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God's Top Ten List - Exodus 19-20

Taught on | Topic: Ten Commandments | Keywords: ten commandments, law, truth, torah,

Today as we begin a new series of studies on the Ten Commandments - God's Laws which transcend time and culture. Think of it - of all the things that could be considered as the most important precepts for life, these are the ones God picked! These truths were designed to elevate our lives above a mere animal existence and provide a blueprint for a purposeful life.

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7/15/2007
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God's Top Ten List
Exodus 19-20
Skip Heitzig
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Today as we begin a new series of studies on the Ten Commandments - God's Laws which transcend time and culture. Think of it - of all the things that could be considered as the most important precepts for life, these are the ones God picked! These truths were designed to elevate our lives above a mere animal existence and provide a blueprint for a purposeful life.
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God's Top Ten - 2007

God's Top Ten - 2007

For thousands of years mankind has had God's list of Ten Commandments. Though cultures, languages and lifestyles have changed dramatically since Moses received these words on Mount Sinai, they are surprisingly very applicable to our daily lives in the 21st century.

Skip Heitzig explores in depth each of God's Top Ten and wraps up the series with a discussion on the most famous Eleventh Commandment given by Jesus during His time on earth.

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I. Their Importance - Why Study Them?

II. Their Substance - What Were They?

III. Their Significance - Why Were They Given?

IV. Their Relevance - What do They Mean to Me?


TAKING IT HOME


1. What Laws of God once held sacred in our society do you see changing before your eyes today? Who seems to be objecting to this?

2. Do you think most people see a "Command" as a loving gesture or an imposing one? Why do you suppose that is? How would you answer their concerns?

3. In one sentence, state your relationship to the Law as a New Testament believer.

Topic: Ten Commandments

Keywords: ten commandments, law, truth, torah,

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[MUSIC PLAYING]

Good morning.

Good morning.

What a day this is. This is so beautiful outside. And it's pretty nice inside. I was asked to make this announcement. This is carried live, this service on the M88 network, and we have a new station we want to welcome in Questa, New Mexico, on 93.7. So would you please say hi to all the good folks up there.

[APPLAUSE]

Well, a word about Wednesday night. What a phenomenal night we had here on Wednesday night. If you were a part of the Bible from 30,000 Feet, you remember the place was packed. I mean every seat was taken. There were people in the hub. There were 150 outside in the courtyard. And that was our midweek Bible study.

[APPLAUSE]

The most exciting thing about it is the hunger. The hunger that was exhibited for the word of God. We covered 11 chapters of the book of Genesis. And this week we'll finish the book of Genesis. So it's not too late. If you missed last Wednesday, I'm telling you, go either get the tape, CD, or just go to biblefrom30k.org and get a free download of the message and catch up. One of the healthiest things any church can do together is to read through the Bible and see how it applies and see if God will ignite our own hearts because of it.

In the New Testament it says and they filled Jerusalem with their doctrine. I'd love it to be said and they filled Albuquerque with their doctrine. So we could start Bible from 30K study groups, Bible from 30k prayer groups. I mean the sky's the limit.

I do want to apologize because we didn't quite know what to expect and the children's ministry grew by 100%. That is they doubled in their need on Wednesday night. They had double the amount of kids. And so if God is calling you to come and serve in the children's ministry, and I believe He is, that would be a good opportunity to do that.

We're also sorry that we ran out of books and outlines Wednesday night. And I trust that those who are putting them together will not only have enough for this week, but have plenty from last week to give to you for this week. It was a little warm in here with the air conditioning. And I also trust that we are going to get that fixed by Wednesday night.

Now let's turn in our bibles to Exodus 19 this morning as we begin a new series. Would you pray with me?

