Saturday, February 6, 2010

#17) Rules To Live By

Our society is governed by rules. There are rules everywhere. We have speed limits. We have emissions. We have dress codes. Rules are the very foundation of almost everything we do in life. When we see a cop in our rearview mirror, we tend to be overcome by a certain sense of fear and we immediately look at the speedometer. This is a healthy fear of one who holds our money and driving privileges in his hands.

Why are we not this way with God?

When we break one of the laws put in place by human authorities, we look over our shoulder. When we break one of the laws put in place by the very One who created everything, we don’t even bat an eye. Do we feel God isn’t watching? Do we feel He doesn’t care? Perhaps we feel like nothing will happen to us and that we will get away with it.

Ask congregation what they think of when they hear the laws of God.
Read Exodus 20:1-17

While almost everybody has heard of the Ten Commandments, not everybody fully understands them. Many people take them as general guidelines for life as if they are merely for personal gain. This is utter blasphemy! It amounts God to nothing more than an advisor. While I do not plan on going over all of them, I would like to touch on a few.

Exodus 20:3-4
You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Many Christians do this day in and day out without ever realizing it. We do it with our cars, money, work, play, etc. We even do it with our sleep. Simply put, an idol is anything we place before God.

Ask congregation how often they have decided to put sleep over worshiping God.

Jesus gave up his life for us but we are often too tired to wake up for church on Sundays at home or we are too tired to stay awake for church on Sundays underway. I’m guilty of being tempted to go to sleep early and not do evening prayer on some nights but I know that is the selfishness in me trying to overcome God. Sleep is important and God will forgive you if you choose to go to bed instead. However, just because God will forgive you, does that mean it is the best choice? I’ve found that if it will lead to me having to ask forgiveness of God, it probably isn’t the best choice to begin with.

Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

Walk the passageways and count the number of times you hear somebody taking the Lord’s name in vain. It is almost sickening. I hear everything from someone simply muttering the name of Jesus for no good reason all the way to someone cursing someone on God’s behalf. If we say the name of God, there needs to be a reason. No ifs, ands, or buts. To say the name of God without a Godly intent is to take His name in vain. To curse someone or something on God’s behalf is even worse because it is assuming the role of God and laying judgment.

Matthew 7:1
Do not judge so that you will not be judged.

Judgment belongs to God and God alone. Who are we to assume such a role? Despite this, I hear it coming out of the mouths of Christians all the time. It is almost as if they are not even thinking about it. I can guarantee you they are not praising God most of the time. They are breaking the 2nd commandment of God. Again, why do we not even so much as bat an eye when it happens? Why do we not fear God?

Exodus 20:13
You shall not murder.

Many people take this verse and recite it as, “You shall not kill.” This has been used by anti-military types who claim the military should not exist. The Hebrew word used for murder is ratsach. It is a general word that implies any kind of killing be it on purpose or accidental. However, we also see many places in Scripture where God actually commands Israel to kill everyone in a village and to spare no one. We have to look at the context.

Back in the Levitical Law days of old, there was a practice that was followed. Sometimes a husband would die without having produced children with his wife. If this happened, it was the responsibility of the husband’s brother to go unto the wife and produce children for her. However, these children would not carry on the line of the brother. They would carry on the line of the deceased husband.

Genesis 38:6-10
Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD took his life. Then Judah said to Onan, "Go in to your brother's wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother." Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother. But what he did was displeasing in the sight of the LORD; so He took his life also.

Catholics claim that the reason Onan was struck dead was because he masturbated, effectively killing a potential child. The Protestant position is very different yet still falls under the same commandment of God. The Protestant position is that Onan was killed for intent behind his actions and not the actions themselves. He was selfish and deceiving. Verse 9 tells us that he knew the offspring would not be his. They would carry on the line of Judah in the name of Er. The first born was the one to receive the blessing. If the first born died, the blessing did not go to the second born. It went to the first born child of the first born. This means that had Onan given a child to Tamar, the blessing would have gone to that child. Onan was indeed greedy and selfish. He went on to deceive Tamar by allowing her to believe he would perform his responsibility. He had sex with her and then spilled his seed on the ground. In a sense, he basically raped her as we can be fairly certain she would not have consented to this had she known his intentions. He desired his brother’s wife while also desiring the blessing. He had sex with Tamar and left her without a child. Because of this, God struck him dead instantly. While the penalty may not have been because of the murder of a potential child, it most certainly did fall under the command of “You shall not murder.”

