Robert Jeffress - How To Live and Love A World That's Lost Its Way - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". If you went to school before the 1980s, you probably remember seeing a copy of the Ten Commandments hanging on your classroom wall. Sadly, you won't see them in public schools today, but these simple rules still contain the guiding principles for excelling in your studies and in every area of your life. Today we're embarking on a study of the Ten Commandments and why they matter to your life right now. My brand new series is titled, "The 10" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
For the first ten years I was here as pastor, I drove the same car and as the years wore on, my car started to wear out, it showed the age very quickly. It broke down in some inopportune places. I knew I was in trouble when the insurance company said, "We refuse to insure your car any longer". But I was holding on until one day I was walking to my car with our then deacon chairman and he said, "Pastor," he was trying to be diplomatic. He said, "Pastor, I know you think you're scoring some points with the congregation for being so frugal and driving that car, trust me, you're not gaining anything". He said, "Our members are embarrassed that you drive a car like that you need to get a new car".
And so I finally broke down and went to the dealer and bought a new car and I handed my cheque to them, but the most amazing thing happened, they not only gave me the keys to my new car, they gave me a thick book filled with rules about how I was to drive my car. In fact, I jotted down, you're not gonna believe this, jotted down some of these. Page seven, the manufacturer said, "Don't text and drive". Now, who in the world are they to tell me how to communicate? Don't they know about the first amendment? I can communicate any way I want when I want, or page 15, I couldn't believe this, "Never remove the coolant reservoir cap while the engine is running".
No explanation of why not to do that, they just expect me to obey and take it by faith. And this took the cake, "Always drive and ride with your seat back upright". Seat back upright? Don't they know how uncomfortable and unnatural that is? And if they didn't want me to recline, why did they make it where it would recline? That's my car, I bought it, I can do anything I want to with it. Now obviously the manufacturer came up with those rules, not for their benefit, they don't get anything from it, they did it for my benefit. They're the ones who designed the car, they understand even better than I how it best operates and they want me to enjoy my car to the fullest.
Now, I know it's a silly illustration, but the fact is God has created, he's manufactured each of us, he's designed us and he knows under which circumstances and how we operate best. God is not some cosmic killjoy who's trying to stamp out any vestige of enjoyment in life. God made us, he wants us to enjoy life now, in the here now, and in the hereafter as well. And that's why he's given us his owner's manual, we call it the "Bible". In this book is everything you need to live life as God intended you to live it both now and forever. And as we look at God's word, the most basic list of requirements that God gives us for a fulfilled life, the most basic rules are the Ten Commandments. And today we're going to begin looking at these commandments that I think we need to re-look again like never before.
Now before we begin our study on the Ten Commandments, I don't want you to open your Bible and certainly don't use your iPhone to Google. Let me ask you, how many of the Ten Commandments could you name right off the bat? Did you know a USA Today's survey showed that 60% of Americans could not name even five of the commandments? Only 14% could name all of them. I think we're suffering the fallout of that. You know, up until the last 60 years, it was generally accepted in our country that the Ten Commandments were basic moral laws that everyone should follow. We had the Ten Commandments tacked up in a school room, we had them in our courthouses.
There's a vestige of the Ten Commandments on the Supreme Court building. But about 60 years, these geniuses, I use the word sarcastically, came up with the idea that we don't need God to be good, we can be good apart from God. And there began this wholesale effort to separate our nation from its Christian foundation, certainly represented by the Ten Commandments. And the climax of that effort to separate our country from our Christian foundation occurred in 1980 and the Supreme Court case of stone versus Graham. The court case had to deal with displays of the Ten Commandments that had been posted in Kentucky schools. They weren't taught, they were simply posted in the Kentucky schools and the Supreme Court determined that that was unconstitutional, that it violated the so-called separation of church and state.
How did they come up with that reasoning? Let me read you what the Supreme Court said, "If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the school children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the commandments, this is not a permissible state objective under the establishment clause of the first amendment". Can you believe that? We can't boast the Ten Commandments because if we do, the children might actually read them and if they read the commandments, God forbid they might obey them. And if they obey them, that is not permissible under the first amendment of the constitution.