Our Heavenly Father, we're grateful. We're grateful for the revelation of You that we have in Your word, that every portion of it reflects a different aspect of Your character all to be studied and considered, all to be applied. And it's just marvelous how Your spirit seems to make what we read during the week on Sunday applicable the rest of the week to our lives. We pray that would happen. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Somebody once considered that if Jesus were to do His ministry on earth today that He would be wanted by the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, for turning water into wine without a license, the EPA for killing fig trees, Environmental Protection Agency, the AMA for practicing medicine without a license, the Department of Health for asking people to open up graves and for raising the dead and for feeding 5,000 people in the wilderness. He'd be wanted by the NEA, National Education Association, for teaching without a certificate, OSHA for walking on water without a life jacket and flying without an airplane. He'd be want to buy the SPCA for driving hogs into the sea, the National Board of Psychiatrists for giving people advice on how to live a guilt free life, then NOW organization for not choosing a woman apostle, by the Abortion Rights League for saying that whoever harms children is better that they would never have been born, and by the interfaith movement for condemning other religions.

Listen, man has his laws and not everybody likes them. God has His laws. Now I've discovered that most people don't like those laws.

We just saw in the video this little segment about Judge Roy Moore and the 10 Commandments that were placed in that Alabama judicial building and the forcible removal by the federal courts. And here's why. The judge that ordered their removal said the 10 Commandments are unconstitutional, that they represent by their very presence a violation of church and state. I wish he'd travel to the Supreme Court and see still engraved on the lintels Moses holding the 10 Commandments.

Well, the 10 Commandments on that monument were a symbol, really, they were symbolic. It was symbolic that God's laws are higher than man's laws. But the removal of those 10 Commandments, that was also a symbol. The symbol was we've got our own laws. We don't need those.

Well, we begin today a series on the 10 Commandments, God's Top 10. It's a great summer series. It gives us several weeks together in this section of scripture.

Now there have been a lot of Top 10 lists. The FBI has its top 10 Most Wanted fugitives. David Letterman, of course, every night has the Top 10. Well God has his own Top 10.

And so here's the question. Of all of the important things to put on a list, what would God consider the top 10? That's a good question to keep in mind as we make our approach over this portion of the Bible. What would God consider our life's most important rules?

Furthermore what is our relationship to those rules? Why are we to know them? I guess maybe a better question is do we know them? What if we right now were to take a test and our test was you have to write out without looking-- this is a closed book test-- write out the 10 Commandments from memory? I wonder how many would remember them?

Harper's Magazine noted quote "only 40% of Americans can name more than 4 of the 10 Commandments" close quote. Recent statistics state that the average Christian scores at the national average. An article in Boston Globe magazine sometime back featured a teacher in Boston College named William Kirkpatrick. Fascinating little article. He said that one day in class, they were talking in class about the 10 Commandments. That was the subject of discussion in the course he was teaching, the 10 Commandments.

So he wanted to write them on the board so they could look at them as they were discussing the 10 Commandments in that class. William Kirkpatrick said "it wasn't that individuals couldn't think of them all, but the whole class working together couldn't come up with a completed list." Now a whole college class of individuals together couldn't remember the 10 Commandments.

We'll I'm taking you back to chapter 19, even though the 10 Commandments are in chapter 20. We want to look at some preliminaries today, some preliminary thoughts before we get into it. We want to ask a few questions. Why should we study them? What were they exactly? Why were they given? And what relevance do they have for our lives today?

So we go back to chapter 19 to get the fundamentals. "In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. For they had departed from Rephidim and had come to the wilderness and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God. And the Lord called to him from the mountains saying, thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel you have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagle's wings and brought you to Myself.

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel. So Moses came and called for the elders of the people and laid before them all these words, which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together and said all that, the Lord has spoken, we will do. So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord."

Now in chapter 20, "And God spoke all these words saying, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me but showing mercy to thousands to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. For the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, do all your work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant or female servant, nor your cattle, or your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."

Why should we study these commandments? What is their importance? The 10 Commandments only takes up a half a page in our Bibles. Now if you have a large print Bible, it might take up a whole page or a page and a half if you have a really large print Bible. But it's a relatively small section.

And it was written so long ago. 3,400 years ago, a ragtag group of people leaving one country going to another were given these commandments. Why should we study them? Let me give you a few reasons.

Number one, because they are found in scripture. And I think really that's all the reason we need. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in Righteousness." Well part of the "all" scripture is this section of scripture. It's found in the Bible.

