If you are new to this blog....

Welcome! The primary purpose of this blog is to explore and encourage around what it means to be winsome and sent into the world for God's glory. If you are new here, the definition of "lighthouse-searchlight" or our missional journey is a good place to start. Come peruse the blog and add me to your RSS feed!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ten commandments - more than a list of rules

Re-run blogpost from several years ago, and from a sermon on the Ten Commandments.

I realize that most often we look at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) as a list and consider each one as a self-contained unit.  But the Commandments function as a whole, as a legal and moral whole.  Formally, they are presented as a covenant document.  There are several covenants in the Bible, but at heart each is God graciously reaching out toward humanity and offering to intervene and help in the human condition.  If you look at the Ten Commandments as a whole, you can see the way they describe an order to life – a pattern of living in obedience to and relationship with God.  And it is that ordered life, which would also be understood in Scripture as a blessed life that is in view for all who would trust God.

A God-ordered Life

I-III.  The first three commandments describe a God-ordered life with God alone as priority, vision, and worthy of worship, love, and service.  They speak of God alone in the highest place, the place of worship, love, service, and obedience.  Nothing is to take God’s place or even compete.  It is the supreme and sole priority of God in our lives that orders all the rest of life.  So these commandments speak to idolatry and worship, to obedience and disobedience, to service and to selfishness. 

IV.  The fourth commandment (Sabbath) describes a God-ordered life in terms of work, rest, and time.  Often you will hear the commandments sub-divided into the first four about God and the last six about human relationship.  But the Sabbath commandment bridges between.  Most importantly, it speaks not just of one day in seven, but of all seven days.  It marks out our time as all belonging to God, subject to the commandments already given.  And part of ordering our life under God is to not to over- or under-prioritize work, rest, or the balance between the two.  Issues of work, recreation, family time, personal time, exercise, health, rest, and worship are all addressed in this commandment.  It is a prime example of how the Commandments bring order and structure to our view of time and life.

V.  The fifth commandment (parents) describes a God-ordered life in terms of home and family.  So submitting our lives to God’s leadership and worship not only affect our use of time, but also our relationships.  The commandment to honor parents is more than respecting mom and dad.  It requires something of children, but also of parents.  It gets at all of family life, from respect to obedience to communication to how parents and children should relate throughout life.

VI-IX.  The sixth through ninth commandments describe a God-ordered life in terms of our neighbors, not taking from them selfishly, but loving them selflessly.  Murder, adultery, stealing, and lying all take from those around us.  Their inherent selfishness breaks the first commandments and the community implications breech what Jesus will later call “love of neighbor.”  In these commandments, we see that God’s design for humanity is not just individual and internal, but societal and missional.  Indeed, you do see in the Ten Commandments what will be lifted up clearly in the New Testament, that the greatest commandments are love of God and love of neighbor. 

X.  The tenth commandment uniquely points towards a New Testament perspective, where we must even guard our interior thoughts, guarding against temptation and the sinful attitudes that lead to sinful actions.  This aspect of the Ten Commandments is often overlooked; we think of the Ten as major crimes or sins of commission.  But here we see that continued longing for what we don’t have is itself sin.  Is this not Adam and Eve’s original sin in the Garden?

What God holds up to us in these Commandments is a picture of life ordered according to God’s wisdom, justice, and love.  The Law may be compared to a parent’s rules for children.  You may play in the yard; but not in the street.  It is not only the rule, it offers safety, security, and in the extreme, even life over injury or death.  So also, the Ten Commandments are not rules to hamper us, but rules to set us free.  Keeping or breaking the Ten Commandments isn’t about salvation.  Breaking them doesn’t take you out of consideration; keeping them doesn’t purchase you a ticket to Heaven.  Rather, they form a description of what a God-ordered and blessed life looks like.  To the extent that we experience that, we begin to get a sense of how good God’s Word and will are for us.  To the extent that we fall short and live in disarray, we realize just what was lost in the Garden.

These are not rules by which we should measure and ask, “Am I good enough?”  The answer to that question is that we are ALL dead in sin – dead in sin!  Rather, the Ten Commandments are an example of God COMING AFTER US, to breathe life and hope into us – to offer us boundaries and a home and a place of safety in a fallen world where we are already at play in the street.  God is already initiating His rescue plan.  So our attentiveness to the Commandments at once shows us how lost we are and how God is already coming to find us through His Word.

God’s Law cannot save from death, but for those living in the ashes between Eden and the End, the Commandments offer a temporary shelter in the present world, with all the hope of a God who is coming to save us from death itself.

Tag Cloud

2014 2015 accountability acts advent archive art arts ash wednesday aslan assurance audio auditions bands belief bigotry blessing blob bloggers blooper reel bluegrass body of christ book book reviews boomer boundaries breadth of worship builder bus calling Calvin Symposium cd ceilidh change character of god chart christmas church church partnerships civility commandments commentary communication community con ed confession confirmation contemporized hymns crisis culture D.Min. dance darkness death definitions denomination depth of worship discernment discipleship discourse dismissal dissertation drama early church easter ecclesiology ecpc emergent church error evangelism excellence exile exodus experimentation facebook failure faith family of God father fear fellowship fellowshippres following forgiveness friendship frost fruit frustration funerals GA ga219 ga220 GAhelp generations genX gift gifts girl scouts good news Google gospel grace gracious witness gspc youth hands health highlights holy spirit holy week hope hospitality humility humor hymn image of God imago dei improvisation incarnation inclusion index information insider language institutions interns invitation iTunes james jazz Jeremy Begbie john piper jonah joy judgment Keith and Kristyn Getty kids kindness language law lay renewal leadership legalism lent license life light lighthouse linked articles links listening liturgy loneliness love lyrics maddie shuler meme mentoring mercy metanarrative mgb commission millenials ministry networks miscellaneous mission missional missional identity missions moderator montreat mumford music narnia neighborhood neighbors new wineskins new year news newsletter NEXT NEXTchurch nicaragua noticing obedience obstacles organizations outreach palm sunday parenting participation pastor pastoral ministry pcaus pcusa peace performance peter pgf pictures plagues planning podcasting poetry politics ponderings pornography post-modernism prayer preaching presbymergent presbyterian global fellowship presbytery publishing questions racism reader reconciliation recordings recycled goodness redemption reflection refugees relationship relationships retreat righteousness risk roadblocks rss rules sabbatical safety salt samaritan satan satire scotland searchlight searchlight 2.0 sectarianism self-righteousness seminaries sermon snippets sermon-song sermons shalom sheep shepherding sin small church social media song songwriters songwriting spheres of influence spirit spiritual lessons spiritual power stewardship stories story sub-culture summary sunrise talent challenge tears technology teenagers Ten Commandments terrorism testimony theater theft theological education top posts tragedy transformation translation travel trees trinitarian worship trinity trust truth twitter union with christ valentines VBS video virtual reality vision waiting website wednesdays out wee kirk welcome witness word cloud wordle words workshop worship writing year-end YL you tube youth