The Ten Commandments - Part 3
January 27, 2019
Our third study now of the Ten Commandments, we're going to look at the last three of them. It really is important to understand why God gave them the commandments at all. A, because they needed them, because they needed to be transformed. They needed to know God's heart. They had been living as slaves, they had been an oppressed, placed in Egypt.
God in chapter 19, He says, "I carried you on eagles' wings and I brought you to myself." That's such a key right there. "I brought you to myself to make you a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Really, He says the same to us, "I brought you out of the world, I carried you on eagles' wings, I brought you to myself." That's what happened, right? When we received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, it was for the purpose of having a relationship with the Living God.
"I brought you to myself that you might be a kingdom of priests," he says that. Actually, did you know? He says in the New Testament the very thing to us, "I made you a kingdom of priests, holy people." That's God's intent. Therefore, we need to really understand this ourselves. Jesus said, "All of the law and the prophets, the entire Old Testament can be summarized by the two Greatest Commandments, love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second He said is like it, love your neighbor as yourself." In many ways, the Ten Commandments are summarized by those two things.
Then today, we look at these last three of the Ten Commandments and I tell you, there's a strong aspect of faith when we look at these last three. Maybe we could summarize it by saying, "It has to do with trusting God as the source of life, as the very source of life." Where does life come from? Of course, we know. God gave us breath. We can say life comes from Him. He gave us the strength to have work, to live from day to day, but I suggest to you that that is a starting point when it comes to life. There's far more deep understanding of what it means to have life.
Jesus said, "The enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you have life and have it abundantly." When He said that, Jesus meant more than just simply breathing, simply living and working day to day. He meant more than that. What did He mean? He means that there's more to life than that. There's more to life than getting up and working and going about your business. There's more to life than that.
That life He's talking about is the life that's within the soul, filled with the life of God. When the life of God is in the soul, you are truly alive. Then you noticed the aspect of God, love. God is love. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. These things are really spoken of trust God as your source of life.
I. Do Not Steal
All right let's read them. We're going to begin in verse 15, "You shall not steal." We're starting right here, just in the list of these commandments, "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 his Audi.
I added that part, but, "Or anything that belongs to your neighbor and all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountains smoking, and when they saw, they trembled," like the awe of God, the presence of God is in this place. There's an awe upon them. Let's look at these last three starting with, of course, "Do not steal." Now, there's an assumption in this commandment that we own things, we have the right to own things. That's important because there's a philosophy, it's been around this earth for some time now. Karl Marx believed that private ownership of things was actually the root of societal evils.
Therefore, in the Marxist doctrine, the answer to the ills of society and the answer of private ownership is to take everything and let it be owned by the state. The result is communism, and that did not really end very well because it doesn't speak to the accurate nature of who man is. In fact, it's important to recognize when he says, "Do not steal." Any society that allows stealing is going to turn into chaos. He's speaking about some, of course, society things, but He's speaking to them individually as well. I remember Pastor Mathew, he was traveling to Congo and Kinshasa is the capital. I've traveled there myself, I'm actually planning in going there in a few months.
The airport in Kinshasa is one of the wildest scenes I've ever seen in an airport. There's yelling, there's pushing. He said he went there and the last stop is the inspection of the luggage. He opened his luggage and hens started coming in from everywhere. They just helped themselves and he just start taking and turns into chaos. The whole airport is yelling, people yelling and like, "This is chaos." The last time I went there with the group, I said, "When we come to this inspection station, here's what we're going to do. We're all going to form a circle. We're going to round up the wagons and form a circle. Then the inspectors can come in inside our circle," and that seemed to work well. Chaos.
A. Stealing is selfish
Interestingly, this is the only commandment that's open-ended. In other words, there's no indication here at all what we are prohibited from stealing, which therefore I suggest, don't steal anything that belongs to someone else. There's two categories you might say of things that could be stolen. One is the physical thing, the property that belongs to someone else, but there's also intangible things. Stealing a person's reputation. That's important to recognize. Stealing someone's dignity, someone's intellectual property, what they own with their mind.
Ultimately, what we have to see and recognize stealing is selfish. It understands the condition of man. This commandment addresses the condition of man, that the heart is selfish. The fall of man has made the heart selfish and placing a person's own wants and desires above concern for others, me first. When we steal, that's favoring yourself at others' expense. It's like a shortcut to satisfy greed.
Of course, stealing hurts others, but it's important to recognize He's saying it for their good also. Not just for the good of the other person, don't steal because it would hurt the other person, He also is saying it for their own good. It will hurt you, because you'll lose your character and your integrity which are of great value. In fact, Proverbs 22:1, it says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches." Name is very, very valuable.
I will make a confession to you. When I was in grade school, I stole something. I was at the store and I stole a marshmallow orange peanut. These were good. Anybody remember these orange marshmallow peanuts? These were good. They had them in individual little packets and they're just low in the shelf. I stared at it for the longest time, which the butcher saw me staring at it at the longest time. Finally, I picked one up and put it in my pocket. He followed me isle to isle and then he went this way when I went that way and he stopped me, "Let me see what's in your pocket."
