Idols: I hold before you today something glorious. It is a giant 1lb of Reeses peanut butter cup. And anyone who knows me knows that these are my favorite. In fact, it’s likely why this was one of my Christmas presents from someone (ps – thank & bless you!). But what if I told you that it was against my religion to eat Reeses? What if we found in the Bible that one of God’s commands were “Thou shall not eat chocolate & pb”? I’d be in trouble and in sin. The accumulated months, perhaps of years of the timed consumption of chocolate & pb would be my utter destruction; idoliscious but to my detriment. And more, I would despise such a command. My view towards God and this law would be that it was limiting rather than life-giving; restrictive and caged rather than freeing.
Many of us view the 10 Commandments this way. We picture God as one who thinks up ways to rob us of fun. How can commands and rules be for my good?
Deuteronomy 6:24-25 God’s commands are “for our good always, that he might preserve us alive… and it will be righteousness for us”
Think about this outside the spiritual/religious world…
– One of my children wanted to touch our woodstove. I commanded her not to but she did anyways and burned her finger. She knows now that my command was for her good.
– Our culture has laws of morality to influence behavior. Laws against violence, murder, stealing, and even speeding. Do we view these as harmful or helpful to society?
– Our culture craves thin; we worship the gods of exercise and dieting. Our appetites desire steak but strangely we give into our idols and eat salad (plants!). Isn’t that restrictive? And yet thin is in.
o Rather than enjoy the freedom and luxury of sleeping in, we wake up early to run, swim or lift weights. Isn’t that restrictive? And yet we persevere in such pursuits.
o If we are “restrictive” or disciplined for body, how much more for our eternal souls?
When you examine the 10 Commandments in context we how God’s commands are for our good.
EXAMINE Live 10: “Loving the Jealous God” Exodus 20:1-11 2 truths
Only God is loving
In looking at the 10 commands as a whole, we see they could possibly be categorized into two broad categories
In God’s unfolding of the commands is revelation of Himself. God is not concealed, He has spoken. He makes Himself known. And as we examined in a previous message, God’s revealing of His commands would have been a sign of grace and love towards Israel. The surrounding nations worshiped [false] gods that people made up the rules as they went along. Sometimes the gods demanded spreading blood (alive or running from mutilation), other times sacrificial blood (death). So, God’s 10 Commands show He is about life and love not chance and cruelty. It would have been unloving for Him not to give His commands.: Loving God & Loving Others. In fact, Moses summarizes them in this way (Deuteronomy 6:5), as more so does Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40 “on these two commandments depend (hang) all the Law and the prophets”). The point is that loving God is the chief command.
God reveals Himself no less than 5x as “I am the Lord your God” (20:2, 5, 7, 10, 12). In God’s words we see that God is the Lord as Creator and Savior. The opening words of giving the 10 are “God spoke”. His words bring light and life. He is not created like other gods but Creator God (20:3). He made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them (20:11). “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16). FURTHER – the Lord God is not only revealed as Creator but also Savior. He is the God who rescued Israel from Egyptian slavery. God’s redemptive character is known before His regulative commands (Ex 19:4; 20:2). To paraphrase one pastor, “We do not obey to be accepted, as in other religions; but we are accepted and therefore we obey.” (Tim Keller)
OT Law & NT Grace
As we begin to examine these commands, it is often asked if OT is still relevant today. Do we still have to obey all the OT laws? You will hear on media outlets or certain cable channels (under the guise of w/o bias) chastise Christians for selecting which laws they obey and which they disregard. So, what gives?
The answer is how Jesus fulfills the law (Matthew 5:17). The commands could be categorized 3 groups:
1. Civil (governmental) laws: God gathered a nation and gave it commands for how it should relate to one another.
These no longer apply since there is not a theocratic Israel, but we can still learn about God’s sense of righteousness & justice.
Today, the church deals with sins and injustices through discipleship and in some cases church discipline of fellowship exclusion. Ultimately, the church submits to governing authorities (Romans 13).
2. Ceremonial (religious): God gave Israel commands for how it should approach God in worship. God did not want His people like the other nations so they were to be separate and different in what they ate, how they dressed, what they touched and what should be sacrificed so that they may be spiritually clean (not unclean). The sacrifices and the temple pointed to something – Someone greater (Psalm 51:17; Hosea 6:6).
These no longer apply because they pointed to Christ and He has fulfilled the necessary laws of righteousness & religious purity. In some cases, Christians have new ceremonies to replace the old (ex. Baptism & Lord’s Supper).
