toward things like: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Even best gifts not best we can desire – to really “love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” and your neighbor as yourself, God himself must be our first desire. Not his gifts, the good things he does for us, wonderful things promised in next life, but God.

Read Phil. 3:8-15

Uphold Truth

Exodus 20:16

While back were “debates” about existence of absolute truth – some said yes, it exists, others disagreed. Was like Pontius Pilate had come back to visit: “What is truth?” John 18:38 Now seems argument is over, vocal majority accepting absence of real truth, trying to move on. Former VP Al Gore did get one thing right – at times truth is very inconvenient… just won’t go away!

Yet fallen human beings have an odd relationship with truth – someone who days ago told the truth about not telling the truth no longer serves as White House Communications Director. And… looked down on by many thought of by American public as untrustworthy as lawyers and used car salesmen. Truth is essential to survival of cultures, governments, even individuals. Especially true in regard to justice system, narrow focus of ninth command. In our legal system, perjury considered a crime against justice, liable to fines and incarceration. Lying under oath compromises the authority of courts, grand juries, governing bodies, and public officials and their ability to do their job.

Truth a big deal to God – much in Bible devoted to principles of truth, rightly so. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us: “Truth, n. Conformity with fact; agreement with reality”. If anyone knows facts, has undistorted view of reality, is God. God has communicated truth in both written and living Word – Bible, Lord Jesus. Has also included specific expectations about what he expects of his people with regard to truth. Even devoted entire chapter to answer question of who can live in God’s tent – readPsalm 15

Sound reasoning and theology underpin statement:

he alone is true who speaks and loves the truth, and has a desire to promote it for the glory of God and the safety of his fellow-men” Ursinus, Heidelberg Commentary

Both practical reasons why upholding truth is wise, is also that whole imago Dei thing, how we are to accurately reflect character of God. Then add in Jesus’ statement that it is truth that sets free, Satan’s character as antithesis of truth. Finally, we are all witnesses, not in court of law, but testimony must be true. As with other commands, outward conformity should be reflection of heart condition.

A. false / empty testimony is harmful

sheqer number of times refers to idols

Jer. 10:14 “his molded image is falsehood, And there is no breath in them” – pretending to be what are not, empty promises

false testimony pretends to be what it is not, a witness giving credible accurate information of something they have observed – actually neither credible or accurate

shav’ used in two commandments in Deut: 3rd, “in vain”, 9th, “false”

false witness empty of genuine substance – yet when presented well / not verified or corroborated is believable, persuasive

is part of reason behind two safeguards: 2 or more witnesses required in capital cases (Deut. 17:6) and witnesses cast first stones (Deut. 17:7)

false witness brought against Jesus

ultimate worst case in all of human history – actual search for false testimony, hoping to have sufficient grounds for death

even true testimony Jesus gave of himself used against him – became false witness in mouths of his accusers

and apostles – Acts 17:5-9

false accusations made out of envy caused all kinds of collateral damage – Jason, friends hauled before authorities, Jason had to bail them out

usually not single individual who receives harm – spreads quickly, involves others… another reason why God hates gossip

B. truth sets freeJohn 8:32

from deception

good to remember: those bent on deception pretty creative, continually coming up with ways to deceive – mastering all the ways an endless / probably fruitless task

are companies making big $$ working to protect from deception – antivirus/antispam/antimalware software

try to protect against people who will steal information or money by using clever deceptions… that keep changing

far better served to grow in knowledge/understanding/recognition of truth – so familiar with true what is off just looks wrong

cool thing about truth… doesn’t change – don’t need monthly subscription to be fully protected, just a copy of the standard… and help from the Author

from deceiver

father-in-law, expression, from his father – two kinds of people don’t like… thief and liar… can watch a thief

is true yet deceiver able to deceive only when potential victims not well-grounded in truth, firmly committed to it

keep in mind: ability to grasp and apply truth not something can do on our own – is much truth unrenewed mind cannot grasp

not because we are intellectual giants that we “get it” – is solely because God graciously brought to life, peeled off scales of sin, given Holy Spirit

from destruction

maybe not immediate result, deception eventually destroys – think about some of white-collar crooks, what has happened when deception unmasked – examples multiply

recently, passenger airplane, 71 passengers and crew all died when plane crashed – instruments were deceptive, not reporting actual conditions

truth in ultimate sense sets free from eternal destruction: truth of the Gospel sets free from bondage in sin, slavery to Satan, sentence of death

C. Satan is the antithesis of truthJohn 8:44 (see NIV)

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

connection between character and speech

who he is reflected in what he says – Satan does not uphold the truth, is not in him to do so, what comes out is deceptive

nature of deception is it breeds more – one leads to another, each needs to be more comprehensive to cover sinful motives

between speech and action

one who works to deceive in speech does so in action also – Satan’s root desire is to enslave and eventually destroy

yes, words can hurt, often do hurt – was words from Satan that led Adam and Eve into sin and death

words to or about neighbor should lead to action that demonstrates love, not causes harm – especially true of close neighbors

