ďObeying Godís CommandmentsĒ† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† February 28, 2010
SI:† Weíre studying the book of Deuteronomy.
The name Deuteronomy means a second giving of the law.
The first time God gave Israel the law was when he gave the stone tablets
†† to Moses on Mt. Sinai.† The generation that receive the law had died.
Their children were standing on the brink of the Promised Land,
†† about to cross the Jordan River
†† and take possession of the land promised to Abraham.†
The Lord told Moses to read them the law, give it to them a second time,
†† so that they would know how he wanted them to live in the Promised Land.
We come to the reading of the law this morning.
INTRO:† Do you all remember the controversy with Judge Roy Moore
†† and the Ten Commandments monument at the Alabama Supreme Court?
Back when that was going on I was talking to a man who goes to
†† First Bible Church up in Decatur, which is a large, independent church.
†† Very good church with a good reputation for teaching the Bible.
†† He said, you arenít going to believe what our pastor did recently.
There was a presentation in the service about Judge Moore and the Ten
†† Commandments controversy.† They urged the congregation to write letters
†† of support and that sort of thing.† Get politically involved.
After the presentation was over, the pastor came to the pulpit and said:
†† If you believe that the Ten Commandments ought to be displayed in
†† the Alabama Supreme Court, please show your support by standing.
And the whole place stood up.
Then he said:† Now, please remain standing
†† if you can recite all of the Ten Commandments in order.†
†† After a few moments of awkward silence, virtually everyone sat down.
Then he said:† This morning weíre beginning a study of the Ten Commandments.
†† Thatís mean!† Iíll never do that to you.† But you have to admit, itís funny.
Weíre going to study the Ten Commandments tooó
†† but in the interests of keeping our pace and moving through Deuteronomy,
†† Iím not going to preach a sermon series that covers each Commandment.
As we move on into Deuteronomy, you will find that Moses himself does that.
† †He expounds on the Commandments.
Thatís really what the rest of Deuteronomy is about.
†† Itís applying the Ten Commandments to life.
†† Showing Israel how Godís moral law applies to life in Promised Land.
So this morning I want us to get a big view of the Ten Commandments,
†† weíre going to look at them as a whole and weíre going to do so
†† by focusing on what this passage tells us about obedience.
Moses says at the very beginning:
†† ďHear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today.
†† Learn them and be sure to follow them.Ē
In other words:† Obey them. †You start to understand the Ten Commandments
†† when you understand obedience.
What is obedience?† What does it mean to obey Godís commandments?
All religions demand obedience.†
†† All the great world religions demand obedience to their particular commandsó
†† whether it is the commands of Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism.
I guess that if you laid the Ten Commandments alongside the moral laws
†† of the great religions, there would be similarities and differences.†
Iíve never seen any kind of comparison like that, but Iím sure somebody has done
†† it.† That would be interesting but it wouldnít get to the heart of the matter.†
Because the most significant difference between all other religions and the Christian
†† faith is not just in the places where their commandments might differó
†† there is a much more profound difference.
The very nature of obedience is different.† Biblical obedience is unique.†
†† The obedience that Moses demands of Israel is unique.†
The Ten Commandments are enormously important for the Christian life.
†† You ought to be able to recite them all in order.
But you will never really understand them until you understand obedience,
†† and what it really means to obey Godís commandments.
So letís look at this passage under three headings:
1.† The call to obedience
2.† The reason for obedience
3.† The content of obedience
Credit where credit is due:† Sermon by Tim Keller on 1 John 2:1-6,
†† New Testament passage we read earlier, which is about obeying
†† Godís commandments.
MP#1† The call to obedience
Moses calls the people of Israel to obey Godís commandments.
What exactly are we being called to do
†† when the Lord tells us to obey his commandments?† What is obedience?†
Obedience is the willingness to have your will crossed.
†† Itís when there are things you want to do.† Things that feel right to do.
And you allow your will in those matters to be crossed by someone else.
†† The clearest example of this is in the area of physical training.
