Remembering the Laws

December 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: The laws that were given to Moses by God in Exodus 21 and 22 were given orally. How could so many laws be remembered by Moses and then transmitted to the people without writing them down?

Answer: Later on (probably during the wilderness wanderings) Moses did write them down, and, since he was inspired by the Holy Spirit at that time, there was no possibility of him making a mistake in remembering them. However, before they were written down, they were given with certain literary and mnemonic devices built into them to help with their memorization. One of these is the device of chiasmus. Also, faithful Hebrew fathers were supposed to rehearse the laws with their children frequently and regularly, so that they could be remembered and passed down from generation to generation. See Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

A Diet of Distinction (Part One)

July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:1-8

Although the Old Testament law is in the Bible, and although it was given by God, not all of the Old Testament law is binding upon Christians today. A misunderstanding of the relevance, context, and application of Old Testament law breeds common claims of inconsistency among Bible skeptics, but we understand that there were different categories of law under the Mosaic Covenant.

Some of the laws were moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments. These laws are written upon the conscience of every human being, and they have applied at all times in all places for all people.

Some of the laws were ceremonial laws. These dealt with the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood and Tabernacle (later Temple) worship.

Some of the laws were civil laws. These were casuistic, or case law principles and precepts for governing relationships between people. They were “if, then” type laws.

Some of the laws were dietary laws. They promoted cleanliness and practical holiness, but they are no longer binding under the New Covenant.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Acts 10:9-16

The ceremonial and sacrificial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant pointed to Christ and were fulfilled in Him.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Colossians 2:16-22

Only the moral laws are considered binding under the New Covenant. The law of Christ is the law of love. True love never encourages, condones, or tolerates immorality, much less celebrates it.

However, the dietary laws, and the reasons for them, have much to teach us even to this day. These laws protected God’s people from uncleanness. They commanded purity. To some extent they were laws promoting good health and hygiene, but, more importantly, with so many laws stressing what not to eat, what not to touch, where not to go, what not to wear, God’s people would have a constant awareness of the ubiquity of sin.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 4:7

In a fallen world, we need to be reminded of sin’s constant presence. In fact, as New Testament Christians, it would be good if we were even more conscious of, and afraid of, sin than the Old Testament Israelites were.

Furthermore, regardless of the “science” or the “common sense” behind the Old Testament dietary and hygiene laws, they were to be obeyed because “God said so,” and, for the Jewish people before the time when Christ fulfilled and did away with the ceremonial and dietary laws, it was sin for the people to break them.

In Part Two we will look at the role that the Israelites’ special diet played in God’s requirement for them to be “holy.”

Unveiled Glory and Unguarded Giving

May 18, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Exodus, II Corinthians | 5 Comments
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God’s people in Canaan would not just be different for the sake of being different. Having different laws, different clothes, different habits and customs, different worship, and being monotheistic, they would stand out as being a people who worshiped an unseen God rather than visible idols. They would also be a people with a God Whose reputation was mighty.

And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Exodus 34:10

The Lord reinstituted the covenant they had broken. His people would have the comfort and joy and privilege of seeing Him do things that were unlike anything that had been seen before, but the pagans would see, too, and it would be evidence that the God worshiped by the Israelites was the real God. It would also be evidence to show that those who worshiped Him would be blessed.

I previously discussed Moses’s glowing face, and the veil which he wore to shield it from the people so they could come near him.

And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.

Exodus 34:33

The other reason for this veil was that it would serve for an illustration in the New Testament.

But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

II Corinthians 3:7

“The ministration of death” means that death comes upon all who sin, and the Law was given to show us our sin. It was written and engraved on stones, and it was glorious. It revealed the nature of God, but the Law’s glory had a built-in expiration date. It faded away, just as eventually the light of Moses’s countenance began to fade after his encounters with God.

How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

II Corinthians 3:8

The stone-engraved law was glorious, but the ministry of the Holy Spirit Himself is greater.

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

II Corinthians 3:9

The Law showed the problem, but it didn’t offer a solution. It condemned for lack of righteousness, but it could not reproduce its own righteousness in fallen human beings.

For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.

II Corinthians 3:10

So great is the glory of Christ-imputed righteousness that it makes the brilliant glory of the Law seem dim.

