Part One is the Problem and Part Two is the Solution
The Problem is Sin
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet (Romans 7:7).
“I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person. I’ve never murdered anyone. Why do I need a savior?” You may be a good person, but by whose standard? If God compared you to Adolph Hitler you would probably compare very favorably. But what if He compared you to Jesus Christ? The Ten Commandments are God’s perfect moral standard and, by that standard, no one is “good.” Consider what each commandment says and means:
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT IS:
YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME
Stated positively, this means you shall “love the LORD your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.” So, what does it mean to love God with all your heart? Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep My commands.” But, God is perfect. Followed through to its logical conclusion that would require perfect obedience, which is another way of saying “sinless perfection.” No mere man has ever loved God like that.
If the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, then the greatest sin cannot be murder. The greatest sin must be not to love the God who created you more than the things He created. Idolatry is spiritual adultery.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT IS:
THOU SHALT NOT MAKE UNTO THEE ANY GRAVEN IMAGES
The first commandment tells us who to worship; the second commandment tells us how−in spirit and in truth. That is, by faith and according to His Word, the Bible. Noted author Ray Comfort explains just what that means for us:
“You are not to make a god with your hands or with your mind. I have people tell me that my god is a god of love; he would never send anyone to hell. I agree with them. Their god would never send anyone to hell, because their god doesn’t exist. He’s a god made in their own image. The Bible says, ‘God is a consuming fire.’ He has a passion for justice, holiness, righteousness and truth. He will by no means clear the guilty, but will hold every man accountable for every idle word he speaks.”
Whatever you love the most, that is your god. If you love the things of the world more than the God Who created the world, you are guilty of breaking this commandment—you are an idol worshipper.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT IS:
YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD IN VAIN
When a man gets angry enough he usually takes the name God or the name Jesus-the name that is above every other name, the name which represents a blessing, and uses it as a curse. The ancient Jew was so fearful of breaking this command that he dared not even speak the most holy name of God, because the commandment goes on to say, “the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT IS:
REMEMBER THE SABBATH TO KEEP IT HOLY
The idea here is to take one day out of seven, and to set aside all your worldly amusements, and any effort to better your position in this world, and rest. And in that rest, acknowledge the God who created you, the God who sustains you, and the God who purchased your salvation with His own blood (Acts 20:28).
Ultimately, our rest is in the finished work of Christ on the cross. There is nothing you can add or take away from God’s plan of salvation. You’d have to be sinless to save yourself.
All you can do is believe in, trust in, and rely upon Christ to save you. He is not just your savior, He is your salvation. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, through Christ alone—plus nothing! Our love for God and our good works, is the effect of our salvation, never the cause of it. Salvation is God’s free gift (John 3:16, Rom. 3:23, Eph. 2:8-9) to all who truly believe Jesus.
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT IS:
HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER
Abraham Lincoln once said,
“The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people. As go the families, so goes the nation.”
Our world is in trouble because our families are in trouble. Many fathers have failed to take the role of spiritual leaders in their homes; and train their children to love God, love their neighbors, and submit to authority.
In 1962, the “Supreme Court” made it illegal to pray to God in public schools. In 1973, nine Supreme Court Justices made it legal to violate the 6th Commandment with regard to unborn children. And in 1980 this same group made it a crime to display the Ten Commandments in public schools. Is it any wonder why we are in a moral free-fall? In Matthew 24, Jesus said,
“In the last days lawlessness will abound and the love of many will grow cold.”
But there is still hope. In 2 Chron.7:14 the Bible also says,
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT IS:
THOU SHALT NOT MURDER
In Matthew 5:21, 22 Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder’, but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother (or calls him empty-headed or a fool) will be in danger of judgment and the fires of hell.'”
The physical act of murder begins as a spiritual act in the heart as unforgiveness or hatred. Since we have all sinned, none of us has the right not to forgive. Jesus taught that we are to forgive even as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:14, 15). God alone has jurisdiction to judge the sins of men righteously. In Hebrews 10:30 God says,
“Vengeance is Mine. I will repay.”
