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The Ten Commandments Part Two

March 11, 2018

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Fourth Sunday in Lent                      Trinity Lutheran Church

11 March 2018                                     Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Exodus 20:1-17

 

If you thought last week’s sermon on the first three commandments was a barnburner, you’d better hang on tight today and fasten your seatbelts. After all, when God speaks His commandments, your old Adam automatically speaks in opposition. The old Adam always wants to have the say so. As if he has better words than the Lord! So, the old Adam has to die. And that hurts. It’s excruciating. The old Adam doesn’t like that one bit. But it must be done. Why? So that the Lord will raise up a new man or new creation, spelled F-A-I-T-H – in Jesus as the Savior of you the sinner and so that the Holy Spirit will instill in you, the believer, the God-pleasing desire to live according to God’s Word. This is my high pastoral care to and for you today. Repentance. Faith. Holy living. All according to God’s Word! Not your old Adam’s!

 

So, last week – Commandments 1-3. Today, part two – Commandments 4-10. For your Lenten repentance, faith in Jesus for forgiveness and for your desire to live a holy life according to these ten words from the Lord. Let’s also not forget that the Commandments both prescribe and describe. They prescribe God’s holy will for you – His Good Friday-ed holy people. God tells you what He wants you to do and not to do. The Commandments also describe what FAITH-ERS look like when they believe that He is their God and that they are His redeemed and died for people.

 

So, when the Holy Trinity is your God (1st Commandment) you will use His name properly – to bless and not to curse, to pray, praise and give thanks (2nd Commandment). When you believe and trust in God, you will eagerly and gladly go to church to hear God’s Word (3rd Commandment). That’s your relationship with Him.

 

Commandments 4-10 deal with your relationship to others. God’s good use of you in this life because you are saved by the blood of Jesus. So, since God is your God FOR YOU in Jesus (1st Commandment), you will honor your father and mother (4th Commandment).

 

God’s Word puts your life in order. Husbands and wives. Parents and children. Employers and employees. Governors and the governed. Pastors and hearers. God matrixes life on the earth with order and it is the order of authority. Everyone has his place and responsibility to another. With the Fourth Commandment the authority is parental and civil.

 

The big word of the 4th Commandment is “honor.” That’s a word usually reserved for God Himself and rightly so.   One of the ways that you honor God is when you honor God’s authorities in this world. Did you hear me? I’d better say it again. To honor God’s authorities is to honor God. Why? Because God uses parental and civil authority to create and take care of earthly life.

 

Parental units and other authorities are the masks behind which God hides and through which God blesses. Parents, teachers, employers, presidents, governors, pastors – these are God’s vicars. His agents. His hands and mouth. So, we are to honor them with respect not only when they behave honorably (which they should!) but BECAUSE GOD IS HIDDEN BEHIND THEM. Honor is given to them on account of God’s Word. If God in His Word told you to honor a piece of wood or a chunk of rock, you would do it. Why? Because He says so! That’s why!

 

Honor is the backbone of community and nation. Where children do not honor their parents and parental deputies, the home collapses. Where people do not honor governing authorities, society collapses. We have ample examples all around us. We are living on the ragged edge of complete anarchy and total breakdown not only in our homes but also in our society. The venom and vitriol is out of control.

 

I warn you. Rebellion against authority, both parental and civil is rebellion against God Himself. People that call themselves the “resistance” and then bring about anarchy and destruction on college campuses, city streets and neighborhoods do not provide freedom. It is the end of freedom! They will bring about a slavish tyranny with their “resistance.” This is why the church prays for all those in authority. In addition, we all must repent for our dishonoring the authorities God gives for our benefit and be better citizens in our communities and country.

 

In Jesus Christ, God reveals Himself to be your true Father. You are His true children. He has baptized you into His family, the church. You have a place. God the Father restores order to the chaos. He calls you to be ordered under Him and His representatives. So, “honor your father and mother.”  

 

Fifth Commandment. “I am the LORD your God. Therefore you will not murder.” Human life is sacred. It is! Life is a holy gift from God. God alone gives life. He alone takes it away. Human life is above all other forms of life. Male and female are the crown of God’s creation – a special creation. You have been rescued from the curse of wanting to be a little pretend divinity through Jesus’ Good Friday death for you. Therefore, you are not to murder. You are to protect the lives of the unborn, not take them. You are to care for the infants, the frail and the elderly. You are to love your enemies, provide for the poor, the homeless, the orphan and the widow.

 

In addition, you, as God’s redeemed and died-for people do not view death as the alternative or the solution to suffering. Death is your enemy not your friend! Death is anti-life! The pagan concept of euthanasia, which is Greek word for “good death,” is a foreign word for Christians. You are to understand death in terms of God’s justice. Death is the just wages of your sin. Euthanasia, on the other hand, is what is done to animals when they are no longer useful. With people, euthanasia is a politically acceptable word now for murder but it is wrong.

 

While I’m at I have to make another important point. It has to do with the language that has become so common among us that it is now infallible and idolatrous. The pagans control the spin. The language is “quality of life.” Years ago only a died-in-the-wool Darwinist would attempt to make “quality of life” the issue when it comes to end of life issues. We, as God’s people, need to speak differently and not debate the “quality of life.”