For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

II Corinthians 3:11

This glory was always there, but it is now more fully given.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:

II Corinthians 3:12

A veil over a person’s face obscures his words when he speaks.

And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

II Corinthians 3:13

The people could see their need for righteousness, but the Savior Who would abolish the Law through its fulfillment was shadowy – not yet fully visible.

But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

II Corinthians 3:14

Most of the Jewish people in the Apostle Paul’s day still wanted the veil of Moses in place. If the better-than-Moses wouldn’t wear a veil, they wanted it over their own eyes instead of His face.

But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

II Corinthians 3:15-16

Jesus will – and He must if we are to see truth – come rip away the veil for those who admit their sin and their need for the Savior and call upon Him.

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

II Corinthians 3:17-18

The change from Law to Gospel was glorious. It was a change from lesser to greater glory, but there are higher gradations (“from glory to glory”) yet to come in your sanctification, if you are in Christ Jesus.

In Exodus 35 there is a repetition of the commandments and instructions concerning construction of the Tabernacle and its furnishings that had been stated before, and the account of their fulfillment.

And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass,

Exodus 35:4-5

And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. And they came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought bracelets, and earrings, and rings, and tablets, all jewels of gold: and every man that offered offered an offering of gold unto the LORD.

Exodus 35:20-22

The people had given their possessions willingly to be used in their idolatry, but now they gave even more willingly in true worship. Their preparation for worship was in itself an act of worship. Think of what you spend willingly on, and think about what it would be like to spend just as joyfully on the work of the Lord. Let’s pray that we don’t have to drink our defiled possessions and suffer a plague or some severe chastening before we recognize the peace of joyful giving.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;

Exodus 35:29-31

Yeah, but You Let Women Talk in Church!

September 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 5 Comments
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Here’s one of the most common attempts to silence Christians who speak out against gay fake-marriage on the grounds that it is condemned in the Bible: “Oh, so you’re against gay marriage because the Bible says so? Doesn’t that book also say you can’t eat pork or wear clothes that have a blend of fabric. Doesn’t it say that women can’t braid their hair or wear gold or pearls or expensive clothes? Isn’t there something about not rounding off your beard? Doesn’t it say you can’t eat shellfish? And don’t you go to church with women? Are they allowed to speak? Why are you picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to follow?”

In response, let’s put aside for now the logical fallacy implied by the questions, because, obviously, if the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and that homosexual marriage is a nonsense term describing a sinful relationship, then it is irrelevant how Christians are deciding to enforce or follow or obey selective parts of the Bible. If it really was sinful for my wife to braid her hair, but she did it anyway, that would not change God’s verdict on homosexuality one iota. Instead, though, let me deal with the false understanding of hermeneutics and Biblical application that underlies these “gotcha” questions so often posed by those who hate hearing that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

First of all, yes, my wife does speak in church, and quite often! What she doesn’t do is usurp the authority of the men who are ordained as Bible teachers and pastors in our church, which is what is being prohibited in the full-context reading of I Timothy Chapter 2. If you somehow think that the Bible condemns homosexuality in the same way it condemns eating crawfish or wearing poly-cotton blends, then you are making an error common in amateurish and disingenuous attempts to discredit the Bible. The Old Testament dietary, ceremonial, and many of the covenantal laws were for the Jewish people at a specific time and place. They are no longer binding on New Testament Christians, as the Bible itself makes clear (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23–25; Ephesians 2:15). God’s moral laws, however (such as the Ten Commandments), are different. They are for all people at all times and places.

If you actually looked up I Timothy Chapter 2 to read about how women, in certain circumstances, are commanded to be silent in church, then I wish you would back up one chapter and read I Timothy Chapter 1, especially verses 14-17. “Chief of sinners” was how the Apostle Paul described himself, but it is also a good description of me and of you and of everyone who reads this. Because of our sin – our lying, our pride, our hypocrisy, our thievery, our disobedience toward our parents, our blasphemy, our idolatry, our coveting, our adultery, our fornication, our failure to love the God Who gives us the air we breathe with our whole heart – because of those sins and many more – we need the one and only Savior there is: the Lord Jesus Christ – so that we can be forgiven. What a shame it would be to go through this life rejecting Him because of some hypocrites who brought shame to His name, or because He loved us enough to tell us the truth about our sin.