The Number One psychological condition of people who are put into mental institutions is anger. Anger is based on un-forgiveness. When you choose not to forgive someone you can become bitter, angry and depressed. The prescription for a sound mind and great relationships is found in Romans 13:8:
“Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENTS IS:
THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY
The first institution God ordained in the book of Genesis was marriage and the family. Marital relations between a husband and wife originated in the mind of God—therefore, it is sacred.
Our Creator could have populated the earth any way He wanted to. Intimacy with one’s marital partner is not only a gift from God but typifies our relationship to Him. It also testifies to the fact that we are “Made in His image.”
- First, we are like God in that a husband and a wife have the ability to create life.
- Second, the act of marriage speaks of intimate love and oneness.
- Third, we are to have this relationship with no one else.
Jesus gave us the spirit of this commandment when He said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already, in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
We know these commandments are from God because no man would ever dream of making such a law and no one but God could possibly enforce it. Why is what we think so important? Your mind is not a garbage dump; it’s a temple. God wants you to set your mind on things that are pure and holy. Why? All sin begins in the mind as a thought. The same is true of goodness. The great commandment is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. The well-known motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar put it this way,
“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”
You are not what you think you are, but what you think, you are. That is why God wants you to have a sanctified imagination. Your behavior (good or bad) is based on what you have allowed yourself to think and believe. As the old saying goes,
“Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Research shows that infidelity causes insecurity, anger, confusion and mistrust; it often leads to depression and divorce. Statistics show that children from broken homes are far more likely to get involved in drug and alcohol abuse. Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school and suffer from emotional and behavioral problems. They are more likely to engage in immoral behavior, criminal activity and are five times more likely to live in poverty.
God told Adam and Eve, “…be fruitful and multiply.” He intended children to be raised by a father and a mother who would be faithful to Him, to each other, and to their children. Love begins in the home and children are a gift from God.
God gave us these laws not to rob us but to protect us from robbing ourselves. Blessings follow those who follow God’s Word. In John 10:10 Jesus said,
“I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT IS:
THOU SHALT NOT STEAL
People are not thieves because they steal; they steal because they’re thieves.
The level of corruption that goes on behind closed doors in this age of technology is unfathomable.
Retail theft is the Number One crime in America—it’s measured in terms of billions of dollars annually. Theft ranges from children taking candy bars to government leaders and corporate executives stealing hundreds of billions of dollars. That is one of the main reasons why so many nations are on the verge of bankruptcy.
Financial firms who cook-the-books have caused many families to lose their life savings by investing in these fraudulent companies. One man recently made off (almost) with some 50 billion dollars in the largest Ponzi scheme on record. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Stealing affects all of us. Do you know who pays for all this? You and I do, in the form of higher taxes and higher prices for everything. Sin is expensive.Do you know how much you have to steal to be a thief? Anything! It’s not the value of the thing it’s the principle of the thing. If you cheat someone out of a penny you have violated God’s law.
Proverbs 11:1 says,
“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight.”
I would not cheat the government out of a penny for the same reason I would not cheat you in a game of badminton for the same reason I go to church—because all of life is sacred. If you steal, you may think you’re getting away with something but I guarantee you there is a least one other person who knows.
In Acts 20 Jesus is quoted by Paul as having said:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
THE NINTH COMMANDMENT IS:
THOU SHALT NOT LIE
How many lies do you have to tell to be a liar? The same number of times Adam and Eve had to eat the forbidden fruit to be found in rebellion against God–just one. What is the cost of lying? Our political and judicial systems have been sabotaged by the philosophy that the best liar wins. But the benefits of lying are only temporary. You may get what you want but you’re not going to like what you get. Proverbs 21:6 says,
“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.”
Do you realize what would happen if everyone stopped lying and everyone stopped stealing tomorrow? Think about it. There would be more than enough resources to provide safe housing, fresh food and clean water for everyone. Trillions of dollars would be available for humanitarian aid. Nations around the world would no longer be bankrupt and war would cease (war is based on lying and stealing). Prisons would empty. Frivolous lawsuits would end. Jesus said,
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
THE TENTH COMMANDMENT IS:
THOU SHALT NOT COVET
Stated positively, this means: learn to be content with what you can make with your own hands and your own mind. We are commanded not to desire what belongs to our neighbor, including his house, his wife, his car, his title, his position, or his bank account.
