While the Ten Commandments were found everywhere in our nation in the past, they have come under assault in recent times: in 1980 the Supreme Court ruled in Stone v. Graham that they could not be hung on the schoolroom walls in Kentucky; Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore was removed from office after he refused to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse; laws are passed, and judicial opinions issued that are contrary to the moral law of God.
However, the reason the commandments were removed from the schoolroom and courtroom walls is because they were first removed from the church walls and the walls of the hearts of Christians. Not that keeping the commandments is the means of our salvation…salvation is a gift of God, given by His grace and a result of our faith in the atoning work of Christ…but, His moral law is to be the standard for right behavior within our society. Without this, we can have little liberty, justice, peace, or Biblical prosperity. The Bible teaches myriads of times that great blessings come from obeying His Law-Word.
If we do not know His commandments and how they apply to all of life, we cannot obtain the ‘good fruit’ that comes from obeying them. Most Americans, and sadly most American Christians, are ignorant of God’s moral laws. In a survey of men taken in the fall of 1997 attending the Promise Keepers prayer gathering in Washington, DC, 500 were asked to name the Ten Commandments in the order that they appear in the Bible. Only one was able to do so. I must admit that I would fall in with the 499. I know what they require of us, but I do not know the order and if I violate one of them my conscience lets me know.
Ignorance of God’s moral law, which has led to great lawlessness in America today, has encouraged me to write on the elements of building a free nation. I hope it will contribute to an understanding of the moral law that formed the foundation of not only America, but of Western Civilization. Hopefully the material I present will help present how the Bible formed the foundation of our civil law, how it was an important part of our education, and how it shaped the moral lifestyle intended for all Americans. We need the Bible today and know how to apply its principles to our personal lives…as well as in our families, churches, and nation. This is where the church can play an important part in our society if the church is not fearful of preaching God’s truth. The message of God’s truth can turn our nation from a path of lawlessness to one following after God and His truth. America needs to repent…turn and go a different way…for many things. More importantly, we need to turn from man’s law to God’s law. As our Founding Fathers acknowledged, we need to recognize God as sovereign, the source of law…the First Commandment…and return to His moral law as revealed in the Ten Commandments. But enough of the talk about the need for the Ten Commandments, let’s take a look at why we need to evaluate the Ten Commandments and identify the reasons for their need.
Martin Luther once wrote, “Anyone who knows the Ten Commandments perfectly knows the entire Scriptures.” God’s great wisdom is seen by His moral law, first written on the conscience of mankind at Creation, next written by the hand of God on the tablets that Moses delivered to the children of Israel, and finally written on the heart of the regenerate under the New Covenant. His commandments contain the seeds of all the wisdom in the Scriptures. A complete Bible study of the commandments could be of great length. Hopefully the next couple of weeks of commentary will provide just enough introduction to each of the commandments so you can explore them and come to see just how this world could be a beautiful place if we only just applied them to our lifestyles. As in my life, my faith has grown as I explore the interface of politics and the Word of God…the church.
Jesus has told us we cannot earn our salvation by our works or by keeping the law, for salvation is the gift of God and given by His grace. Jesus had a way of reiterating what all the Bible teaches. His Law-Word, which is summarized by the Ten Commandments, contains principles that, if obeyed, produce life…life for men and nations…but if ignored, produce death. (Deut. 28). By sending us His Son, a living demonstration of His Word, God showed His love to mankind. We, in turn, show our love to Him by obeying His commands. Jesus said: “If you love Me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). The fruit of Jesus’ atonement and of His sending the Holy Spirit to live in us is life for mankind. The Holy Spirit enables redeemed man to do His will and walk in His truth…that is, to follow His commands. His law is now written in our hearts. The Spirit empowers us to keep His commands, which produces life for us on the earth. We are not justified by the Law (Rom.3:28), but we are sanctified by the Law (Eph.5:26). In that sense we grow in maturity and become more and more conformed to His image as we obey His will as revealed in His Law-Word. Jesus said a man will live if he keeps God’s statutes. It is no wonder that the life and blessings of God are leaving our nation. As America is rejecting God’s presence and God’s law, America has declined in greatness and respect around the world. His work does not give us liberty to disregard His law, but to obey it willingly, though not perfectly as only Christ can do. The moral law of God is binding upon all men, Christians and non-Christians, in all nations at all times.
In conclusion and in preparation for a detail review of all Ten Commandments, we will find that God’s moral law as contained in the Ten Commandments are necessary for us today. We must work to infuse them into the foundation of our civil society. To the degree that they are neglected or rejected is the degree to which we will decline as a people and lose the great blessings that come as we obey His perfect, true, righteous, sure, holy, just, inspired, and good Law.
Next week we will start this review and see how God’s Law was worked into the founding laws of this nation. We may also see how Satan has worked to remove God’s Laws from the laws of man. My hope is that we will come to realize that life on Earth would be so much better if we used God’s Laws to guide our ‘footsteps’ in our every action.
“Destruction is often God’s first step to cleansing.” A Nation in Crisis by Ray C. Stedman