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Retold: Jesus Calms the Storm
Retold: The Prodigal Son
Retold: The Beginning of the Church Part 2
Retold: The Beginning of the Church
Retold: Jonah and the Whale
Retold: Daniel and the Lions' Den
Retold: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Retold: David and Goliath
Retold: The Ten Commandments
Retold: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
Retold: Ruth and Naomi
Retold: The Good Samaritan
Do you ever want to break or bend the rules in life? While it’s easy to believe that rules restrict our freedom, the rules—or better said, commandments—God gives us are for our good and we will experience true freedom when we follow them. As we continue our series, Retold, Tyler Briggs teaches through the ten commandments in Exodus 20.
Good morning, Watermark. If we have not had the chance to meet, my name is Tyler Briggs. As of this week, I'm an elder at a church plant that's just a little bit west of here. You may have heard of it. It's called Watermark Fort Worth. It's just fun to be with you again this morning. It's also fun to have the Watermark Fort Worth family tuning in with us to worship around the teaching of God's Word.
I want to start by just telling you something about myself as a matter of confession. It's just that I don't like rules. My wife is a rule-follower, so you can imagine that will create a unique dynamic and some tension in our home over what we should or shouldn't do. In fact, my wife, Lindsay, would probably label me as a rule-breaker, but I think that's quite unfair. I would more accurately call myself more of a rule-bender. Those of my fellow rule-benders out there know what I mean when I say that.
I know I'm not alone in my desire to want to break rules or bend rules at times because I know at the end of the day, all of us (including those of you who would say you're a rule-follower) left to ourselves are selfish. This desire that's within us to want to do what we want to do whenever we want to do it makes us view rules as something that limits our freedom, and it restricts our liberty.
Therefore, we come up with all kinds of ways to justify why it's okay for us to break the rules. Some of it could be we just label rules as arbitrary that we feel are unnecessary. Because we think they're unnecessary, we feel the justification to be able to break them. At a more broad level, we may just say in general as we look at rules like this. "Rules are put in place by imperfect people, so they're imperfect rules. Surely there's a loophole in there." So we find ways to justify why we don't have to follow them.
There is another set of commands we can't use that justification on. That an imperfect person created them, so, therefore, they're imperfect laws; therefore, we have the right to rebel or break them. The person who created these commands is a perfect God, and his commandments are perfect.
As we continue in our series called Retold that we've been in for the past couple of weeks where we are looking at history everybody should know, we're going to pick up this week and look at a loving God who gives loving commands as we go to Exodus 20 to look at the Ten Commandments. Here's why it's so important for us to retell this part of history, this part of the Scriptures.
Quite frankly, your view on both the Lawgiver and who you think he is and the commands (the laws) that he gives will determine the quality of your life. I'm not talking about quality in terms of financial prosperity. I'm talking about quality in terms of joy and fullness and hope and peace that you could experience in this life.
As I think back on my own experience inside the church and being around Christians, particularly early on in my life, I feel like I was around a lot of people who had a wrong understanding of both the Lawgiver (who is God) and the laws or the commandments that he gives. The reason I think this is is because a lot of the people who I grew up around going to church followed the law out of duty. They would walk in the Ten Commandments, but they were completely joyless in their life. The fact that they would legalistically follow these rules or these commands but then have no real joy in them really turned me off for a long time from even wanting to consider who God was.
Later on in my life, in terms of college and even a little bit later, I would be around people who had a different approach to it. They would say they had this high mountain-top emotional experiences. They would say that they loved God, but when it came to his commandments and walking in obedience, they would live a life as if God didn't even exist. Although they would say that they would love him, their lives didn't reflect anything of it. Because of that, as their lives played out, their lives were a total mess. They said they loved God, but they ignored his loving commands.
Other people who I encounter frequently now who come in the doors of a church building and who are wanting to be around God, they're wanting to get to know him, but they know they're a lawbreaker. They know they've broken God's commands. They're so burdened with guilt and with shame that they have no joy themselves either. All of those instances, all of those people, their issues, their lack of joy and the pain they experience in their life can be traced by to a wrong understanding of the Lawgiver, who is God, the perfect God who gives us perfect commands; a loving God who gives loving commands.
This morning, as we retell the history of the Ten Commandments, as we look at this loving God who gives loving commands, our aim, my aim, is to give you a correct view of who God is, why he has given us these laws, and what he has done on our behalf to remove the condemnation we all deserve as being lawbreakers.