Christian’s greatest desire – as far away as possible

just the thought of falsehood should be revolting to Christian… because of who star player is – reason enough to shun it

at same time, should have equal desire to be close to Christ, one who identified himself as way, truth, life

D. God’s word is the sourceJohn 17:17

many kinds of truth

not every kind of truth applies to all people in all circumstances at all times – not every kind of truth is important to all…

truth about how internal combustion engine operates not significant to person who only has a bicycle

truth about gravity, safety around electricity and water, addition facts, even when we don’t think about them have significance

one kind at head of line

truth as declared by God, embodied in his son the Lord Jesus, recorded in his word the Bible stands unalterable and above all other truth

it does apply and have significance for all people in all places for all time – that is one big reason why God revealed it

not only relates to quality of life issues during earthly existence, God’s absolute truth has direct bearing on QoL after death

does not need to be defended

don’t have to prove its validity, its application, its source – God’s truth as found in God’s word accompanied by God’s Spirit quite capable of taking care of itself

consider all the testimony to accuracy of Bible – archaeology, Dead Sea Scrolls, sheer volume of manuscripts

needs to be upheld

truth that never sees light of day not helpful – must be displayed, declared, witnessed to so has effect / results God intends

Rom. 10:14-17 “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?And how shall they preach unless they are sent? …faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

E. we are witnessesActs 1:8; 5:32

must be accurate ones

we depend on accuracy of Jesus’ witnesses for health of eternal soul – same holds for those who hear our testimony – must uphold and present God’s truth clearly / accurately

must be credible ones

“For the man who loves truth, and is truthful where nothing is at stake, will still more be truthful where something is at stake; he will avoid falsehood as something base, seeing that he avoided it even for its own sake; and such a man is worthy of praise.” Aristotle, Ethics

includes upholding truth when is hard – truth unpopular, causes division, may put very lives at risk – what we perceive as risk God may intend to use for good

illustration

Deciding to follow Jesus means giving clear and credible witness to God’s truth, upholding and maintaining truth whatever the cost… and trusting God to direct the outcome.

Living Generously

Exodus 20:15

Have you noticed how lots of folks love generosity in others, even like the idea of being generous to folks… often with other people’s resources, though. Not so keen on being generous themselves. Think minimum wage ought to be higher, complain about higher prices at checkout. This program or those benefits ought to be expanded, then howl at increases in tax burden.

God commends generosity, not in forms just mentioned, but personal generosity, when one being generous gives from his own resources. Familiar text perhaps comes to mind:

2 Cor. 9:7 “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

That and more connected to present commandment. Addresses broad range of principles: how do you acquire what you have, what do you do with it once you have it. In a nutshell – acquire it in ways God approves, use in ways that bring glory to God. Things in view like work ethic, property ownership, buying / selling / borrowing, charitable giving, gambling, investments, and of course trust and God’s providence.

Keep in mind: we are image bearers, designed / intended to reflect character of God. Since God is ultimate Giver, what does that mean for us his children?

A. what is forbidden

stealing

basic definition: to take without right or leave, and with intent to keep wrongfully; to take the property of another without right or permission

perhaps once time in life when would have considered, now as child of God not thinkable to purposely take what is not yours

would quickly agree mugging, bouncing checks, taking tools from jobsite, shoplifting all wrong things to do – are correct

includes intangibles

what about less obvious things – padding expense account, questionable tax loopholes… know “everybody does” not good enough

applies to things you can’t hold in your hand

time, energy, affection, reputation, freedom – all things that can be taken from someone else

using time that rightly belongs to employer, seeking credit for self at expense of another, putting expectations on someone else that limits freedom

shouldn’t willingly sign up for things that steal from us

rightly exercise caution so not vulnerable to identity theft – guard passwords, PINs, careful what retailers patronize

at same time, too many sign up easily for what steals time that could be used to advance Christ’s kingdom, choices that take away financial freedom

B. what is required

acquire things lawfully

talking God’s law, not man’s – much that is authorized by man where God doesn’t agree, various forms of gambling/lottery

God clearly connects acquiring even basics with work: read2 Thess. 3:7-10

well-known parable of talents commends prudent investing, condemns failure to properly use what God entrusts (Matt. 25:14ff)

look out for well-being of own possessions and others

responsibility doesn’t end with acquisition – includes proper use of all God entrusts to us regardless of how acquired

should not misuse time, talent, material or other resources – should use them to maximum effectiveness , big picture… for sake of the Gospel and spread

how does that work? e.g., 3 basics, food / shelter / clothing – kind & qty of food that fits you best for service to God; well-maintained shelter for own protection (so you can serve well) and hospitality; clothing appropriate for occasion so you can serve effectively and with good witness

and others? take care of what you borrow, give back as good or better; call FD if neighbor’s house is on fire

be generous with what you have; go back to creation mandate

at beginning God supplied Adam and Eve with amazing abundance, nearly unlimited possibilities for growth

whole planet was theirs to make productive… to glory of God, for their own use, for good of others who would come along

