The prologue to the Ten Commandments is: “I am the Lord your God, who brough you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” He is the savior, and He is the deliverer. He is also the God of covenant who watches over His covenant people. We should love Him and obey His commandments. Thus, the principles our Founding Fathers started with in establishing the United States. In the next few weeks, we will review the ‘do’s’ and ‘do not’s’, or ‘can’s’ and ‘can nots’ presented to us in the Ten Commandments. Compare them and decide which world would you rather live in?
First Commandment – “You shall have no other gods before Me.” This commandment requires us to know, acknowledge, worship, love, and obey the only true and sovereign God. At night when I look up into the night sky, I am without a doubt that it took God to give us what we have. Jesus said that eternal life is knowing this only true God. Eternal life is not obtained by following rules, but by having a relationship with the living God. This commandment forbids us from worshiping or giving glory to anything but the true God, or to anyone or anything as sovereign or an ultimate authority.
So, what are some of the can nots that are included in this commandment? Specific forbidden sins include atheism, false ideas of God, wicked thoughts, self-love, self-seeking, unbelief, distrust, pride, and being lukewarm. God is to be the source of right behavior, law, and morality, personal and civil. We have the right to freedom of worship. No man or government should deny us the right of freedom of worship. Man throughout history has attempted to operate as if he were sovereign and the source of law and morality. Any who do so are attempting to usurp the authority of God and are violating the First Commandment. Civil government is a divine institution whose purpose is to protect law abiding citizens and punish law breakers. It is to protect the life, liberty, and property of citizens. It is not to act as if it is god walking on the earth.
Second Commandment – “You shall not make yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” We are to worship God in thought and action only in the way He prescribes in His Word. The Second Commandment forbids us from worshiping anything other than the true God, including anything in God’s creation or anything that we create with our own hands. We are not to form any false images of God in thought or art. He cannot tolerate false worship. For those who worship Him rightly, by loving Him and keeping His commandments, He promises mercy to them for many generations.
Pornography is an idol to untold millions of people today. Such idols in the form of pictures did not exist in Moses’ time, although there were statues of goddesses that were worshiped. Nor did they exist in Webster’s time. Thus, with the invention of cameras, printing, and the internet this idol was able to capture many. Worshiping this idol leads to many evils, such as prostitution, sex-slave trafficking, and kidnapping. In earlier days the seemingly innocent act of pin-up girls for military members or college students was the seed of idolatry, if not outright idol worship. Other images that could lead to idol worship could include posters of music or sports stars, though they themselves may not be idols, clothes, cars, houses, or other such things created by man, not to leave out money. Images of sensuous women are always a violation of God’s command.
We are to worship from the heart, in spirit and truth. God desires obedience above sacrifice. Our works reveal true faith. While modern humanistic man may not carve a physical image from wood or stone and worship it, he creates his own laws, thinks up his own value systems, forms his governmental and educational systems and worships them, trusting in them to be ‘god’…that which is right and true. He looks to corporate man via the state as the source of law and morality. He looks to civil government as his provider, his comforter, his savior, and his god. If we violate God’s law or put man’s law above God’s law, we are placing something above Him, and in essence worshiping it.
Third Commandment – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.” The sins prohibited in the Third Commandment include not giving glory to God; ignorantly misusing God’s name; vainly or profanely abusing God’s name; speaking wickedly of Him; sinful cursing; sinful oaths or vows; violating our lawful oaths or vows; perverting or misapplying God’s Word; and being a hypocrite in your religion. While this commandment prohibits blasphemy and profane speech and action, it guarantees that all other forms of speech have their liberty. We are free to proclaim the truth in speech or word. It also affirms the right and power of oaths or vows. Freedom of speech flows from the Third Commandment. If men or rulers attempt to restrict or suppress our ability to speak or teach the truth, we must be obedient to God who commanded us to go and teach all the nations everything that He commanded. (Matt. 28:18-20). We must obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29; Acts 4:18-20). We are not given license to any kind of speech, but speech that is gracious, pure, honorable, right, and of good repute. (Col. 4:6, Phil. 4:8). We are not free to engage in speech that endangers the life, liberty, and property of others. Nor are we to engage in slander or false witness…this restriction is also included in the Ninth Commandment. Jesus was saying that we are to be truthful in our word; every word we utter should have the sacredness of an oath. We should be faithful to perform all Godly vows and oaths; we should do what we affirm. If we give our word, or make a vow, to God or others, we should fulfill it. Some important oaths and vows include: marriage vows, vows of ministers, oaths of those serving in civil government, and oaths taken in a court of law. If people readily violate any of these oaths or vows, there will be great instability in society and no security in the courts. Fearing God is the most important factor for adherence to oaths. The Christian faith provides the necessary fear of God and convictions necessary for a people to uphold the various oaths that are vital to a free society.
Next week we will continue this review starting with the Fourth Commandment. I hope that in this review we may all see the advantage of these commandments leading to a peaceful life here on earth. Maybe that is why Satan so despises them.
“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” (This motto used to be prominent in many homes.) from Hope in a Chaotic World by Ray C. Stedman