I don't think it's coincidence that 17 years after that ruling December the 1st, 1997 in another Kentucky school, a group of students gathered together before school to pray. A 14 year old who had obtained a handgun went up to those students at heath high school in Paducah, Kentucky, and he opened fire on those 12 praying students killing three seriously wounding five. And it all happened in the school room where 17 years earlier, the Supreme Court said, you cannot post the words, "Thou shall not kill". Hosea 4:6, God said, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children".
We are reaping the consequence of forgetting God's most basic laws. The increasing number of school children, shootings, the gender confusion among boys and girls, the drug addictions, the immorality. These things are not accidental. You cannot ignore the laws of God without terrible consequences. And that's why today in a culture whereas Isaiah 5 says, "We call good evil and evil good," it is time for a fresh look at the Ten Commandments and that's what we're doing beginning today. Today we're starting this series I'm calling, "The 10: how to live and love in a world that has lost its way".
If you have your Bibles, you can now turn to Exodus chapter 20, and before we begin looking at these commands, let me just give you the historical setting for these commands. You remember that Israel had lived under Egyptian bondage for 430 years, and finally God raised up the great liberator Moses who would lead the Exodus out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. And you remember after Pharaoh initially said, "Let them go," he had a change of heart and he started chasing after them. They came to the Red Sea and God miraculously parted the Red Sea for the children of Israel and consumed the Egyptian soldiers.
Once they were on the other side, they were getting ready to go to the Promised Land but they stopped at mount Sinai and Moses went to the top of the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, why? To receive the law that would be the constitution for this new nation of Israel in the Promised Land. It wasn't just the Ten Commandments as we'll see, but it was all of the law. That's why it took 40 days and 40 nights. And you'll remember that as they came to Kadesh Barnea, the entry point into the Promised Land, they refused to believe God, God sentenced them to 40 years of wondering around in a circle in the desert.
Forty years later, Moses, now an old man stood on top of mount nebo and he repeated the law that God had given and we find that in Deuteronomy, "Deutero" meaning second, "Nomas" meaning law, it was a second reading of the law. The point is that there are two lists of the Ten Commandments, the original list found in Exodus chapter 20 verses 1 to 17, and then 40 years later, the second reading of the law, Deuteronomy 5 verses 6 through 21. Now, as Moses stood up on mount nebo as an old man, he recounted how this law was given to him originally on top of mount Sinai.
In Deuteronomy 5:22, Moses said, "These words the Lord spoke to all of your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick bloom, with a great voice," underline that. "God spoke to Moses with a great voice and he added no more. He wrote them," underline wrote, "He wrote them on the two tablets of stone and gave them to me," Moses said. Remember the movie, "The Ten Commandments," how Charlton Heston, Moses went up to mount Sinai and God spoke out the commands, but he wrote them with his own finger. You know, some people have the idea that the only part of God's word that is inspired by God or the words God audibly spoke and somehow when you reduce them to writing, that is inferior to the spoken Word of God and that there had to be all kind of errors in the scripture because man wrote it down.
No, 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is inspired by God". That word scripture is the Greek word "Graphé," which means writing. It's not just the audible words of God and Jesus that are inspired, the written word of scripture, the old and the New Testament, every word is inspired, literally "Theopneustos" it is God breathed. The words God spoke were inspired. Listen to what the Lord specified is the blessing to those who live by the words of the Ten Commandments. "Oh, that they may have such a heart in them," Deuteronomy 5:29, "That they would fear me and keep all of my commandments always, that it may be well with them and their sons forever".
Moses confirmed that blessing in verse 33 when he said, "You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess". Now, this was a specific promise to Israel. As they went into this new country and they formed a new nation, God said, "If you will keep these words, you will enjoy as a nation, peace, justice, and morality". And there is a promise for us as well, I'll say it several times of this message. We are not Israel, America is not the new Israel, but there is a blessing to any nation and any individual that keeps these commands, God will bless them. You will never make it to heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments, but you will have a much better life here on earth if you do. That is the promise that God is making.
Now, what is the purpose of this law? You know, all of this talk about the law, the law obeying God's law. It's probably raising the question in your mind, "Pastor, I thought you've said that the Old Testament is old, it's an old covenant, it's not operational today". That's true, but that doesn't mean the law is evil, that it's bad. Yes, it's true that Paul said in Romans 6:15, "We're not under the law, but we're under grace". Jesus said in John 1:17, "The law was given through Moses. Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ". But the same apostle Paul said in Romans 7:12, "The law is holy". 1 Timothy 1:8, Paul said, "The law is good if one uses the law lawfully".
