The 3rd Commandment

BibleThis is the fourth post in the series I’m doing on the 10 Commandments. The first one was called “Does God Change” where I expressed my belief that the commandments are just as binding today as they were in the time of Moses. The 2nd and 3rd posts were on the 1st Commandment and 2nd Commandment. Next, of course, we will be covering the 3rd Commandment and just how easily we break that one without giving it a second thought.

Exodus 20:7 “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.

I don’t think God could be any clearer, but I wonder how many people really understand just what God means by taking His name in vain.

Most folks believe we take God’s name in vain when we use God with a damning of someone or something. That is a form of taking the Lord’s name in vain although God is not really a name, but rather a designation of a being. If you study the scriptures a bit deeper, you will find that god is used in many ways, and many are not referring to the One we call God.

Then there is the use of Jesus Christ in less than a prayerful application. Of course, let’s not leave out all the euphemisms we use for the expressions of our anger, frustration and surprise. What about jeezzz and gosh, both euphemisms for saying Jesus or God.

So, what is it about these words and expressions that causes them to be taking the name of the Lord in vain? Is it the damn after God that does is, or the strong emphasis or expression of Christ after Jesus? Is it about the words themselves, or does it go deeper than that?

I’d like to submit to you that it’s not just the expression or words, but the use of these words, names or expressions in a way that is totally flippant and void of the respect and honor owed to our God. When someone responds with oh, god, in frustration they have dishonored God. When you say Jesus or Jesus Christ and it’s not in prayer or conversation about our Savior, you are breaking the 3rd Commandment.

I think these examples are probably rather apparent to most of you who read my blog, but let’s take it a little further or go just a little deeper.

What about when we call ourselves Christians, but don’t live the life? What about when we call ourselves Christians, but gossip and condemn others? How about when we call ourselves Christians, but regularly hang out with profane people seeking to be accepted by them? How about when we call ourselves Christians, but turn our backs on the needs and misfortunes of others. Isn’t calling ourselves a Christian while doing these things using the Lord’s name in vain? I believe so!

How would you feel if someone used your name or some designation of you every time they got angry or frustrated about something? What if your family, friends and all the people you knew used your name flippantly all the time, how would you feel?

I know people don’t do these things with the intention of using God’s name in vain, but we are responsible for the things that come out of our mouths. God is loving, kind and merciful, but as He said, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain”.

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The 2nd Commandment

jesusThis is the third post in the series I’m doing on the 10 Commandments. The first one was called “Does God Change” where I expressed my belief that the commandments are just as binding today as they were in the time of Moses. The second post “The 1st Commandment” talked about how easy it is to break that commandment in our present world, and the ways we do that. In this third post I want to talk about what the 2nd commandment is, and see if we’re living up to God’s expectations in keeping.

Exodus 20:4-6
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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 nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

So how do we break the 2nd Commandment?

Have you ever seen someone cross themselves and then kiss a cross or some saints medal that they have around there neck. That would be breaking the 2nd Commandment.

Although I believe churches do it in ignorance, many have a big cross or statue of Jesus at the front of their worship service. What would you call that? “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above”.

God tells us let our yes be yes, and our no’s be no; because He doesn’t want us swearing an oath. For there is nothing that we have created to swear by, but all was created by God. He tells us not to pray on the street corners to be seen of men, but to go into a private place to pray. These two things alone tells us that God is not impressed with our outward shows of piousness or religious worship. People need to know we’re Christ’s by our actions, our attitudes and our works, not religious speak; nor symbols on our bodies, cars and walls.

If someone wears a cross as jewelry I’m not saying they are breaking the 2nd Commandment, I don’t know their heart; but I have to ask, “What’s the purpose or reasoning”? How do fish symbols on our cars deepen our relationship or worship of God? Are they a form or worship of God or are they show for others?

I had an uncle who has since past that had a little figurine of Mary, Jesus’ mother on his counter facing the front door with a jar full of change next to it. He told me it was supposed to bring him good financial luck. I have another uncle who is a Jehovah Witness who will not walk into someone’s house if they have a Christmas tree. I understand his problem with the tree, but not the power he gives it. Does a Christmas tree or any tree for that matter have power for good or bad? I think not.

When God says He’s a jealous God, He’s not kidding. With that said, He is also a loving, merciful, generous and kind God. But does not want our worship the way we want to worship Him, He wants us to worship Him the way He has said. He doesn’t want us praying to likenesses of Him, but to Him alone.

So many things boiling down to our hearts and intentions. If you’re not sure you’re worshiping God properly, go into a room by yourself, open your bible and ask God to show you in the scriptures how He wants to be worshiped. If you give your heart to God, He will bring you to where you need to be.