When you go into physical training, there is a discipline or a regimen
†† that crosses your will.† The alarm clock goes off at 5:00 in the morning.
†† Itís dark and cold.† Your bed is warm and comfortable.†
It feels so right to stay in bed and sleep another hour.†
†† You want to stay in bed.† You donít want to get up and go to the gym.
What will win?† Your wants or the demands of the physical training?
†† Obedience means that you are willing to have your will crossed.
This is an even better example when you think about people who go so far
†† as to hire a personal trainer.† What does that personal trainer do?
He crosses your will.† He says, Donít stop.† Push it.† Give me ten more.
†† And you say, It hurts.† Itís burning.† Itís killing me.†
†† This canít be good.† This canít be right.† Iím dying.
And he says, Youíre wrong.† You donít know what you need.
†† This isnít killing you.† Itís making you stronger.† Donít stop.
And then when youíre done with your exercise and you think you can
†† reward yourself with French fries and milkshake he says, No.†
†† You canít eat that junk.† Itís off limits.† Donít even think about it.
And you say, But itís good.† I crave it.† I deserve it.† It canít hurt me.
†† Iíve eaten it all my life.† Other people eat it.
And he says, What do you know about whatís good for you?
†† Are you the expert?† Look at the shape you got yourself into.
†† Stay away from that stuff and eat right.
And you allow your will to be crossed.† Why?
†† Because you know that from those boundaries, as painful as they are,
†† will come the physical freedom of a stronger and healthier body.
Thatís why you do it.† Greater freedom.† Greater life.
Now letís transfer that to the moral realm.
We all have desires and feelings that are often quite strong, they seem to arise
†† from deep within us and we very much want to respond to those feelings.
Everything in American popular culture cries out to say yes to those feelings.
†† And if there is one real sin in America, itís not being true to yourself.†
†† Not being true to your heart and saying yes to what feels right.
I can remember how Allison and I struggled to find good movies for the girls when
†† they were little.† Itís easy to find good movies for little boys.†
You just say:† Son, close your eyes.† The good guys are about to fight the bad guys
†† and thereís going to be some blood.† But there it is, good verses evil.
Itís much harder to find good movies for little girls because the ones made for them
†† are squeaky clean but they just pound this philosophy home.
Youíve got to go with your heart, girl.† Youíve got to be true to yourself.
That may sound harmless but what happens when that little girl grows up
†† and applies that to her sexual ethics or choice of a husband or attitude toward
†† motherhood?† What happens if it become her standard for money and finances?
What if she always goes with her heart and is always true to herself
†† and never allows her moral will to be crossed?
Instead of being free, she will find herself in bondage to relational patterns and
†† lifestyle habits and emotional responses that that restrict and narrow her life.
Isnít it interesting how that is so clear physically.† That if you refuse to allow
†† your will to be crossed, and if you never say no to the things you want to eat,
†† and never say yes to exercise you donít want to do, then instead of being more
†† free, you become less free.†
But when it comes to the moral realm,
†† you think that you can do what you want and it wonít hurt you.†
Obedience means being willing to let your will be crossed by Godís moral law.
When your heart says:† No God, this canít be right.† It hurts.† It burns.
And he says:† Keep going.† This is building your character.† Itís making you strong.† †
†† You allow him to cross your will and you keep going.
Or when your hearts says:† That would be so good.† I want it.† I deserve it.
†† And Lord says, No.† Thatís off limits.† Itís not good for you.† Stay away.
†† You allow him to cross your will and you look away.
That leads us to look more carefully at
MP#2† The reason for obedience
Obedience is not an end in itself.† The reason for obedience is relationship.
†† Itís a means of intimacy with God.
The preface to the Ten Commandments makes this clear.† Verse 6.
†† ďI am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.Ē
†† I brought you out.† I saved you.†
And why did he bring them out of Egypt?
†† He says it just beforeóto make a covenant with them.†
†† A covenant is a personal and formal relationship.