We're going to be Exodus 20:1-18. I'm actually going to read them all right here to get started. Then we're going to look at the major principles that we should take away from it if we have a right understanding of the Ten Commandments. I'll start reading in chapter 20, verse 1 and read all the way through this passage. It says this.
"Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
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 belongs to your neighbor.' All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance."
As we jump in to look at the history of the Ten Commandments, it's so important that you understand the context into which the Ten Commandments are given. Even just understanding that the Ten Commandments are really just the overarching summation or umbrella of all of God's law, which was really 613 laws or commandments that could be divided up into three parts.
You have the moral law, which is the universal principles of morality. You have the civil law, which spelled out how, specifically, the nation of Israel was to relate to one another in their civil relationships. Then you have the ceremonial law, which is the portion of God's commands that God defines how this nation of Israel was to relate to him. How could an unholy people, an imperfect people, approach a holy and a perfect God? The Ten Commandments is just the summation of all those things.
Jesus later on really sums them up into two when he says, "Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself." Even before that, God himself says, "As I'm about to give you these commands, I need you to remember who I am." The preamble (verses 1 and 2), God says as much. "Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.'" What God is telling us there is that we have to review this law, these commands he's about to give us, in light of the Lawgiver, in light of who he is.
1 . We are to remember the love of the one who gives the law. If we don't remember the love of the one who gives the law, we're never going to remember or understand the intent and the purpose of the law and how it's for our good and not for our harm.
To do that, we have to remember really the history of the nation of Israel. We see that God chose this one man in the book of Genesis named Abraham. He made a promise to Abraham that he was going to inherit a land, and God was going to multiply his descendants that would be greater than all the sand on the seashore. Through this family, through these descendants, all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
You see from Abraham, the story of Isaac, and from Isaac, the story of Jacob. Jacob gets renamed Israel. Israel has 12 sons. One of them is named Joseph, and at the end of the book of Genesis, we see the story of Joseph, which tells us how this family God had promised land ends up in the nation of Egypt. At the beginning of the book of Exodus, we see that God uses this nation of Egypt and the favor that Joseph had won with Pharaoh to provide protection for the multiplication of Abraham's family.
We see this family that numbered 70 people when they arrived in Egypt end up growing to about 2.4 million people. You see God use this nation of Egypt as protection for Abraham's descendants to be multiplied. Then it says there was a new pharaoh who came to power who did not remember Joseph. He looks around all these descendants, all of these Israelites, and he says, "These people, this nation within our own, are mightier than we are. Therefore, we're no longer going to provide protection for them. We're going to oppress them so there's not an uprising."
For the next 80 years, the nation of Israel lives under oppression underneath Egypt and underneath Pharaoh. But God had not forgotten his people who he had chosen, and he raises up a deliverer named Moses. He sends Moses to confront Pharaoh. He said, "On behalf of God, let my people go." If you're familiar with the story, we know that Pharaoh hardened his heart. It says also that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he might display his greatness.
Through the course of 10 plagues as Pharaoh continues to harden his heart against God, we see God confront all the false gods of Egypt and defeat them to show that he alone is the Lord God. Throughout the plague, he begins to show he makes a distinction between his chosen people, Israel, and the nation of Egypt.
As we get to the very last plague, the death of the newborn, we see that God makes provision for his people, for the nation of Israel, and that each household was to kill a perfect male lamb and then smear the blood of the slain lamb on the doorpost of their house so when the angel of death passed over the nation, any house that was covered by the blood of the lamb would be spared. The firstborn would not die.
Through this final plague, this sacrifice, we see God ultimately delivers freedom through the nation of Israel. Egypt says, "Get out of here. We can't stand against your God anymore. In fact, we're going to provide for you." God, through his sovereignty and through his power, has the nation of Egypt provide gold and silver and clothing, and everything the nation needed for their escape from slavery as they moved forward.
Israel, having witnessed the power and the love of God on their behalf, begins to escape. All of a sudden, Egypt starts chasing them. They end up with their backs up against the wall of the Red Sea with no escape. Then God, through his power again displays himself in his love to these people, and he parts the Red Sea. The nation of Israel walks across on dry land, yet Pharaoh and his army are swallowed up.
As they begin to journey towards this mount called Mount Sinai, we see God provides water from a rock. Don't go by that too quickly. From a rock, God provides enough water to care for 2.4 million people. Then he provides manna, or daily bread, and meat through quail for their journey.