The Forbidden Recipe and the Special Angel

May 8, 2015 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

Exodus 23:19

Why would God not want them to cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk? For one, it was a Canaanite fertility ritual, intended to magically impart extra fertility into the herds and crops, and, therefore, it would be an obviously sinful practice for God’s people.

Second, commentators also believe that such a cooking method would have been evidence of the type of callowness and cruelty that God did not want to see in His people. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly cruel person, nor an animal-hater, but, if you told me that you had prepared some succulent baby goat meat for me, I would probably be looking around for a knife and fork, although I guess the method of preparation does sound somewhat cruel.

Third, some scholars think that God prohibited the practice just because it was a dumb idea for goat herders. Wasting milk, possibly killing a breeding, or future breeding, goat, just so the meat would taste a little better was not forward-thinking enough for people who were supposed to be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them by the Lord.

Whichever the case, it does appear in the Covenant Code right before this very important break in the list of laws:

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.

Exodus 23:20

Who is this Angel, Who will make sure they stay in the “way” of God? The wording reminds us of John 14, where Jesus told His disciples He was going away. If this Angel in Exodus 23:20 was in fact a reference to the preincarnate Christ (as many theologians believe), then Jesus brought His people to God’s promised prepared place (Canaan) in the Old Testament, just as He is going to bring us to Heaven, the prepared place, under the New Testament. In the Old Testament He kept them in the “way.” In the New Testament He is also the Way.

There is a counter argument that the “Angel” in Exodus 20:23 could be a special appointed angel like Michael or a cherub or seraph, but I don’t think so.

Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.

Exodus 23:21

The statement “obey his voice” reminds us of the words spoken by God the Father from Heaven at Jesus’s baptism, and the words of Mary at the wedding of Cana. The clause “provoke him not” seems to foreshadow Psalm 2:12. The promise that “he will not pardon your transgressions” seems to attribute deity to the Angel, and to whom besides Jesus has God given the authority to pardon transgressions/sins? Finally, the last clause of the verse says “my name is in him,” and certainly only one Person can say that “I and my Father are one.”

But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.

Exodus 20:22-23

This is an early example of the “Christus Victor” motif in Scripture, in which Christ is seen as a warrior – a conquering hero – Who vanquishes His enemies and sets His people free.

Peer Pressure and Robin Hood Theology Exposed

March 20, 2015 at 10:56 am | Posted in Exodus | 5 Comments
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In a previous lesson I mentioned that many of the laws in the Covenant Code were casuistic. However, there were also apodictic laws. For example:

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.

Exodus 23:2-3

Apodictic laws are res ipsa laws – laws that are self-evident, that speak for themselves. They are abundantly clear about what they mean. They are not intended to be demonstrations (the way casuistic laws are) of specific instances. Apodictic laws were appropriate for God’s people because God is a God of absolutes as well as application. However, apodictic laws are far more rare in the ancient codices of pagan cultures. In an ungodly society a law that says “thou shalt not kill” is far less likely to be found because it would depend on who you killed. God is not a respecter of persons, so His laws seek to treat equally all those who are created in His image. So, we see verses in the Covenant Code like:

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Exodus 23:2

This means, “Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t cave in to the peer pressure to do evil. Don’t get caught up (or ‘caught down’) in any downward trends of violating justice because of favoritism or popularity.” This was a very wise command for the people in Moses’s day, and it is a very good reminder in our day, too. “Do the opposite of everyone else” is not a perfectly sound rule for Christians in every instance. We’re not just contrarians – just being antagonistic or different for the sake of being contrary – but observing what is popular in the world can be a pretty good indicator of what displeases God, and it is often something to take into account. Jesus is the “Way” and He is a “way,” and we know His way is narrow. It’s never the road of the majority.

Just as Exodus 23:2 warns against the danger of popularity, the next verse warns against the temptation to equate poverty as automatic evidence of righteousness.

Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.

Exodus 23:3

In other words, don’t favor the wealthy and the popular just because it might benefit you, but don’t favor the poor when they are in the wrong just because you feel sorry for them, and want to seem holy by sticking up for them. God’s command is: Just do justice – do right – regardless of your personal bias.

