How Do The Ten Commandments Fit Into Your Life?

The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21, and I think, even without Jesus making them even more intense, they are a huge challenge. Everyone fails daily at the first commandment. I know I do. There are many different “gods” that I hold before me; things that I put in front of God, thinking they give me more than I need in Him. I have carved images in the form of laptops, photo cameras, televisions, guitars, books, etc. I try to keep the Sabbath, but I think I need a lot more knowledge on what that really means for it be a holy day. I don’t think it is now. I try to honor my parents, but fail regularly by putting my own interest above theirs. OK, I have never murdered, but have committed adultery in my mind (sadly!). I do not steal literal objects, but do steal for instance from the boss’ time on occasion. I don’t think I bear false witness, but there are the occasional items in my neighbor’s house that I covet. No, anyone who thinks that the Ten Commandments are easy has not read them well. It’s just another example to show us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. And He has come and His name is Jesus! Hallelujah!!!

But with regards to not taking the name of the LORD your God in vain, I think there may be some confusion. I don’t think this has to do with use of words but with ambassadorship; how well do I represent Him in my daily life. It reminds me of Colossians 3:1-17. Maybe it’s good to dig into this a little bit.

Set Your Mind On Things Above (Col. 3:1-4)
The starting point is to keep seeking the things above, which we do by setting our mind on things above. A transformation of the mind is what’s needed. In other words, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phi. 3:10) and step away from appetite being my god because I set my mind on earthly things (Phi. 3:19). See also Colossians 2:8 and 2 Corinthians 10:4-6. Our mind needs to be fixed on heaven. To seek the things above is to be desire it, to have a passion for it. We need to develop a passion for Christ. Without it we won’t seek Him and keep setting our mind on earthly things as we are used to. I think it’s also interesting that it says that Christ is our life. This can be taken literally (John 11:25, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:10), but also figuratively, where if something is your life then it is the main thing in your life, your passion. Think about a hobby or so. The best way to describe this is of course how Paul says it in Philippians 1:21, “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Putting Off The Old Self (Col. 3:5-9)
Now this is quite the list! Consider yourself dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed. Wow! What do these things lead to? Idolatry (i.e. the first commandment). Also put aside anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech, and lying. As if the first list wasn’t enough conviction! Couple of things stand out to me in this long list. Impurity makes me think of getting ourselves refined like gold until all the impurities are out of our character and God sees Himself reflected in us. Things like anger, wrath, malice and slander make me think about getting back at someone or reacting to wrong being done against you. What we need to realize in those circumstances is that Christ died for their sins as well, and He will set everything right at the end. In other words, leave it up Him to deal with injustice as He will do a much better job at it than we can, considering He is both just and the justifier.

Putting On The New Self (Col. 3:10-17)
Again Paul makes it clear that it starts with “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of [Christ]” (Col. 3:10). This is quite a list as well! A heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another, forgiving each other, and love. This list resembles the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I think verses 15-17 are the perfect summary:

  • Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart;
  • Be thankful;
  • Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly;
  • Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the LORD Jesus;
  • Give thanks through Jesus to the father;

The latter two is the ambassadorship and a reflection of Commandment #3. Even if you would things in accordance with this list but you don’t do it in the name of Jesus, then it is all in vain. In summary, by renewing our mind we are putting off the old self after which we can put on the new self and make ourselves available to God to really be His ambassadors. Wow, what a challenge!!

This all also reflects what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments:

  • You shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
  • You shall love your neighbor like yourself” (Matthew 22:39)

Some Disturbing Quotes from Christian Leaders

QUOTE:The importance of poetry and novels is that the Christian life involves the use of the imagination, after all, we are dealing with the invisible. And, imagination is our training in dealing with the invisible, making connections… I don’t want to do away with or denigrate theology or exegesis but our primary allies in this business are the artists.” – Eugene Peterson

TRUTH: While the KJV uses the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” 81 times throughout its version, Eugene Peterson completely eliminated that phrase from his version. How convenient!

QUOTE:The New Testament says the church is the body of Christ but for the last 100 years the hands and feet have been amputated. The church has been nothing but a mouth for 100 yrs.” – Rick Warren

TRUTH: In the last century there have been more martyrs in the church than in all 19 centuries before that. In the last century more copies of the Bible have been distributed than in all 19 centuries before that. In the last century more people have come to know Christ than in all 19 centuries before that.

QUOTE: The reason the Hebrews didn’t enter the promised land was because of their lack of faith and lack of self-esteem robbed them of their fruitful future. They never fulfilled their destiny because of the way they saw themselves.” – Joel Osteen

TRUTH: “So the LORD said, ‘I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.'” (Numbers 14:20-23)

QUOTE: The church has been preoccupied with the question, ‘What happens to your soul after you die?’ As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, ‘Jesus is trying to help get more souls into heaven as opposed to hell, after they die.’ I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water. I don’t think that the entire message and life of Jesus can be boiled down to that bottom line.” – Brian McLaren

TRUTH: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – Jesus (John 3:36)

QUOTE:I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be ‘saved’? When I read the Bible I don’t see it meaning, ‘I’m going to heaven after I die.’ Before modern evangelicalism nobody accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior or walked down an aisle or said the sinner’s prayer.” – Brian McLaren

TRUTH: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” – Jesus (Matthew 7:21)

