Introduction: Recognize and Worship One God
Today we begin a preaching series on The Ten Commandments. This is the introduction and it also looks at the first two:
You shall have other gods before me; You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
The 2 commands can be expressed positively in the following way:
Recognize one true God and
Worship only God.
The letter of the law is often negative, but the spirit of the law is always positive. The Pharisees, the teachers of the law and the Sadducees at the time Jesus focused only on the letter of the Law, on the negative, on the ‘You must not’ ‘You may not’ ‘You should not’ and in so doing, they made the Law, in Jesus words, a burden which loaded people down.
So, for example, they would look at the story of Adam and Eve and say ‘You must not eat from the tree’ whereas the spirit behind the first command given in Scripture was ‘You may eat from that tree and that one, and that one, and that one and that one, and that one…’...... do you get the message?
The letter of the Law brings darkness, heaviness and judgement, the spirit of the Law brings light, lightness, and freedom.
The same law can bring 2 opposite emotions and these emotions determine how we respond to that law.
For example: The law says: 120km/h. I either respond with: ‘Yay, I’m free to go up to 120km/h’ or ‘Dammit… I cannot go over 120km/h’.
The one response is gracious, the other is legalistic.
The one sets free, the other imprisons.
‘Be back by midnight’… “Yay I can stay out till midnight” or “Aaaarg – I must be back by midnight”
So how do you respond to laws, to rules, to regulations – do you feel set free by them or imprisoned by them. (Perhaps I should stress we are talking about just laws. Unjust laws, for example, “If your skin is this colour you may only go to that school or live in that area”......unjust laws set no one free and imprison everybody.)
So how do you respond to just/fair rules, laws, regulations – graciously or legalistically.
Now, our focus is the Ten Commandments. Let’s see what it means to see them positively.
Perhaps we can start by calling them:
Ten Ways to Live An Abundant Life
1. Recognize one true God called the LORD
2. Only worship this God
3. Honour His name
4. Honour His Sabbath
5. Honour your parents
6. Honour human life
7. Honour marriage
8. Respect personal property
9. Speak the truth
10. Control your desires
Friends, live this way and you will be free. Live this way and you will experience abundant life. Live this way and you will find yourself saying things like: ‘Wow, my cup runneth over’.
The law was never given as a way of salvation for either Jews or Gentiles. As you can see from the cover of your leaflet, no one is ever put right with God by keeping laws. We are not saved by keeping commands.
We are saved by faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus.
The law reveals Gods righteousness.
The law demands righteousness.
But the law can’t give righteousness.
Keeping laws doesn’t make us righteous. FAITH makes us righteous.
The law is a mirror that reveals where we are dirty, but we can’t wash our face in the mirror. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from sin.
Am I saying we don’t have to keep the laws of God. God forbid – Jesus said not one little dot or comma of the law is done away with until heaven and earth disappear.
Just don’t believe that you can earn any brownie points with God by keeping His laws. His law is not to be followed so that individuals can show their worth before God, and certainly not so that we can earn or secure our salvation. No… the law is to be followed so that Gods people can show the world the kind of God we worship.
The first commandment is God inviting us to trust Him rather than anything else or anyone else.
The second is saying that when we trust in something or someone else more than we trust in God, then we have an idol. If you trust in your spouse or parent of your minister to care for you more than you trust in your God to care for you, then you have an idol.
God might certainly reveal that His agent for protecting you or providing for you is your spouse, or parent, or care giver, but the one you look to and ultimately put your faith in, must only be God.
If you don’t sleep well at night unless you have a gun next to you, or a panic button, you have an idol. Sleep well because you have a God who watches over you.
God says in that command, I am a jealous God and if anything or anyone gets more attention or trust in your life than me… ooooh…. just don’t go down that road…. For your good, not because I am unreasonable and demanding, not because I have a whole lot of laws and rules to keep you in check, but rather because I have a whole lot of laws and rules which set you free.
And as Paul will say +- 1400 years after the law was given on Sinai, if God the Spirit sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Are you free?
Feel free to leave this place recognizing the one true God called the Lord.
Feel free to leave this place and to trust in Him, before anything or anyone else.