Let me illustrate what Paul is saying there. How many of you have ever used a jug of Drano before? You know, Drano, it's a great product. Is Drano good or bad? It depends how you use it. It's good if you use it to unclog your sink. If you use it to take care of your indigestion, it's bad. You see, Drano is only good as one uses it rightly for the right purpose. And it's the same way with the law of God. The law is good for its purpose but remember, even though the law is good, it's limited in what it could do. Let me show you what I mean. I want you to write down these three statements on your outline. What was the purpose of the law? The law was given to maintain order, not to transform our heart. The law was given to maintain order, not to transform our heart.
Remember after the flood, God had destroyed the world through the flood because of the violence that was in the world. Did you know that was the primary reason for the flood? It wasn't immorality, it wasn't even idolatry, it was violence. Genesis 6:11, "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God and the earth was filled with violence". People killing people, and God said, it's time to obliterate the world and start over again. So he created the ark. Noah and his family were on the ark for over a year. It was 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but they were on there for over a year and when they finally came out, God basically gave mankind a do over and he said, "We're gonna begin again, but in this new world, there has to be order".
And Genesis 9 represents the forming of government, a way to keep order in society. Genesis 9:6 says, here is the first rule, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed for in the image of God he made man". Now he's not talking, God's not talking about vengeance, you go out and kill somebody for doing something wrong, he's talking about there needs to be an objective third party that enforces this law. Whoever kills another person, he shall be killed. As an example, this is the institution of capital punishment, which is still in effect today and it should be. It's part of God's way of maintaining order in society, of keeping society within the guardrails of morality.
In Romans 13, Paul expressed that. He said in Romans 13:4, "For government is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid: for government does not bear the sword," that is had the ability to take a life, "For nothing: for government is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on those who practice evil. Therefore, it is necessary to be in subjection to government, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake".
Here's the point, the law is good, it has some value. The law may keep you from killing somebody. The fear of being executed yourself may keep you from killing somebody, but it can never keep you from wanting to kill somebody. Speed limit sign, 70 miles per hour. That may keep you from pressing too hard on the accelerator, but it won't keep you from wanting to do that. It can maintain order, but it can't transform the heart, that's what Paul is saying. Secondly, the law was given to reveal our unrighteousness, not to make us righteous. The only thing the law can do is show us how unholy we really are.
That's what James had in mind when he said in James 1:23, "For if anyone is a hearer of the word but not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror. For once he has looked at himself and then gone his way, he's immediately forgotten what kind of person he was". A mirror is useful. It can show you that your face is dirty, but guess what, it's not gonna reach for a bar of soap and a wash rag and wash your face for you. It can only reveal how unclean you are. If the law could make us righteous, then would have no need for Jesus Christ. That's what Paul said in Galatians 2:21, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness came through the law, then Christ died needlessly".
If the law can make us holy, why do we need Jesus? It can't make us righteous, only Christ can. And the third limitation of the law was this. The law was given to lead us to our Savior, not to replace our Savior. Then Colossians 3:24 and 25, Paul writes, "Therefore, the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we no longer are under a tutor". Now, when we think of a tutor, we think of somebody we pay to help our kid out who's flunking algebra. We think of that as a tutor. That's not what the word means here, it means attendant or slave.
In Paul's culture, a slave would escort a child to the teacher. The teacher did the teaching, the tutor was only the leader who accompanied the child and led him to the teacher. That's what the law is. The law leads us to Jesus but it could never replace Jesus. Again, the law is good if one uses it lawfully. Now, when we talk about the law, what exactly are we talking about? This is key to understanding these Ten Commandments. Remember, I said when Moses was on mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, he got all of the law. Everything you find in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, it all was given to Moses on the top of mount Sinai, but the law was divided into three parts.
First of all, you had the civil law. It was for how the nation of Israel was to conduct its affairs, the civil law. Israel was a theocracy, America is not a theocracy. The civil law that God gave Israel has no impact on how we are to live today. That has been done away with, we're not under that old covenant. There was the civil law. Secondly, there was the ceremonial law. These were the instructions about the endless sacrifices that the Israelites offered to temporarily atone for sin. The goats, the blood of goats and bulls could never wash away our sins, it was only a symbol. They went through these endless sacrifices, they went through these feast and observance of special days, but they are no longer applicable to us today.