Exodus 20:20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
The 10 Commandments are rightly spoken of as the foundation of Western jurisprudence, but legal systems today do all they can to leave out the first three or four commandments. In doing so, they leave out the “foundation of the foundation,” so to speak. As this verse indicates, if there is no awareness of God as God, there is no real impetus to keep these commandments. The most common reason for people to claim atheism isn’t intellectual rigor, thinking things out and deciding it’s all by chance, but rather a desire to avoid accountability. Unless we start with the premise that we are created beings, there is no basis for ethics and morality at all. Even the most committed atheist will protest when people start being unethical and immoral against him! Some have gone so far as to put up billboards to tell people there are no rules, but again, they get very vocal when they are the victim of someone else violating the rules! Science has shown that a weekly day of rest is indeed very good for us, so most people accept that commandments four through ten are a good idea, but even many “Christian” people ignore the first three. We may not call them gods, but we are very likely to put other things ahead of our Creator. As soon as we do that, everything falls apart. On the 19th of this month the theme was Idols, and that is certainly relevant here. It is only when we live in undivided devotion to our Creator that all of His blessings fall into place for us.
In some way and to some degree I have violated every one of these commandments. I haven’t physically committed murder or had sex with a married woman other than my wife, but Jesus said that anger is murderous (Matthew 5:21-22) and mental adultery is like the physical act. (Matthew 5:27-28) I am in total, absolute need of the grace of God. The glorious reality is that His grace is available through faith in the Lord Jesus. Like John Newton, I know that His grace is indeed amazing! I have learned that unless the foundation of the first three commandments is there, the probability that we will obey the other seven rapidly approaches zero. At the same time, I have seen the ravages of legalism. A case in point is the absurd mind tricks orthodox Jews go to in relation to keeping the Sabbath, obsessing over how much work can be done by machinery on that day, rather than focusing on worshiping God to the exclusion of advancing our own interests. We might laugh at elevators only being allowed to move one floor at a time, but we do similar things and think nothing of them. I indeed need to focus on loving God and loving my neighbor, (Matthew 22:37-40) teaching others to do likewise and not splitting hairs, much less trying to “be good enough” by my own efforts. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank you for the man who is to be baptized today. I pray that You would anoint me to guide him in loving You totally, serving You out of gratitude and allowing Your Spirit to fill and flow through him, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!