Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Ten Commandments Series Part 9 “No Fault” Divorce


We have often talked about the importance of relationships and just how much they mean to God. In fact: When it is all said and done on planet earth, all God will have to show for His millennia of hard work is relationships. The very reason God sent Messiah as a sacrifice was to repair the breach in His relationship with mankind which had been caused by sin.

The Ten Commandments have stood for generations as a testimony to how God expects every individual to live. Nothing says “God” more than the 10 Commandments and yet they are, for the most part, completely misunderstood by the far majority of Jews and Christians, and everyone else as well. Even those who don’t believe in God know the big 10.

The Ten Commandments deal almost exclusively with man’s responsibility for relationships.

· Commandments 1-3 – Responsibility for relationship with God

· Commandment 4 – Responsibility for relationship with family, servants, animals, land, work and rest

· Commandment 5 – Responsibility for relationship with parents

· Commandment 6 – Responsibility for relationship with all life

· Commandment 8-10 Responsibility for relationship with neighbors and the community

We have studied all of these commandments and discovered the New Testament Revelation and the Grace-Filled Application of each one. There is only one Commandment left for us to complete this series – Commandment #7. And wouldn’t you know it … it also deals with our responsibilities for yet another relationship …

The 7th Commandment deals with how we should treat our spouse and our responsibility to the covenant of marriage.

Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.”

Adultery specifically refers to sexual sin committed against the covenant of marriage. Marriage and sex are inseparable. I know that there are sexless marriages and marriage-less sex, however – in the beginning it was not so … and it is not intended to be so today! Marriage and sex are inseparable.

In order to understand the 7th Commandment, we must first understand how God views sex - what it is and what it's not. Many times people relegate sex to a physical act however, when God talks about sex in the Bible, He is referring to a much greater circle of responsibility than mere, fleeting physical contact.

The Bible explains that sex is the way one person:

· Thinks

· Talks

· Looks

· Touches

another person who, if they are not married to – it is sin!

Each one of us is not only allowed but encouraged to have sex with our own spouse. We can think, imagine, talk, look upon, and enjoy physical contact with our spouse under the blessings of the covenant of marriage.

God has reserved this covenant gift of sex only for marriage.

Sex is the only thing allowed by God in marriage that if you do it outside of marriage, it is sin. There is nothing else whatsoever prohibited outside of the covenant of marriage that is blessed in covenant of marriage except sex – the way we can think, talk, look at or touch another person.

Sex is the only gift God brings to the wedding. Sex is God’s marriage covenant gift. Sex is the only covenant gift God reserves for married couple. Sex is given to and given for the marriage.

God’s blessing on sex is given at the point of marriage, outside of marriage, sex is sin. Since sex is only gift God brings to the wedding, it must be pretty important to the marriage. And, if the devil can alter it in some way – it will tear up a marriage covenant quicker than anything else.

In fact, sex is so important to the covenant of marriage that it made the top 10 list in the Bible. The 7th Commandment is all about protecting and preserving the covenant of marriage and wouldn’t you know it – the 7th Commandment therefore deals with sex.

Matthew 5 NKJV

27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not commit adultery.’

28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

The Ten Commandments are all about relationships and how much God thinks about them. The lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life are all violations of God’s law and therefore sin. (John 2:16)

29 "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

30 "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Each one of us is responsible for managing our own lives including our personal responsibility for getting rid of anything in our life that causes us to sin.

Simply put, The 7th Commandment says – Don’t cheat on your spouse

· In Thought

· In Deed

But also – Jesus expounded on this “Shadow Set in Stone” by expanding our responsibility for the covenant of marriage to include our responsibility to not break the marriage covenant over non covenant-breaking issues.

Matthew 5

31 "Furthermore it has been said, ’Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’

32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

The top 10 list is so important that more than 3 years later, when Jesus was on His way to the cross, as He is walking through Judea near Jerusalem He repeats the matter and rehearses again the responsibilities we all have towards our spouse in the covenant of marriage.

Matthew 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

Divorce can be a violation of the 7th Commandment … how? Because the Ten Commandments detail our responsibilities for the various relationships we have and the 7th Commandment establishes responsibilities for marriage.

Mark 10:1-12 What God has joined let no man separate.

Is God against divorce? He is squarely and firmly against “No Fault” Divorce. Well then, some say, maybe one of us should cheat so there will be biblical grounds for divorce. I wouldn’t advise attempting to trick God or put Him into some legalistic box … He just might come out swinging! Sin, including adultery, which can include divorce, is a matter of the heart.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that someone – perhaps you or someone you know – has violated the 7th Commandment in some way … or any other Commandment for that matter. What can be done to fix it? Nothing – You’re on your way to hell! --- Oh wait … that was under the Law … the Old Covenant … of course, under that old covenant you could get a year’s reprieve and cover your sins for a season by offering a blood sacrifice for your sin – but even that did nothing to keep you from winding up in hell. Sin costs and unfortunately sin demands a death.