God could have given 160 acres, fenced it, told to live in it – instead, God was unbelievably generous… and still is, btw

here’s where biblical work ethic comes in:

Eph. 4:28 “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”

work hard, up to your potential, then use rewards for labor the right way – give back to God first, use for own need, plan to be generous as God enables

conditions for that to work? Matt. 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'”

general principle: use what God entrusts wisely and well, he will entrust with more; includes / requires generosity

includes proper training of children

too many children trained up with entitlement mindset, something for nothing – given all kinds of trinkets with no responsibility

can learn from young age – if you want something (and is what is appropriate) there is way to go about getting it

and once you have it, these responsibilities; if / when it breaks or wears out, here’s how you deal with it

children need to be trained to be generous – start with sharing toys, give rather than throw outgrown toys away

spreads out from there: making sweet treats, who will receive a helping; raking leaves, which neighbor has a need

applies to children’s earnings – firstfruits to God, remainder used wisely in age-appropriate ways… including opportunities to be generous to those in need – remember Paul

C. its basis

God’s commitment to provide

nearly every page of Bible has something about God’s provdence – from beginning has supplied needs of his creatures

even grievous fall into sin increased / enhanced God’s faithful provision – sinful man has greater need, less ability, more dependent on God

most amazing, God provides liberally for his enemies as well as friends – generosity not limited to those who are nice to him

God most generous to his children, lavishing kindness and blessings on them – his children his priority but not only recipients of good things

God’s model of generosity

obviously finite human beings cannot compete with God – still should present accurate image of God, incl. love & generosity

once again apostle Paul nails it: Rom 8.32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

God willingly gave up what was dearest to him – dearly loved son in whom he was well-pleased – not for his own benefit, but for our eternal good

if we want unsaved friends / family to be attracted to God’s generosity in Lord Jesus, can’t be sending mixed messages – need to model it to extent God enables

“forbids” hoarding, greed, anxiety

since have millennia of examples of God’s faithfulness besides personal experience, are some attitudes / behaviors we should not give in to

holding back / hanging on because might need at some point – iow, being reluctant giver

desire for more so will be sure to have enough when time of need comes – in both cases, may be keeping from someone else what God would have us give

so we give away, look at how little we have left, get anxious and fearful – might run out, might not be enough to meet need

and so we hold back trust and confidence in God that rightly belongs to him… when we know he can provide, should believe he will supply our need

remember what Jesus said: Matt. 6:31-33 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

May God help us to trust him that he will take care of us, that he will supply our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. And then may we use wisdom and discernment he supplies to love our neighbor… generously.

A Call to Purity

Exodus 20:14

Headline couple weeks ago touting significant drop in divorce rate here in Maine:

in Maine, the annual number of failed marriages has dropped by 30 percent over the past decade, according to statistics compiled by the state Department of Health and Human Services. During the same period, Maine marriages rose about 2 percent. …Does that mean Mainers have found the secrets to a happy marriage? Probably not. …Researchers say the overall decline is likely fueled by the fact that people are waiting longer to get married, are generally more selective and feel less pressure to tie the knot. Plus, more people are living together first and getting a good idea of what married life is all about

Talk about number of failed marriages decreasing, silent about number of failed relationships. This comes after report last fall about alarming rise in STDs.

“…executive director for the National Coalition of STD Directors: “We believe there’s a direct relationship between budget cuts and increases in STDs in the United States.

That may be so. However… can guarantee direct relationship between increases in STDs and behaviors contrary to God’s guidelines for intimacy. Same holds true for failed marriages, failed relationships. May not explain every individual situation, but sure covers the overwhelming majority. Too many bought into lie that pursuit of pleasure something other than fool’s errand. Somehow are adequately equipped to figure out best way to live life, find meaning, enjoy real contentment. Completely disregard this basic principle:

mankind made in God’s image, intended to be visible examples of God’s character. Made impossible by fall into sin, restored again in redemption/regeneration – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” Rom. 8:29

A fundamental purpose should begin with: are made for particular purpose according to God-ordained design to be lived out within bounds of specific relationships.

A. fundamental purpose1 Cor. 10:31

creator expects creation to bring glory to him: Rom. 11:36 “of Him and through Him and to Him are all things”

“Heavens declare the glory of God”, creatures “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

only way creatures know how to do that: creator reveals to them – basic law written on hearts… even though defaced

further elaborated by word: spoken at various times in various ways, final revelation given in life and word of Lord Jesus

not one, even favorite Son had liberty to change expectations, make up own set of rules – all expected to glorify God in manner God established

especially true for believer 1 Cor. 6:20

unbeliever has no desire to glorify God, has drastically limited ability – could do far more than typically does, but…

child of God through sanctifying power of Holy Spirit having those abilities restored day by day… along with renewed desires

like all rest, to be from the heart – Deut. 6:5

right behavior for selfish reasons better than sinful actions – God’s standard… right actions / attitudes fueled by love for him

