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Rembrandt ~ The Ten Commandments

Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common

The word epic comes to mind when speaking of The Ten Commandments. Everything about them is epic.

  • They were given in an epic way.  The Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai immediately after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Moses was God’s chosen servant/leader to receive The Ten Commandments so Moses is aptly referred to as ‘the law giver’.
  • The very words are epic in their simplicity, yet significance.  The Ten Commandments were given by God can be divided into two parts.  The first four relate to the relationship between man and God, while the last six focus on our relationship to our fellowman.
  • Their ability to convict us is epic.  While we may have never been arrested for committing or crime or we may have never been sentenced by a earthly court of law, we have all fallen short of God’s standard.

Are you familiar with The Ten Commandments?  Read them below and think about how many you have kept and how many you have broken.

The Ten Commandments ~ The Holy Bible Exodus 20*  

1 And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no 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.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Questions

  1. What do The Ten Commandments teach us about our relationship with God?
  2. What idols do people worship today?  What idols are we tempted to worship in our societies?
  3. What do The Ten Commandments teach us about our relationship with others?
  4. It’s remarkable that right actions toward God and man are summed up in these ten rules or commandments, but there’s more. How did Jesus answer when he was asked which commandment is the greatest of all?  What do you think this means?
    Matthew 22  36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  5. In Matthew 5:17-30, Jesus teaches the difference between the difference between the “spirit of the law” versus the “letter of the law”.  How would you describe the difference? Why is keeping the “spirit of the law” so important?
  • The Fulfillment of the Law    17 “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. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
  • Murder   21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
  • Adultery  27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Jesus lived a sinless life ~ he never sinned against God or man.

From our every day life and our personal experiences, we are well aware of our inability to keep the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.   Many times we compare ourselves to others and think that we are not nearly as evil or as mean or terrible as other people so therefore we build ourselves up as noble, upstanding citizens.  The truth is we are all quite guilty of sins against God and against our fellow man.  There is no one who is righteous, except one.  Jesus lived a sinless life. He never sinned in word or deed, in thought or action.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

One way for us to comprehend a sinless life is to realize that temptation is different than sin. Temptation means that we are presented with a choice between right and wrong. Can you imagine always choosing to do the right thing? Can you imagine always being kind, always being honest, always being loving not only in your actions, but also in your thoughts and in your heart?  This is what it would be like to not sin.  Jesus never chose wrong. He always chose obedience.

For that reason, we have been given a great gift.  Jesus Christ died for the ungodly ~ that’s you and me.

Romans 5:6-11   You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 8:1-4  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Prayer

God, we thank you for showing us our great shortcomings. We confess our sins.  You have revealed to us our sin not only through the law, but also through our conscience so that we are without excuse. I understand that I have sinned not only against man, but against You. I understand my weakness. My guilt is real and I am powerless to help myself.  We are all accountable. Through the law we become conscious of sin. But it is by your gift that I am saved through faith, not by my works so that I cannot boast. You love me and gave yourself for me. This is a great mystery which is hard for me to comprehend.  But I know I am a sinner and apart from you, I can do nothing to save myself from my sin.  Thanks be to God for your great gift of Jesus to die for me so that my relationship is now not from obligation, but love and gratitude to you as my Creator, Savior and Lord.

Romans 3:19-20
Ephesians 2:8-9

*New International Version (translation from Hebrew)

 

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