The New Testament Revelation and the Grace-Filled Application reveals that there are two things which must be done in order for any person to be free from the sin which has an eternal claim on every person’s soul.

Two Things:

1. A perfect blood sacrifice must be made and accepted by God.

a. This was done on the Cross of Calvary when God offered up His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, as the perfect Lamb who took away the sins of the world.

b. Jesus, Messiah of the Jews, Savior of the World, is the only way.

2. You must be born again.

a. Realize you need a Savior

b. Repent of your sins

c. Receive Jesus as Lord of your life

You may say Pastor, what about the sin I have committed after I got born again? 1 John 1 advises us to not be slack concerning our daily sins.

1. Recognize our sin before God

2. Repent of our sin to God

3. Receive forgiveness for our sin from God

a. If there is anything God wants us to do beyond that – He will let us know.

b. Sometimes restitution and reconciliation can be made and sometimes it cannot – however … let God make that decision, not circumstances and certainly not another person.

c. Many times it is a matter of the heart, and believe me, God knows our heart.

You shall not commit adultery – nor violate any of the other commandments God has given His children. These commandments are all aimed at your future – You shall not … (not, you better not ever have)

If you have, recognize your sin before God; repent of your sin to God; and receive forgiveness for your sin from God – then … get rid of those things in your life which cause you to sin and don’t do it again!

God counts each one of us responsible for the relationships He recognizes as vital to His plan. Therefore, love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as you do yourself. (Luke 10:27)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Ten Commandments Series Part 8 It’s Not About You


We have often noted the importance of relationships and just how much they mean to God. In fact: When it is all said and done on planet earth, all God will have to show for His millennia of hard work is relationships. The very reason God sent Messiah as a sacrifice was repair the breach in His relationship with mankind.

The Ten Commandments have stood for generations as a testimony to how God expects every individual to live. Everyone knows that a violation of the 10 Commandments constitutes sin. Nothing says “God” more than the 10 Commandments and yet they are, for the most part, completely misunderstood by the far majority of those who claim to believe them, Jews and Christians alike, as well as everyone else, even those who claim there is no God.

It is not often noticed that The Ten Commandments deal almost exclusively with man’s responsibility for his various relationships.

· Man’s relationship with and responsibilities towards God

· Man’s relationship with and responsibilities for work and rest

· Man’s relationship with and responsibility towards parents

· Man’s relationship with and responsibilities for all life

· Man’s relationship with and responsibility towards a spouse

· Man’s relationship with and responsibility towards community

o Neighbors and Strangers and Enemies alike (Matthew 5:43ff)

So far in this series on the Ten Commandments we have discovered the New Testament revelation and the Grace-Filled application of Commandments 1 through 6. Tonight we are going to skip over number 7, which has been quoted out of sequence by others, even by Jesus on some occasions, and rather go on this evening to commandments 8, 9 and 10. This coming Sunday morning, providing the Lord is willing, we will conclude this series on The Ten Commandments by discovering the New Testament Revelation and the Grace-Filled Application of the 7th Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” This one is considered a biggie!

So, tell your friends and neighbors, and especially your enemies, to mark their calendars and make sure to be here or attend online for the latest word this Sunday concerning adultery. I was up well before dawn this morning studying for Sunday … I promise you – you won’t be disappointed with the message on the current day application of Commandment # 7.

But for tonight … let’s begin by reading:

Exodus 20

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

The 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments forbid us to injure our neighbor in:

· Word

· Thought

· Deed

Before we get into the specifics let us first consider the hidden motivation of the heart and where Jesus said all these evil things begin.

Luke 12

15 And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.

17 "And he thought within himself, saying, ’What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’

18 "So he said, ’I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.

19 ’And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."’

20 "But God said to him, ’Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’

21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

“So is he …” – Covetous = Lustfully Greedy of Personal Gain

22 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.

23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.

What we worry about reveals much about who we really are.

Jesus used this parable and its truths to reveal the root of covetousness – which is basically a selfish, lusts filled greedy pursuit of personal gain. A lust, greed or self absorbed attention which consumes:

· The mind – thoughts, desires, intellectual pursuits, studies, hopes, dreams, goals

· The mouth – both idle and intended words; giving voice to personal increase; confessions; verbal arguments; manipulative salesmanship

· The deed – the works of our hands

Commandment #8: You shall not steal.

Steal = To take that which does not belong to you, whether by legal or illegal means, by force or by fraud, in secret or by public course, whether alone or acting in concert with others.

There is but one reason why a person would steal – to secure some personal gain or benefit. (Seeking to increase at the expense of another)

Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

Proverbs 6

30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;

31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.

Greed, fear of loss, selfish gains, a poverty mentality and thievery are empty pursuits.

It will cost us everything we have to be greedy.

God is a giving God and He has said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We should not be preoccupied in mind or matters of life which are aimed only at our personal increase. And we should never steal. The one leads to the other. Stealing is stealing, even if it is from the IRS!