Marriage is the best example we have of a covenant.
†† Itís intensely personal, but itís not just personal, itís also formal.
†† The two parties are bound together with promises of intimacy and faithfulness.
Back in Exodus 19, just before the Lord gave the Ten Commandments
†† on Mt. Sinai he said to Israel, You will be my treasured possession.
Heís saying, I saved you, I brought you out so that we could have a relationship.
†† And whatís the very next thing he does after bringing them out
†† and establishing this covenant relationship with them?†
He gives them the law and tells them to obey it.
Hereís why.† Obedience perfects us and brings us closer to God.
†† Obedience is a means of intimacy with God.
In fact, thatís true in every intimate, loving relationship?† Think about it.
†† When you love a person, you discover that personís preferences and needs.
†† You discover what she loves, what she hates.
And you begin to pursue those things as a means of showing your love and
†† increasing intimacy.† You try to give that person the things she likes and needs.
†† You try to avoid and shield her from the things she hates.
And the deeper your love, the more you feel the preferences and desires
†† of your loved one as an obligation.† They become laws that you follow.
†† You feel the authority of love, you feel the bonds of love.
And there is this wonderful dynamic of intimacy and obedience as both
†† individuals seek to obey these laws of love they discover in each other.
Obedience and love always grow together.†
Sometimes, when you are criticizing a relationship you might say that one person
† †is using another person.† Heís using her.† Sheís using him.
†† What does that mean?
It means that the user is saying:† I want a relationship with you of sorts,
†† I want your love, but donít fence me in.† Donít make demands of me.†
† †In other words, I want a relationship without obedience.†
I will not let my will be crossed by you.† Iím my own person.†
†† And of course, a relationship like that is fundamentally flawed.
†† There can be no growth in intimacy without obedience.
This is how it works in our relationship with the Lord.
How do you grow in intimacy with him?† You learn what he loves and hates,
†† and you allow your will to be crossed in order to show him your love.
You canít grow in your relationship with him if you try to use him.
†† If you say, I want a relationship of sorts, but donít fence me in.
†† All true, loving, intimate relationships make demands.†
And itís not all one way.† It might seem like God makes all the demands.
†† It might seem like he gives all the laws.† He tells us what he wants.
He tells us his loves and hates, but he doesnít hear ours.†
†† But he does.† He has responded to our deepest needs in Jesus Christ.
And greatest, most obedience, most vulnerable Christian does not even come close
†† to being as vulnerable and obedient as Jesus was when he took on human nature.
He allowed himself to be torn apart in order to meet our needs
†† and gain an intimate relationship with us.† So, yes, it is mutual.†
†† God always supplies all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Obedience is essential for relationship.†
Not to get out of Egypt.† The Lord didnít say:†
†† Keep my commandments and I will deliver you from slavery in Egypt.
He said:† Iíve brought you out.† Iíve made you my own.
†† You responded to me in faith and followed my servant Moses.
Now, now, on the basis of this relationship, and to deepen it,
†† hereís how I want you to obey me.† Let me cross your will.
1 John 2:5† ďIf anyone obeys his word, Godís love is truly made complete in him.Ē
†† Thatís the reason for obedience, to complete his love in us.
That bring us to the
MP#3† Content of obedience
How do you know the things the Lord loves and hates
†† so that you can be bound by them and grow in intimacy?
When you love a person, you ask:† What to you like?†
†† What makes you happy?† What makes you sad?
When I was in college I asked Allison what kind of perfume she liked.†
†† She gave me the names of three perfumes.
I had never bought perfume before.† So I went to a department store and handed
†† the list to one of those slightly intimidating women in the white coats,
†† and said that Iíd like a bottle of each.†
And she said something like:† Ok, weíre running a special on this first perfume.
†† The 1 oz. is $50 and the 2 oz. is only $80
†† and thatís the one you ought to buy because you get a free lipstick.†
I think I had $30.† I mumbled some lame excuse and fled in humiliation.†
†† The next time I talked to Allison I asked her some of the other things she liked!