And the Bible is God's curriculum. Like it or not, it's what's there. It's His revelation.

If you were to go to university and you were to plot out a course of study to get a certain degree. And in that curriculum of study, you looked it over and you said, OK, this looks good except that math class. I just would rather not take that math class. Oh, and that English course, I'm not really great in English, and it doesn't interest me, so we'll scrap that. Oh, and that biology course. I've never really liked biology. So let's move that aside.

I'll put basket weaving in instead and maybe something else. They would happily say you can't get your degree unless you follow our curriculum. This is what are our requirements for you to complete it.

Well this is God's curriculum. This is part of it. You say, yeah, but it's Old Testament. Why should Christians study the Old Testament. Paul tells us in Romans 15 "whatever things were written before were written for our learning that we through that patience and the comfort of the scriptures might have hope." So reason number one we study them is because they're found in scripture.

Here's reason number two. Not only are they found in scripture, they're foundational to our faith. We believe in Jesus Christ. What was the Bible Jesus quoted from? The Old Testament. Whenever He said it is written-- and by the way, do you know what was the most often quoted book in the Bible by Jesus? Deuteronomy. The second giving of the law, the repetition of the law of God, is what Jesus quoted most.

I think that many Christians live in a house without knowing much about the house they live in, without understanding the foundations of the faith which are Old Testament, which are Judaism, and part of that is these 10 laws. Paul wrote to the Romans and said that they, the Gentile church in Rome, you're a wild olive tree. You have been grafted in among them, the Jewish people, so that you might partake of the root and the fatness of the tree so boast not against the olive tree.

And what did Jesus say about the law? He said, "Don't think that I've come to destroy the law. I haven't come to destroy but to--" what? Fulfill it. Fulfill it. Doesn't it make sense that the very law Jesus came to fulfill, we ought to know something about?

So because they're found in scripture, because they're foundational to our faith, there's a third reason we study them. They're fundamental to our society. American jurisprudence has its basis on the Law of Moses in the 10 Commandments. In fact, the 10 Commandments is divided in two. And the second part of the Decalogue, we call it-- the 10 words, the decade of words, the 10 Commandments, the second part-- deals d the foundational pillars of our society.

So honoring parents is foundational to having a strong home. No adultery is foundational to having a strong marriage. Human life is sacred, therefore, you're not to take it by murder. There is human rights and property rights and honesty, all of that that is written into the 10 Commandments. And it's not just our society, but other societies.

C.S. Lewis in his book The Abolition of Man says about the 10 Commandments, "Many ancient cultures have a surprising agreement in these ethical and moral standards despite the cultural differences. Man has a basic understanding of these standards that God has established for His creation." Well if people don't know them, no wonder they break them. So let's cure the biblical illiteracy by teaching all scripture that is inspired.

So they're found in scripture. They're foundational to our faith. They're fundamental to our culture, our society. There's a fourth reason we study them. Because they have been forsaken in our culture. They've been forsaken.

I'll tell you what I've discovered. You may or may not agree, but as I look at the society in which I live, I see an aimlessness, a lack of direction. It's pervasive. And it's largely because whatever principles our nation was once founded on-- and many of them were biblical-- we've departed from.

Now when a nation departs from God-- when anybody departs from God-- they will depart from obeying their parents. When you depart from God, you depart from protecting human life. When you depart from God, you depart from fidelity to a spouse. They've been forsaken by our culture.

You see whenever you push God's laws aside-- and by and large our country has done that, because most people don't believe in any set of absolutes- when you push God's laws aside, you've got to put something in their place. And you know what's in its place? Pure existentialism.

This is how it goes. Well I'm glad that's good for you, your good may not be my good. My truth may not be your truth. I'm glad you have your truth. There is no such thing in our culture anymore as the truth. It's very arbitrary.

Now if you keep that as the standard, and you take it out to its logical conclusion, you will end in despair because you don't know where the line is. There is no line to draw and say right, wrong. There's no moorings. You'll end in despair.

I'll give an example. I'm going to give you a quote from somebody that's considered one of the smartest people ever. I want you to keep that in mind. You're about to hear words of a smart person. This guy won the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine and physiology, Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi.

