Monthly Archives: August 2014

God’s Seventh Statement

You shall not commit adultery. [Exodus 20:14 ESV]

Adultery is seeking and experiencing sexual intimacy with a person other than your husband or wife. If the focus of murder is the destruction of those who carry the image of God as a way of killing God then adultery is an attack on the intimacy of a relationship with God. Again, since God cannot be destroyed the attack is against those who are enabled to have a relationship with God. Where those who have been given and receive the grace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, sexual activity outside of marriage compromises their testimony of God before the world.

Physical intimacy experienced by husband and wife is a physical representation of the spiritual intimacy everyone may have with God. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” [Genesis 2:24-25 ESV]. God’s original intent for a husband and wife is for them to live in a mysterious union, making two into one. This union involves the whole person unencumbered by anything outside of themselves.

In the garden nothing could break this union. Just as Adam and Eve had intimacy with each other they had intimacy with God. He created them in His image for this reason and walked with them in the garden as evidence of their relationship. They were unashamed before each other and before God. The word “ashamed” in Genesis 2 means disappointed, confounded or dry. They did not disappoint each other or God. Nothing they did confounded or compromised their relationships. Their relationships was fertile and growing and full of life.

We have fallen far from God and from each other.

Is there within the heart a lustful intent to engage in sexual activity with one who is not your righteous husband or wife?  When you hunger and thirst for unrighteousness you drive yourself away from the One who created you and the one who is given to love you. We cannot be joined with the world and joined with Christ. Nor can we explain to the world what it means to be joined with Christ. Through the centuries many have called the relationship had with God through Christ a “mystical union.”

Paul describes the symbolism of the marital relationship and the spiritual joining of those who belong to Christ with their Savior.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. [1 Corinthians 6:15-20 ESV]

God’s seventh statement lays bare the heart of relationship with Him. The evidence of the strength or weakness of our relationship with God is found in many places but especially is the motivation of our sexual self. Separation and suffering is the result of the sinful, sensual heart, inflicted upon those with whom the person is to have an intimate relationship. Sin has compromised and made people incapable of having a true, undefiled, intimate relationship with either God or a spouse.

There is within a deep desire for true intimacy in everyone. There is no ability on our part. There is complete ability and desire in God. The “mystical union” the believer has with God does not remove any from the world but does guarantee intimacy with God for eternity, our recreated spirit in union with His eternal Spirit. This is the heart of the matter.

Those who persecute the righteous do so to break the intimate relationship had with God. Our world is driven by the quest for power and control and the prevalence of the idolatry of the sensual. From ancient temple prostitutes to the current visual depictions of the international concubine through pornography, the temptation to compromise and indulge in illegitimate sexual activity is constant. It is an overt attack on righteousness, which is persecution. It is not pointed persecution directed against a specific individual or group but a blanket attack on righteousness pointed at God. Which means it is also pointed at the citizen of the kingdom of God.

Have you noticed persecution toward those who will not embrace the “right” to their preferred “sexual” orientation? Have you noticed the demand to redefine marriage and the words “husband” and “wife” and “family”? This is persecution for righteousness. There is no difference between one sin and another. Sin separates from God and divides those who belong to God from each other. It is the intent of those enslaved by the world to silence God. Persecution is one way they think they can silence those who represent God.

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God’s Sixth Commandment

You shall not murder. [Exodus 20:13 ESV]

Cain was the first to commit an act of murder. A different word is used in Genesis 4:8 than in Exodus 20:13. “Killed” means to hit or strike with deadly intent to destroy.

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.  The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. [Genesis 4:3-7 ESV]

Cain was angry with God because God did not accept the offering he brought. God warned him about the presence and power of sin, how it takes over and controls and enslaves the whole person. Cain could not kill God, the true object of his anger, so he murdered the next best thing. Abel was made in the image of God and thus a representative of God. Sin captured and twisted Cain’s thinking giving him, in the thinking of his heart, a reasonable excuse to try, judge, sentence, and execute his younger brother. He showed a pattern, first outlined by his parents as they rebelled against God, which all people would follow and develop for the rest of history.

In God’s statement in Exodus and Deuteronomy the word used for “murder” means to break into pieces, to take away the objects ability to function as it was made, that is, to take away it’s life. The action may be spontaneous or preconceived and deliberate.  It may be an act of carelessness or come from hatred or the desire for revenge because of anger. In all cases murder is the final act of dehumanizing another person and unjustly taking their life.

There are more ways to break a person than to take their life. People regularly steal life from others through manipulation, debilitating and hypercritical statements, and repetitive comments about a person’s lack of character or lack of value. Hear what Jesus has to say.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. [Matthew 5:21-22 ESV]

Let me be quick to say there is room for righteous anger. This is an anger exhibited by those who are poor in spirit when they see the truth of God being compromised when  actions state His truth is not true or the lie is true. There is a place for hatred of sin. There is never a place for hatred of the sinner.

