A FAITH THAT WORKS THROUGH LOVE
The Ten Commandments as a fundamental structure for the law of love.
TEXT – Exodus 20:1-17
In this second message based on Galatians 5:6; “It is a Faith that works through love." we shall discover that the ten commandments are the framework, or a fundamental structure for developing a faith that works by love.
There have been many who have taken the 10 commandments and divided them up so that the first 4 deal with our relationship with God, and the other 6 deal with our relationship with one another as I have done in the past myself.
Recently I was quickened to a truth that one of the commands could deal with our relationship with God, and with one another. So I wanted to really take a deeper look at the commandments for myself and see if all the commands dealt with both of these relationships or not.
Just as when a house is being built, a foundation is laid, then it is framed out. So the ten commandments are the framework for our Christian lives, with our faith in Christ being the foundation.
Matthew wrote in chapter 22:35-40 that; “One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?
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.’
“This is the great and foremost commandment.
“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Paul wrote in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
Let us take a look down through these commandments to see for ourselves how the law governs our relationship with God and others.
1. Exodus 20:3"You must not have any other gods except me.”
The first command clearly commands fidelity to God. This is the Trinity. God The Father, God The Son, and God the Holy Spirit which as a whole makes up the one true God.
When we choose to make something in our lives more important than our relationship with God, then we have made those things our god.
Now how can this command spill over in our relationships to one another?
The answer is that until our fidelity is to God alone, and to what pleases Him, that our relationships will be always be in jeopardy with one another.
For when we have put away from us all the false god's; humanism, license, intellectualism, and all our ways of thinking that are contrary to God's will, then we will find that our relationships with each other will flourish.
Remember it is the law of love to be faithful to God and to one another.
2. Exodus 20:4 "You must not make for yourselves an idol...
This command makes a lot of since to us in regards to God because we know that no created image could ever be a good representation of who God is in His fullness.
Now how does this commandment relate to our relationship to one another?
The answer is that just as we are not to make images or snapshots of God and say that is who he is; we are not to take snapshots of each other or make judgments in regards to one another.
If we cast snap shot judgment of some one, and say that this is who they are, then we are not walking in the law of love that causes us to bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7) “
Do not judge (or GR make a decision about some one ) so that you will not be judged (have a decision made about you) .” Matthew 7:1
Romans 14:13 says; “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this-- not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way.''
So a faith that works by love in the Christians life compels us not to make snapshot judgments about God, or one another.
3.Exodus 20:7 "You must not use the name of the Lord your God thoughtlessly;(or in vane)
We take God's name in vain, First, By hypocrisy, making profession of God's name, but not living up to that profession.
Secondly, By covenant breaking. If we make promises to God, and perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain.
Thirdly, By rash swearing, mentioning the name of God, or any of his attributes, in the form of an oath, without any just occasion for it, but to no purpose, or to no good purpose.
Fourthly, By false - swearing, which some think is chiefly intended in the letter of the commandment.
Fifthly, By using the name of God lightly and carelessly.
We can also dishonor one another through hypocrisy, by breaking our promises, by making some one but of a joke, by lying about each other, etc.
We are to obey the law of love to also not speak thoughtlessly about one another. How many people have been hurt by the thoughtless words said about them?
The law of love demands that we treat one another in the same reverence as we do with the name of the Lord, and that no corrupt communication should come out of our mouths about God or about one another.
4. Exodus 20:8"Remember to keep the Sabbath holy''.
We can understand that we need to take a break from the grind of life to spend some time being refreshed by the Lord and resting.
Now how does keeping the Sabbath holy have anything to do with our relationship with one another?
The answer is that we need to also set apart time for one another. The Sabbath is about refreshing, renewing, resting, and enjoying God and one another.
The law of love draws us into a loving relationship with God and with one another. We take time out to enjoy these relationships which cause them to flourish.
”There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;
for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. “(Hebrews 4:9-11)
5. Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother...
Now here we have specific command in regards to our relationships with each other. (our parents)
How does honoring our father and mother also apply to our relationship with God?
The answer is that as we are loving our parents by honoring them, then we are honoring our God who is our ultimate parent.
There is so much we learn about God in the parent child relationship. We learn that the law of love teaches us to honor those who have been place in a position of responsibility over us.
This command does not say to honor our parents if they are honorable. We honor them because we love them, and because we love God. And by honoring them we are honoring God too.
6. Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.”
We discover in the New Testament that hatred is the same as murder, and that we can not covet hatred in our hearts and have a relationship with God.
The scripture says that when we refuse to forgive, that we can not be forgiven. (Luke 6:37) We create a barrier between us and God.
It is a miracle of the grace of God in our lives that we are able to forgive, and be delivered from a bitter spirit. The law of love demands that we forgive. Then we can echo with Jesus, “forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
7. Exodus 20:14“You shall not commit adultery.
Once again the New Testament deals with adultery in the heart. Adultery in a heart is born out of selfishness, it says I will not be faithful to my spouse because I do not value my commitment I made to them.