He was asked what he would do if he was 20 years old again today. Listen to his optimism. "I'd share with my classmates the rejection of the world as it is, all of it. Is there any point to study and work? Fornication, at least that is something good. What else is there to do? Fornicate and take drugs against this terrible strain of idiots who govern the world" close quote. Wow. That's a smart guy.

You want to go to him for counseling? You going to walk away with a positive note from that? Now here's someone who has his own moral standard apart from any commandment and has ended in despair.

The last 30 years in our culture we've been told to question authority. Remember the early bumper stickers some of you, question authority? We've done that. We've questioned moral authority. We are questioning political authority. We've questioned spiritual authority. So no longer do people say this is right and this is wrong, but do what feels right to you at the moment.

There's a fifth reason we should study them, because they're forgotten by the church. They're forgotten by the church. I know they're in Bible. It's in the Bible, but these commandments are forgotten by the church. The sewage of the world is seeping into the church. And that's a concern.

Listen to this. It's a recent poll. "67% of Americans do not believe in moral absolutes." 67%. Now I gotta tell you, that doesn't surprise me. Probably doesn't surprise you either. 67% of Americans don't believe in moral absolutes.

But maybe this second part will shock you. "62% of professing Christians say there is no absolute standard of right and wrong." Now that shows that whatever sewage is in our culture that is thrown out the laws of God is seeping in among us. No wonder you have New Age churches, they call themselves, homosexual churches, healing crystal churches. Who see God has been dragged down into the gutter as if He sanctions everything, because we're making up our own laws.

So that's their importance. That's why we will study them.

Second is a question of their substance. What were they exactly? Well understand that these 10 Commandments were part of a greater covenant that God made with the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Go back to chapter 19:5. "Now therefore if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all the people, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Now we all remember the story. It's part of our Sunday school past. The children of Israel were in bondage to Egypt for 400 years. In slavery, they called out for deliverance in chapter 1 and 2 of Exodus. It says, "God heard their groanings and remembered the covenant that He made." He sends Moses. There is deliverance. The Red Sea opens up. They're brought out into the wilderness. They go from Egypt down a course out in the Sinai peninsula through Marah, Elim, Rephidim.

And 90 days after they begin their journey, they end up at the base of Mount Sinai where God calls Moses up to re-establish this covenant and gives him two tablets of the law. One deals with man and their God. The other deals with man and his neighbor, the two tablets of the law.

The 10 Commandments are called the Torah. That's sort of its restrictive title. You've heard the term Torah. Torah sometimes refers to only the 10 Commandments. Sometimes the Torah refers to the first five books of Moses. And at other times people use it to refer to the entire Old Testament. But we call the 10 Commandments sometimes the Decalogue, because there's a phrase three times in the Hebrew Bible [SPEAKING HEBREW] which mean a decade of words, the 10 words, the 10 precepts that God gives.

OK, notice that there are 10 Commandments. There are not 10 suggestions. There are not 10 proposals. There is not 10 good ideas, but come up with your own. There are 10 Commandments. These are the commands that Moses set before them, verse 7.

And we notice there's 10 of them, not five. He didn't say, well, I like that one, I don't like that one. There's 10 not five, not 19, just 10. And these 10 are sufficient to give us God's general will concerning the great issues of life, as we will discover.

Now the ancient rabbis used to say there were 613 commandments. 613. Can you imagine trying to memorize that? They divided the 613 commandments into two sections, positive and negative. 248 they said were positive commandments. 365 of them were negative commandments. The 248 positive commandments said the ancient rabbis corresponded to the 248 individual parts of the human body. The 365 negative commandments corresponded to the 365 days in a year. Thus the idea is that you are to keep with every fiber of your being God's law every day of the year.

That's a wonderful thing to say, but let's just push that 613 aside. and we'll concentrate on these 10 Commandments. And we find they will be very sufficient in determining that general will of God for mankind.

Now something about the 10 Commandments most people pass over. Most people think the 10 Commandments have everything to do with actions outwardly not attitudes inwardly. We would be wrong if we were to think that. Now I know it says don't murder, that's an outward action. Don't commit adultery, outward action. Don't steal, outward action.

