Obeying God's Law

Exodus 20:18-26

On Mount Sinai, God gave the children of Israel the first written record of His will for them. The first part of the Law He gave them was the Ten Commandments, written with His finger directly onto two stone tablets (Deuteronomy 4:13). These commandments were immensely important in the plan of God. They were foundational to the rest of the Law which underpinned His covenant with Israel.

The Ten Commandments blessed Israel with a summary of God's will. They were a concise a how-to for pleasing God. As a trustworthy guide to moral living, they offered reliable absolutes that wouldn't change because they expressed the will of the Eternal One.

Whether we are talking about the Bible as a whole or just the Ten Commandments, we must remember that God's Word isn't primarily about us and our obedience. And though it is a guide to moral living, it isn't primarily about that either. We must never forget that the Scripture is the revelation of God Himself. No wonder David exclaimed, "O how love I thy law!" (Psalm 119:197). Thus, our primary purpose in going to the Word must be to know God.

The Lord Jesus came and called attention from the Law to Himself. He also showed how the Law called attention to Him. He also taught the deeper, spiritual intent of the Law -- "It hath been said...but I say..." He didn't "raise the bar" when it comes to God's will and Word. Those have never changed! Rather, Jesus lifted our sights from the shadow of the bar to the bar itself. To put it another way, the bar set by the Law in reality was only a shadow of the real bar.

(The above four paragraphs are just a brief excerpt and adaptation from The Ten Commandments: a Revelation of God.

Practical Applications

Q: How might the Christian who consistently breaks a traffic law in his driving be said to be taking the Lord's name in vain?

A: In taking the name Christian, he takes Christ's name as his own. But by breaking the law, he exhibits a mindset which isn't the mind of Christ. Thus, his claim of Christ is empty; that is, vain.

Q: Give the reference of a Bible verse that disproves this statement: "If we fail to obey one or two aspects of God's will, it's OK as long as we're living in obedience to most of His will."

A: James 2:10

Jesus Summarizes the Law

Whereas we tend look at the Ten Commandments as essential rules for successful living, Jesus deepens and enriches them by showing us the supremacy of the relationships involved. What we do, what we think, how we live -- they all should show we know and love God. That is the greatest commandment: Love God with your all.

  1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
  2. "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (Exodus 20:4,5).
  3. "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
  4. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).

Then there's the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

  1. "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12).
  2. "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).
  3. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14).
  4. "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus 20:15).
  5. "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" (Exodus 20:16).
  6. "Thou shalt not covet...any thing that is thy neighbour's" (Exodus 20:17).

God and Me

My relationship with God should be the principal thing that keeps me from sinning.

The children of Israel eventually fell into such idolatry that they used idols in their worship of Jehovah. I should not imagine that it would be possible for me to follow the Lord while I am allowing myself an idolatrous relationship with that which is of this world.

Excerpted from A Perverted Relationship and Worship

But What About the Fourth Commandment?

The New Testament speaks of the fourth of the Ten Commandments as "a shadow" (Colossians 2:16, 17). That commandment heralded the rest we would have in Christ. It also pointed forward to Jesus' rest after His new creation which He set in motion at His resurrection.

Therefore, there was no need to repeat this commandment in the New Testament because it has been fulfilled in Jesus. In other words, having Jesus we no longer have need of this commandment

The Pharisees had asked for the greatest commandment. It seems they had made the Sabbath the commandment from which they hung all else. Their relationship to God and man seemed predicated on observance of this commandment. Jesus hung everything on two commandments -- love God and love your neighbor. He left the Sabbath out of the picture...except as subsidiary to these.

© Copyright 2017, Roth
The Scripture text is what the international standard Sunday School lesson uses for October 15, 2017.

Posted on 10-10-17 before 9:00 pm Pacific

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