God speaking to entire congregation, in our words saved and unsaved – God has same standard for both… is reflection of his character, to be reflected by his creatures

B. created designGen. 2:20-24

gender and roles – whose definition

how many genders? as many as you want, it’s a social construct: “a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally” OED

and what about roles within relationships – common approach “whatever works” “if it feels good” make it up as you go along while keeping actual responsibility to minimum

what we experience today started gaining ground quickly 50 years ago: Woodstock image, where that hedonistic mindset led

free love, sexual revolution, easy access to contraceptives / abortion – redefining what should be acceptable, normal in relationships / family

loud, strong message to young people today: if not part of it, are missing out – are right, are missing out… on heartache, compromised health, ruined character… for starters, and all for sake of perceived momentary pleasure

defined / sanctioned by God: Gen. 1:27; 2:22

Bible takes different position, goes all way back to creation, God’s definition from beginning – two sexes (male / female), two genders (man / woman, masculine / feminine)

same true for roles and responsibilities: from beginning, how each was created, something as basic as who came first… intentional pattern laid down by God himself

woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved” Matthew Henry

satisfaction only within design limits

Satan so effective because takes everything God has meant for good, twists / distorts it for evil – true in most intimate human relationship

convinced sinners that pleasure can legitimately be found in ways other than what God defined – old-fashioned, prudish, have out-grown / evolved beyond that model

is true: lots of things provide pleasure… for the moment – only life according to God’s standard / design gives true satisfaction

God in grace and goodness tells us right way… so don’t have to learn hard way, and reap consequences of sinful choices

note: perhaps you made some of those sinful choices displeasing to God – good news: God forgives those who repent, turn to him

C. relationshipJob 31:9-12

if 5th command to work, 7th must be active

hard to honor if no relationship – how can properly honor someone you don’t know, only related by accident of biology

dicey if a sinful kind – abusive relationship between parents, confusion about who’s who, who’s in charge – does not relieve responsibility to keep command, sure makes it unnecessarily difficult

reality: infidelity is destructive – cp. God model of fidelity

healthy productive relationships have significant element of trust… that extends to every aspect of relationship: physical, emotional, spiritual

remember foundational principle of marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

only way that happens is when husband / wife have same kind of mutual faithfulness as God demonstrates toward his people, expects us to reflect

unfaithfulness destroys trust, takes far longer to rebuild than to build… and ends with physical infidelity – doesn’t start there

why Job said: “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, Or if I have lurked at my neighbor’s door, …that would be wickedness; …that would be a fire that consumes to destruction”

and Jesus: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28) – things do lead to things

need no more reason than God is and God said

many practical reasons why both immorality before marriage and unfaithfulness in marriage are bad ideas, are important

those really secondary – is enough that God is absolutely faithful in his relationships, and since we’re made in his image…

in addition, God has graciously given boundaries… that apply to saved and lost alike, and powerful example in life of Hosea

what about divorce

too many go into relationship consciously thinking if doesn’t work, oh well, try again – dating game as practiced, living together first prepares for that mindset toward marriage

question – have ever considered divorce? no, have thought about murder! – while back, someone serious about that, got divorced, never remarried

divorce permitted / regulated by God, not encouraged by God nor practiced by him – expects our default to be faithfulness

D. spiritual parallelEph. 5:21-33

Christ models duties / responsibilities in marriage

not new idea in NT – language of marriage / divorce / adultery in OT describing God’s relationship with his people, their repeated trips into idolatry

explicitly connected by Paul – “husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” – concepts of headship, submission, self-sacrifice, sanctification, nourishing and cherishing

again from M. Henry: “out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself”

marriage mirrors Christ and church

even insider like apostle Paul readily admitted this is “great mystery” – yet God-honoring marriage to be visible display of relationship Christ has with his body, the church

this relationship, because of level of intimacy and mutuality closer than any other earthly, should be characterized by purity, fidelity – neither should be in question

to be small taste of heaven

relationship between Christ and his church an enduring one – death does not dissolve, rather is enhanced in next life

no impurities there, Rev. 21:27 “there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie”

given final perspective on obedience: Rev. 22:14-15

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”

godly marriage should give small glimpse, little taste of what we can expect relationships to be like in heaven

Not there yet, where we should be, much room for improvement and growth… especially growth in holiness. Ought to fuel desire for greater purity, greater faithfulness to God and one another.

Cherish Human Life

Exodus 20:13

Live in a land where large numbers of people have thoroughly mixed-up view of life and death – if stakes were not so high, absence of rationality would be laughable. Capital punishment is wrong but abortion and assisted suicide are rights to be defended. Move heaven and earth to save a beached whale and ignore the orphans in the neighborhood. Celebrate and affirm culture of death while denying loved one has died. Cherish life so little people of all ages choose to end their own. Could give examples of upside down thinking about sixth commandment for days… because is an issue that influences every part of human existence.

