Robert Jeffress - How To Live and Love A World That's Lost Its Way - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". In the first few books of the Old Testament, we find a long and complicated system of laws that God gave to the Israelites. These laws were impossible for anyone to follow perfectly, so why would God establish them in the first place and why don't Christians follow them all today? I'm going to answer these questions and more as we set the stage for a study of the Ten Commandments on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
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. In 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 is 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, in 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 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 this feast and observance of special days, but they were no longer applicable to us today. How do I know that? Listen to what Paul says in Colossians 2:16 and 17. "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new boon or a sabbath day. These things which are a mere shadow of what is to come: but the substance belongs to Christ".
You know, sometimes you can see somebody coming by their shadow approaching, but when they come to you, ultimately, do you interact with the shadow or with the person? Well, that's what Paul said. All of these sacrifices, these special days diets, they simply were a shadow of the Christ who was yet to come. But now that Christ is here, we don't need the shadow, we worship the substance. That's what he's talking about here. There was the civil law, ceremonial law, but the third part of the law was the moral law. That is how we are to conduct our personal lives, and those laws are still operational today. How do I know it? Because the New Testament repeats those laws for personal behavior.
Jesus alluded to or quoted all of the Ten Commandments with the exception of one. And Jesus came not to nullify the law. Get this. He didn't come to nullify the law, he came to amplify the moral law. Remember, we saw that in the sermon on the mount. Jesus said, "You've heard it said, 'thou shall not commit adultery'. I say to you, whoever looks on another person with lust has committed adultery in his heart". He was amplifying the meaning. Jesus said, "You've heard it said, 'do not murder'. I say to you, everyone who is angry toward his brother is guilty before the law". He Amplified. And then he also clarified some of the moral law, and that specifically relates to the Ten Commandments. Jesus never repeated the commandment, keep the sabbath, keep it holy, observe the sabbath and keep it holy, because the day was going to change under the New Testament.
But as we'll see in a moment, the principle of work and worship still remains. When we talk about the law, we're talking about the moral law and the Ten Commandments is the summation of that moral law of God. Remember in Matthew 22, somebody asked Jesus, "Lord, what is the greatest commandment"? He said, "Here is the greatest commandment. 'you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul, and your mind'. And the second is likened to it. 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself'". That's a summary of the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments deal with, how do we love God with all of our hearts? The final six deal with how we are to love our neighbor as ourself. I think it's well past time for us to attack the Ten Commandments, not only up in our school rooms, but in our own hearts and minds, and to pass these rules onto our children and our grandchildren.
Now, I'm gonna give you in these final few moments just a preview of coming attractions. Let's look at these Ten Commandments in about three minutes or less. Okay? Write 'em down. Here's what we're gonna look at starting next week. The first command, the most foremost command. Esteem God alone. "You shall have no other Gods before me". You may think, well, I don't worship other Gods. Think again. An idol is anything we love or follow more than we love Jesus Christ. That's what an idol is, and the most foundational requirement for living is to have no other Gods before the true God.
The second command is worship God only. Verses 4 and 5. "You shall not make for yourself an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven or on earth or beneath the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them: for I the Lord your God, am a jealous God". Now, some people, even some Christian groups combine these two, but they're not the same. The first command tells us whom we're to worship. The second command is how we're to worship the true God. It's possible to worship the correct God in an incorrect way. Many people think they're worshiping God when in fact they're worshiping only an image of God, an expression of God, and we're gonna talk about how that applies to us.
Thirdly, revere God's name. Exodus 20, verse 7. "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave unpunished those who take his name in vain". We all think of this in terms of don't curse and use God's name in a curse. That's one application, but it's not the only application. There are many ways we use God's name recklessly and needlessly, and we'll talk about that.
The fourth command. Value God's day. "Remember the sabbath," verse 8, "And keep it holy, for in six days," verse 11, "The Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day: therefore, the Lord God blessed the sabbath day and made it holy". And though the day has changed, the principle hasn't changed. We need one day a week to focus on worship and relaxation.
The next command has to do with how we're to treat one another. Honor your parents. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the day, which the Lord your God gives you". We know children are to obey their parents, but what about single adults who are no longer living at home? What about young adults who have their own families? How do they or should they still honor their parents? What if your parents are dead? Is it still possible to obey this command? We'll discuss all of that.
The next command preserve life. "You shall not murder". A very specific word there. How does this command relate to self-defense, to war, to suicide, to abortion? There are many ramifications of this command.
The next command. "You shall not commit adultery". Keep marriage holy. We've all witnessed the attempt to expand the definition of marriage to include two men or two women. We know that's wrong, but you know what's interesting is even those who follow an unbiblical definition of marriage will agree with us that the greatest single threat to a marriage relationship, however you define it, is adultery, unfaithfulness. How do we avoid the trap of unfaithfulness in marriage?
Next, respect the property of others. "You shall not steal". You know, the right to personal property is enshrined in the fifth amendment of our constitution, but it came long before that in God's word. God is the one who expounded on the concept of personal property and then protect the reputation of others. Verse 16, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor". Have you noticed that with social media today you can destroy somebody? You can obliterate their reputation in a nanosecond by a tweet, by a post. We're gonna talk about how that commandment applies today.
And finally, control yourself and be content. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house, your neighbor's wife, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor". You know, look at most any other sin, adultery, theft, murder, whatever the sin at the root of it is a feeling of discontent with your present circumstance, wanting something more, wanting something different than what God has provided for you. And in this final message, we'll talk about how to develop that attitude of contentment. Why should we obey these Ten Commandments? Why are they just as applicable today as they were 3,500 years ago?
God himself gives the best reasons for obeying the commandment in verses 1 and 2 of Exodus 20, "Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the Lord your God'". The first reason we're obligated to keep these commandments is because God is our Lord. "I am the Lord your God". You see, the ruler gets to make the rules. We have an obligation to serve God. John Ortberg says it much more eloquently than I could. He said, "The reality of this world is that I was born into somebody else's kingdom". Let those words sink in. "I was born into somebody else's kingdom. My life came to me as a gift I didn't choose. It is suspended from a slender thread that I did not weave and cannot on my own sustain".
That's why we obey the commands because God said to. God is our Lord. Secondly, God said, "Obey me," because God has set us free. "I'm the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery". He said, "Israelites, remember the reason I freed you is not so you can go out and serve yourself. It's so that you can serve me and experience the blessing of doing so". And the same thing is true for us. That's the whole point of Romans 6, 7, and 8. Paul said, "Before you became a Christian, you were slaves to sin. Satan was your taskmaster and he's a cruel taskmaster, but Christ paid the price to redeem you out of slavery, not so that you could serve yourself, but so that you could serve me and appreciate and enjoy the benefits of doing so".
We all serve somebody. We're either going to serve Satan or we're gonna serve God, and that's the choice before us. You know, we often talk about disobedience. We describe disobedience as breaking God's commandments. Have you heard that? People talk about breaking God's commandments. The truth is, it's impossible to break God's commandments. God's commandments remain strong and firm. The Psalmist said, "Thy word is established forever in heaven". You cannot break God's commands, you can only break yourself upon God's commands. Can I tell you what I see as a pastor? Every week I see people, not only non-Christians, but Christians who are experiencing the carnage of breaking themselves on God's commands.
They experience unwanted divorces, unending regrets, unrealized dreams, all because they've chosen to say no to God's most basic commands in life, which is it gonna be for you? Are you going to experience God's blessing in your life or God's judgment in your life? Moses said it this way, the choice that is before every one of us in Deuteronomy 11. "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I'm commanding you today, and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but you turn aside from the way which I'm commanding you today".