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The validity of the Ten Commandements

September 29, 2013

18th Sunday after Holy TrinityTen Commandments

“And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

 “You shall not murder.

 “You shall not commit adultery.

 “You shall not steal.

 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:1-17

 

God’s commandments, the well known Ten Commandments that we have read, can be interpreted two ways. They can be seen as laws for people so that civil coexistence is possible for the early Israelites. Today’s modern equivalent would be a constitution (by the way, the vast majority of constitutions in the Christian Western world are based on this Decalogue) or civil code.

We could also see the Ten Commandments as mandates that are still valid and in force and that we should use to govern our personal and community life.

Christians must accept these commandments as God’s commands that are still valid and in force and give proper direction to each and every one of us today. I will try to provide an interpretation for us here today:

1) You shall have no other gods before me

We must be willing to believe that God, revealed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is God and Lord of our lives. He is more important than money, work, rest, leisure, study, vocation, family, pleasure, certainly other pagan gods, spiritualism, cults, the occult, demonism, shamanism, idolatry, deification of human beings, etc–. We must take care that each one of these important things in life, and these things certainly are important, does not become a god in and of themselves, which would prevent us from worshiping the true God, who is the true and divine revelation. When these things make us forget that God is our sustainer, we are not fulfilling this commandment. The first commandment is very important. It is so important that fulfillment involves great blessings and noncompliance results in God’s punishment which even persists, literally, to our descendants.

2) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God:

We should not say with our mouths to other people that we are Christians, while we in deeds, thoughts and love we are not Christians and we fail to take care of His church. Having been baptized only as a rite it is not a guarantee that we belong to the fold of Jesus Christ; we must show our testimony and our life of faith.

3) Remember the Sabbath day (day of rest) to keep it holy: Do we want the blessing and favor of God in our lives? If so, we must actively belong to a church and go to church regularly. If we can’t go to church on Sunday, we must take a moment to pray alone or with family, to read the Bible and worship God. What is the best way to know if we are fulfilling this commandment? Count the total number of Sundays a year and count the times you came to the church. If you came to church on most Sundays then you are fulfilling this commandment. What are the benefits? The benefits are the blessing and favor of God in our lives. What harm is there in not coming? As a result of not coming to church we would have to live a life without God’s intervention for us or our family. The church exists for our benefit. If you despise the church, you are neglecting your life on earth.

4) Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you:

We should love and respect our parents, regardless of whether they have been good or not. Bless them, forgive them, help them and do not abandon them. If they were bad, do not repay in kind. Therefore, do not hold grudges. If they were good, love them in deeds and in words. If we are good to them, we will be treated well when we get old too.

5) You shall not murder: Just that. Do not murder. No war is justified or good and certainly those undertaken for greed, money and power must end. We don’t have to support wars; we must support peace. Do not despise life. Seek health care for the body, live a healthy life, do your best to preserve health and better life on this earth. Do this for yourself and others. If we have to defend others or our own life, deaths may occur, but these deaths would not be murder.

6) “You shall not commit adultery. Love and care for your husband or wife. Do not lead an immoral life. Have an honest and sincere heart. Do not cheat, do not lie and do not make others suffer. Leading a double life does not bring blessing to life, but is in fact a curse.

7) You shall not steal: Do not take what is not yours, from God or from your neighbor. We rob God when we forget of giving offerings because everything we have comes from Him. We steal from our neighbor when we take something that is not ours, even though they may not notice it. We are to not even to touch one pin that belongs to someone else. The consequences of stealing we will experience during this life are having someone steal money, property, health or life from us. The blessings of not stealing and being giving are having material prosperity in our lives.

8) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor: Is it alright to say white lies when we do not want to hurt others? No. There are many ways to tell the truth with love. The Bible tells us: “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one (Matthew 5:37). Tell the truth, do not betray others, do not destroy your neighbors with words that are not true and do not gossip. The devil rejoices in gossip. Gossip is one of the greatest evils that exists. Gossip can even destroy churches in a short time. To gossip means to talk about a person while not knowing if what you are saying is true. Think: Would you be able to say what you are saying about that person directly to them? If so, then you are speaking the truth. If not, we are gossiping and gossip is a cousin of lies and poisons our lives. What are the consequences of lying? That we too are going to be lied to and that most people will not see us as reliable and loved. What are the benefits of telling the truth in love? That God love us and we will be reliable for other people.

9) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house

In Martin Luther’s commentary for this commandment it literally says: “We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbour’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but rather help and be of service to him in keeping it.” This commandment is related to the seventh commandment, ‘do not steal’. What we do comes back to us. This is also a universal law in this universe created by God. God gives us freedom to act, but He cannot intervene in that; we have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor:

This is similar to the previous commandment. Stealing is taking away from others what is not ours. Today we might say: ‘or his job, or her company or her employees, or his car, or his truck, or her computer, etc.  Properties and people that serve and support our neighbours and their families are to be left to them.

What does God say about all these commandments?

Thus says God, “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

What does this mean?

God gives us freedom to act. If we work well, he will be on our side, defending and blessing us at all times, and His care will extend to our descendants. If we do not follow the commandments, we will live a life without the help and support of God and however much we may pray, we will not receive a response or blessing if we do not meet these commandments. The same fate will befall our descendants.

Is there a solution for our mistakes? Yes, ask for forgiveness from God and do everything possible to mitigate for what you did wrong.

He promises grace and every blessing to all who keep these commandments. Therefore, we should also love and trust in Him and gladly do what He commands. Amen.

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