Commandment #9: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Once again this speaks of the relationship and the responsibility we all have towards our community. This commandment is often relegated to matters of court where one is called to be witness against another. In these proceedings we should never send a false or mixed message because it favors our desires above the truth.

When we attempt to deceive or control the thoughts of others which we think might leave them with a false impression, it is a lie! And, in the bigger picture the 9th Commandment is speaking directly to the known elements of deception. And, it does not have to be directly “against” a neighbor but can simply include or involve another person in any way.

A false witness includes any attempt or allowance which leads others to or leaves others with a false impression – this is a violation of the 9th Commandment. This commandment makes each one of us in some way responsible for what others believe to be true.

Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people …

This 9th Commandment also precludes all whispering, tale-bearing, slander and defamation, hearsay, and the taking up of reproaches.

Commandment #10: You shall not covet …

You shall not want what they have or do anything to get it in thought, word or deed … so as to deprive them of its use, value or support.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Ten Commandments Series Part 7 Hate Crimes


Commandment Number 6

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

“Kill” herein exactly means: Actual murder - the willful, unlawful, taking of a human life.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Believers who were in the Church at Corinth and explained the difference between the letter of the law which was engraved on tables of stone and the Spirit of the law which was written in our hearts.

2 Corinthians 3

6 God also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The Law, which was engraved on tables of stone, was but a shadow, a dim outline, of the Truth to come, which Truth is Messiah. Through Him we find more than a cold, hard, unforgiving law … Through Jesus we find the pathway to life – both abundant and eternal life!

Brenda and I spent the past week in Israel, a few days in Jerusalem and the remainder of our time in the Galilee. While standing on the Mount of Beatitudes, overlooking the old City of Capernaum with the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights as a backdrop, we read from the Sermon on the Mount. This is the site and these are the words Jesus taught to His followers 2000 years ago. We find them recorded in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

It is an amazing spiritual experience to stand where Jesus stood and hear what He taught in that place. Consider traveling with us on our next pilgrimage to the Holy Land this October. Believe me, it’s the trip of a lifetime. If you aren’t sure about going but would like more information, attend our initial interest meeting today at 5pm in our Education Wing. I’ll have all the details and answer any questions at that time.

One of the places we will visit together this October is a hill on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus spoke these words:

Matthew 5

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled …”

13 “You are the salt of the earth; …”

14 “You are the light of the world. …”

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ’You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’

22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ’Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ’You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

Herein Jesus makes reference to the three varying degrees of deserved punishment which were familiar to the Jews of that day.

Three Stages of Anger

1. An Inner, Unexpressed - Hidden Anger

2. An Expression of Frustration or Scorn

a. “Raca” – Worthless simpleton – good for nothing moron

b. Personal Opinion as to intellectual capacity – “stupid”

c. Derived from a word meaning – “to spit” – useless/discarded

3. An Abusive and Defamatory Indictment

a. “You Fool!”

b. Not stupid but intentionally & irrecoverably wicked and evil

c. Personal attack upon the moral and/or religious character

d. A “go to hell” decree upon a person’s life

e. Assassination of another’s person or character by judgment

Along with each degree of unwarranted anger and expression of disgusts goes a corresponding degree of punishment due the offense. However, we must remember that it is forever connected to the motivation of the heart.

Unwarranted, Unspoken, and Unbridled Anger all have their consequences.

These consequences are directly connected to the teachings of the Ten Commandments, specifically commandment number 6, You shall not murder. Murder includes unwarranted anger, personal insults and defamation of character. Much of the matter deals with the attitude of our heart as we deal with the frustrations of life.

Matthew 18

15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”

This is no doubt one reason why Jesus lays out the path to deal with our temptations to be angry with our neighbors. In one case, if a brother sins against us, we should not avoid the matter and allow anger to brood and grow … but rather we should manage the matter and go to the brother alone before discovering the matter to another.

It is the same if we know a neighbor is harboring anger or resentment against us. Jesus continues with His sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, verse:

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

These instructions from Jesus are aimed at dealing with anger before it gets out of hand and leads us to sin in our heart, as a matter of expression or insult to the person or at worst, about the person by way of defamation and/or character assassination to another who might believe us and then take up a reproach themselves.

Jesus continues:

25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”

Basically, don’t let Unwarranted, Unspoken or Unbridled Anger get the best of you … there are ways to deal with it before it cost you everything you have.

Remember – this New Testament Revelation and Grace-Filled Application of the Law is designed to show us the path to abundant life. We cannot know abundant life unless and until we comprehend and embrace the intent, or shall I say, the Spirit of God’s law.

God’s law says: Thou shalt not kill!

But, what can we learn from the sixth commandment which will readily apply to our lives a Believers who have come to faith in Jesus as Messiah?

We must not commit murder!

Not in our minds with unwarranted anger.

Not in our hearts with unspoken anger.

Not with our words with unbridled anger.

And much more

Not with our actions to willfully and unlawfully take a human life!

We need only repent to bring our lives into line with His Commandments!