All through the Old Testament Israel was always depicted as an adulterer in her relationship with God. We can just look at the Life of David to see how much adultery in a heart can lead a person into so many other destructive sins like lying, and even murder.
David said when he repented that his adultery, deception , and murder was against God only.
(Psalm 51:3-4)”For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.”
The law of love call us to be faithful in our commitments to God, and to one another.
8. Exodus 20:15) “You shall not steal.”
Stealing says a lot about some ones relationship with God and with others. There are many reasons why some one would steal, but it all comes down to what some one values.
Are things more important to me than relationships?
If we value our relationship with God, then we will not be stealing from one another. When we see that relationships are much more important then possessions, then we will see that the law of love will keep us from stealing that which belongs to another, which in reality belongs to God.
9. (Exodus 20:16) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The 9th commandment forbids misinterpreting the truth in our relations with others.
This is a moral obligation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth in our relations with each other.
Offenses against the truth express by word or deed is a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness:
“There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
The Old Testament contains a number of prohibitions of false witness, lying, spreading false reports, etc.
In cases where false testimony was suspected (perjury), the judges were to make a thorough investigation, and if false testimony were proven, the false witness was to receive the punishment he had intended to bring on the person falsely accused.
Bearing false witness against some one else is offensive to the God who is truth. Truth is a liberator just as lies create enslavement. The devil is called the father of lies.
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
The law of love demands that we do not bear false witness against our neighbor, but rather speak the truth in love. In doing so we will find ourselves walking in the true nature of God which is the truth.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
So we can even bear false witness about ourselves , against God, as well as others. The truth is the pathway to freedom and freedom is a result of the law of love that is the foundation for relationship with others, and with God.
10. (Exodus 20:17) “You shall not covet.”
It has been said, "selfishness is the parent of all sins.
Our English word "covet" comes from a Greek word meaning "grasping for more."
Dictionaries define "covet" as "grasping, greedy, greed of wealth with a view of hoarding it."
Covetousness springs from a selfish nature.
Because a man is selfish, he covets. Because he covets he steals, lies, commits adultery, murders, disregards others.
Jesus said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consist not in the abundance of the things which he possesses" (Luke 12:15).
We are not unlike Eve, when she lived in Eden and felt deprived.
Much of our focus is on what we want that we don't already have. This attitude makes it difficult, and all but impossible to enjoy the riches we do have.
(Ecclesiastes 4:8 NIV)
“There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless-- a miserable business!”
(Ecclesiastes 5:10-11 NIV)
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?”
Too often many people spend their lives comparing themselves to others, coveting where they are, and what they have.
Paul writes,"We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).
God is Concerned with Our Hearts Desires.
All other commandments forbid overt sin, but this one reaches to the inner motives, condemning as evil the entertaining of the thoughts of wrongdoing.
Jeremiah 17:9 describes the heart: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Psalm 94:11, "The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.”
There is something we do need to covet in our live, we must covet God's will for our lives.
The psalmist writes,"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).
To covet other things in place of God is a violation of the law of love because we are placing more value on other things than on God himself.
"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
The first four commandments instruct us to put God first. The last six commandments teach us what happens to our relationship with others when we put God first.
We must not forget that our relationships with each other are governed by our relationship with God.
When Christ came, He not only sought to reconcile the world to himself, but he also sought to reconcile us to one another.
We must remember, there can be no reconciliation with God when we are not reconciled to each other.
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (NIV)”
In the immediate context Paul is speaking of Jew and Gentile, but it applies to all.
Christ came to make peace. He seeks to destroy the hostility between us through the cross as he reconciles us to God in one body, which is the church.
Christ seeks to bring peace to our relationships by recreating us in his own image.
Christ came to reconcile us to God through the love manifested on the cross.
The law of love isn't about rule keeping, but it is a boundary that God set up for us to be able to love one another and to love Him.
1Corinthians 13 Paul describes The kind of love that He is reproducing in His children.
I choose to call it the law of love when defining the word agape' in this scripture, for it is the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that enables us to love God, and to love one another. (Romans 5:5)
This is the practical walking out of this love that has been deposited in each of us by the Holy Spirit and the boundaries set forth in the Ten Commandments defines our relationship with God and with one another.
1- If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have the law of love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 - If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have the law of love, I am nothing.
3 - And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have the law of love, it profits me nothing.
The law of love is patient, the law love is kind and is not jealous; the law of love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 - does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6- does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 - bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 – the law of love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 - For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 - but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 - When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 - But now abides faith, hope, and the law of love, these three; but the greatest of these is the law of love.
“Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.”
So the Law is not something that is to be dismissed, but embraced to show us how to love God and love others in practical ways. It is how we walk out our love.