From the book of Exodus, and repeated
again in the book of Deuteronomy we have the Ten Commandments,
in Greek their called the Decalogue, and I call them God' Top
In recent years the Ten Commandments;
and the public display of the commandments have come under
fire by some who feel the commandments are obsolete or
infringe upon the separation of church and state. And there
are still others who feel the Ten Commandments were written to
ensure humans don't have "fun," particularly when the seventh
commandment is mentioned.
Some of you older and wiser folks will
remember that back in the 1950's and 1960's the Fraternal
Order of Eagles donated granite monuments of the Ten
Commandments to many municipalities across America. Now, more
recently, the gifts of those monuments erected on public
property and courthouse lawns has become the basis for
lawsuits and legal battles.
One such legal proceeding took place
locally in Frederick, and of course there was the very public
legal battle in Alabama where the Alabama Supreme Court Chief
Justice Roy Moore authorized the placement of 5,280 pound
granite monument of the Ten Commandments in the building
rotunda. Of course as we know two months later the monument
was removed through further legal action and Justice Moore
more was suspended. And although I have real issue with folks
and organizations who work to undermine God and God's law, I'm
more concerned about how we as Christians treat the Ten
People may fight to keep the
Commandments from being publicly displayed but they can't keep
us from living in accordance with God's Top Ten. We can
complain all we want that an extreme minority of folks in this
country are taking Christianity away from us, and destroying
the very foundation on which this country was founded, by
removing the Ten Commandments, prayer and other Christian
symbols and rites from our schools and other public buildings,
but what are Christian's really doing about it.
Displaying the Commandments on paper,
in stone, or in a stain glass window is secondary to ensuring
the Ten Commandments are etched on our hearts. The Ten
Commandments are God's law, a law to be lived not just
The truth is Satan is not only
succeeding in his bid to remove the Ten Commandments from
public display, he has already succeeded in removing them from
the hearts of many Christians. A business man who was well
known for his ruthless behavior once told Mark Twain, "Before
I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will
climb Mt. Sinai and read the Ten Commandments aloud at the
top." Mark Twain said, "I have a better idea, why don't you
stay in Boston and follow them."
Last week I spoke of getting to the
root cause of our problems not just addressing the symptoms.
Well, if we would spend as much energy living as a public
display of the Ten Commandments as we do complaining and
protesting the removal of them from public display, I believe
we wouldn't be having as many of the problems we're now
having. There's no better witness or public display of the
Christian faith, including the Ten Commandments, then living
So, as I did last week I'm suggesting
we need to deal with ourselves first when it comes to
respecting and following the Ten Commandments, then we can
better deal with the more public display and affirmation of
So with this in mind how are you doing
with the Ten Commandments? Let's review what the Ten
Commandments mean. And before we begin let me make one
observation for you. The first four Commandments address our
relationship with God, our vertical relationship, and the
following six address our relationship with one another, our
When you see displays of the
commandments sometimes you'll see them displayed that way,
four on one tablet and six on the other, rather than five on
one and five on the other. As a matter of fact here in this
building you'll see them displayed both ways. To my right in
the stain glass window they're displayed and five and five.
But in the stain glass window in the office area they're
displayed four and six.
So let's begin with the first four
commandments and lets consdier what they have to say to us
about our relationship with God.
Number 1. I am the Lord your God, you
shall have no other gods before me. The first Commandment is
about absolute loyalty to God and God alone. The creator of
the universe declares He is our God and our Deliverer. He asks
us to demonstrate our love for Him by having no other gods,
and by not following false teachings, or false religions.
Be careful of those who claim to be
Christian but don't speak of God, but rather speak of
themselves. And be careful of false religions which place
their hope in crystals, tea leaves, cards, other human beings,
and the like.
Number 2. You shall not make yourself
an idol. The second Commandment is about worship. God
prohibits the worship of images or idols. You might remember
when Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the tablets he found
his people worshiping a golden calf they had made.
Today's idols include ourselves, other
people, money, cars, houses, power, and so on.
Number 3. You shall not misuse the
name of the Lord. This commandment is about reverence. God
instructs us to respect His holy name and not to use it in
vain. Now what does vain mean? In the Hebrew language vain has
a broad application meaning: iniquity, falsehood, vanity,
emptiness, in other words showing disrespect. So this
commandment means far more than swearing, it deals with
anything that disrespects God or God's name.
Number 4. Remember the Sabbath Day by
keeping it holy. Now this is probably the most violated
commandment of the ten. The fourth commandment is about
sanctification and relationship. God instructs us to remember
the Sabbath and keep it set apart for holy purposes so we can
draw nearer to him. God initiated the Sabbath rest at
creation, blessing and sanctifying the day of rest. God wants
us to use the Sabbath to worship, study His Word, and to
fellowship with other Christians. These activities serve to
strengthen us and energize us for the week ahead, and they
offer us opportunity to further our relationship with God.