The 1st Commandment

Pagan idolsIf you are a follower of the Bible, and reading this post, you are probably no stranger to the 10 Commandments listed in Exodus 20. I decided to do a series of posts on The 10 Commandments looking at each one on its own. Now let’s start by first saying what the 10 Commandments are not. They are not the 10 suggestions or the 10 recommendations; they are the 10 Commandments.

If you have not read my last post titled “Does God Change”; I would suggest reading that first? It will help you to understand where I’m coming from and where I’m going with this. Now, we all know that keeping God’s law does not earn us salvation; that my friends is a gift from God. Also following God’s law does not give us special brownie points for being so good.

Look at what Jesus said in the book of Luke:

Luke 17:10
10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

So keeping the law is our duty, and earns us nothing.

Now, let’s look at the 1st Commandment.

Exodus 20:1-3 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 bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

Sounds pretty cut and dry, right? But have we considered what that really means? At first glance we might say, “I don’t worship false gods, I would never think of such a thing”.

Well, let’s look at the word god found in an online dictionary:

1. (Ecclesiastical Terms) a supernatural being, who is worshiped as the controller of some part of the universe or some aspect of life in the world or is the personification of some force.
2. (Ecclesiastical Terms) an image, idol, or symbolic representation of such a deity
3. any person or thing to which excessive attention is given: money was his god.
4. a man who has qualities regarded as making him superior to other men

So, as you can see, the breaking of the 1st Commandment does not have to be praying to Dagon, Moloch or Baal. I think the 3rd and 4th definition above is probably where most people run smack dab into the breaking of the 1st Commandment. It seems we as a people are obsessed with actors, singers, sports figures, body image, clothes, cars, money, and the list goes on and on.

Now am I saying there is anything wrong with enjoying music, movies, reliable transportation, making a good living, etc.? No! But there is a big difference between appreciating or enjoying something, and being obsessed with it, which is to preoccupy the mind excessively with something.

When people are spending thousands of dollars to see a World Series game, I think there’s a problem. When we purchase magazines to read about all the salacious details of some celebrity’s life, I think there’s a problem. When we go deep into debt to buy a vehicle or home that is way beyond our means to look impressive to others, I think there’s a problem. When we spend more time thinking only about ourselves while ignoring the plight of others, I think there’s a problem. When you can’t pass a shoe store without buying a new pair of shoes, there just might be a problem.

How much time to we meditate on the things of God as opposed to our favorite characters in a movie or TV show? How much thought goes into what others think of us as opposed to what God thinks of us? How much time do we spend in praying or talking about God as opposed to talking about our favorite TV show or sports team? How much thought do we put into blessing others as opposed to what we hope others will do for or think about us.

Anything that we place above or before God is a breaking of the 1st Commandment.

Now, if you find yourself coming up short, there is a fix. You repent, and strive to do better. Every time you fall down, you get back up, brush off the dust, and get back at it.

God knows that none of us can keep the law perfectly because we are flawed people. But God does expect us to work at it, and to give Him our best effort. Also, God will help us overcome the things that cause us to break His Commandments if we will just ask Him. We just need to get our priorities lined up with God’s priorities. We need to live every day being the best we can, while striving to be a blessing to others. We should also get up each morning thanking and glorifying God for every new day He gives us.

I hope this post has helped you see the 1st Commandment a little more clearly, and maybe get you a little more focused on the importance of God’s Commandments.

Also, if you like what you read, please sign up to receive updates when I post new articles; and send your friends a link to YourSpiritMindandBody.com. I will be talking about the 2nd Commandment soon, and hope you will stop by and check it out.

Does God Change?

ten-commandments-187967__180If it’s been a while since you’ve read the 10 Commandments, I would ask that you’d take the time to look at each one below. As you look at each one, ask yourself, “Is there anything wrong or flawed about this Commandment?”

20 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 bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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 nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to 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 the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which 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, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Now, before we go any further, let’s ask the question, does God change? It’s an important question, if we’re to determine whether or not the Law still applies to us.

Is God fickle? Does He say one thing one moment and change His mind the next? Now I will admit God has relented and changed His mind about bringing calamity on nations when they’ve repented; but He has never, as far as I have read, changed His mind about character issues. The Law, as far as I can tell, is all about character.

Malachi 3:5-7
5 And I will come near you for judgment;
I will be a swift witness
Against sorcerers,
Against adulterers,
Against perjurers,
Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,
And against those who turn away an alien—
Because they do not fear Me,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
7 Yet from the days of your fathers
You have gone away from My ordinances
And have not kept them.
Return to Me, and I will return to you,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“But you said,
‘In what way shall we return?’

Does God still feel the same about sorcerers, adulterers, and perjurers, or has He changed His mind? If you could talk to God right now and asked Him if His feelings about those things above have changed, what do you think His response would be?

Look at verse 6 again, God says He does not change. So if we are to believe that God does not change, than we would have to believe that He has not done away with His condemnation of sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers and cheats. Right?