But go down to 20:17, the last commandment. You shall not-- what? Covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. What does covet? That's inward isn't it? Nobody sees anybody covet? It's an inward intense desire that's hidden. You can wear long religious robes and a big collar and carry a big honkin' Bible and still covet all day long. And did you know this was the commandment that when Paul reread it, killed him. He said I looked at the law as a means of giving life and then I read thou shalt not covet and it slayed me. I realized it wasn't outward, it's inward.

And that was Jesus' whole point, was it not, on the Sermon on the Mount. You have heard that it was said you shall not murder, but I say unto you, if you are angry with your brother without a cause, you're in danger of judgment. You've heard that it was said by those of old you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you you look upon another woman to lust after her in your heart, you've committed adultery. That's outward. But the law governs also the inward attitude.

Well let's go to the third point that we've given you this morning. The third question about their significance. Why were these given? What is their purpose? What's the purpose of God giving these 10 precepts to the children of Israel at this time? This could sum it all up.

They were given, number one, to regard God, a means of man to regard God. In other words to show visible, tangible expression of man's love toward God. You see in verse 5, again of chapter 19, see the word if and the word then? Notice that correspondence-- if you obey my voice, then you shall be a special treasure to me.

In other words, it will be your obedience that will demonstrate your love for me. I mean, how do you know if you love God or not? That's easy to say. I hear people all the time, I love God. How do you know? I feel really warm inside right now. It's that fuzzy warm feeling. It's those positive thoughts that I have. That's really great, but that's not any indication. The outward, visible, tangible way we know if we love God is we obey His commandments.

Now before you push that thought aside and say, Skip, that's Old Testament and not New Testament, remember the Lord Jesus said, if you love Me, you'll keep My commandments. If you love Me, you'll keep My commandments. First John 2 would repeat that "By this we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments. And he who says, I know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." So the tangible expression then that we regard God is that we obey what He has commanded. That's their significance. That's why they were given, to give us a tangible way to regard God.

Number two. To relate to man, to relate to man. Now follow me here. There's 10 Commandments. The first tablet of the law, the first four commandments, are theocentric, God centered. They have everything to do with how we relate to God. The second tablet of the law, the last six are anthropocentric, man centered. They have everything to do with how we relate to people. So people can function in a culture.

You know some people have problems with God's commandments because they think, as they read the 10 Commandments, it cramps their style. It's so restrictive. It takes away their freedom. Listen to what Ted Turner said concerning the 10 Commandments. He said, "The 10 Commandments are old, outdated, and passe." And he says, "Nobody likes to be commanded. Commandments are out." Now you could say, well, that's Ted Turner, I mean, come on.

Well listen to this lawyer who claims to be religious. A religious lawyer from Washington DC, she says she goes to church every week. She says concerning the 10 Commandments quote "To be perfectly honest, some of these laws seem to apply to me, others I disregard." Well, that's kind of convenient. Yeah, I like the don't lie part, the adultery part I'm not sure about. There are certain laws I pick and I choose. Well that would be 10 suggestions.

You know when I was a kid, I had a neighbor who was a police officer-- CHP, California Highway Patrol-- and he didn't like me and probably for good reason. I had a loud motorcycle and the car that I told you about that I bought for $37 without a muffler, he heard it all. So he would stop my brother and I frequently and give us warnings and be very stern, write tickets to us.

So I grew up with a view of the law that was not favorable. So that every time I saw a police car, I had a response of white knuckling the steering wheel. I had a bad view of the law. In fact, I saw this guy at my mom's funeral. And he introduced himself, I'm John Latus I said I know who you are.

[LAUGHTER]

I got more tickets by you than anybody else. But you see, it was my problem, not his. My view of the law is they're out to get me, not realizing the law was positive. We're all out on the road. There's lots of drivers out there besides me. And so to ensure safe passage for everybody on the road, laws are in place for a positive reason to relate to other people.

And so the laws of God are given to regard God, to relate to man. A third reason God gave them here is to restrain evil, to restrain evil. You know rules are needed to keep sinful man from destroying everything, everything. It is man's nature. If you gave the nature of man free reign, it would be pandemonium without rules.