Jesus’ sacrificial death makes us clean and opens access to God’s presence; the temple veil was torn showing that there is no need for the sacrificial system or the temple. Our worship is not limited to a location but resides in a Person – Jesus Christ.
3. Moral laws: God gave Israel commands for it to know His character and not worship as the surrounding nations false gods.
These laws are still applicable as they teach us about God’s character and expectations for humanity. Even more, they point to our sinfulness and need for a Savior.
– Jesus and the NT reveal our greater depravity by moving from the external actions of the Moral law to the inward motivations (heart, mind).
Only God is worthy.
To know God’s great worth is to know the lesser worth of other things.
o We are not to create idols. Idols are insufficient, inadequate and incomplete in relationship to God. Only God is incomparable, immeasurable, indescribable, invincible and irresistible. He is unparalleled, unprecedented and uncontainable. He is matchless and magnificent. Only God is worthy.
Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols, forsake faithful love.”
Idols promise to please but fail to fulfill.
Idols of our day our pleasure, power, position and possessions.
Idols must be fashioned & fed; they require attention and affection.
Idols imply identity & image. We choose our idols based on personal preferences and priorities. When we worship idols based on our identity and image apart from the true God then we have control. We create our own reality – one that is not true reality.
Image of God: How do you view God? People often say “I view God as…” and thus we have a god created in our own image rather than a God who created us in His image.
People highly offended when others say something about them that isn’t true.
If I told you I were writing a biography of your life and wrote things completely untrue, you would not only be offended but would act to make it right.
o The same is true for God. We cannot image or worship God any other way than according to what and how He reveals Himself.
o We are to be faithful (God is jealous).
Command for no other idols is not merely a command of priority but of preeminence. Our allegiance and devotion belongs to Him alone. What do you rely on for salvation and ultimate trust?
When spouse commits adultery it is acknowledged as a break of the marriage bond. That bond can be mended but a separation has occurred.
Unfaithfulness to God extends influence to future generations (“even to the third and the fourth generation”). Likewise, faithfulness to God can be extended as God shows “steadfast love to thousands of those who love and keep His commandments”.
o We respect God’s name. A person’s name reflects their identity and character. When Moses asked God His name the response was “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14); in other words – ‘I will be known by my character and actions’. Jesus said that we should hallow God’s name (Matthew 6:9).
Psalm 103:1 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
Psalm 115:1 “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory”
Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
Isaiah 48:9, 11 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off…For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another?
Ezekiel 36:22-23 “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations…And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name”
How do we take God’s name in vain?
– Unholy words
– Irreverent speaking of God (
– Casual commitments. See Jesus’ interpretation of our ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in Matthew 5:33-37. We say “God showed me…”, “God called/led me to…” If this is true then 1) Does this contradict God’s character or other commands? 2) Are we wholeheartedly obedient?
– Indifferent worship. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
○ We dishonor the Sabbath. The Sabbath is our Saturday. The Israelites were to rest on this day as a reflection of God’s work in creation as well as trusting His provision (cf. Exodus 16:22-30). God said we should work for 6 days and 1 day we should Sabbath. In other words – we need to refuel physically and reflect spiritually. Our work brings stress and strain mentally, emotionally and physically. God knows our bodies and the Sabbath is for our physical good. And more, the Sabbath provides an opportunity to not trust in our own work and strength but to refocus and reflect where our true strength comes from the Lord.
– Sabbath teaches us to trust. Think about how this relates to tithing – giving to God and then He multiplies the rest.
– Ultimately, Sabbath rest has been fulfilled in Jesus’ completion of work. His resurrection becomes that which we celebrate, which is why Christians began to worship on the first day of the week (Sundays) to commemorate the day which Jesus was resurrected.
– Cf. Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 3:18 – 4:11 (Deuteronomy 5:12-15);
Hebrews 10:24-25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some”
How do you compare to these commands?
1) Is God supreme in your life?
2) Are there God-substitutes in your heart?
3) Is God’s name above every other name for your life motivation?
4) Do you work for your identity or Sabbath rest in God’s grace?
These commands point us to Christ. There is a greater Moses today. One who has given us a greater a full and final redemption.
Hebrews 3:3-15 3 For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. 4 Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. 5 Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said [in the future] . 6 But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household, whose household we are if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope. 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the desert, 9 where your fathers tested Me, tried [Me] , and saw My works 10 for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with this generation and said, “They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways.” 11 So I swore in My anger, “They will not enter My rest.” 12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. 15 As it is said: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.