Start by saying: default setting too often wrong… in our (hear American) way of thinking. Comes from having wrong starting point, asking wrong questions. If want my thoughts on how that all came about, ask me later. Couple particulars for illustration:

“Stand your ground” – my castle, my personal space, my rights… do whatever it takes to protect / preserve my domain at any cost, even if it costs someone his life – he’s on his own if he tries anything

notice starting point: I have responsibility and authority to use whatever means necessary including lethal force to control my personal environment

my question to a church is this: “If one of those crazies comes to your church, what are you going to defend yourself with, an offering plate?” For the Church and the church-goer, it becomes foundational to see what the Bible says on the subject. Central to understanding what approach a church should take is the basic nature of man as revealed in Scripture.” from Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network, Inc.

no… central to understanding what approach we should take is the basic character of God as revealed in Scripture – is where the Bible starts, where Commandments start, where God’s word ends

Same rationale applies to tragedy in Parkland, FL. Very likely former student had little or no understanding of God, his character and expectations. If like average 19 year old today, not required to honor parents, not taught respect for authority. Meanwhile, the push is on to react to symptoms, at same time ignoring or dismissing the only solution. Even what we have before us in our text not the solution for fallen sin-corrupted mankind – gives us God’s standard that makes clear our profound need… for Savior, who gives new heart so pleasing God will become way of life.

Is a biblical way to approach interaction with our neighbor. Remember – commandments 5 through 10 summarized by Lev. 19:18 “you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” Repeated by Jesus when answered lawyer’s question “what is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:36ff). Much debate, even dispute… in the church too, about application of this command. Will consider what the command does not mean; then what it does mean; followed by why God included it, then how we can best keep it. Will not cover all exhaustively, rather lay foundation and some of structure, then add to it from later portions of Exodus.

A. what it is not

not prohibition of all kinds of killing

this command given to a people accustomed to killing animals as non-negotiable act of worship… and that practice continued

was specific decree of God that permitted eating of meat: Gen. 9:3 “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.”

that practice continued… with regulations – both sacrifice and sustenance basic elements of first annual feast observed as a people: Passover

not even mandate against any loss of human life

It does not forbid killing in lawful war, or in our own necessary defence, nor the magistrate’s putting offenders to death” Henry

had prevailed over Amalekites by God’s enabling and with his sanction – was in part defensive, also retribution for sniper attacks on tired / weak stragglers (Deut. 25:17-19)

acts of war, self-defense, capital punishment carried out by civil authority all topics God has something to say about

not restricted to what we think of as life or death issues

God’s actual statement very narrow, but he did not intend narrow application – Lord Jesus broadened out considerably (Matt. 5:21ff), applies to anger management

same true for later commentary in Pentateuch: Deut. 19-21 covers things like who eligible for military service, matters of inheritance, treatment of war captives

B. what it is

an affirmation of life

key point God makes with this command: human life has value and significance for simple reason of what it is… human life

since it affirms life, also gives basis / starting place for decisions and actions that relate to life issues – means all human beings have basic right to life

are things that can rightfully have impact / effect on that right, but this the position must begin from

prohibition against unlawful taking of human life

term used with only 1 exc. (Prov. 22:13) refers to taking of human life by another human – manslaughter, premeditated murder (Num. 35:27, 30), contract killing (2 Ki. 6:32)

forbids unlawful taking of life – lawful taking of human life prescribed and regulated by God in same Numbers passage, elswhere

applies to more than confrontation – 1 John 3:15

apostle John equates hating someone with murder – why? in part, hatred prevents doing what is necessary to promote life

withholding what promotes life is opposite of loving neighbor – ultimate display of love that of giving own life so neighbor / brother may have life

C. why God included it

image-bearers – Gen. 1:27

mankind made in image of God, still bears image even though profoundly distorted – is that image that distinguishes human life from all other life

assault on image of God something He takes very seriously, might say personally (Gen. 9:6) – no surprise given lengths God went to in order to restore broken image in his children

God the source of life – Gen. 2:7

mankind not only unique because of image, received life in unique way – all other things created as living beings, God breathed life into man after his creation

to be no question whatever… human life a gift of God, apart from sin would never have been taken away; now to be taken only on God’s terms – he gave it, he has right to regulate how / when is taken

basic condition: human life to be taken only when right to keep it has been forfeited… by sin against God, and maybe other person – e.g. breaking sabbath, dishonoring parents

God committed to life – 1 Cor. 15:45; John 10:10

Adam brought death sentence on himself, all of his progeny – even at time of formal sentencing, God graciously declared intention to restore life… at incredible cost… life of his own Son

if God is committed to giving abundant life through faith in Christ, expects people to be committed to preserving life

is good gift from God, should treat it that way in self and others – cherishing life should be default, taking it only last resort when sanctioned by one who gave it

