Introduction: Lessons in Law
Why talk about the Ten Commandments?
Ted Turner has declared the Ten Commandments obsolete, “We’re living with outdated rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to them because they’re too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around likes to be commanded. Commandments are out!”
The Great Challenge of this Series:
· To teach the ‘thou shalt not’s’ without getting over into legalism
o Or saying this another way, to teach ‘life’
· As Christians, we are NEVER supposed to be ministers of condemnation.
2 Corinthians 3:6–9
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
· Ministers (not just pulpit ministers – everyone is a minister) of the New Testament minister of the spirit not the letter or the law.
o If that is the case, then notice that the law or ‘the letter’ could not have dealt with the spirit of man. The letter and the spirit are set against one another in 2Cor. 9:6 above.
· If the law did not affect the spirit of man then what was its purpose?
THE LAW DEALT WITH THE OUTER MAN
· Understanding the issue of morality
o Have you ever met people who were just good ethical people but you knew that they even though they were moral, they did not know God?
o Can it be possible to be a good moral person and not know God?
§ Absolutely Yes!
o The understanding of this lies in knowing how ‘law’ in general functions.
§ Every human person born on planet earth has the sin nature. According to the Bible, the sin nature transfers through the seed of man at the point of conception.
§ This is the reason Jesus had to be virgin born. Jesus did not have the sin nature resident in His flesh.
§ As a family rears a child, the sin nature can be curbed to an extent through the ‘law of the parents’. The parents set the boundary for what is acceptable behavior.
§ Through that ‘law of the parents’, the flesh or sin nature (the desire to ‘do wrong’ if you would) is restricted. In effect, a child is taught through the boundaries of ‘law’ how to respond or not to respond in certain channels.
§ There are unsaved moral people who are abhorred at the thought of cheating someone because their flesh was trained to not cheat by the home environment.
§ There are some people who are very caring – they are not saved but their flesh was trained to be caring. This is not a spiritual or inside ‘thing’; it is an outer man or flesh thing.
§ There are some people that are very giving, very involved in philanthropy yet they are unsaved. They have not accepted Jesus as their Savior; they are just moral people. Their flesh was trained to give because they were surrounded by the concept of giving in their upbringing and they do not know anything else.
o This is the reason why sometimes kids go wild when they go to college because they got out from under ‘the law’ of the parents. That is also the reason why they have trouble coming back to the house because they do not understand what they are coming back to – they are coming back to law!
· Law in any form, whether it is God’s law, parental law, or human society law helps deal with the outer man.
· You can see the need for ‘the law’ or boundaries in Exodus.
Exodus 32:1–6 (KJV)
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Exodus 32:15 (KJV)
15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
· They broke the first commandment while the tablets were in Moses hand. The ink J had not even dried yet!
· Now, Christians are not under ‘the law’ of Moses as the Bible states.
Romans 6:13–15 (KJV)
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
o The law (that New testament believers are no longer under) referred to here is the ‘law given to Moses’ at Sinai as part of the Old Covenant (Testament).
· Notice verse 15.
o Though we are not under ‘the law of Moses’, yet we are still under the principle of the law, which is the idea of restricting the flesh.
o Even though you are born again and have the life and nature of God in your spirit, you still have the same sin nature that the everyday Israelite had when God gave the original Ten Commandments.
o The New Birth changed your inner man, it did not change your outer man.
o That is why you have all the ‘sin lists’ in the New Testament.
Colossians 3:5,8 (ESV)
5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV)
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (ESV)
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
· Understand this principle: “what is restriction to your flesh is liberation to your spirit.”
Romans 8:12–14 (ESV)
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
· A primary area for the leadership of the Spirit in your life is in the area of dealing with your flesh.
· Look how the leadership of the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the body link in Rom. 8:12-14.
· All of this ends in Gal. 5:18.
Galatians 5:18 (ESV)
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
· One of the differences between an Old Covenant believer and a New Covenant believer is…
o An Old Covenant believer dealt with the flesh through the external law. Literally, this boils down to the flesh dealing with the flesh.
§ Israel and generations of men since then have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the flesh cannot successfully corral the flesh.
§ That is what was ineffective about the ‘Just say No to Drugs Campaign’. Ask a rehabbing drug addict if saying just saying No works.
o A New Covenant believer deals with the flesh by the leadership of the Spirit working through his spirit or literally the spirit dealing with the flesh.
§ This is highly effective and the only way to bring the flesh in line.
o In either case, the idea of restriction pervades.
THE LAW WILL HELP PEOPLE TO KNOW GOD
Psalm 1:1–3 (KJV)
1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
· As New Testament believer read these words, knowing that they are no longer under the law (and you are not), they invariably substitute the phrase ‘the Word of God’ for the words ‘the law of the Lord’. This is certainly acceptable Biblical exegesis.
· But for a moment, refrain from making the substitution and you will realize something! Reading the verse in the context of the Old Testament when it was written shows us that there was absolutely something about the law and the 10 commandments that would help an Israelite know God.
o For meditating in the law, caused spiritual benefit.
o I do not know about you, but I want to know Him!
o And if there is something in the law, I want to know about it and or know how the process works.
· Look at what Jesus said about this.
Matthew 22:34–40 (ESV)
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
· Jesus broke the entire Old Testament down to 2 commandments.
o Love God
o Love man
§ The entire law hung on these two points
· When you understand the fact that the 10 commandments were a written description of how to walk in love towards God and towards man and not a way to establish righteousness, you are on your way to knowing God a bit better.