Like all of God’s statements this one follows those which have come before. Do you not recognize God’s authority and place in creation? You will not recognize the image He has stamped on His highest creation. Do you have idols? You will find an excuse in those idols to judge and execute those with whom you live. Do you have so little regard for God you reject Him and His commands and statements and expectations and love and compassion? You will reject those He has created in His image. Do you seek rest in something other than God? You will never find rest and try to destroy those who do live in peace with Him, those who have something you have not. Have you been taught, by your parents or other authorities, to devalue people who do not fit a taught and ungodly expectation or measure up to an arbitrary standard of righteousness? This is no excuse to disobey God.

God places value on people. We do not have the right to devalue those whom God has eternally established as valuable. Those who try to destroy what God has deemed valuable will face God’s wrath, Him against whom they rebel. Jesus died, was murdered, for all, so those who are God’s would not face spiritual death. Yet, we are all physical, sinful people and will face physical death. How we die is in God’s eternal decree. But, woe to those who conspire to murder God by murdering those who are His.

God’s Fifth Statement

Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.  [Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV; see also Exodus 20:12]

Parents have children, and those children become parents and have more children.  This is an absolute in God’s design. He commanded Adam and Eve to multiply AND fill the earth and subdue it.

And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [Genesis 1:28 ESV]

Noah and his children were also told, after the flood, to fill the earth. (See Genesis 9:1.)

Parents have a primary job. They are to raise children to love and honor God. In turn, those children become parents who raise children who are taught to love and honor God because they have been taught to do so. Children emulate and copy their parents. From their parents children learn about God and how to treat others.

Parent who focus upon God teach their children to do the same. If the parent focuses upon themselves or anything other than God then the children are taught to do the same. Should the parent teach their child to sin then the sins of the fathers is passed onto the children and broken only through the grace of God. We honor our parents by being like them. Our parents honor God by living out His image in the world.

This places a tremendous obligation upon the parents. God placed this statement in the middle of the ten statements as a bridge between loving God and loving our neighbors. Those parents who know God intimately have no other gods or idols because there are none, speak for God with His given authority, and are resting in Him while looking forward to His final and ultimate eternal rest. They are unshakable in their faith and an example to their children.

What the parent does influences the child, but the parent is not responsible for the grown child’s relationship with God. When a child becomes a parent who they are reflects what they have been taught by their parents. They honor their parents who have honored their own parents and God by loving Him or they honor their parents by doing what their parents did.  To “honor” means to be heavy with, weighty, rich with or abounding with, and to promote. Psychologically this is what every child does, whether they seek God or rebel against their parents or Him. However, the question is not are children doing what they have been taught but have they been taught to love God.

Children do not have to be taught to sin. Sin is part of their fallen nature. Children are taught how to sin in various ways by many different people. Children must be taught to love God but can only be taught this by those who love God. Everything a person is exposed to teaches them something.

Jesus has devastating words for all people.

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! [Matthew 18:5-7 (and following) ESV]

What we do right now counts for eternity for ourselves and for those around us. If what our children do reflects who we are and how we honor God then our relationship with Him is of utmost importance. If our parents were not godly we may honor them by being as they are. But then, we will not honor God by being as they are. I was struck with fear when I realized the great responsibility God placed upon my shoulders when I became a parent. My fear has driven me toward God. I am far from perfect, my sin showing black against the brilliant white of His righteousness. I live by His grace and pray my children will do the same.

Those who persecute the righteous because of their relationship with Jesus Christ have been taught to do so. Their parents, or those who have the influence of parents, have raised them up to view a lie as truth, and to view the truth as a lie. Even within the organized church are those who lead people, not toward God but toward an idol.

Those who are citizens of the kingdom of God show the evidence of citizenship as God works out in them the characteristics Jesus has given in the Sermon on the Mount. Being a citizen of God’s kingdom invites the persecution of those who hate God. Persecution does not relieve us of the responsibility of loving and obeying God and teaching our children to do the same.

God’s Fourth Statement

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. [Exodus 20:8-11 ESV]

Persecution is designed to cause terror, to distract and upset the normal life of work and rest and relationship. Yet, God states we are to work and rest and know Him and this the world hates.

In this fourth statement, God moves back to the purpose of why He created man. We were created in His image to do His work as He would want it done. When He finished His work of creation He rested. God does not exist in space-time creation. He exists in eternity. We do not have the right to lower Him into our history, or constrain Him by the same laws He created to sustain the universe. I am not interested in debating young versus old-earth theology. We are speaking about God, who holds the universe in His hand, sees the beginning of history from the end, and every moment and molecule contained therein. Before we see man as the crown of His creation we hear Him speak about what He had accomplished.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. [Genesis 1:31-2:3 ESV]

God explains one of the reasons why He created man in His image. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it” [Genesis 2:15 ESV]. Just as God works and keeps the universe man works and keeps the garden. As God is to the universe so man is to the garden. Man was His authority and is His mouthpiece over the garden. He made man higher than all other creation but He did not make man god. There can be no other god, and man does not have the right to make creation a god, nor to attribute to anything other than God what He has done and does. Keeping the Sabbath is a recognition of who we are before Him, that we are His not He ours.

