May 24, 2020
You shall not murder. 18 ‘You shall not commit adultery. 19 You shall not steal. 20 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 21 You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Next year will be a milestone for me…
Turn 65 and likely sign up for Social Security
Social Security is our country’s system designed to provide financial benefits for senior adults.
But…as most of you know…neither Social Security nor Medicare were meant to cover everything
They’re safety nets with lots of holes.
The last five commandments were given to secure our social structure to the moral foundation God designed.
They free citizens from the threat of being murdered.
Spouses from suspicion of infidelity.
Commandment eight secures our stuff and nine secures our reputation.
The last one protects hearts from harboring unhealthy desires.
No holes…simple social security.
Imagine being able to walk any street of any city at every hour of the day…
Not having a moments concern for your life our being robbed.
No need for a home security system.
Think about how much money our nation could save in lawsuits…
Prison systems and child welfare…
If everyone obeyed these five commandments.
It would revolutionize our society.
Because if there were no murderers…adulterers…thieves…liars…or coveters…
The individual tax savings would mean there’d be no need for a national Social Security.
This morning I’ll wrap up this series on the Ten Commandments by grouping the final four under the heading…
The way God designed it
You Shall Not Murder (17)
The Hebrew word translated in the NASB as murder is…retzach.
It’s only used in the Bible for premeditated murder or manslaughter.
Retzach is never used to describe the administration of justice or for killing in war.
The KJV use of the word “kill” in the sixth commandment is too broad.
Because the Bible does allow for taking another person’s life as punishment for their taking someone’s life.
Cain’s unjust killing of Able vs God’s just order against the Philistines
Theologically…this commandment recognizes the inherent value in every human life…
Because all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27)
This is why there’s no biblical justification for the abortion industry.
There’s also a figurative dimension to this commandment in Scripture.
Shaming, slandering and degrading another person’s dignity is murderous.
Jesus taught on this in Matthew 15…
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.
Again…since all people are made in the image of God…words or behaviors that kill the human spirit are viewed by Him as equal to their physical harm.
The old children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” isn’t true.
Words do hurt us and God’s word acknowledges they can kill us.
Given the liberal view of murder in the Bible…there’s an awful lot of it going on in our world today.
Words used by people from every political position intended to publicly disgrace the opposition.
Parents who shame their kids from the sideline because they missed a goal…strike out…or drop a pass.
Husbands and wives using words like daggers…thrust as deep as possible in order to cause maximum damage.
They’re as guilty of breaking the sixth commandment as the guy who takes the life of a convenience store clerk for the cash to buy drugs.
Wait a minute…I’ve broken this commandment…I’ve murdered with my words and in my heart.
You Shall Not Commit Adultery (18)
Adultery is sexual union between a married person and someone other than their spouse.
God said, “You shall not commit adultery,” because He knew His people tended to be adulterers.
Marriage covenant breakers
And if they are willing to break their marriage vows…they would surely be OK with severing their covenant with Him.
And they would.
Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel framed Israel’s idolatry as adultery.
Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. (Jeremiah 3:9)
Ezekiel 16:38, reads, Thus I will judge you like women who commit adultery or shed blood are judged; and I will bring on you the blood of wrath and jealousy.
Deuteronomy 22:22 and Leviticus 20:10, pronounce a death sentence on those who commit adultery.
The Deuteronomy 22, verse, connects adultery with social wellness.
If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus, you shall purge the evil from Israel.
It’s the harshest physical punishment against them both because covenant keeping is the highest good between God and man.
Marriage is a covenant agreement between two people that is meant to reflect the salvation covenant between God and His people.
Why the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry….”
Using his wife to illustrate Israel’s covenant breaking idol worship
Fidelity to your spouse exemplifies God’s fidelity to you.
Jesus taught that adultery is essentially a heart condition.
Matthew 5:27-28, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Like murder, there’s literal and figurative adultery which comes with equivalent guilt.
Because it’s possible to outwardly keep a covenant and inwardly cheat.
Men and women can give their affection to one person and their attraction to another.
The old saying, “Look but don’t touch,” doesn’t fly with God.
The Bible’s position is don’t look, don’t touch, don’t even tempt yourself.
Because you can’t be unfaithful to your spouse and faithful to your God at the same time.
Paul builds the bridge between fidelity and faith in Ephesians 5, when he writes…
(28-32) So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
Adultery not only cheapens the institution of marriage…
It cheapens the name of Christ and the church.
And that’s why the seventh commandment was given.
You Shall Not Steal (19)
Stealing, in the sense of the Hebrew word…ganav…refers to taking by a covert (sneaky) act someone else’s possession.
Robbery…stealing from a person
Burglary…stealing from a dwelling or business
Ganav also refers to the inner character of the person who steals.