D. how to keep it

promote life – Rom. 12:17-21

don’t put someone’s life, their well-being in danger – by words, by deeds, by neglect – iow, actively do what will be for their good as God provides opportunity and resources

if you know / observe someone’s life is at risk, do all you can to protect from harm, prevent harm if possible and preserve life – Parkland, FL

same considerations apply to groups… municipalities, corporations, etc. – should be engaged in activities that promote life using practices / policies that are life-affirming

Christian should to extent possible not work for entities that knowingly do harm, should not buy their products – support with your time, talent, treasure what is consistent with biblical principles

concern for spiritual life – James 5:19-20

in striving to please God in practical ways, keep spiritual matters in view also – physical life and its quality are important, soul even more important

spiritual life what Son of God gave his life to purchase – why James makes such a strong point about importance of evangelism

“he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death” – give the cup of cold water, garnish it with the Gospel shared out of Gospel-centered life

approach life issues as God does

some of these get complicated because of where we live – wherever God has spoken clearly, we must follow… trust him for wisdom about the rest

God instituted capital punishment, entrusting administration to sinners – use because he said so, not practical considerations

what about medical considerations – just because have tech, can do something does not mean we should – let your conscience be your guide when is informed by word of God and submissive to his guiding

holds at beginning of life, middle of life, end of life – biblical principles come first, practical utilitarian concerns later

how can I do what is pleasing to God, encourage and enable others to do the same, while nurturing and cherishing life God has given, until he chooses to take it away

We have life because Creator God gave to us. We bear his image as does every other human being, however nice or despicable. We have promise of eternal life because Lord Jesus gave his life for ours. Debtors to his grace, yet possessing greatest treasure known to man – eternal future secure in God’s very presence. May we use life he has graciously given for his glory, the good of one another and those around us.

Honoring Authority in the Home

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Remember what YHWH told Moses to say to Pharaoh – “Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” “Let My people go, that they may worship Me.” Essential part of worship – giving praise and glory to true God for who he is, what he has done. Not something we can do while multi-tasking, not a spectator event. Worship that is pleasing to God involves whole person – intellect, emotion, body – expressing loyal devotion to one true God. Is to continue through rest of week – Rom. 12:1

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

Our response to God delivering us from slavery in sin: living sacrifice – dying to self, alive to God, expressing love for the God who saved us in all we do. Mind and feelings should be working together for glory of God. Tendency to be like pendulum, spending most of time on one side or the other – religion only of the mind tends to be sterile, cold, hyper-critical. Religion governed by feelings often drifts away into serious error. We need both mind and emotions fully engaged with God’s truth, “the words which I command you today”, in the driver’s seat.

Important preliminary instruction: readDeut. 4:9-10

A. right relationship

take heed to yourself (4:9a)

pay attention – figure laws about distracted driving are necessary, what about distracted living: too much life done w/o thought

shouldn’t second guess to point of indecision, but… is wise regularly to evaluate: what, is it right; why, is it important; how, motivation

keep yourself (4:9b)

stay on course – resist temptation to wander off, starting with eyes: as long as looking at Christ, nothing else attractive enough to draw us away

no one smart enough, wealthy enough, blessed enough to remain faithful without diligent effort – poster child: Solomon

devote yourself (6:5)

properly honoring authority in home begins with right relationship… starting with God – to begin with, we love him because…

then do what nurtures love, encourages growth – time together, reading letters, time with family, listen to voice, intentionally

at same time… put aside what interferes with pursuit of one you love – don’t think twice when pursuing human relationship!

B. right example

remember the day (4:10a)

Hebrew children to keep memory alive: when they heard God speak – that experience part of story told to next generations

not simply list of rules passed along – was to be God’s expectations in context of how he helped them, spoke to them

do you remember time(s) when you clearly recognized God speaking to you? children/grandchildren need to hear from you

teach your children and grandchildren (4:9c)

details of what is given here presumes children still in the home – however…not the only situation in view: could be grandchildren or great-grand, may all be grown / live at great distance, perhaps no children of your own

use all the influence you have at every opportunity you are given to teach God’s truth to next generation and the next

and… come alongside those who are doing that – parents in middle of adventure need encouragement, reinforcement

live it out

should be able to say with Paul: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” Phil. 3:17

is more than drilling times tables, word lists – is training how to think and live… worldview and way of life demonstrated

show what it means to live faithfully under God’s authority, use authority to honor God in all life situations

C. right teaching

from the Heart v. 6

no question, present text found in the Law, books of Moses, Torah – Gospels a long ways to the right, easy to think they are great distance away from Law

is absolutely no way Law by itself could bring about what is described in v.5-6 – was mistake of Pharisees, thinking by rigid adherence to Law could find favor, gain merit with God