When Jesus and His disciples walked through a grain-field on the Sabbath and harvested the grain with their hands because they were hungry they were attacked by the Pharisees for “working on the Sabbath” which is “unlawful.” Jesus’ response is quick and sure. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath” [Mark 2:27-28 ESV]. God did not rest because He had to. He is not constrained by law. Nor does man keep the Sabbath because he has to. God tells us to keep that which is a natural part of the image of God in man. If we do not keep His Sabbath it is because of our rebellion against Him.

The writer of Hebrews drives home this point (see Hebrews 4:9-12). We are counseled to not rebel, to not harden our hearts as Israel did during the exodus, and refused to believe and trust God. It is the Sabbath which teaches us to rest in Him. We work, for that is one of the given purposes of God. But we work for Him. We rest, because that is one of the given purposes of God. But we rest in Him. Those who rebel, who refuse to work for Him, will never rest in Him.

God’s rest is eternal, just as He is eternal. His Sabbath’s rest is eternal rest. Our temporal rest of every seventh day is a looking forward to His eternal rest, with Him. As is true with each of these ten statements this one points to our rebellion against the God who created us, who sustains us, who governs us, and who gives us purpose. A Sabbath rest is a matter of the heart, the being of each person, and reveals the intimacy, or lack of intimacy, of the relationship we have with the only One who created us.

Those who would bring suffering on the righteous would steal away the peace and rest we have in God, breaking our relationship. Since our relationship is founded on God and His work and promise none can sever it, though they bring upon us the harshest treatment. Their lack of rest and peace is evident by the treatment they show toward those who are God’s. Our trust in God’s promise, His eternal being, is a witness to the world of God’s presence and power.

God’s Third Statement

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. [Exodus 20:7 ESV]

We will find in the context of each verse help in understanding that verse. The general interpretation of Exodus 20:7 is to not verbally misuse the name of God. You do not use His name in casual speech, when taking an oath, as a vulgar, profane curse. You do not ejaculate OMG when surprised or pleased.

Jewish tradition demanded no one use the actual name of God, YHWH. Throughout the Hebrew Scripture when the name of God is used the reader would substitute LORD. This substitution was done as a sign of respect for God. But, it was also done as a means of keeping people from unintentionally taking God’s name in vain. To think not using His name is a fulfillment of some expectation or superstition robs meaning from what God is saying.

This statement reaches down into the soul and substance of everyone created in His image. God’s name is unknowable. However, God has revealed Himself in ways which are knowable and understandable. Knowing His name means knowing and understanding His character and personality, knowing His attributes and passions.  Knowing is intimacy. Using His name implies intimacy with Him. We are created for intimacy with Him, given permission and encouraged to know Him and use His name.

We can know Him intimately because we are created in His image. He created us for relationship. Being created in His image means everything we do and everything we are, is a reflection of Him. His image in us gives us the authority to speak and act on His behalf.

He gave Adam dominion over the earth, to name the animals and plants, to work the ground and care for His creation. Just as God is authority over all creation so He gave man authority over this planet. Adam, and those who followed, would know what to do because of the intimacy of their relationship with their Creator. Adam, and all who would follow, are servants of God, acting on His behalf with His authority behind their actions.

And then Adam rebelled and dying he would die, and all who came from him followed in his rebellion and died. Sin gained control over all men. This does not mean God lost control. Man lost control. Every word, act and attitude has turned from God to self. Every person lives a life judged, sentenced and awaiting execution of the sentence, separated all from God. God still wants intimacy with each person, and has provided a means, through the substitution and sacrifice of His Son, commanding each person to return to an intimate relationship. It is work He does on our behalf. We do nothing but receive or reject. Receiving carries no merit. For, if we are honest with ourselves we will see our continued rebellion against Him who has poured out upon us His grace.

Here is the point. Everything we do, whether in obedience or steeped in rebellion, reflects God’s character, His name, to those around and to the world and to the spiritual realms.  Being created in His image, and carrying all that means even in our rebellion, tells us all we do, all we say, all we think and feel, reflects the character and personality, the attributes and passions, of God.

It is the next logical statement. There are no other authorities than God. We do not get to manufacture an excuse to sin by manufacturing an idol to replace Him. No wonder He says he will “not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”  We are required to live our lives in righteousness. We do not because of sin and are held accountable. Those who carry His image must be changed or eternally separated from Him. We cannot change ourselves but continually rebel against Him, by our actions and words which is a misusing the name of God.

There is hope. As God changes us into the likeness of His Son, preparing us for eternity, He uses the fires of faith to purge sin from our lives. And the world which hates Him will hate us because we reflect Him. We are His witnesses to a world in rebellion. Everything we do for Him is evidence against those who do nothing for Him. Hope is in Jesus and nowhere else. Living a righteousness life upholds the name of God.