Crabtree Acres


This study is based upon the revelation that man is made in the image of God and as God is a trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so is man. In Deuteronomy 6:5 we are told to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” – spirit, soul, and body. I believe that the commandments encompass these three parts of man and if we do not obey in all three areas, we are guilty of breaking all. It is interesting to me that the heart is mentioned first – the spirit. We can obey in body, and even in body and soul, but the heart takes us to a unique level of obedience to God. It takes God’s law out of the “Thou shalt nots” and into the “Thou shall”. For example, we may never kill someone physically, but we may want to. Our will may kill them in our minds or emotions, but God’s heart is to go to the next level and love your enemies. The ability to be able to love to such a level can only come from the heart of God. The power of His Holy Spirit working in our spirits is enough to enable us to love to that extent. We are not capable of obedience to that degree in our own strength. We must have the Holy Spirit working in our lives to enable us to fully obey. God does not ask us to do something that He does not intend for us to do with His help.

This is the concept that I want to expand in this teaching. In ourselves we are all capable of committing sin against God in every one of the ten ways God tells us to obey Him, but we are also capable, with the work of the Holy Spirit, to take his commands to a level of love and obedience that cannot be achieved any other way. Not only are we capable of this disobedience, but we are all guilty of this before God. We can only be cleansed and purified from our sin by the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son. As we accept His sacrifice for us, then the work of the Holy Spirit begins in our lives and we become changed into His image. We become capable of obedience through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and only though His work.

In today’s society and probably throughout history, there have been at least three attitudes that most people have taken towards the commands of God in Exodus 20:1-20. These are:

A. "We are under grace, so these laws don't apply to us anymore."

Grace is the desire and power to do God's will, not freedom from God's will. The total freedom that people sometimes think they have to do as they please, does not exist. Every person is either a slave to God to do His will or a slave to Satan to do his desires. [Romans 6: 6-18] The Jews believed that they were God’s chosen people; therefore, they had special privileges with God. They were free of the consequences of their sins because God forgave them. We who have come after Christ look back on the cross and can be guilty of believing that because we believe in Christ, we are free of the consequences of our sin. With true repentance we are free, but continuing in sin is an indictment that we have not repented and are continuing in our sin. God will not bless this and cannot abide in us if this is true in our lives.

There is a consequence to any sin in our lives. We lose the abundant life that Jesus promises to those who love Him and obey His will. We may cut off the arm of another person in a fit of anger and then repent of our sin, but the consequence of our sin will be there still; the other person must live with only one arm. There are consequences to all sin that we must experience, but Christ's death on the cross has saved us from the punishment for this sin. He can take all things, good and bad, in our lives and use them to His glory and to our good. The fruit of the Spirit that comes from life in the Spirit is displayed in the life of those believers who obey God and let His Spirit flow through them. [Galatians 5: 13, 16-23]

Sin is separation from God; this separation from God is death [Romans 6:23 says the wages (earnings) of sin is death (separation from God).] The world's definition of death is annihilation but God's definition is separation from Himself. The world says it doesn't really matter what we do on this earth and how we behave because this life is all there is and we might as well do as we please. But the Bible teaches a life after death either with God in Heaven or with Satan in Hell. All people live forever one place or another.

This separation from God is not God's fault but our own. A child who has disobeyed his parent wants to hide from that parent and will avoid them because of the expected displeasure or discipline. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve sinned against God, they hid from Him in the garden. God did not send Adam and Eve out of the garden because He was angry at them, but to protect them from eating of the fruit of the tree of life and living forever in their sinful state. God's love for them demanded that they be separated from Him.

3. We cannot know the will of God without holiness in our lives. Romans 12:1-2 says that we must offer ourselves as perfect sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, if we are to be able to truly worship God and in order to know His will we must allow our minds to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and be not conformed to the way the world thinks.

B. The second attitude towards the ten commandments is that we take them as a challenge to achieve salvation from God on our own merits by keeping the law in our own strength. But Romans 3:20 says that no one will be saved from sin (justified) in God's sight by keeping the law. The law was not designed to do that for us anyway. God gave the law for other purposes, not for the purpose of salvation. God's only design for salvation has always been by the blood of Jesus Christ and by the power of His resurrection. One purpose of the law was to show us what our sin actually is and what God's holiness is. When we look in the mirror of the law, we see how far short we are in achieving the holiness that God desires for his people. Man tries to keep rules, but the law doesn't involve rules; the law deals with love. We may keep the rules of the law but still break the law itself, because we do not love. God's desires for us are loving and kind, not cruel and demanding. He wants us to have holiness in our lives because this is what is good for us and makes us happy. Anything else will fall short of the happiness God wants for us. When we try to achieve God's holiness on our own, through trying to obey His laws in our own strength, we become frustrated because we can never achieve this goal. We come to eventually hate the law and to hate God even more. The main reason for the ten commandments in school is to produce conviction in children and try to teach them rules of conduct. This is far different from God's desires to put the law in the hearts of his people and give them the power to overcome their old sinful natures and become more like Christ, which brings joy and happiness into our lives.

