This week we are counting down our top 7 posts from 2019 (most read). Here’s #7 from October 16 and our series in Exodus.
Exodus 20:12-17. 12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
The first four commandments told us as God’s creation how to relate to our God. There is nothing like them in all of history. No other legal code includes commandments that connect right relating to God with right relating to others. This is because in God’s mind these two things always, always, always go together. Love God. Love neighbor.
And that’s exactly how the Ten Commandments are organized: love God (commandments 1-4) and love neighbor (commandments 5-10). 1500 years later Jesus will make it abundantly clear that loving God and loving neighbor are the same thing. That’s the Ten Commandments.
We live in a world today that loves the idea of loving neighbor. Every day Ellen tells us to be kind to one another.
But loving God?
And what is it in me that makes me be kind to everyone? What makes me want to honor my parents? What internal response prevents me from murdering? Cheating on my spouse? Stealing my neighbor’s stuff? Lying about others? Can I love my neighbor in these ways without a love of God? A fear of God?
Well of course anyone (even an atheist) can love their neighbor. They can be kind. They can not murder, cheat, steal, and lie. But is that enough? Is our existence just about being kind to one another? Is that our highest purpose as humanity? What if how we respond to others is actually supposed to be worship of God. What if we were never supposed to separate loving and caring for our fellow man from loving and worshiping God? Isn’t that why God put both of these ideas into the same Decalogue?
Think about the last commandment. Do not covet. Coveting is an internal response. Of all the Ten Commandments only #1 and #10 are something that you can’t necessarily observe or document. Only God can judge our worshiping (commandment 1) and our coveting (commandment 10). What does this tell us? It tells us that all 10 of the commandments are rooted in a right heart response. They’re all about worshiping and they’re all about coveting and they’re all about loving God and they’re all about loving each other. They can’t be separated. This is how to be human. Love God. Seek him. Fear him. Worship him. And let your heart be changed so that the way you relate to others is full of love and grace. Even to the point that the most basic of internal human responses to life – coveting – is eliminated from your heart. But for any of this to be possible the heart must be changed.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? Good. That’s sort of the point of the Ten Commandments. Perfectly loving your neighbor is impossible.
And here’s the problem: anytime you are told how to live your life but not offered a Savior for when you fail to live that way will actually destroy you. When Ellen tells us every day to be kind to one another she’s piling on a law that is crushing. We can’t even be kind when talking about how to be kind (watch the video as Ellen defends her kindness from critics). Now add loving God and worshiping God to the mix. And on top of that don’t forget your heart attitudes. “I didn’t steal anything today, or kill anyone, or sleep with my neighbor’s wife. It was a good day.” But did you covet? Lust? Hate?
Shut up Brady.
Jesus Christ came to release us from the law not by abolishing it but by keeping it. Fulfilling it. Now we, like him, by our union with Christ, are righteous in view of the law. One day we will stand before God as judged perfect. Yes, we loved God. Yes, we loved neighbor perfectly. Yes, we were kind to one another. No we never hated, lusted, coveted.
That’s imputation. All those things are true even when they’re not true. That’s what union with Christ has done for us.
Here’s the beauty of union with Christ. You never have to obey the Ten Commandments again. Christ did it for you (the good news Ellen leaves out). You are judged according to his love of God and neighbor not according to your own love of God and neighbor. You are judged by his kindness not your own. If you fail miserably at being kind for the rest of your life, and you will, praise God that Jesus your Savior has succeeded in your place.
At the same time your life can finally be full of love for God and neighbor. It can be full of kindness. How? When you embrace the grace of Jesus’ kindness, his love, his commandment keeping in your place it will allow you to freely embrace the commandment.
“To live is Christ” makes the Ten Commandments a DONE not a DO. Grace not law.