The christian life isn’t difficult—it’s impossible. No one could live up to this standard; that is what the law was given for: to show us that God is holy and we are not; that is why we need a Savior.
Many Americans are in bondage to the idol of materialism. The average household is nearly $12,000 in debt to their credit cards, or better, ‘covet’ cards. In many cases, we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. If you don’t have the money for it, you can’t afford it. Covetousness is actually the essence of all sin.
The first sin in the universe was committed when Lucifer said, “I will exalt myself above the throne of God.” He coveted the praise that belongs to God alone. The first sin on earth was committed when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. They wanted to be like God knowing good and evil. It was covetousness that caused the Pharisees to arrange for the murder of Jesus because they were envious of His ministry.
According to Col. 3:15, covetousness is idolatry. Idolatry is spiritual adultery, an abomination to God—it’s rival worship. Simply stated, it’s because we have broken God’s law that we need His grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is the divine influence upon our heart, teaching us to say “No” to ungodliness.
How do the Ten Commandments prove God’s existence? His universal moral law is written on every heart. Everybody knows it’s wrong to murder, to commit adultery, to steal, to lie, to covet, etc. Every man knows there is a God in heaven because the sun, moon and stars declare His glory. In short, it’s because we have broken God’s law that we need His grace. “The law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24).”
Part Two: Jesus Came to Save us From Sin (Matthew 1:21). It’s called the Gospel
In the Old Testament, an animal was offered as a sacrifice for sin. The animal had to be perfect, that is, without spot or blemish. It could not be blind or lame. This outer perfection was symbolic. God can only accept a perfect sacrifice which speaks of moral purity or, more precisely, sinless perfection. The spot (if the sacrifice had one) was inherited, and the blemish was acquired. This speaks of the fact that we are sinners by nature and we are sinners by choice.
When the Virgin Mary was impregnated, not by the seed of man but by the Spirit of God, what was begotten nine months later was God in a human body. Because Jesus was not born of the seed of man, He had no inherited sin (spot). And because He kept the Law perfectly, He had no acquired sin (blemish). That is why the Bible refers to Him as “The Lamb of God without spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19).
When Jesus died on the cross, because He had no sin of His own, His death satisfied the righteous penalty of the Law. God can legally declare those who accept Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf not only not guilty, but righteous.
While living in the Chicago area, I became engaged to the young lady who is now my wife, Susan. While it was the Lord’s idea in the first place, I still wanted the blessing of my future in-laws who lived in Nevada.
My fiancée flew out a few weeks before I did. When I arrived, they were expecting me. I knocked on the door, and without hesitation they invited me in. Later that night we had a wonderful dinner together. A few hours later, I was escorted to my own private bedroom, and was told, “make myself at home.” The next day, my future in-laws said, “you’re going to need to get around, so here are the keys to the car!”
Can you imagine what might have happened if I, a perfect stranger, had knocked on the wrong door and asked for food, a place to stay for the night, the keys to their car, and their daughter’s hand in marriage? A sandwich might have been achievable, but the rest would have been out of the question! I was accepted and treated like a son, because I knocked on the right door. In John chapter 10 Jesus said,
“I am the door.”
I came in the right name which in this case was, “Susan.” In Acts chapter 4, speaking of Jesus, we read,
“There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
I came to the right door, I came in the right name, and I came with the right motive which was love. In John 4:19, the Bible says,
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
Our marriage is a covenant and our rings are the symbols of that covenant. But with God, we have a blood covenant through Jesus Christ. Now any inheritance that belongs to my wife also belongs to me and my inheritance also belongs to her. In exactly the same way, the inheritance of eternal life that Jesus won on the cross now belongs all who have a personal love relationship with Him. That is how it works in the kingdom of God.
“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1,2).
In the same way, when you come to God the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus, in brokeness and contrition, you are “accepted in the beloved” (Eph.1:6). We are called “children of God” (Phil. 2:15). We become “co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16, 17). He is our heavenly bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Someday soon, those who love Him will be seated at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and live with Him happily forever-after.