Matthew 5:21-22
You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;

Onan was guilty as charged. He performed an act of hatred toward his brother by denying him his rightful line as well as his rightful blessing. Onan was guilty of murder not because of the loss of a potential child but because of his hatred, selfishness, and greed. How often do we find ourselves committing murder? How often do we commit a wrongdoing against someone simply because we are annoyed by them or dislike them? As far as God is concerned, this is murder. Onan was killed for it. Why do we not even bat an eye?

Exodus 20:14
You shall not commit adultery.

Ask a group of people to break this one down and you will probably get the same answer. Most people take it to mean monogamy. While this is indeed one meaning, and many people on this ship are guilty of it, it is not the only meaning.

Matthew 5:27-28
You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

While I would hope none of us have ever cheated on our spouses by being with another woman or man physically, according to Scripture, mentally is just as bad. The Greek word used for “looks” is blepo. The usage in verse 28 does not refer to an accidental glance. While lustful thoughts may pop into our mind by even just a glance, the context implies much more than this. It implies a continuous stare with the intention of lustful thoughts. If one stares at a member of the opposite sex with the intention of lusting, adultery is not currently being committed. It says it has already happened in the heart. All sin stems from a sinful nature within us. If we look with lust, it is because our heart is vile and we fall prey to it. However, Christ has given us a new nature. We are no longer bound by our fallen heart. We have an option to turn away and not entertain it. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination but it is still possible.

Job 31:1
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

A.W. Pink
If lustful looking is so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with the desire to be looked at and lusted after…are not less but perhaps more guilty. In this matter it is not only too often the case that men sin but women tempt them to do so. How great ten must be the guilt of the great majority of modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of young men. And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses.

As I said at the beginning, the Ten Commandments are well known by almost everybody although they are rarely understood in their full context. We only touched 3 of the 10. Ask yourselves how many of them you routinely fall short on. One can understand all of the Ten Commandments yet still fall short of one of the greatest commandments ever given.

1 Corinthians 1:31
So that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

Ask congregation how often they boast in the Lord.

This is not something that most Christians live up to. We often boast about how we earned a promotion for our hard work. We boast about how we helped a group of people at church. We even boast about how much time we spend reading our Bibles. While all of these are great things, none of them are worthy of boasting.

Galatians 6:14a
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

As Christians, we are commanded to do far more than observe the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are indeed to be observed but we have a much higher calling.

Matthew 4:19
And he said to them, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 28:19
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 1:23a
But we preach Christ crucified

We are called to worship and servitude. Too often, we become complacent and forget what God has called us to do. He has not called us simply to be good. He has not called us simply to love Him. He has called us to serve Him. How can we serve Him if we don’t even know what He wants us to do for Him? Thankfully, it is all outlined in His Word. He wants us to be out there teaching others. A fisherman does not sit idly as the fish swim by. They are actively casting their nets in an attempt to catch the fish. While we can do no catching of our own, if we allow God to work through us, you would be amazed what can happen! We are called to make disciples of all nations. How can we make disciples if we don’t even preach the Gospel to the lost? We are called to preach Christ crucified. Without the Truth of the death & resurrection of Christ, there is no hope. With this knowledge, why are we so casual about people moving closer and closer to eternal death? Even more so, why are we so casual about breaking the laws of God? How can we go day by day breaking His commands and walking in our own without so much as even batting an eye?

If you have found yourself in any of these situations, I urge you to follow 1 Corinthians 1:2.

1 Corinthians 1:2
To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:

Call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and ask him to guide you in your walk. Ask him to show you how to live. Ask him to help you follow his laws. Ask him to truly be the Lord that you claim him to be by following the laws he has commanded you walk in.

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