This is the Law of God

Part 1
In Exodus 20:1-17 we find the Law of God, also known as the 10 Commandments. Often times we structure these commandments into easy to remember phrases so that we can memorize them. I do not believe there is anything wrong with this as we are supposed to study this law and keep it in our minds. Often times it looks like this:
I.            You will not have other gods before God    
II.           You will not bow before any other gods  
III.         You will not take the name of God in vain   
IV.         Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy  
V.           You will honor your father and mother   
VI.          You will not murder     
VII.        You will not commit adultery   
VIII.       You will not steal   
IX.          You will not give false witness 
X.            You will not covet 
 Like stated previously, for reasons of memorization I do not believe there is anything wrong with this. Something that we do need to understand is that the Law of God is much deeper than just this shorted version. Let us completely examine what the Word of God tells us. 
  In Exodus 20:1, 2 we find the introduction of the Law of God. It says:
“God spoke all these words: ‘I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.’”
 There are a few key things to note here in the opening of the chapter. First we find that God spoke ALL of these words. Everything from verse two until the end of verse seventeen is a direct quote from God. Second, we find God telling the Israelites that He is their God, that He brought them out of Egypt, which was slavery. Often times, when studying the Law of God we overlook these verses because we want to get right into the heart of our study, but in doing this we miss something that is reflected throughout the whole Bible.

 That thing we miss is that first God saves us and then we are to follow his Law. So many churches today believe that since we are under grace we are not obligated to follow the Law of God. This has been discussed in the article entitled, “The Falling Away”, so if you need to go back for references feel free to do so. However, one of the best examples of following God’s Law after we are saved is found in the opening structure of Exodus 20. God tells us from His own mouth that the plan for salvation has always been first we are saved and then we follow the Law. In reference to our present are we not all first in the house of slavery, which is sin, and are we not all, if we are Christians, saved from this slavery? Of course we are. Just as the Israelites did then we should do now and follow the Law of God.

  In Exodus 20:3 we encounter the First Commandment. It says: 
 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
 In the days of Moses paganism was rampant with a multitude of gods being worshiped for a variety of different things. The Israelites had just been delivered from Egypt where there was an entire pantheon of gods such as Ra, Anubis, and others. They were also about to enter lands that were filled with false gods which they would be tempted to follow. Even around the very time God was giving His Law to Moses the people of Israel were going to make a false god to bow and worship. This was a huge problem then, as it is today.
 Now I know what you are thinking, that we don’t have that problem today, but I would differ with your opinion. Let’s look at the various false gods we have today which could be placed before God. Obviously first we have the different false gods represented in the religions of our time. These include such religions as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology and the various versions of the occult. Each of these has at least one false god in which people are deceived to worship. Even some Christians leave the love of God in search of these false gods.
 I am reminded of a book I was reading in which it spoke about the increase of conversions to Islam in the United States since September 11, 2001. The author stated in the book that one woman, after seeing those events on that very day, converted to Islam because she “felt” that it was the true religion of God. Let me be bold friends, Allah is not the same as God, and this lie that has been displayed in our very churches is not only false but it is Satan himself fooling the Chosen of God. The people that follow Islam are good hearted people that are very dedicated to their god, a matter of fact Christians should be as dedicated to God. The people who follow this false religion however are caught in a helpless situation where they are radicalized into Islamic Extremist Ideology, very different from normal Islam, or they are blocked from hearing the Gospel of Christ and just having a choice in life. As with all people of all religions we need to show them love and pray for them. Only love conquers, not hate and war.
 We also have other “gods” that we place before God. Some people have a deep love of sports and if this is placed before God and hinders your worship and study then you are having another god before Him. Besides sports are the following: money, shopping, work, cars, hobbies, books, television, movies, technology, food, country, and the list could go on and on. Now I am not saying these things are sinful, please understand that. I love playing sports, I love driving cars, I love reading books, I love watching movies and television, I love my country, and I love my family. BUT if you place any of these things in a higher priority than God you are breaking the first commandment. God not only deserves the top place of love in your heart but if you are a Christian that has been saved by the blood of Jesus it is required.
  John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.”
In Exodus 20:4-6 we encounter the Second Commandment. It says: 
 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the LORD, you God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” 
 If this commandment was simply saying that you will not have other gods what makes it any different from the first commandment? The fact is this is very different from the first commandment for the following reasons:
 1.     It is telling us not to even have other gods in the first place 
 2.     It is telling us to do away with even  the temptation to have other gods
 3.     To put away anything that we hold dearer than our God
 4.     That God will not tolerate the worship of other gods by His people 
 5.     That God rewards those who love Him and keep His Law. 
 We all agree that we are to be Christ-like and that we must strive for perfection right? Now what I am about to say might be controversial but I am speaking from the heart and if you disagree then please let me know in the comment section below. I believe, and I have been convicted by this, that the Law of God should be followed to the letter and just as Jesus said in Matthew 5:18, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.” (Emphasis added) Since this is what Jesus said and the Second Commandment clearly states it I think we should put away anything in our lives that we could even start to rival our affection for our God.