Pharisees were wrong, must be careful not to encourage children in same error – our desire must match God’s: children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are free to love and worship and serve God

same power of Gospel applied by Holy Spirit that gave us new heart with God’s law written necessary to change children

children should see that parents honor God with both lips and heart – outward conformity to God’s expectations the evidence of unreserved devotion to God

love shown to children in home should be accurate model as far as can go – what child can expect from heavenly Father

just as parents obey God because they love him, children should be taught to obey God and parents because they love both

with the Lips v. 7

verbal instruction by no means the only way children must be taught – yet, never to early to begin speaking God’s truth to children

also true later on – never comes time when parents should hold back repeating God’s truth to children – words and methods change, not need for impressing principles on next generations

children need to know explicitly what God commanded, that commands came from God – need them explained and applied

need regular conversations with kids permeated with God’s truth – every topic fair game, discussed in age-appropriate way

is parents’ responsibility first to teach children things of God – church and its programs has supporting, not primary role

obviously parents need to understand what they are expected to teach, then pass along out of their own treasure

not reserved for morning or evening devotions, dinner table conversation – sit, walk, lie down, rise: iow, at every opportunity

parents teaching children is not a task they should do, is to be a function of how they live – need to be purposeful, teaching the right things intentionally from overflow of heart

using the Hands v. 8a

love for God and his laws is to be a rule of conduct – our hands are to be employed in ways that please him

we are to use our own hands for the right things – should not be idle, were created by design to be productive – God didn’t give opposable thumbs only to play video games

not essential to be compensated for all we do – is time and place for that; many opportunities for service to others

God not only designed for productivity, he designs each individual for particular vocation – parent’s task (not guidance counselor) to help child determine, prepare for it

we must teach our children and grandchildren how to use their hands in service to God by serving one another – by both example and instruction, starting at home

need dads who raise sons to be men – godly servant-leaders in home, church, community; if you aren’t presently occupied with hands-on parenting, stand in for a missing dad

need moms who raise daughters to be women – godly capable complements to God-fearing husbands should the Lord provide; ladies, if you aren’t presently hands-on…. come alongside mom of daughters

both older men / women – need some tips, see Titus 2

according to a biblical Vision v. 8b

God in his word has something to say about:

Theology: Is there a God and what is God like? Philosophy: What is real and how do I know? Biology: What is the origin of life? Psychology: What is the basic nature of man? Ethics: What is right? Sociology: How should society be structured? Law: What is the basis for law? Who makes the rules? Politics: What is the purpose of government? Economics: What produces a sound economy? History: How should we interpret human events?

we should be viewing the world through the lens of God’s principles as revealed in Scripture – see the world in the categories God does with the interconnections he sees

recognize God at work, seeing his fingerprints on current events and his creation – then instruct children and grandchildren how to see the same

vast majority of what you see and hear comes from worldview that conflicts with God’s word in at least some if not every point

only way to maintain biblical vision and pass it on to children is to have God’s word in our face, in our eyes / ears / heart

should be sponges thoroughly saturated with word of God so whenever poked or squeezed Bible truth runs out

as the character of the Home v. 9

love for God is to guard the entrance to hearts and homes

parents have a responsibility to bring into the home what truly belongs there and keep out what would be harmful – love for God and a desire to please him by keeping his commands is the filter.

home should be both a haven from the world and a spiritual nursery where our children and grandchildren are first fed milk, then meat as they are taught to know and love God

God’s commandments were to permeate every sphere of the life of man – informing thoughts, desires and actions

May the same be said of our homes and our children as Paul declared regarding Timothy:

2 Tim. 1:3-5I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

2 Tim. 3:14-15 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Honor Authority – Part 3

Exodus 20:12

Have considered authority from “bottom up” perspective, honoring those in authority over us. What about those in the middle, how do they honor and exercise authority? Basic principle: Romans 13:1

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

Just as mankind is to properly steward material resources granted to him – “Fill the earth and subdue it!” Gen. 1:28, so every person responsible to honor God’s authority by properly using authority entrusted to him. In a nutshell, way to do that is: exercise authority as God would if he were standing in your shoes. Have substantial guide to follow with countless examples of God himself acting as parent, ruler, employer. Have specific instructions, God has given other models both good and bad, first and ultimate responsibility to God and follow his example.

iow, God revealed in his word is the standard. If God is the standard then… what responsibility do parents/rulers/employers have? How seriously does God view their responsibility? If we keep his command to honor authority, what does God promise? And what role does the church have in all this?

E. what responsibility do “they” have

parents

sacrificial love toward one another – Eph. 5:24-25

begins here, setting example, having biblical structure present: church subject to Christ = wives to husbands; as Christ loved church = husbands to wives

dad and mom who are not “one flesh” because one w/Christ => misbehaving children w/ no respect for authority

sacrificial love toward children – 1 John 4:10-11

God so loved adopted children he sacrificed his own Son – God’s love toward us is model we are to follow toward others

love enough to discipline – Prov. 3:12

discipline to be corrective not punitive – goal to bring about change in behavior originating in change of heart; God not interested only in behavior modification, wants devoted hearts

rulers Rom. 13:3-4

protect and defend – Isa. 44:6

Lord, King of Israel also Redeemer – delivering from harm, protecting from further harm; Lord of hosts / armies defends against enemies of all sorts