Eventually, as they journey ahead, they end up at Mount Sinai, where God then calls Moses upon a mountain to give commandments of how his people are to relate. In fact, the first thing he tells Moses is that he has chosen the nation of Israel to be his people. In Exodus 19:5-6, God tells Moses this. He says, "Now that I have chosen you, now that I have shown you my love and my power that I am the one true God, and there is none like me…"
"'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
Then in chapter 20, verses 1 and 2, before he addresses all the nation, he says, "Remember who I am. You're about to receive these commands from me. Know that I am a loving God and that these are loving commands. You need to remember the love of the one who is giving this law to you." We have to remember that.
All too often, we can look at the commands God gives us and feel like he's really trying to rip us off, that he's trying to restrict our freedom, that he's trying to limit our ability to carry out our desires. While all that might be partially true, what he's actually trying to do is set you free in such a way that you will limit the pain you would experience in your life from the rejection of God and the rejection of his principles.
I can't help but read this and think about my dad. Let's just say my dad and I had our run-ins. I'm what you would've called a strong-willed child. That would be the polite way to put it. My dad was a disciplinarian. There were house rules, and by golly, we had to follow those house rules. Do you know what I thought about my dad's rules? I thought they were dumb. Because I thought they were dumb, I found any way that I could to break them.
In fact, there were things he would've said that were fairly common to most of you like no alcohol, no tobacco, no girls. We had a curfew. Many of you may have heard this before. He would say, "Nothing good happens after midnight." At least that's how he said it when I was younger. As I got closer and closer to 16, it ended up being more like, "Nothing good happens after 6:00 pm." It's funny how that curfew got shorter and shorter and shorter. I just thought it was dumb.
There was one friend who I was able to spend the night at their house, and it was a little bit more relaxed. So my buddy and I would scheme. I'd go to spend the night at his house, and we would sneak out of their garage window to go do whatever we wanted to do and break curfew. When I got caught by my dad for breaking the rules, there were consequences.
Usually, when there were consequences, and he was getting ready to enforce the consequences for my breaking of the house rules, he would say something that you may find familiar as well. He would say, "Son, I just need you to know that this hurts me more than it hurts you." That used to frustrate me so bad. "How can me getting a consequence hurt you more than it hurt me?" I didn't understand that my rebellion grieved his heart because he saw that my rebellion was bringing about pain in my life and that my life was headed for destruction. He saw it coming in a way that I couldn't, and he grieved because of it.
My relationship with my dad is much different now. I continued to rebel in several significant ways, all the way up until about the time I graduated from high school and moved out of the house. As I began to continue in my rebellion, I began to see the reasons why he had the rules that he did. He was trying to look out for my good. He was trying to help me.
When I began to understand the reason my dad had those rules was because he loved me, it drastically changed our relationship, to the point that on the day I stood at the altar to get married to my wife, the man who was standing next to me as my best man was my dad, which is a little bit of a nontraditional role for a dad to play in a wedding.
I wanted to think of the best way I could to affirm him and say, "I understand your love for me. I want you to stand by me as the one who I used to hate, who I misunderstood, who I name-called because now I understand. The rules, the laws you had for our house, were because you loved me. I understand you're a loving father."
If you're out there listening to this, I want you to know that God is your loving Father. Through the Ten Commandments that govern our morality, he's not giving you these rules or these commandments to rip you off. He's giving them to you because he loves you. He knows if you choose to live a life in rebellion to these laws, to these commandments, it's not going to go well for you. We have to remember God's love so we can remember the intent of his laws.
I'll just say if you're currently slow to obey God, I want to venture to say it's because you don't understand the heart of God. I want to encourage you to go back and remember his love for you. I've said it a few times but want to say it more specifically.
2 . God's laws are for our good. He gives them to us so they may go well with us. Not so we'll miss out on the fun and joy but so it may go well with us. In Deuteronomy 4:39-40, Moses is about to tell this new generation who's about to inherit the Promised Land the law. He tells them the intent of the law. This is what it says in Deuteronomy 4:39-40.
"Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other." There is none like him. He is the Creator of all things; therefore, he gets to command how things should function. He says, "So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time."
God has given us these commandments for our good, not because he's trying to rip us off. God is trying to show us how we rightly relate to him and how we rightly relate to others. In fact, we have a graphic that will show you even how you can look at the Ten Commandments as they're broken up.
