PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 20:1-2; Freedom! The Place of the Law for the Christian

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110703_exodus20_1-2.mp3

07/03 Exodus 20:1-2 Prologue – Place of the Law for the Christian

We are about to enter a section in Exodus that is Law. Exodus 20 contains what we know as the Ten Commandments. The rest of Exodus, then Leviticus and much of Numbers and Deuteronomy contain laws given by God to govern his people. So before we choose either to study this out and see what we can learn from it or to set it aside and skip it entirely, we need to understand where we as New Testament believers in Jesus stand in relation to God’s law. We are quick to answer ‘We are free! We are not under law! We are under grace!” and we quote verses like:

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 7:6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Galatians 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

We are free in Jesus! We are set free from the law! We are not under law; we are under grace. We are released from the captivity of the law. That is what the bible says. But what exactly does that mean? Does freedom from the law, not being under the law mean that we have no moral standard and are free to do as we please? Let’s look back at the text for the answer.

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

We are set free from the law, not so that we can enjoy sinning, but so that we are set free from bondage to sin. We are out from under the rule of law so that we can have a heart kind of obedience. We are now free to be slaves to righteousness, slaves to God. We have been set free from the obligation so that we can obey God from the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Here’s a test. Can you pray Psalm 119? Just listen and see if your soul resonates with the Psalmist. (and don’t worry, I won’t read the whole thing!)

Psalm 119:1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! 13 With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. 14 In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16 I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word. 17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word. 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 19 I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

113 … but I love your law.

163 … but I love your law.

165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 175 Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Or what about Psalm 19?

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. 13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

Is that how you feel about God’s law, his commandments, his rules? Are they sweet and desirable to you? Can you sing psalms in praise of the law of God? Should we feel that way? Or is that just an Old Testament thing. Look at what the Apostle says:

Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.

1Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

He also says:

Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

2Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Listen to what Jesus says about the law:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them .18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

So Jesus did not abolish the law and Paul claims that all scripture is profitable and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. But he also says we are set free and no longer under the law. How does this all fit together? I think the passage in 1 Timothy holds a clue:

1Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

Paul is warning against false teachers who teach the law without understanding what it is really about. He says there is a lawful use of the law, and there is a way to use the law unlawfully. So we need to understand the purpose of the law. He clarifies in the following verses:

1 Timothy 1:9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners…

The law was given for sinners, not righteous people. People that drive slow don’t need the speed limit sign. The guy in the tractor doing 12 does not sweat when he sees the state trooper posted behind the 65 mile an hour sign. The sign is posted for those who like to drive fast. Paul further clarifies the purpose of the law in Romans:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

The law shuts every mouth that would try to excuse itself. We are all accountable before God as lawbreakers. James is on the same page with Paul when he says:

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

If you are perfect except for just one thing, you are a lawbreaker and you are guilty. Paul sums it up in Galatians:

Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

To misuse the law is to rely on it to establish your righteousness before God. If you rely on the law then you have to abide by all of it perfectly. No one ever has, so that makes us all lawbreakers and places us under the just punishment for lawbreakers. The law was not intended to make anyone righteous. By nature it cannot make anyone righteous any more than a speed limit sign can make your car stay within the posted limit. It simply points out where you are in violation of the standard.

How is that sweeter than honey and more desirable than riches? That’s bad news for all of us. But it is an objective standard to tell us where we stand. And it tells us that there is a God who is absolutely holy and has righteous standards that don’t bend. There is a God and he doesn’t leave us guessing whether we are in or out. That’s important to know. Have you ever been driving along minding your own business, when the patrol car catches your eye, and you realize you haven’t been paying attention and have no idea what the speed limit is? You instinctively hit the brakes and check the speedometer and look around for a sign to tell you if you’re in or out. Is it 65 here? 75? 35? God’s perfect law reveals his perfect standard and shows us right where we stand. So we know where we stand, but this is still bad news for all of us, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. None is righteous, no not one. Our only hope at this point is that the one who is supposed to uphold the law is either not paying attention or is just too lazy to actually enforce the standard. Absolute justice would demand that he give every speeder a ticket every time. We can hope that he is not absolutely just or he is too busy with somebody else. But if we understand who God is, none of those hopes will give the least bit of comfort. He knows everything, he sees everything, he is infinitely capable to enforce his perfect law perfectly, and he is absolutely just with everyone all the time. So where is the hope? Listen to Romans 3:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–– 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

This is the gospel! This is good news for lawbreaker! God the lawmaker declares us just because God put his own Son forward as a propitiation – satisfying his just wrath against sin by punishing a perfect and willing substitute. This allows a just God to fully deal with sin and yet declare the sinner who runs to Jesus as not guilty. God remains just and justifies sinners who trust in his Son Jesus. The law is sweet because it shows us our need and drives us to Jesus!

But is this all? Once I know I am a lawbreaker in need of a substitute, can’t I be done with the law? What use is there in going back again to look at the law? If I see the law is impotent to do anything but condemn me, then once it has brought me to the cross, isn’t its function complete? Yes, its primary function is complete, but God’s law has a secondary function, a new-covenant function. Remember, 2 Timothy 3 told us that all Old Testament scripture, including the law, is profitable …for training in righteousness, that the man of God, (the one who already has his sins forgiven by God’s grace through the cross) may be competent, equipped for every good work.

So God’s law has a training and equipping function for the one who has been saved by grace from the consequences of the law.

If we are paying attention, we can see this back in the giving of the law in Exodus. In introducing his law, God gave it as a rule for his already saved people to know how to be his ambassadors in the world.

Exodus 19:3 while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

God was not giving it as a means to earn points with him. He had already brought them out of bondage and into his presence. Now he was giving instruction on how to respond to his grace. He says at the beginning of chapter 20:

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

God had already brought them out of Egypt. God had already given himself in covenant relationship to his people – I am YHWH your God. The One who Is; the Self-Existent one, is personally your

God, your authority. Now that I have rescued you and you are in a relationship with me, here is how you should respond to my grace. Listen to Exodus 20 with that gracious purpose and the worshipful response of the Psalmist in mind.

Psalm 119: 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. 20 My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times. 174 I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight. 176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

Exodus 20

20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 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, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. 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.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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July 3, 2011 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , ,

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