Another purpose of the law is to give God justification to punish sin, to hold us accountable for our sin. According to Romans 5:12-14, sin is not imputed where there is no law. Imputed means "charged to the account of". Sin was not charged to our account until the law was given, but according to Romans 14, death reigned before the law.

C. The third basic reaction to God's commands is to be totally indifferent to the law. Most people in the world don't even care what God wants for them; they go on with lives centered totally around themselves and their own desires. The Bible teaches that we are slaves to sin and that before Christ we enjoy sin and desire it. People appear to be happy and successful by the world's standards and may not seem to need anything from anyone, not even God. Proverbs tells us not to envy the wicked because their lives after this time on earth will be quite different. God does not limit our lives to this time and this earth, however; the life after this one is just as real and more important than this one. Indifference to God, and what He asks of us now, greatly affects what happens to us in the next life. Our choices for living now in this life determine the life we lead after we die. We must never be indifferent to God; that in itself is a choice to determine how we spend the next life. There is no neutral ground for us.

II. The Ten Commandments were given to God's people as part of the Covenant that God made with them on Mount Sinai. The elements of any covenant include:

1. A blood-bond for life or death between two or more peoples or nations, etc. Either party involved in the covenant would die before the covenant would be broken by them.

2. It was never a casual relationship. Marriage is a "until death do us part" relationship.

3. The parties involved exchanged weapons as a sign of strength exchanged.

4. The parties involved exchanged coats as a sign that everything that belonged to either party now was at the disposal or use of the other.

5. Usually the covenant involved the sacrifice of an animal. The blood of the animal was shed as a symbol that each person or nation would be willing to give their life for the other. In the New Covenant that Jesus instituted by His own death on the cross, the blood that was shed was done once and for all and He only had to die in our place. He was the perfect sacrifice for all times.

6. After the Covenant was instituted, a covenant meal was served. The Lord's Supper and the marriage reception dinners are both examples of covenant meals.

7. The people involved in covenant exchange names. Abram and Sarai received new names with part of the sound of God's name in them, Abraham and Sarah. Jesus called Himself the son of Man. Isaac, Peter, Saul and Matthew all received new names in Scripture as a sign of covenant with God. Even though Daniel's name was changed to contain the name of a false god after being taken to Babylon, he is continually referred to by his Hebrew name.

8. Covenants lasted forever. David and Jonathan's covenant extended to include Jonathan's family, so after his death, David took his son to live in the palace as his own son. Abraham's covenant extended to Christ.

III. In Exodus, God talked about the things He would do for those who obeyed Him, but how was it possible to obey God? In the Old Covenant the obedience expressed itself through animal sacrifice and through the ritual of the priests. When Jesus came He, because of His own death, did away with animal sacrifices and because He is the perfect priest, no other priest is necessary to perform rituals for us to be saved. Now, because of the work of Christ, the Holy Spirit comes into those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior and the Holy Spirit gives us power and strength to obey God.

We cannot understand the true nature of God apart from the Law of God. The law is part of His nature. The law was given not to make us miserable, but to bring us joy, because we can understand what God expects and what His nature wants to do Himself. God wants to love, God wants to give (not steal, kill, destroy), God wants to enjoy our worship of Him. God wants to have fellowship with us and this is impossible when we are living apart from His law. God's Lordship over us is expressed by our obedience to His law. The real joy is that we cannot possibly be obedient without Him, so He has sent His Spirit to dwell in us in order to enable us to obey. We don't have to fear the law anymore. We don't have to be frustrated by the law anymore. God has not only told us what He expects, but has given us the power to do what He expects.

Many times talk about "legalism" is a way to condemn those who have a real desire to obey God and follow His word. It is used to attack those who show us that it is possible for us to live in power, when we want excuses to do as we please. We don't always like for others to point out to us that it is possible to obey God with the power of the Holy Spirit, for this leaves us without excuse for our actions. We like to think that our human nature has to express itself and that we have no recourse except to obey this human nature. This is not true according to God's word. He has told us that all things are possible with Him. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. This also means at times of temptation He will not leave us. Since it is impossible for God to sin, why do we not use the power that He gives to us and overcome that temptation as well? Most of the time it is because we choose to disobey and choose to give in to the flesh. We have to face the fact that we make choices everyday that always are a choice! God never leaves us without a way out of temptation; He always provides a choice.

I had two parents, not one. One of my parents was hot-tempered, angry, out of control emotionally. The other was calm, even-tempered, loving. Which one did I choose to imitate -- The angry, hot-tempered one. I used to excuse my sin of anger and bad-temper by saying "Well, I get this from my father. His whole family is like that, so I can't help it." When I was in my thirties I finally realized that I had no excuse for my behavior. I could have just as easily followed the nature of my mother and been calm and loving. God had not left me without a choice. We as Christians tend to do the same thing with our former-parent, Satan. Before we belong to Christ we are the children of our father, the devil. We still want to fall back and blame our ill-nature on our former father. We really have no excuse because Jesus is now our Savior and Lord and has sent His Spirit to be our Helper. We can choose to be obedient to God now.