 

Why? Well, here’s why: “quality of life” talk is the talk of materialistic atheism. “Quality of life” talk is the talk of Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s Red China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Castro’s Cuba and Kim Jong-un’s North Korea! Those cultures were and are all concerned about “quality of life.” What were the results? Hundreds of millions were murdered in the name of “quality of life.” This continues in the 21st century among the so-called most civilized and modern societies in the West including our country. The camel of materialistic atheism doesn’t just have its nose in the church! The entire beast has taken up residence and we serve it like an idol. This should not be!

 

So, I’m here to tell you categorically that we Lutheran Christians speak not of “quality of life” but of the sanctity and the holiness of human life! God has given a decisive and final “NO” to death in the death of His Son Jesus and His resurrection from the grave. “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Jesus died FOR YOU so that in Him you have life! Therefore, “you will not murder.”

 

Sixth Commandment. “I am the LORD your God. You will not commit adultery.” Marriage and family are God’s gift to you and for you. So too is a sexual relationship. Yes, a sexual relationship between a man and a woman is a gift from the Lord. To be used properly within the estate of holy marriage. Intercourse is the physical bonding or one-fleshing between a husband and a wife. It is the way God made us and it goes all the way back to the “very good” of the beginning. Adultery takes God’s gift of sexual intercourse outside the context of holy marriage and uses it against God and others in service of self. Adultery is self-centered, not God-centered. The adulterer sins against his own body. The costs are enormous. The high divorce, medical, psychological and suicide stats are only the tip of the iceberg.

 

You are the Good Friday-ed and redeemed people of God. You are given to keep marriage holy – according to God’s Word, not your old Adam’s. You recognize that your body is bought with a price – the Body of Jesus that hung on the cross for your salvation! You daily recall this fact by tracing the mark of the cross on your body. You have been tagged with the mark of the Good Shepherd, branded with the seal of His sacrifice in holy baptism. You proclaim Jesus’ Good Friday death for you when you receive in your body His Body and Blood in the Sacrament. You, God’s redeemed people, are free. Free to say “NO” to your old Adamic lusts and “YES” to God. You are free to use your body as God’s instrument of righteousness. You are free to glorify God with your body and to keep the marriage bed pure. “You shall not commit adultery.”

 

Seventh Commandment. “I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal.” Like murder and adultery, stealing also violates the First Commandment. The thief takes issue with God’s distribution of wealth and seeks to reorder things according to his old Adamic nature. The issue with the Seventh Commandment is God’s ownership and your stewardship. In other words, you are to recognize the hand of God as the Giver of gifts and to be content with what you have. So, you do honest and respectable work, strive for excellence and build with care. You work to serve the Lord and not the paycheck. You are to serve others with your possessions just as you have been served by Jesus who came to be the Good Friday Servant of all. Though rich, Jesus became poor. So that through His Calvary poverty, you might be rich. Therefore, “You shall not steal.”

 

Eighth Commandment. “I am the LORD your God. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” With this commandment God wants you to protect and defend your neighbor’s name and reputation. With just one word you can destroy it. You know the value of a good reputation because God has given you a good reputation by putting away your sins as far as the east is from the west. If God speaks well of you, how can you not speak well of others? To speak well of others is to see others as God sees them, namely, through the lens of the cross. Your neighbor is one for whom Jesus shed His blood. Therefore, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

 

Ninth and Tenth Commandments.   “I am the LORD your God. You shall not covet.” Isn’t that something? Coveting. Coveting is secret and invisible. It’s what goes on in the heart! Coveting is a matter of the heart! The last two commandments remind us just how deep the cancer of sin is in our humanity. AND HOW DEEP OUR NEED IS FOR JESUS TO SAVE US!

 

It is not just your actions that the commandments judge, but your attitudes. Not just your hands, but also your heart. Not just your words, but your thoughts, desires, imaginations and motivations. Outward actions you can control to a certain extent. You can choose to kill or not to kill. You can choose to commit adultery or not, to steal or not, to tell lies or not. You can discipline your lips to bless, your ears to hear God’s Word. You can choose to honor and respect parents and other authorities. However, there is no decision, no self-imposed discipline, and no resolution that can train your heart not to stray from God.

 

For the heart there is only daily confession and absolution. Daily repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Daily dying and rising in the death and life of Jesus.

 

These last two commandments clearly teach you that all ten of the commandments always accuse. The commandments do not save you. The law always kills. It cannot give life. The law can train you outwardly but it cannot change your heart. The law can make you good but it cannot make you holy. The law can tell you what God expects, but it cannot make you trust God and love your neighbor. The Ten Commandments expose you as damnable sinner.

 

So God does what you cannot do for yourself. God sent Jesus His Son to be born of a woman, born under the law. Jesus does not relax the demands of the Ten Commandments. He squares you up to the law’s full demands when He said: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” And then Jesus did the Ten Commandments perfectly FOR YOU and for your salvation. We call that His active obedience. His keeping the Ten Commandments perfectly counts FOR YOU.

 

In addition, Jesus did a passive obedience. In other words, “He became obedient even to death on a cross.” God took His obedient Son, the perfect man, and nailed Him to the cross bearing all your sin and all its damnation. God made Jesus your sin. Jesus on the cross was made the idolater, the blasphemer, the despiser of God’s Word, the disobedient child, the murderer, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, the coveter. And you, baptized into His death, believing in His name, are made what Jesus is – God’s perfect Child.

 

Jesus kept the law perfectly and died for you so that you could be the object of God’s love. A love that He shows to the thousands who love Him and keep His commandments. And that’s what you want to do.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

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