Winning the Argument that Christ is Better

March 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 7 Comments
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The Book of Hebrews was authored by the Holy Spirit, but there are vastly differing opinions over which human instrument He used to do so. Personally, I believe it was the Apostle Paul. It was written to convince the Hebrews (Jewish Christians) of the superiority of Jesus. A key phrase is “a better…” The Lord Jesus is “better” than all the attempts at righteousness in the Jewish religion.

Another one of the book’s main themes is the encouragement to draw near – draw nigh – to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

We don’t have to chase God all over the country. As Christians, we can draw near to Him any time we want. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about the little children, He said, “Suffer them to come unto Me.”

In Hebrews Chapter 1 we see that Christ is better than the prophets of God who came before Christ’s birth.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:1-2

The prophets told people about how God created everything, but Christ was there when it was created.

Second, Christ is better than the angels.

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 1:4-5

The angels are sometimes called the sons of God, but they are created beings, and the created is not to be worshiped. Only the Creator is to be worshiped.

The angels serve Jesus, and they serve Christians, too.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 1:14

How does knowing that Christ is better than the prophets and better than the angels convince us to draw near to Him? It’s step one of an argument. How did the Hebrews know that they were supposed to have priests and a high priest and altars and sacrifices and a tabernacle and sin offerings and blood sacrifices? God told them (His Word). But through what medium? His prophets. They delivered the Law – including the ceremonies of their religion. But if Christ was greater than the prophets, then the people needed to learn from Him.

Christ did not really come with a revelation of following a by-the-numbers set of rules and regulations. He came with principles like Grace and Love. The angels and the prophets helped deliver the Law, which was God’s revelation of His nature to the people, but Christ is enthroned in glory. He is seated at God’s right hand.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 1:3-4

Christ is better than the prophets because He is God. He is better than the angels because they were created and He is the Creator.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8

The cults don’t like this, but it is still true. “The Son” is a more excellent name. Jesus is God, and He has been forever. He was not “born” as touching His Deity. However, God the Father has especially honored Him as Son.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hebrews 1:8-9

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective)

May 14, 2014 at 8:53 am | Posted in Exodus, Uncategorized | 16 Comments
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We have seen:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments
2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will look at:

3. The Reflective Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Under the revelatory purpose I said that the Ten Commandments in a sense reveal (or reflect) the character of God. However, they reflect the other way, too, and I believe this is the main purpose of the Ten Commandments: The Commandments are God’s mirror to show us what we really look like.

Do you look in the mirror in the morning? I don’t like it, but I do it, because it tells me the truth about me – what’s on my face, what’s between my teeth, whether I accidentally grabbed a purple tie and green socks. The mirror does nothing to help me look better – except to show me the truth.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:19

No one can look at the Ten Commandments honestly or even with partial honesty, and deny that he is guilty before God.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:20

That’s why we use the Ten Commandments in evangelism. They let us hold up a mirror to lost sinners without us acting as their judge ourselves.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:21-23

When the Bible says that all have sinned, most people will see this as an excuse instead of an accusation. “Okay, I’m a sinner, but so is everyone else.” It’s not an excuse. We are people of unclean lips, but the fact that we are part of a group doesn’t excuse us. It makes things worse. We are not just sinners. We are part of a sinful race of people.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

“The” heart is a universal subject. It means that everyone’s heart, apart from Christ, is like this. The Ten Commandments do not let us get away with those kinds of rationalizations. They are universally applicable, but they are also pointedly personal: thou shalt; thou shalt not.

God does not grade on a curve when it comes to sin, but even if He did, Jesus is the ultimate curve-breaker. He scored a perfect 100 on the “do not sin” test. The reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show us our need for that perfect Savior, and to destroy any hope we might have in ourselves or in our own works.

Teach your children the Ten Commandments, but don’t teach them like a rule book. Teach them like a mirror. And make sure that you yourself have really looked into that mirror, as well. There’s no such thing as a “good person.” There are only wicked vile wretched worthless useless sinners, some of whom have been saved by the grace and mercy and love and blood and death and burial and resurrection of a good and a great Savior.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive)

April 28, 2014 at 11:03 am | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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Last time we examined:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will see:

2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

This may sound contradictory, because in the previous lesson I said that the Commandments were freeing, and now I’m saying they’re restrictive, but we have to remember that God’s laws are not just for Christians. They are for everyone – even the people that don’t love Him and the people who don’t want to know Him. The Ten Commandments do not have the power to stop anyone from breaking them, but they do remind sinners that there are rules – and that there are consequences for breaking those rules.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 1:18

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:32

Sinners break God’s law, but they break it less when it is there to restrain them. This purpose is sometimes called the “restraining” purpose of the Commandments, because, if they are upheld by society, they help to restrain unbelievers from hindering the Gospel.