Easily proven. What happens after a natural disaster, earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire? When there's no law enforcement on the scene, what happens? Looting, theft, all sorts of break ins, violence. That happens everywhere all the time.

Paul writes to Timothy in chapter 1, he says, "We know that the law is made not for the righteous, but for the lawbreakers, and rebels, the ungodly, the sinful, the unholy, and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers, and perverts, for slave traders, and liars, and perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine." So the law, like all laws, are given to tether, to restrain the ragings of the sinful nature.

So to regard God, to relate to man, to restrain evil. And there's a fourth reason they are given, to reveal our need, to reveal our need to be cleansed. And that comes only from Jesus Christ. In Romans 7, Paul discusses the law and his relationship to it as a New Testament believer. He says, "Is the law sin? Certainly not." He writes in verse 7, "On the contrary, I would not have known what sin was except through the law."

Story about an editor in a newspaper, small town newspaper. He's filling in, he's outlining his page for the next day, and he has a blank space. What to do? He didn't know what to put in the blank space. He didn't want to leave it blank, so he put a copy of the 10 Commandments. No commentary, no editorial comments, just the 10 Commandments. A few days later he got a letter from somebody saying cancel my subscription, you're getting too personal.

[LAUGHTER]

He didn't say anything. He just put a copy of the 10 Commandments. That illustrates something. It illustrates what the law does when we read it. It's an affront to our sinful nature.

Do you remember back in school when you were introduced to the microscope as a kid and the teacher said, now, take out one of your hairs from your head and put it under the microscope. Now you just washed your hair. Your hair had been washed and cream rinsed. And it was silky and smooth, and you thought the best hair on the block till you put it under that microscope. Do you remember what it looked like? Gnarly, nasty, irregular, big chunks taken out of the shaft. That was your hair under a microscope. Or a needle, you put that under the microscope, that slim, sleek, pointed shaft, looked so beaten up under the microscope.

Our lives under the microscope of the law look that way for a reason. Paul said in Galatians the law was our schoolmaster, our tutor, to drive us to Christ. It shows us the need. You can't get cleansed by it. It shows us the need so.

In closing, I want to discuss now their relevance. What do they mean to me personally? What am I to do with these commandments? Number one, treat them as a compass. Number two, treat them as a thermometer. Number three, treat them as a mirror. And number four, treat them as a road sign.

First of all as a compass. As you and I will look over these 10 Commandments over the next several weeks, you're going to see 10 categories, 10 reference points for you and I to plot our way through life, things you don't ever have to pray about. They're just fixed. You never have to say, you know, I'm interested in this other person. I know I'm married, but I'm sort of thinking about maybe having an affair, so I'm going to pray about that. You don't need to ever pray about that. "Thou shalt not commit adultery." Done. Don't have to ever worry about that, just don't do it. You're going to find these 10 guiding principles. And if you treat them as reference points on a compass, they'll give you direction.

Number two, a thermometer to gauge our love for God. We're going to look at our experience of obedience in light of what God has commanded. And we'll be able to read the gauge. We say we love God, are we keeping His will in these areas?

Number three, as a mirror to reveal the truth about us. Now we all have love-hate relationships with our bathroom mirrors. We all have them. But we don't all love them. They tell us the truth. As soon as you get in the morning and look up in the mirror, it's like hoo.

[LAUGHTER]

You can't blame the mirror. You can put soft lights all around it. It's just the truth.

Now you can't take the mirror off the bathroom and go I need to clean up, scrub yourself with the mirror. The mirror only reveals the need. It doesn't fix the problem. So as we examine and look into the mirror of these commandments over the next few weeks, it's going to show us who we are, our need to be cleansed. That's why Paul says in Galatians 3, "Clearly no one is justified by the law before God."

Number four is a road sign to point us to Christ. OK, granted, we're going to look at the law and we're going to see the truth about ourselves, the dirt so to speak. But the law will point to the showers. So if you read a commandment and as I read a commandment, and we feel we have fallen short in that area, you don't stop there. You flee to where you get cleansed and that is the blood of Christ. The law cannot cleanse you, but can point the way.