The eighth commandment is more concerned with the character of the thief than the act of thievery…
Because a person who steals from others lacks moral fiber…
They’re void of integrity.
Robin Hood was not a moral man despite Friar Tuck’s pastoral approval of him robbing the rich to help the poor.
The justification of taking from the 1% was the premise of the Disney film.
But stealing from the rich isn’t any more moral than stealing from the poor.
And…if someone will secretly take from others…
They’ll openly take from God.
Malachi 3:8-9, reads, Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!
And if someone is willing to rob God…
They won’t mind taking from their employer…school…or family.
Secretary at the association office where I used to pastor
Because stealing is about a character flaw…not cash flow.
And the root problem is thieves steal from themselves.
The honesty…truth…and integrity required to walk with God.
They’re even willing to rob themselves of heaven and eternal life…
Believing they can take it by stealth…without going through Jesus.
Stealing is symptomatic of someone who lacks a basic trust in the Lord…
There’s no God who can provide for me…I have to do whatever it takes here and in the hereafter.
It’s the atheist’s heart.
You shall not steal…you have a God who will provide…trust Him.
You Shall Not Bear False Witness (20)
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The ninth commandment prohibits swearing falsely against others in legal and civil matters.
On a deeper level, it implicitly indicates a responsibility to always tell the truth.
The Hebrew word for truth…emet…is composed of the first, the middle and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
This encompasses the first, middle and last things.
In other words, we are to tell the truth about everything to everyone…
All the time.
Because…as true believers…we effectively deny the One who called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life…when we lie.
We bear false witness against Jesus if we bear false witness against anyone.
The logical conclusion then is not to say anything about anyone if we don’t know it to be true.
Or say, “I don’t know.”
Because to do so makes us guilty of the biblical prohibitions against slander and gossip.
Now this stands in direct conflict with our society that’s built a multi-billion-dollar industry on unconfirmed conversations about people.
In fact, one of the biggest in the business is…People Magazine and its various productions.
TV shows like Extra, Extra
Then there’s the unlimited stream of disinformation and fake news permeating the internet and cable channels.
We are saturated in false witness bearing and as Christians we must resist the temptation to jump into that arena.
More so…we must resist bringing that arena into the church.
As one who’s been the target of church members and non-members making false claims against me…
I’ve witnessed the personal and congregational wounds.
Within this past year I’ve was accused of plagiarism…
When I confronted my accuser, she had no evidence.
Other than what I preached sounded a lot like what some other pastors said.
Well…I would hope so!
I would expect there to be a lot of similarity with what Bible-believing preachers teach.
Just like I’d expect different heart doctors to have comparable knowledge and opinions.
Listen…if a member thinks they know something about another member but they’re not sure…
The best course of action is to ask them…not accuse them.
You Shall Not Covet (21)
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
The word covet in this context means to have a craving to possess someone or something.
It goes right to the heart’s innermost intention.
Why is covetousness forbidden even if no one but me is aware of it?
First off…someone is aware of it.
1 Samuel 16:7b reads, “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
So…the Lord knows our covetousness.
Second…because this commandment catches sin at its source.
Here’s what Jesus taught about the source of sin…
Matthew 15:17-20, Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.
Now what’s interesting…He also taught the heart is the source of holy living.
When Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,”…
He taught that devoting every portion of your inner person…heart, soul, mind…is the source…the beginning…of holy living.
Covetous heart…correct heart…
God rejects one and accepts the other.
The moral crime of coveting…the desire to possess what isn’t yours is what Satan aimed for when tempting Eve and Adam.
Eve…you want the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden…don’t you?
You want to know evil too…and be like God…right?
Adam…don’t you want some of this too?
Covetousness is his aim when tempting us too.
Because it subverts and disrupts the moral boundaries set by God.
Godly wanting looks at your neighbor’s stuff and decides that if you like what you see you can have something like it through hard work.
If it’s God’s will that you possess a wife, house, donkey or anything else that belongs to your neighbor…
He’ll provide the strength…ingenuity and income you need to have what you want.
And if you don’t get them, set your heart on whatever else the Lord wants you to have.
Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
In Philippians 4:11, Paul writes, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
How much more secure would we be if everyone learned to be content in what God provides them.
In two weeks, we will start the process of coming together again for worship.
We want to be secure and social at the same time.
Secure by providing the healthiest worship environment possible.
Social in not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.
Isn’t that what all this has been about?
Social security in the midst of a pandemic
We can have robust conversations on best practices for moving forward.
But there’s no debating that commandments six through ten are among God’s best practices to move us forward as Christians and a congregation.
Don’t use hurting words.
Don’t cheapen the Name of Christ and the institution of marriage.
Don’t rob God, others or yourself.
Don’t talk untruthful about others.
Don’t give your heart to want what God doesn’t provide.