God’s example is that of ruler who has best interests of subjects as priority, uses authority to do all necessary to promote their good

implement just laws and maintain justice – Isa. 33:22

YHWH our king, also judge and legislator (lawgiver) – made sure his people had best laws possible as template for localized application – principles of good legal system, God’s Law a match

govern with careful compassion – Psa. 146:9

God has immigration policy – watches over strangers and aliens, has given pretty specific commands how to treat them

also given clear instruction about basic principles for assistance to needy – good rulers / legislators should view / treat immigrants and poor as God has demonstrated

employers

compensates liberally – Gen. 1:28-29

gave command to be productive, to subdue earth and manage it; reward: everything they could produce was theirs

even after sin entered world, in God’s economy 90% goes to employee and 10% to God – if only it worked that way today!

reasonable expectations – Gen. 2:2

God not a work-a-holic, made clear by example and precept he doesn’t expect his people to be either – God himself worked six days, rested one day

God’s plan: a sustainable work week that adequately provides for needs while setting aside time for religious duties

responsive to employees – Ex. 2:23-24

God heard cries of his workers when immediate supervisors did not… and acted to remedy significant injustice

good employer listens to legitimate requests, shows compassion whenever possible, rightly expects loyalty in return

F. how seriously does God view it

connection between commandments 4 and 5 – Lev. 19:3

honoring God’s authority over your work week vs honoring other authorities – two concepts / principles go hand in hand

one who faithfully submits to God’s authority devoting one day of seven to spiritual exercise will show effects other six days

not utilitarian “do it because it works”, is God’s purposeful design – grows love for God, fuels love for others, shown by honor

penalty for disobedience – Ex. 21:15, 17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21; 27:16

not only that we think family and what is learned at home is foundational, we are following God’s lead – category of capital offense, no greater personal penalty

intentional stubborn refusal to honor those who give life and breath an evil offense against God he said is worthy of death

same as for breaking the Sabbath – Ex. 31:14-15; 35:1-2ff

amounts to despising God and his good gifts… all seven days – putting something or someone else in God’s place at top

elder abuse – Matt. 15:4-9

Jesus had strong words for religious leaders who enabled neglect of parents – hypocrites, blind leaders of blind

declared to be transgression of God’s command, accused of holding people to tradition that nullified commandment

G. what does God promise if we do

promise repeated Eph 6:3 – quotes from Deut. 5:16

both Ex. & Deut. include promise of length of days, Deut. adds “may be well” – Paul careful to quote from enlarged version

don’t hold it applies only because repeated in NT – God doesn’t waste words… repeats things that have weight, significance

your days may be long

we think first of practical effects – clean living and perseverance vs. drugs / sex / rock ‘n roll – certainly is important element

more pertinent: way God designed, going all way back to beginning – remember, if sin hadn’t shown up, neither would death

it may be well with you

God didn’t promise more long, hard, miserable years – he intended long(er) life to be filled with blessings

how is it with you? is it well with you? if not, how are you trying to change it? by trying to do more of what isn’t working? or by doing more of life God’s way, in dependence on him, trusting him with the outcome

applies to church family, too

the more consistently we submit to God’s authority and honor authorities he has established in Christ’s church, more blessing we can expect

at same time, church family will be better able / equipped to strengthen families for times when we are apart

H. role of the church

preach about it – Eph. 5:22ff

it’s in the Bible, ought to be heard from the pulpit… and not stopping with honoring God and his sovereign authority over all

God in his word addresses specific relationships / areas of life: starts with husbands and wives, moves to parents and children, then employers and employees

should not only be heard from the pulpit, should be heard by those in each category – was true for God speaking from Sinai, apostles writing to the church, should be today

note carefully: Bible came from God in one flavor, addressed to every kind of person of every age in every sort of situation

God did not issue small group, praise and worship, nursery, junior church, senior saints, college and career flavors – expected all of his word to be heard by all of his people… together

may be place for targeted teaching to particular groups but should be in addition to primary place given to preaching

teach proper roles – Titus 2:1-8

here’s another way modern church gone off on its own, developed methods and practices that depart from biblical model

is to be older saints, seasoned mature believers who have lived according to roles established in God’s word mentoring next generation of believers

older men and women exercising proper leadership in homes and within local church training / grooming tomorrow’s leaders

model family – 1 Tim. 3:4-5; Titus 1:5-6

Christians should be able to find all they need for help and guidance within local church starting with marriage / family

requires local church to have those who meet biblical requirements for leadership in those positions – God knew what he was doing when he said:

an elder/overseer must be “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”

live as family – 1 Cor. 12:12-14

“body is one and has many members” – call it church family for a reason – is how it should function, with all various roles

significant blot on church of Jesus Christ is poor reputation many have – gossip, conflict with each other, etc…. – may Christ preserve us from any of that

world should be able to look at our families, our church family and see God’s design for family and honor of authority being lived out in homes and community

Next week, Honoring Authority in the Home