QUOTE: “Stop preaching sermons, start telling stories” – Erwin McManus

TRUTH: I don’t even know where to start! Copy these verses in or so and see for yourself. Nowhere in the Bible does preaching equate to telling stories: Matthew 4:17, Matthew 10:7, Matthew 24:14,  Mark 3:14, Mark 6:12, Mark 16:15, Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Acts 5:42, Acts 8:4, Acts 8:35, Acts 10:42, Acts 14:7, Acts 28:30-31, Romans 10:14-17, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:23, 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 15:12, 2 Corinthians 4:5, Galatians 1:8, 2 Timothy 4:1-2

The Challenge of Preaching Today

“The preacher with a humble mind will avoid omissions and additions. He must refuse to manipulate the Biblical text in order to make it more acceptable to our contemporaries. For to attempt to make it more acceptable really means to make ourselves more acceptable in regards to popularity.” – John Stott, In Between Two Worlds

Get A Bible With All The Words

A short clip from John Piper´s sermon “Go, Your Son Will Live” (John 4:43-54), on the importance of using a Bible with all the words (in other words, a word-for-word translation like KJV, NKJV, NASB or ESV, rather than a thought-for-thought translation like NIV, TNIV, or NLT). Why? Although though-for-thought translations are good for devotionals and getting the idea of the text, word-for-word translations cause you to really need to understand it (wrestle with it).

Pick Up Your Weapons!

The weapons of our warfare are really important in our daily walk with God, especially if we are living in light of being in the world but not of the world. The apostle Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 when he says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Wow! Taking every thought captive. That’s a challenge! So many thoughts throughout the day. In order to do this constantly I think you have to become both very self-aware and very Spirit-aware, as to letting the Holy Spirit work on all of our thoughts. I think I still have lots to learn to really make effective use of these weapons.

The classic text on the weapons of warfare is Ephesians 6:14-18. They can be subdivided in three different sections. It is interesting to see that the order as they are listed is also the order in which the soldier puts on the armor.

The Spiritual Armor To Have
These pieces of the armor are the bare necessities. They are foundational, but they also always should be present. They all three indicate some sort of readiness to move forward.

1. Have Your Loins Girded With Truth (Eph. 6:14)
Technically speaking the belt of truth is not part of the armor, but is put on beforehand. When a man sat down and was relaxed, he took off his belt. Putting on the belt prepares you for action, it frees your movements, and it put him in a battle frame of mind. The belt of truth can be described as the whole of what you believe about Christ. It is a foundation you live upon all the time, your understanding of and confidence in the basic doctrines of the faith. In effect we should never take off the belt of truth. We should always be ready for action. The same idea is conveyed in Luke 12:35 (“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.“) and 1 Peter 1:13 (“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.“)

2. Have The Breastplate of Righteousness Put On (Eph. 6:14)
The breastplate provides protection for the vital organs. Important to here is to understand that it is Jesus’ righteousness (received by faith), not our own, that we have to put on. It is our defense against spiritual depression. It gives us a general sense of confidence, an awareness of our standing and position. Abraham believed in the LORD and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us” (Deu. 6:25). “How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!” (Ps. 106:3). We read in Proverbs 2:1-10 all the prerequisites to discern righteousness.

3. Have Your Feet Shod With the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace (Eph. 6:15)
The idea here is a readiness for action, to take the Gospel out to the world. They are combat boots, ready not only for action, but also for longevity it is good to have good shoes. “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Is. 52:7). Although good news is brought, you have to stand firm in your shoes to withstand the opposition. It reminds me of Galatians 1:6-9 and Paul’s call to not let the Gospel get perverted. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” It is “always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15)

The Spiritual Armor To Take
The next three pieces of armor, on top of those you always have on (truth, righteousness, gospel), depend on the situation for them to be used.

4. Take the Shield of Faith (Eph. 6:16)
Faith is represented as a shield, protecting us from the arrows of the devil. It makes me think of the movie “300” where the Spartan in close formation completely protect themselves from the enemy. No arrows come through. It is also interesting that Paul specifically talks about arrows. These are not weapons for close combat, and they were often used for surprise attacks from far off. The attacks which are less obvious. It is our faith that protects us here as a shield.

5. Take the Helmet of Salvation (Eph. 6:17)
The helmet of salvation protects us against discouragement, against the desire to give up, giving us hope not only in knowing that we are saved, but that we will be saved. It is the assurance that God will triumph. When we are properly equipped with the helmet of salvation, it’s hard to stay discouraged.

6. Take the Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God (Eph. 6:17)
The Word of God is the only piece of armor used for attacking the enemy. “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12). I think that’s interesting. It reminds me of Jesus in the wilderness and how three times in a row he uses Scripture. It seems like he is defending Himself instead of attacking, but the devil did leave Him, like James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jam. 4:7). Think of a soldier or a gladiator in training, practicing sword thrusts and moves and positions. Now, he must practice them ahead of time, and if he is a superior fighter, and has a great fighting instinct, at the time of battle he will instantly recall which thrust, which position suits the precise moment. He will never be able to use the thrust in the fight if he has not first practiced it, but he still needs to make the move at the moment. Therefore, effectively using the sword takes practice. Lots of practice.

The Spiritual Strength
The whole armor comes together in one thing: prayer.

7. Pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18-20)
The weapons for warfare are spiritual because they are rooted in prayer, which is our most powerful resource. Prayer is to permeate believers’ lives as a universal practice. There are three aspects here: when (at all times), how (with all prayer, alertness and perseverance), and for whom (for all the saints). “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Rom. 8:26-27). And prayer for what? To make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, that in proclaiming it I may be be spoken boldly, as it ought to be spoken!