I love the story about the young boy who was lost. And his story is that there was an officer in northern England named Officer O'Hanlon I know it's an Irish name, but he was living in North England. And Officer O'Hanlon heard a cry. And it was a boy on the steps of a building saying I'm lost can you help me find my way home?

Officer said sure, where do you live? Boy said, I don't remember. So he started naming streets. Do they sound familiar? The boy said, no, I don't know those streets? The officer started naming establishments, bakeries, stores. The boy said, I don't know those stores. So the officer thought, yep, he's lost.

So he took the little boy up in his arms and he pointed across town to a large cathedral that had a large wooden cross on top. He said, do you live anywhere near that? The little boy smiled. He said, yes, take me to the cross, I can find my way home from there.

Each week, the commandments are going to point us to the cross. That's where we find our way home. Not by I kept this perfectly in my attitude, in my action, but I need to be cleansed, forgiven, and changed, and it only comes through the cross.

Let's pray together. Heavenly Father, we thank You for the time spent over Your word. We pray Father, in the name of Your Son, Jesus that as our true condition is revealed, the true condition of our own culture, and how far we have departed, in some cases the true condition of our own church and our own church life, and in some cases maybe how far we have departed, we pray for cleansing, restoration, and the means by which we can guide our lives according to Your will. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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7/22/2007
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First Things First
Exodus 20:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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The first four commandments are vertical ones: they define our relationship to God. The second six are horizontal: they define our relationship to others. The first commandment on God's "top ten" is the most basic building block for anyone who would claim or seek any relationship to God at all. Every one of God's requirements for mankind flows from His character and nature as Sovereign God. So why is God so exclusive? And why is this the most important command?
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7/29/2007
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Have You Seen God Lately? – Part 1
Exodus 20:4-6
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Children ask uncomfortable questions like, "How big is God? Where does He live? Why can’t I see Him? Does He ever come out and play?" We adults hem and haw trying to find answers because we want to know the same things! Unfortunately we don't always have good answers. The first commandment on God’s Top Ten was to ensure that people worship Him exclusively; the second commandment was to ensure that people worship Him correctly.
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8/5/2007
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Have You Seen God Lately? – Part 2
Exodus 20:4-6
Skip Heitzig
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The second commandment was given so that God's people would worship Him correctly, in the way He directed rather than in the way they wanted to worship. God's uniqueness requires unique devotion. Today we discover how we best leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren—by worshiping the right God in the right way.
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8/12/2007
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God Is Not a Swear Word
Exodus 20:7
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Most folks haven't a clue as to what this third commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, means. Most guesses would make it to say, "Don’t say bad words!" It may infer that in part, but goes to a much deeper level. Notice the progression of emphasis in the commandments so far: 1st, What we believe about God; 2nd, How we worship God, and 3rd, What we say about God. It's sobering to think that the use of our mouth is the concern of the third in God's Top Ten!
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8/19/2007
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Relax! - And That's an Order! Part 1
Exodus 20:8-11
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If ever there was a commandment tailor made for the workaholic, this is it! God gives permission (in fact an order) to take R and R. What a gracious God we serve to write this into the Top Ten. But this fourth commandment is a controversial one. Some have made it a burden rather than a blessing to keep. Is the Sabbath regulation for the modern Christian or just the ancient Jew? Did the Sabbath get changed? Are we breaking the Sabbath if we worship on Sunday? We’ll explore these issues in the next two weeks.
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8/26/2007
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Relax! - And That's an Order! Part 2
Exodus 20:8-11
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Has the Sabbath Day been changed? Is Sunday the New Sabbath? Are those who worship on Sunday guilty of compromise and succumbing to paganism? Does it even matter? What about those who whose jobs require them to work on Saturday or Sunday? All these questions and more have become the controversy that surrounds this fourth commandment. The real issue however is much more basic and spiritual: Do you honor God by worshipful rest, expressing thankfulness to Him and becoming refreshed so you can serve Him the rest of the week?
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9/9/2007
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Because I Said So! - Part 1
Exodus 20:12
