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#3 God's Law

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#3 God's Law

Post by PastorDan on Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:22 pm

God's Law - Nobody likes rules, even rules from God. His rules may be the hardest because they are impossible to keep. Yet God has loving purposes in mind in revealing His law to us.



This video and discussion takes place on June 19th on site at HCLC between services (around 10:15am).



So what are the Ten Commandments?

The Ten Commandments are the law of God that expresses His will for us.

The Ten Commandments are the law of God that expresses His will for us.

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered in thunder. (Exodus 19:16-19)

There at Mount Sinai God's voice thundered the words of the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel. They were so terrified by the thundering voice of God they begged Moses to speak to them on God's behalf. So God called Moses up to the mountain top and there wrote these Ten Commandments on two stone tablets, so Moses could carry them back to the people.

Jesus spoke about these commandments and showed God hasn't changed His mind about them:

(Jesus said) "Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:19-20)

Why did God make the scene at Mount Sinai so grand and terrifying when He gave His Ten Commandments to His people?

How can remembering this context help us to see God's commandments as a matter of eternal life and eternal death?


Download the pamphlet "The Ten Commandments" for a brief explanation of each.

The Bible tells us God gave us the Ten Commandments, but never identifies which is which. Historians and theologians from Judaism and Christianity have come up with two different ways to number them. This link provides Augustine's Order, which is followed by the Lutheran and Catholic Churches and others.



How did Jesus summarize the Ten Commandments?

Once Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in the Old Testament. He summed up the Ten Commandments in two commands-one directed toward God, the other toward our neighbor.

And He (Jesus) said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)

All the commandments come down to our love for God and for one another. Or as Romans 13:10b puts it, "Love is the fulfillment of the Law." When we love God before all things, we keep Him in the proper place in our lives. When we truly love the people around us, we protect their lives, reputation and property, and in so doing find greater satisfaction and joy in our life.

In 1 John 4:8b we read, "God is love." Out of His great love for us He gives us life, provides for that life, and protects it from all who would bring death or harm to us. Out of that great love He also gave His Son to save us from sin, death and eternal punishment. By giving us His Ten Commandments, God is simply commanding us to love Him and one another as He has first loved us.

When you treat another person with unexpected love and kindness, what difference does that make in your own life and outlook?

Discuss what differences we would see in our families, workplaces, communities, nation and world if we truly loved each other as much as we loved ourselves.




Does God intend His Ten Commandments to apply to us today?

Absolutely! It wouldn't make much sense for Jesus to summarize the laws into two broad statements if He intended to abolish them. The Ten Commandments continue to provide modern society with the blueprint for living an ordered, meaningful life, which promotes peace with others and shows how we honor God.

Some might counter this point by saying the Ten Commandments are badly outdated. They were given some 3,500 years ago and don't address modern issues. For instance, how can it help direct our use of the Internet? At first glance, they seem to have a point; life has certainly changed a great deal between now and the day Moses received those tablets. The methods of delivery may have changed, but the human nature that tempts us to make sinful choices remains fully intact.

(Jesus said) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished." (Matthew 5:17-18)

Here is an audio link of a conversation about the importance of upholding God's law.



Can we earn our salvation through following the Law?

Sure-if we can keep each of God's commandments perfectly, never violating a single law during our entire life. Our big problem is that none of us is perfect, for all of us sin. So, no, sinners can't earn salvation through following the Law.

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)


In session one "Why Jesus?" we discussed other world religions which lower the bar and supposedly let you earn your way to heaven. In Islam you will earn heaven as long as your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds. In Hinduism you get reincarnated and have an infinite number of do-overs, until you finally get it right and earn your way to Nirvana.

What makes these alternatives more attractive to people than Christianity?

How do these religions do away with the need for Jesus Christ as our Savior?

What is the danger in judging our lives by people around us instead of judging them according to God's Law?




What is original sin?

The trouble is our sinful condition goes far deeper than the evil deeds we do and the good things we leave undone. Our entire being was contaminated with sin from the moment we are conceived-long before we could do any good or evil deeds. The Bible calls this original sin. Original sin is the sinful nature we received from our sinful parents.