 I remember some years back when there was an angel craze. Everyone had angel statues, picture of angels, angel t-shirts, it was all just a little ridiculous. Some people even started praying to angels for their protection and that is when a lot of people knew that it had crossed the line. Also look at some of the churches in our world. We have statues of past saints, statues of Mary the mother of Jesus, statues of even Jesus. Is this wrong? You bet it is. Why? Because some people actually go to those statues to pray and they bow right at the feet of those statues when they do it. Some very faithful Christians have shrines built right in their homes with statues, pictures and candles and that is where they bow and pray, right in front of it.
 Friends, please listen, it is against the Law of God to place things in higher esteem than God or bow before objects that are created. That includes things that are meant to be good themselves, such as a cross. Going to anything that was created by God to be a mediator or protector for you, besides obviously the Son of God, is against the Law of God. Clearly in the Second Commandment it tells us not to do those things, and even if you do not bow and pray to a statue in your home or in your church you can still hold it in some sort of admiration that rivals God. If it is in the church remove it and if it is in your home, at very least, always remember that it is simply decoration and is nothing by stone, metal or plastic.
 Remember before when I said that we are to remove even the temptation of having another god? Well, what do you have in your life that you hold dear and maybe encroaching upon the place in your heart reserved for God? I am telling you friends, either get rid of it or decide now that it is not as important to you as your salvation and our Holy and Righteous Father in Heaven.