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Every child has challenged a parent with the question, "Why," only to hear the response, "Because I said so!" This commandment deals with both authority and submission. But there's something much deeper and more profound than mere compliance to a parent's mandate. The commandment implies the supreme value of a godly and healthy family. Today and next week we will consider this fifth commandment and what it means in a culture that is defiant towards it.
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9/16/2007
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Because I Said So! - Part 2
Exodus 20:12
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A couple on the way to the hospital to have their second child heard their 6-year old son say, "Be sure and get a receipt, so if it’s a girl, we can return her!" But we know children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). We don’t return them. Nor can we exchange our parents for other ones. The ones we have are the ones we must obey and honor, or we must learn to. A child contributes to the health and happiness of the home by the act of obeying and the attitude of honoring.
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9/23/2007
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Getting Away With Murder
Exodus 20:13
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People are getting away with murder every day! I don't just mean the violent, premeditated and vicious slaying of innocent lives but also by deep seated attitudes of hatred and spite. Murder has always been a problem with our race but there's something much deeper and more profound than the act of taking a life. Today and next week we will examine this commandment and it’s ramifications into several areas of society.
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9/30/2007
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A Time To Kill?
Exodus 20:13
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You are alive! You will die! Those two absolutes are as basic as it gets. But since life is a gift from the Creator, what right does anyone ever have in taking it from another? One of the commandments on God’s Top Ten list is, "Thou shalt not kill!" Is there ever a time to kill? Does the justice system of a land or an army ever have the right to kill? How can we as responsible Christians ever come to a balance regarding this very difficult issue?
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10/7/2007
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Weeds of Unfaithfulness in the Garden of Love
Exodus 20:14
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"You shall not commit adultery," is God's way of putting a protective hedge around marriage. Every married couple needs to tend the garden of their love. That means of course pulling out the weeds that would lead to unfaithful behavior. Many a married couple has been "burned" by the fire of Adultery. The flame of passion must burn only for one's spouse. Let's consider how our marriages can stay "Adultery-proof."
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10/14/2007
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Bandits, Beware!
Exodus 20:15
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It is estimated that 90% of our total population has shoplifted at some point in their lives. Maybe it was a piece of candy with a school friend or a magazine when no one was looking in our adolescence. But some people never stop and with everyone, it seems the lines of right and wrong are getting fuzzier rather than clearer. Let’s get a fresh look at this age old mandate.
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10/28/2007
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The Truth, the Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth!
Exodus 20:16
Skip Heitzig
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Myron Boyd wrote, "A half-truth is a dangerous thing, especially if you have got hold of the wrong half!" I’d venture to say that we have a whole lot of half-truths bouncing around in our brains that we’ve picked up without ever trying to find out the rest. The ninth commandment is about telling the truth, the whole truth. We’ll find that this mandate infers at least three things.
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11/4/2007
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Affluenza!
Exodus 20:17
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No it's not a typo! Affluenza is a social malady that has reached epic proportions in our country. Its germs infect the very young and its symptoms recur even in old age. Solomon nailed it 3000 years ago when he said, "No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied!" (Ecclesiastes 1:8). This last commandment is a different from the other nine in that it probes the heart and touches on our desires. It deals with what we want, not just what we do. This week and next we'll probe what is perhaps our culture's biggest problem.
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11/11/2007
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Affluenza! - Its Cure
Exodus 20:17
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Affluenza is a highly contagious social and spiritual condition that is result of over-abundance. The cause of this malady of the soul is covetousness, the very thing the tenth commandment forbids. So what is the cure? What is the spiritual antidote to this widespread illness? It is a lifestyle of contentment--the satisfaction that God knows my needs and provides for them.
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11/18/2007
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The Eleventh Commandment
John 13:34-35
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"Now hold on just one minute! There are only TEN commandments, not eleven!" Correct, but listen as Jesus sums up the commandments of the Old Testament with the New Testament directive of "loving one another." As believers under the New Covenant, our study of God's Top Ten would be incomplete without this authoritative addendum by the Lord Jesus Christ.
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There are 16 additional messages in this series.