You can see that commandments one through four define and govern how we are to rightly relate with God. Do not worship other gods, because he knows if we do that, it's going to lead us astray. Do not make any idols. Don't misuse his name and tarnish his reputation. Keep the Sabbath, and understand we are finite with limitations. We need rest, and we can ultimately find the rest we are looking for in Jesus Christ.
In commandments five through ten, he lays out how we are love other people. We see there's a big restraining influence of these commandments and how we relate to others to restrain our own sinful hearts, our own evil towards one another. Not to abuse gifts that God has given us but to use them for our good and for the good of other people. So we see that God is giving us these commandments for our good and not to rip us off.
I didn't understand this for a while. I truly looked at God's laws, and I thought he was trying to rip me off. Part of the reason I thought that is because I looked at Christians who were following God's laws, the Ten Commandments, out of duty, and were the most joyless people who I'd ever met in my life.
In fact, I remember telling one of my brothers in high school, "I'll start following God when I'm done having fun," because when I looked at God's people, they seemed to be some of the most joyless people I'd ever seen. Then I looked at people who had rejected God and who were living in the ways of the world, and they looked like they were having all kinds of fun. So I said, "I'm going to go do that."
I'd heard the gospel before and knew there was this salvation that was available in Christ, and if we accept him as our Savior, we don't have to go hell. I thought, "I don't want to go to hell, so here's my plan. I'm going to go and live my life how I want to and have all this fun, and right before I die, then I'll trust Jesus. That way, I get to have all the fun of this world, and I also get the benefits of heaven without having to live under the tyranny of God's law.
That didn't work out well for me. From 18 to 26, largely, I went and lived for this world. I realized that my rebellion, my refusal to see God for who he is, and to walk in obedience to his commandments lead to a different kind of death in my life and could've led to a literal death on a few different occasions.
Since I've come to know the kindness and the love of who God is and see he is a loving God and these commands are loving commands and chosen to trust him, to walk in a relationship with him, to walk in obedience to his commands, my life has been full of joy and largely absent of pain that was caused by rebellion on my behalf.
As Todd has said many times before, for many of you who don't believe me, if you like what you have, keep doing what you're doing. But if you keep doing what you're doing, I promise you're going to hit a point where you don't like what you have. Trust in God. See him as a loving God who's giving you loving commands. I thought forever that God's commands were burdensome, but they're not.
In 1 John 5:3, it says this. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." Therefore, they are good, and they lead to where true life is indeed.But God's law has another purpose. The Ten Commandments have another purpose. They're not just for our good in the sense that they will want to lead and guide us towards where true life and joy is found, they also reveal something about us that we need to deal with.
3 . God's law reveals our imperfections. What the Ten Commandments reveal about us is that we are imperfect. This comes from a cross-reference of James 1:23-24, where he uses an analogy or illustration that's helpful to us. It says this. "For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror…" It shows him what he really looks like. "…for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was."
What does a mirror do? A mirror shows us our reality, what we really look like. At the end of the day, when we come to see the law of God, and it reveals all of our imperfections, it reveals the reality of who we are, that we fall short of God's perfect standard, we have one of two choices. We can ignore it or we can respond and do something about it.
It's similar to this. With all the COVID-19 stuff that is going on, many of us have been living in a Zoom world for the past three to four months. There was something early on in my use of Zoom as I learned how it functioned that I found to be quite beneficial.
When you first get onto a Zoom call, you see everybody's video, including your own. I always felt a little awkward looking at myself when I was trying to have a conversation with other people via Zoom. I didn't like the way I looked. It was weird. So I started searching. "Is there a way to take my video off of this?"
In the top corner, there was this little button you could click that would give you a few options. One of them was this. "Hide Self-View" mode. I loved "Hide Self-View" mode because I could take away the reflection of myself and wouldn't have to worry about how I looked. I just ignored it. That was a good plan until our small group was meeting via Zoom as couples, so I had my wife sitting next to me, and my wife thought it was important for us to know what we looked like. She was right.
As we started up a call, the video would come up. The first time I tried to go to "Hide Self-View" mode, she said, "No, no, no. Don't do that. We have to make sure we look okay. It's good for us to see the reflection of who we are." So if she had spinach in her teeth from dinner or something, she would know it was there and take it out and do something about it.
In a very similar way, the law, the Ten Commandments, as we know what they are and as we use them as a mirror to view the reality of ourselves, of our imperfections, we can either hide that reflection and ignore it, or we can respond and do something about it. The law reveals our sin. The law reveals our imperfection. That's a good thing. Why? Why is that a good thing?