Now the remaining six commandments
instruct us on how to live with one another.
Number 5. Honor your father and your
mother. The fifth Commandment is about respect for parental
authority. God teaches us to show love for our parents by
honoring them. Now I know this can be hard sometimes, we
certainly don't always agree with our parents. But this
commandment doesn't say we're supposed to always agree, it
says we are to respect and honor.
In other words we are to respect our
parents experience and wisdom, and try to understand where
they're coming from, not simply blowing them off as being
out-of-touch. Parents don't necessarily have all the right
answers, but they do have wisdom that comes from life
experience and mistakes they've made on their life's journey,
and that alone deserves respect.
Number 6. You shall not murder. This
Commandment is about respect for human life. God instructs us
to love, not hate, and to demonstrate the same to others by
not committing murder. This commandment prohibits antisocial
killing, because it poses a threat to the very existence of
Number 7. You shall not commit
adultery. This commandment is about maintaining purity in
relationships. God asks us to demonstrate our love by not
committing adultery. In other words we are not to have sexual
relations with a person that's not our spouse.
Number 8. You shall not steal. The
eighth Commandment is about honesty. God instructs us not to
steal. We're not to take something that doesn't belong to us
without the owner's permission. And yes this applies to the
pen or paper clip we may have picked up at work and brought
Number 9. You shall not give false
testimony against your neighbor. This Commandment is about
truthfulness, it doesn't speak to lying in general but about
lying in a court of law. The very survival of a community is
threatened when the weak, disadvantaged and falsely accused
can find no remedy before impartial judges informed by
Now this doesn't mean lying beyond the
courtroom is alright. The Lord teaches us to love others, not
to deceive in order to discredit or demean someone to our
advantage, or to make ourselves look better.
Number 10. You shall not covet your
neighbor's house or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Commandment 10 is about contentment. God instructs us not to
lust after things that belong to someone else, because lust
can entrap us and lead to even more sin.
Now that we've reviewed the
Commandments has anyone here ever violated at least one of
There are some folks today who say the
Ten Commandments no longer apply because when Christ came he
abolished all Old Testament law, but this isn't true. As a
matter of fact it's recorded in the book of Matthew that Jesus
said, "I did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill the
Law." (Matt. 5:17)
The Ten Commandments are the moral
laws of God's people. Christ taught God's law, which is
recorded throughout the New Testament, so the Commandments are
still in affect today. And on your bulletin insert of the Ten
Commandments I've included at least one reference in the New
Testament for each commandment for your further study to prove
this point. So God hasn't changed his thinking over the years
about His law, people have.
A letter to Billy Graham was quite
telling of how some think about God's Word. The letter writer
asked, "How many of the Ten Commandments does God expect us to
keep today?" To the chagrin of the letter writer, Billy Graham
responded, "All ten! Just because we have chosen to reduce our
standards doesn't mean God has lowered his."
In addition our historic Methodist
understanding of the Ten Commandments was set forth by John
Wesley. In affect Wesley said in one of his sermons, "The
moral law containing the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the
prophets, Christ did not take away…The moral law stands on an
entirely different foundation from the ceremonial or ritual
law…Every part of this law, meaning the moral law, must remain
in force upon all mankind and in all ages" (Sermons on Several
Occasions, 2-Vol. Edition, Vol. 1, pg 221)
Humankind needs standards and rules to
live by. Many might say we don't but we do. By nature humans
prefer order over chaos. If we had no rules, no laws, no
standards, humanity would destroy itself, and probably would
have by now. And you know Satan thrives in chaos and would
like nothing more than for us to turn on one another, and turn
So to help us the Ten Commandments
serve as a mirror to show us just how we're doing in meeting
God's expectations. And it's this mirror of our shortcomings
that ought to drive us to the cross, where Christ paid the
debt for our sin.
When the Ten Commandments were written
thousands of years ago they served to motivate people to
survive so that no ones life would be taken away.
With Jesus' new revelation to the
Pharisees of the two greatest commandments to "love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind," and to "love your neighbor as yourself,"
(Matt. 22:37-39) love became the dominant motivator to follow
the Ten Commandments, not survival.
Therefore because of Christ, and our
new life in Christ, our motivation for following the Ten
Commandments is no longer survival and fear, but love.
Love itself does not trump the Ten
Commandments, rather it's because of our love for God and
others, we ought to follow them. Therefore, I'm persuaded that
the heading for the first four commandments is "love the Lord
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your mind," and the first four commandments provide the
direction for achieving this.
Likewise I'm persuaded the heading for
the remaining six commandments is "love your neighbor as
yourself," and the last six commandments instruct us on how to
achieve this type of relationship.
God has given us a gift in the Ten
Commandments, a gift to be cherished and a gift to be
followed. So I encourage you to make God's top ten your top
ten as God's Word demands, and you will experience
relationships that are richer, deeper, and more blessed.
Read other messages by Pastor Wade