It all started back in Genesis 3 in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command and ate the forbidden fruit their nature was changed. The holy image of God which had been created in them was replaced with a sinful nature. They passed that sinful nature on to their children at conception, who passed it down to theirs, eventually passing it on to our parents, who passed it on to us. That is how original sin continues to be passed throughout the entire human race from generation to generation.

(Jesus said) "Why do you not understand what I say to you? It is because you cannot bear to hear My Word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer in the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:43-44)

Why is it hard to accept that newborn babies (and even babies in the womb) are sinners who need God's forgiveness?

When we think of sin why do we tend to focus on the bad things we have done and said, more than the thoughts and desires of our minds and hearts?


[url=http://media.lhm.org/lutheranhour/mp3s/QA7406PD.mp3Click here for an audio link discussion on the question, "Why are we punished for the sin of Adam and Eve?"[/url]



How strict is God about our obedience to His Law?

God's holiness (that is, His absolute sinLESSness) and justice demand us to be absolutely perfect in all our thoughts, desires, words and deeds.

(Jesus said) "You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:28)

The Bible clearly teaches that every sin and disobedience must be punished.

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (Hebrews 10:28)

Why so strict? God is absolutely holy and perfectly just. Why doesn't He strike us down instantly? He doesn't because He is merciful and wants to forgive our sins.

But even though He is patient, He cannot tolerate sin in His presence forever.

For You are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6)

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. (Psalm 2:10-12)


The US was outraged when a teenager who killed four people in a drunk driving accident did not receive jail time from the judge, due to the so-called Affluenza Defense. The judge was fired. Why would we not expect God, as the perfect judge not to justly punish sin?

What must you first acknowledge about yourself before you can believe that God really does have this reaction to your sins?




If we cannot save ourselves, how can we be saved?

Like a condemned criminal there is nothing we can do to earn His favor or turn away His wrath. But God's love and mercy for us moved Him to provide a Substitute. Jesus became human to take our sins upon Himself, and He received the full punishment for those sins in His suffering and death on the cross. Watching the brutality Jesus suffered in movies like The Passion of the Christ helps us realize how serious God is about His Law and holiness. But it also reminds us that God completely satisfied His holiness and justice by laying our sins on Jesus, who paid for each one in full.

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us-for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)


How does watering down God's laws or taking credit for our good works make the atoning sacrifice of Jesus unnecessary?



What purposes does God's Law serve?

God's Law works in three different ways:


  1. Curb — it controls violent outbursts of sin in society. The Law works to keep order in our lives, families, communities and the nations of the world.

    God works through the Law to curb our sinful desires, and protects our lives and possessions. You can think of this first use of the Law as a fence. While some look at it as a boundary that restricts, it is really a barrier designed to protect us from danger.

    Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for He is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)

    Discuss what happens when the fence of God's Law is removed. Describe the horrible things people do after disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and blackouts.
    What would life be like without law enforcement?



  2. Mirror — The Law's second and most important purpose is to reveal our sinfulness so that we realize our need to seek forgiveness. Here it acts like a mirror.

    Mirrors show us when our hair is out of place, when we have food in our teeth, when our clothes are not buttoned, zipped or fastened correctly. In the same way the Law shows how far we have strayed from God's perfect path. It removes all excuses, convinces us we deserve eternal punishment for our sins, and shows why we need Jesus Christ as our Savior.

    If it had not been for the Law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the Law had not said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7b)

    Many people set the bar for their behavior only slightly better than the people around them. Why is that still not good enough for God?
    Why is it so hard to confess our sins and admit we need a Savior?



  3. Guide — It acts like a rule or guide to direct our decisions in life in a God-pleasing way.

    Once we have confessed our sins and received God's forgiveness for Jesus' sake, God's Law serves a third purpose for us. We need this because our sinful desires still mislead us even with God's forgiveness. The Law steps in to reveal the trap of sin and make the right path clear to us.

    Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

    Describe some things that seem good and right or, at least, harmless, until the Bible shows us they are wrong and harmful for us.




What are the Ten Commandments?

First: You shall have no other gods.

Second: You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God.

Third: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Fourth: Honor your father and your mother.

Fifth: You shall not murder.

Sixth: You shall not commit adultery.

Seventh: You shall not steal.

Eighth: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Ninth: You shall not covet your neighbor's house.

Tenth: You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.



Let's talk a little bit more about the Ten Commandments.

Here's an interesting video.

Check back as I add more...
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PastorDan
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