What does Hebrews 13:8 say about God?

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. “He does not change!”

What does God say about His Law in Matthew 5:18?

Matthew 5:18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Since Christ has not yet returned, and the heavens and earth are still out there, I have to believe that all is not yet fulfilled. Christ did not come to do away with the Law, but to magnify it. He took it from a physical set of do’s and don’ts to a spiritual compass that leads us to His Kingdom.

I’m not trying to offend, or step on toes, but the Law of God was not fulfilled and done away, it was magnified. Instead of adultery being just a physical act, it was magnified to encompassing lusting in our hearts for another not our own spouse.

Do not commit murder when from being a physical act perpetuated by one man upon another, to hating someone in our heart.

Which of God’s 10 Commandments do we find defective, lacking or in need of being done away?

I would argue that God’s commandments are just as applicable today as they were in the time of Moses. As a matter of fact they are now magnified and so much better.

The Law is not there to condemn us, but to help us. It’s not there to grieve us, but to lift us up. It’s not there to make our lives tougher, but to make them better.

Christ did not die to save us from the Law, He died to save us from the penalty of the Law.

Starting next week, I’d like to begin examining each of the Commandments, and seeing how we might use them to make sure we’re heading in the right direction. I hope you’ll join me to consider these issues.

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If It Can Happen to David

womanIn reading in the book of Samuel about the life of King David, and his encounter with Bathsheba I had to stop and ponder how such a thing might happen. I’m thinking, how does one so close to God end up in a situation like that.

So many of the Psalms express David’s deep passion and commitment toward God. David exudes such a love for Him. He talks about how he meditates on God’s Laws and how awesome and beautiful they are. Even God calls David a man after His own heart. So, what happened?

Well, I can’t say for sure, but we can certainly speculate about what might have happened. There’s no arguing that David loved God greatly, and was a man of deep passion. David was a warrior, a king, a poet, and a man’s man.

At the time this happened Israel was at war, but it seems David was no longer going out to the battles as he once did. He was back in his palace where everything seemed to be going rather smoothly. He had good generals and many mighty men taking care of things on the front lines which took a lot of the burden off of him. Life was pretty good, and David didn’t really have a lot to worry about at the time.

So let me ask you, what happens to us when our life goes on autopilot. What begins to happen when everything is going along smoothly? Do we find ourselves getting comfortable and backsliding just a little? Do we start letting out guard down a bit? Do we start following our own compass instead of our true compass, Jesus Christ?

It seems David let his guard down, and lost his way for a while. He became comfortable and relaxed. Let’s let the scriptures tell us what happened:

2 Samuel 11:1-3
11 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. 2 Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.

If King David would have taken a page from Joseph, one of the sons of Israel, he would have turned around, left, and let it go at that. But remember, David was a man of great passion and he had let his guard down. Let’s continue with the story:

2 Samuel 11:4-10
3 So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” 4 Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.

At this point not only did David let his guard down, but he gave in to lust and committed adultery with another man’s wife. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he is hit right between the eyes with the results of his sin.

2 Samuel 11:5 And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.”

Wow, what are you going to do with that? You are the King of Israel, and a man that all the people adored and held in high esteem. So, what does David do? Does he repent in sack cloth and ashes for this sin? No, he tries to cover it up.

David sends for Uriah and tries to trick him into going into his wife to cover up what he had done, but Uriah is too loyal to his fellow soldiers and refuses to go into his wife while they are at battle.

At this point what’s David to do? He panics and decides to cover up his sin from the people by sending Uriah to the front lines to get killed.

2 Samuel 11:14-17
14 In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” 16 So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. 17 Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also.

So, not only do we have adultery here, but now we have a man killed to try and hide an egregious sin. David had put down his guard and forgot about his relationship with God. Life had been going good for him and he just started relying on his own importance instead of his deep need for relationship with God. So how does he finally realize the error of his way? It’s after hearing a story from Nathan the Profit that greatly angered him.

2 Samuel 12:1-13
12 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3 But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4 And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

5 So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6 And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9 Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’”

13 So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.

Although David repented deeply, and God continued to love David and even called him a man after God’s own heart, David never saw peace again in Israel. Many of the Psalms were written from David’s anguish due to enemies pursuing him, even one of his own children.

So, what’s my point? Well, my point is we need to be vigilant not to back slide and lose our way. Even when times are good, maybe especially then, we need to keep ourselves immersed in the word of God. We need to keep our guards up. We need to be doing things to bless the life of others. It’s not just about going to church and reading your bible either. We need to be lights in this increasingly dark world. We need to be making a difference where ever we find ourselves.

If David, a man after God’s own heart can commit such a sin, are we comfortable putting our guard down?

 

If you’d like to see a beautiful version of L. Cohen’s Hallelujah check this out: HALLELUJAH

 

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