  John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” 
  In Exodus 20:7 we find the Third Commandment. It says:
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.”
 The Third Commandment is pretty straight forward in its message to us but still so many Christians take the Lord’s name in vain, that is the vain usage of God. I believe this is because it has become a regular part of our everyday language to express surprise, shock, pain, or just about any emotion. Regardless, we have to get into the habit of not doing it. Just as it might be difficult for some of you to stop saying swear words this will be a difficult task but nonetheless you must.
 Using God in such phrases as “Oh my ___” “OM_” ____ have mercy” or using the name Jesus in like manner or giving Jesus a middle name that isn’t there is not only wrong but let’s be honest, it is childish behavior for a Christian. God and Jesus’ name should only be invoked during the right times and if you are in tune with God you will know when that is. This also includes swearing to God which should never be done nor, for that matter, combining God or Jesus with swear words. I understand that this commandment had some different implications through the ages but this is our implication today. Simple enough, be men and women of God and choose your words wisely.
  John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” 
  In Exodus 20:8-11 we find the Fourth Commandment. It says:
“Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy. For six days you may 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, or you male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”
 The Fourth Commandment is the longest of the Ten Commandments and it is the only one that starts with the word “remember”. Today, unfortunately, many churches have forgotten that God set apart this day and made it holy. There were many Sabbaths that were adhered to by the Israelites but they were in the Law of Moses and were, as scripture says, types and shadows of the first coming of Jesus. All these many Sabbaths were not continued, as those things that pointed to Christ no longer are required since Christ came. BUT, that is not the type of Sabbath the Fourth Commandment is talking about here.
 The Fourth Commandment is talking about THE SABBATH. This Sabbath is the seventh day of every week, what we now call Saturday, and was instituted at the completion of creation as we find in Genesis and in the Fourth Commandment itself. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” Friends, this Sabbath is not only very special, it is supposed to be adhered today.
 We all know that many, probably safe to say the majority, of Christians worship God on Sunday, the first day of the week. I do not think that God minds being worshiped on Sunday but we must remember that Sunday is not different from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. We are free to worship God on any day and at any hour, but we must, WE MUST, remember to set apart the Sabbath, the seventh day, Saturday, as something special. 
  In Luke 4:16 we are told that Jesus “went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom.” If something is your custom it is your standard, your rule, your norm. Friends, this was Jesus’ rule, his norm, his standard. Many think that Paul preached against keeping the Sabbath but when you read his entire writings, in the context of what he was saying, you will find that he does not preach against the Sabbath or any other of the Laws of God. Paul himself kept the Sabbath as we find in Acts 17:2 where it says, “Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from scriptures.” There is that word again, custom.
 Some think that we are not to follow the Sabbath because we are not Jews but look at Acts 18:4 where it says that Paul, “addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them.” Friends, Jesus even kept the Sabbath in his death. So why do we think God changed it? Did God mess up? The truth is friends that God didn’t change it; on the contrary, man changed it. Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to observe the first day of the week, Sunday, as the Sabbath and nowhere does it tell us that the seventh day is no longer to be observed as the Sabbath. 
 In the verse Daniel 7:25 we learn the intention of the evil one “will be to change times established by law.” Just like in the old Batman TV show that is a BAM right to your face! Pay close attention, there is only one law that deals with time and that is the Fourth Commandment. Satan loves it when we transgress the Law of God and words in Daniel 7:25 clearly state that his intention is to change the Sabbath. It really can’t get any clearer than that. 
 Moving on, the Fourth Commandment tells us what is not to be done on the Sabbath, specifically work. I understand that many of us have jobs where we must work on the Sabbath but I challenge you seek a solution for this problem and talk to your employer. Many of you will be laughed at, ridiculed, and some of you might even be fired but know that it is better to live in poverty on Earth than to die the second death in hellfire. Another course of action for you is to seek employment elsewhere and tell any future employers right in the interview that you cannot work on the Sabbath. We should be honest with those whom we work for right from the start of things.
 Lastly, another course of action is one that was laid upon my heart because of my situation. I work for a defense contracting firm and am currently deployed. My job has me working at lease 12 hours a day every day. So what was laid upon my heart was that I don’t take payment for any work that is conducted on the Sabbath. If I must work I will do it for free of charge. Why? Because I don’t want to be rewarded for doing something I am bound by God’s Law not to do. That is my example and I am not saying you have to do it, but I believe that is what God is telling me.
 Friends, you have options and you must at least try, you might be surprised what God can do. If God can harden hearts He can soften them. If you earnestly want to serve God and keep His Law you will find a way. God always has what is best for you in mind and He will take care of you, especially if you are following His Law.
  John 14:15 says “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” 
 This concludes the first part of THIS IS THE LAW OF GOD. We are breaking here because in the first four commandments of the Law of God we find laws directly dealing with our relationship with God. The final six commandments deal with our relationships, on Earth, towards one another. But I should be clear, how we adhere to those commandments also has consequences on our relationship with the God. Please take time to reflect on the Law of God as found in Exodus 20 and how your life is lived when placed against them. I believe this is serious business friends and I want you to feel the same way as I do. As always, if you have comments, questions, or rebuttals please leave them in the comments section below. I know some who read this will not agree with everything but I will tell you that I go by scripture and not by my own understanding. A lot of what I write hits me in the chest and I, like you, am always evaluating my life.

By Donnie Elswick