Where do you find out Godís loves and hates so you can show your love to him?
†† The Bible, certainly.† But more specifically, the Ten Commandments.
†† Itís very important that Christians appreciate their significance.
As Deuteronomy makes clear and the Bible confirms in many ways,
†† the Ten Commandments are not simply ten of the many laws God gave us,
†† they are not even the ten most important laws.
Instead, they are a summary of the entire will of God.
†† All of the rest of the commandments in Godís Word are nothing more than
†† applications or elaborations of these fundamental duties of love.
This role of the commandments as a summary of Godís will is driven home
†† by the fact that they can be summarized by only two commandments:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
†† Thatís the summary of commandments 1-4.
And love your neighbor as yourself.
†† Thatís the summary of commandments 5-10.
Each of the commandments is a heading for an entire area of moral duty and purity.
†† Each commandment works its way down into the questions of daily life.
For example, as we study Deuteronomy we will be given many examples of
†† how to apply the sixth commandment:† You shall not murder.
These applications clearly demonstrate that the sixth commandment
†† requires much more than simply that you donít commit murder.
†† It requires you to take responsibility for the life of your neighbor.
When you give a cup of cold water to thirsty person, obeying sixth commandment.
When you take care to ensure that your property poses no danger to another,
†† you are obeying the sixth commandment.†
Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that the sixth commandment requires
†† not only that we donít murder our neighbor, but that we donít think hateful
†† thoughts toward him either.
The seventh commandment:† You shall not commit adulteryó
†† Requires you to take responsibility for the purity of your neighbor.†
The eighth commandment:† You shall not stealó
†† Requires you to take responsibility for he property of your neighbor.
The ninth commandment:† You shall not bear false witnessó
†† Requires you to take responsibility for maintaining truth between neighbors.
Each commandment, even when stated negatively, includes positive duties.†
And the duties required and the things forbidden go much deeper than
†† physical actions, they go all the way down to the thoughts of the mind,
†† and the motives of the heart.
Godís love is made complete in you, and you enjoy greater intimacy with him,
†† and a freer and fuller life as you work the Commandments of God out.
As you allow Godís will to cross your will, especially in the areas that are hard.
And Jesus Christ is there to help you through his Holy Spirit.†
†† To urge you on.† To say, Donít stop.† Keep going.† This is good.† This is right.
†† Youíre loving me and loving your Father in heaven.
And even more importantly, heís there when you break the Commandments.
Remember how John puts it in his letter:†
ďWe know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands . . .
†† but if anybody does sin, we have one who speak to the Father in our defenseó
†† Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.† He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.Ē
How does Jesus speak to the Father in our defense when we break
†† his commandments?
Does he say:† Look at Andrew, Father.† Heís blown it one more time.
†† Heís broken one of your commandments, again.
Please, oh please donít destroy him.†
†† Please have mercy on him one more time I beg you.
No, Jesus doesnít beg for mercy.† When an attorney begs for mercy, he has no case.
†† Jesus Christ has a powerful case when he speaks to the Father in our defense.
He says, Father, his sin deserves death.† But I have paid that debt.
†† I have died for all his sins.† It would be unjust of you to punish the same sin twice.
†† I demand justice.† And justice says forgive him.
And God the Father smiles because it was his love that drew that plan.
In the Gospel, we donít get salvation through obedience.
†† The Israelites didnít get deliverance from Egypt by obedience,
†† they got it through faith.† They believed and the Lord saved them.
He saved them so that they could be his treasured possession,
†† so that he could enter into a relationship with them.
And the Lord has saved us for the same reason,
†† so that we could be his treasured possession,
†† and so that we could know him, and have a relationship with him.
And he has secured that relationship at great cost to himselfó
†† through his own death.
He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
†† He allowed his will to be crossed, so that he could get you.
When the wonder of that sinks in to your heart,
†† then you have the greatest motive of all to commit yourself body and soul
†† to obeying all of Godís commandments.