If we didn't understand our imperfection, we wouldn't understand how great our need is for redemption, for saving. So the law does something else. That's the other side of the coin of revealing our sin.
4 . The law points us to redemption in Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3:23-24, it says this. "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.
I think one of the reasons we dislike the Ten Commandments so much is because we are forced to deal with the reality of our imperfections. For many of the people who I'm around today who see the burden of their imperfections and walk around in guilt and shame… They have not heard the rest of the story that there is good news. There is good news that redemption is available in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ himself fulfilled the law on your behalf.
In your imperfection, there is nothing you can do to bridge the gap, to remove the stain of your own guilt, to come back into a relationship with a loving God. But God loves you so much. This is the type of loving God he is. The type of loving God who gives these loving commands is that he came in the form of a man in Jesus Christ, and he lived the perfect life that you never could. He died the death that you deserved because he loves you.
Through Jesus Christ fulfilling the law, not just the Ten Commandments but all 613 of them, he earned a righteousness that he could then freely give to you so that you could be declared righteous before God by faith, and that Jesus' righteousness is given to you. The guilt and the penalty of your sin was placed on him on the cross, and through Jesus Christ you stand condemned no more. In Romans 8:1 it says, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
In summation of all of it, in order to understand the history and the story of the Ten Commandments, you have to understand the God who gave them. You have a loving God who has given these loving commands to guide you and lead you into life, to restrain your experience of evil that was going to and will cause pain and destruction in your life so that you can find not only life eternal but life to the full today as you walk in joyful obedience to God.
You know what happens when believers trust in a loving God and walk in obedience to him? It makes God attractive to those who don't know God and who are rebelling against him and who are experiencing the pain that comes from a life in rejection of God.
They look across the way, and they say, "Hey, what's different about your life? How come your life is turned around? How come your marriage has been restored? How come you have a joy that you once did not have?" You can say, "Because I came to see that God was not a tyrant in the heavens, but he's a loving God who gave his life to redeem me. Now, I follow his loving commands because I trust him. I've come to see and experience and know his laws are good, and that they do, in fact, lead to life."
Ultimately, for those of you who may be listening this morning and you feel that burden…you know your imperfection. You didn't need this message. You didn't need me to read the Ten Commandments to know you've sinned against a holy God, but yet your covering (32:53) around condemnation…the removal of that guilt and condemnation is offered freely to you in Christ Jesus if you would simply trust him as your Savior.
For those of you who are saying you love God but you're walking in rebellion to his commandments, I want you to know that the truth is that you don't love God, or at least your love for him is much smaller than the love for your own sin. The life you're looking for, you're never going to find apart from walking in obedience to the commands of this loving God.
For those of you who may be listening who have been dutifully obeying God's laws but you have no joy, I want you to know that the one who gave those laws desires to have a relationship with you. Through that relationship, you'll find the joy you've been missing out on, maybe for decades, as you sat in a church pew listening to the law, walking in the laws of God, but missing out on a relationship with the Lawgiver.
I hope this morning, as we've looked at this, it's reminded you who God is and what these commandments are, and your love for him is renewed, and your desire to walk in obedience is changed because we have a loving God who gives loving commands. Let me pray.
Father, thank you that you are good. Thank you that you love us. Thank you that you didn't leave us by ourselves to try and figure out how to live a life in such a way that it may go well with us, but you've given it to us clearly in your Word. Thank you that you're a God who sacrificed everything to show us your love and your glory. Help us to see that you are God alone, that you are God Almighty, that you are worthy of our worship and of our praise and that any idol or false god who we could attach our hearts to falls far short of your love and your worth and your glory.
Help us to walk in obedience to you and guide us as we do that. I pray that in whatever way would glorify you the most that you would reveal yourself through the church to an unbelieving world that right now we can see desperately needs to know you, desperately needs the redemption that you offer, definitely needs to have their hearts of stone taken out and removed and replaced with a heart of flesh that would desire to walk in your ways and that you may redeem all things and be glorified in the midst of it. Helps us not to ever look at the Ten Commandments in absence of remembering the one who gave them. We love you. We thank you, and it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Friends, thanks for tuning in this morning. I hope you have been encouraged. Like we have the past several weeks, we've been continuing to release worship from Watermark Music, and this morning, we have another song we want to release to you. We hope that in it you're reminded of who this loving God is, and it stirs your affections for Jesus Christ. Take a look at this. Have a great week of worship.