Wow! Today’s reading really charged me up! I needed God to speak to me today and He has done just that. He has reminded me that there is a reason to obey his commandments. I’ve heard it said that the Bible has two gods, the angry God of the Old Testament, and the loving God of the New Testament. I believe this statement is made by those who have not read the Bible from cover to cover as you and I are attempting to do together now. God is the same today as He was yesterday, as He is today, as He will be tomorrow. God is love.
So many people view obeying God as a joyless, boring burden as if obeying somehow means you can’t enjoy life. As I’ve said before the opposite is true and in today’s reading we can see it as clearly as anywhere in the Bible.
Chapter 5 of Deuteronomy gives us the 10 Commandments. I’ve summarized them below for you. Please forgive my shorthand but if you’re reading along with us you’ve just read the whole thing.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
1) You shall have no other gods before Me
2) You shall make no idols
3) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5) Honor your father and mother
6) You shall not murder
7) You shall not commit adultery
8) You shall not steal
9) You shall not bear false witness
10) You shall not covet
So why does God give us these rules? Is it some kind of power trip to prove that He is in control? Let me tell you about one who is in control; he doesn’t need anyone else to affirm it. It is only those who are insecure in their control that need others to affirm it for them. No, God’s reason for giving us the 10 Commandments is not His well being but ours. God created us to be in a perfect relationship with Him. He created a perfect garden for us to live in, and gave us only one rule; don’t eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Only one rule and we couldn’t keep it. Adam and Eve could have chosen to eat of the Tree of Life. Did they choose that? No, they chose to eat of the one tree they were forbidden. Disobedience had a consequence. God is absolute in His character. He is absolute love, but He is absolute righteousness and justice as well. By choosing to disobey we chose to leave the existence for which we were made. Life became hard. We now have to labor by the sweat of our brow to eat and women have to bear children in pain (although I must say that I’ve found having a child rather painful as a man as well). Even the strife we experience in marriage is a result of that fall.
The 10 Commandments are part of God’s plan to restore us to the Garden of Eden if you will; in a sense a Promised Land in and of itself. By returning to a right relationship with God we return to the glorious existence for which we were made. God is giving us His commandments for our good; not His. Just listen to the love that God expresses for us in the following passages:
Deuteronomy 5:29 ESV
“Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!
Deuteronomy 5:32-33 ESV
“You shall be careful therefore to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.”
There are many more examples of this kind of language throughout today’s reading and throughout the Bible. He wants you to be happy. If you want to be happy you need to restore yourself to right relationship with God which means obeying the commandments He’s given you. Those commandments are a roadmap to restoration.
Now you’d be wise to challenge me here and say “If I can get back to right relationship with God by obeying His commandments then why do I need Jesus?” Excellent question! If we couldn’t obey one commandment to not eat a particular fruit, what makes you think we can obey ten let alone hundreds of additional rules and regulations? The law, of which the 10 Commandments is part, shows us what it takes to be restored to God. It also shows us that we cannot restore ourselves to God in our own power. I don’t care who you are; you’ve broken at least one of the 10 Commandments in your lifetime. Guilty. Case closed.
Disobeying the law is the same thing as eating that fruit in the garden and the results are the same as well; death and separation from God. The reality is that if you are to be restored to God you’re going to have to pay the penalty for violating the law; remember, God is a righteous and just God. So how can this be done? Step 1: He had to come down here Himself, substitute Himself for you, and take the punishment on your behalf. Justice must be served. (Of course, you have to admit you deserved the punishment, commit to leaving sinful behavior behind, and accept his substitution for His sacrifice to be credited to you.) Step 2: He has to put His Spirit within you so that you will have the power to obey. Notice that God did all the heavy lifting in these two steps; you only had to repent and accept.
You’ve heard me say in a previous post that we have to put on the character and mind of Christ. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, He gave us His Spirit which now resides within us. We now have the power; we simply need to engage our will. God gave us our own free will when He made us and we have chosen to use this blessing in a disobedient and self-centered way. We still have our will; accepting Christ didn’t take it away. We can still choose to put on the character and mind of Christ but we must do so in a conscious effort.
The mind of Christ is the engine that provides the power to obey, but we must put the care in gear in order to get anywhere. I think far too many of us Christians are sitting with our gear in neutral. Ever press down on an accelerator while the car is in neutral? You’ll hear the power of the engine but you won’t be going anywhere.
Obey God’s commandments because it restores you to your intended existence. To do so you must put on the mind of Christ; WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? Not only must we put on the mind of Christ and obey, however, we must also diligently teach this stuff to our children; it’s a commandment.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 ESV
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Remember guys, God loves you. Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 3/3/10)