Most crimes occur under the influence of the flesh or the devil, but some crimes are deterred because of the threat of punishment, and there must be clear commands against wrongdoing if punishment is to be prescribed for the breaking of those commands. If a society bases its laws on the Ten Commandments, that society will not be holy, because society is made up of sinners. But that society will have a government where it is safer to preach the Gospel.

Next time we will look at the reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory)

April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Exodus, John | 15 Comments
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Lord, I say with the psalmist, I love Your law. We should meditate upon it every day and every night. We know that it is better than our own thoughts. We know that it is absolute truth. We know that those who love Your law will have great peace. Help us to see the correct uses for Your law, and especially Your Ten Commandments. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Ten Commandments are a part of the “Law of God” – specifically, the Old Testament Law. They are normally thought of as something that children need to learn, or that we need to teach them to help them behave better, or that need to be posted in public, so people can see what Christians think of as “right and wrong.”

Do you believe in the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say yes. Do you know the Commandments of God? Some Christians would say yes. Do you teach the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say a hearty “yes” (or at least agree that they should be taught). But this is a different question: Do you love the commandments of God?

Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

Psalm 119:127

The Old Testament believers were supposed to love the commandments of God – to “love His law” – but in the New Testament we are “under grace” not “law.” So should we love the Commandments?

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

God’s commandments are not cosmic laws that God discovered and decided to adopt to keep order in His universe. They are not rules He made up to keep Himself entertained as He watched over His creation. They are simply an expression of Who God is – which leads us to the first of three purposes which are revealed in Scripture to tell us some of the reasons for God giving us the Ten Commandments and His moral law. (These are not the only three reasons. There are more, but these are three big ones.)

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:21

“Revelatory” just means something that “reveals” something – something that lets us know what something else is like. If you love God, you must love what God loves. The Ten Commandments reveal to us what sort of being God is. We know that He is the only true God, because the 1st Commandment tells us that there are no other gods before Him. We know that He is holy and is righteously jealous, because the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Commandments tell us that we are not to make anything that is supposed to look like Him, we are not to mess with His Name, and that we are to have special days set aside just for worshiping Him. We know that He is a God that ordains authority and submission and obedience because of the 5th Commandment, and that obedience and submission are how He prefers love to be expressed. We know that He loves life, because He condemns murder. We know that He loves and promotes marriage, because he condemns adultery. We know that He loves truth, because He condemns lying and stealing. We know that He is omniscient – that He knows everything – including what’s best in every circumstance, because He condemns covetousness, which is dissatisfaction with what He’s given us.

Some people call the “revelatory” use of the law the “teaching” use, so this purpose for the Commandments is also known as the “didactic” purpose. The Holy Spirit uses the law of God to teach us how to live in a way that’s pleasing to our God after we have trusted Christ unto salvation.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I John 5:3

Do you see again the connection between loving God and loving His commandments? The lie of Satan and the lie of this world and the lie of our flesh is that rules and laws and commandments restrict our freedom – that they are “grievous” – that they are given to be a burden to us. But God says that this philosophy has it backwards. The worst type of slavery – the worst type of imprisonment – is “freedom” from God’s commandments. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you “get free” from God. Like a stray dog – a person who is “free” from God has himself for a master – and a man with himself for a master has a terrible master. Stray dogs get run over, they get sent to the pound, they get shot, they get killed by bigger and meaner dogs, they get rabies, they die alone and scared and miserable. Dogs are meant to be dominated by a master, and you and I are meant to be dominated by our loving Heavenly Father.

When you love God’s commandments and keep God’s commandments, that’s when you find true freedom. That’s when you become what God originally intended for you and I to be: His image-bearers – His good and obedient and loved and blessed children. That’s real freedom.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a second reason for the Ten Commandments.

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