B. Deceiving the mind is the root of stealing
"God help me." My career as a thief was immediately ended because it taught me a great lesson. Of course, my parents were called, and my mother made me work to pay for that. I think it wasn't very much. It was maybe a nickel, a dime or something. I had to work like an hour. Yes, I've been in counseling ever since that day. Then, after I worked, I had to go back to the manager and give him the money personally. Thus ended my career as a thief, because I learned something. Losing one's integrity hurts deeply. Our integrity means something, it's valuable, it means something. Now, I think it's important to recognize this also, that deceiving the mind is actually the root of stealing, deceiving one's own mind is the root of stealing. In order to steal, a person must transform his mind into justifying it. As I was standing there looking at that orange peanut marshmallow, I was justifying it in my mind, so how is that possible? How could you possibly justify that?
I was justifying it, I was looking at that and I was saying, "I didn't have lunch. I'm hungry. My family is poor. This store has plenty, they won't miss it." That’s how I convinced myself. You got to find a way to make that which sounds bad sound good. In other words, the thief must convince himself of his own goodness. Who is he talking to? He's talking to himself. This is very interesting, the person must neutralize those values that would keep him from doing wrong. We all have an inner construction of values. In our heart, we know that stealing is wrong. Somehow, in order to steal, we got to neutralize that value. How do we do that? By telling ourselves lies.
Now, I'm telling you this for a reason. I'm building up to something very important. We have to tell ourselves lies, and therefore, we must believe that lie we just told ourselves. We're having an inner conversation with ourselves. We have to tell a lie to our self in order to convince ourselves that that which is bad is actually good. It's interesting because there have been a number of studies on this, and these ways of speaking to oneself fall into variety of categories. For example, denial of responsibility is a category of lying to oneself. "My circumstances forced me." I did that, the same thing. "I'm poor, I didn't have lunch, I'm hungry, poor me, the circumstances forced me." Denial of responsibility.
Another category, denial of injury. "They can afford it, they're not going to miss it. The store charges too much anyway, those marshmallows are too expensive, they're charging too much, they deserve that." Denial of injury, "No one's going to get hurt, it's just stuff." Here's another category, condemning the condemners. Condemning the condemners. "God put me in this environment. God knew, He put me. He knew what He was doing. He put me in this environment. They're just picking on me, they're picking on me. The police don't like me. They're just picking on me. They're judging me."
There's another category, it's called appealing to higher loyalty. "I took the money because my grandma is sick," there's a higher value. This is like Robin Hood. Robin Hood, doing something good. We admire Robin Hood because he steals from the rich in order to give to the poor. There's something honorable about that, is there? Is there something honorable about that? Appealing to higher authority or higher loyalty. There are many ways a person can steal. There's the person who just simply takes, but there's other ways too. Stealing can also not be giving your employer an honest day's wage.
Sound effects to the sermon. I should have somebody up here with the harmonica doing that same thing. That would be an awesome sermon, don't you think? That'd be great. You cannot have time that better. Giving an honest work for an honest way goes both ways, you got to give an honest wage to the employee that works. I remember when I was in Russia. We first started visiting Russia, I was pretty shocked. I was used to the way things work here in the Western world and people work. You go to a store, they're there to serve you, going to Les Schwab or something that frankly run to earn your respect.
I go to Russia and they're like, "Can I see that thing over there?" "What thing?" "Well, that thing. Can I see that thing, please? I'd like to see that thing over there." "Okay." I think, "Really?" I asked somebody like, "What is this about," and he said, "It's simple. It’s simple. They pretend to pay us, so we pretend to work." There's something wrong with this picture, but it's important to recognize something when we look at this. The answer is faith. Do not steal by faith. Be renewed, in other words, by faith. Let me go back to what I was saying earlier. The person who steals must convince himself that that which is bad is good. He's transforming his own mind, is he not?
He's transforming his own mind with lies, and therein lies the key. Therein lies the key. We understand that there is a spiritual principle that's just like it, but the opposite is just like it. There's a spiritual principle just exactly like it, but it's the opposite. We need to transform our mind by speaking truth in the inner man. By speaking truth, we have a conversation with ourselves, we all have a conversation with ourselves. Say, "Well, isn't that a sign of some kind of mental problem if we have conversations with ourselves?" No, that's a sign of a healthy mind. I've been doing it for years.
C. Be renewed – by faith
No, it's true. We all do it, we all have a conversation with our self. The answer is to speak truth in the inner man, to speak truth in the inner man. Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." I like the King James on that one. Romans 12:2, one of the famous ones in this regard, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Speaking truth in the inner man. "That you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good, acceptable, and perfect." It's good. God's will is good. Ephesians 4:22-24, listen to this. This is a great verse, "Lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit."
There's a great insight right there, because it speaks to the other side, the other problem. "Instead, be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Put on the new self which has been created in the likeness of God." It's not just enough to say, "Don't steal." Need a different answer than that. You need more. Speak truth in the inner man. Speak truth. Here's the answer, live by faith. Don't steal by faith. Live by faith, believe the promises of God. Trust that God is able. God is able to supply your needs. Philippians 4:19, that's faith, "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." That's the faith. Point, speak truth in the inner man, speak right words in the inner man to yourself.
Learn to trust by faith. Learn to wait on God's timing. Some people believe that they must have what they want right now, and they cannot wait. They cannot wait for God's timing or God's purpose, and the result of not waiting on God's timing or God's purpose is oftentimes financial stresses that boxes them in. He gives us this great picture, work for your wages with honesty and integrity and become godly in your ways and you'll have the character of God within your heart. Integrity is a valuable thing. Interesting, what He says in Ephesians 4:28, there's something very interesting and similar.
Ephesians 4:28, "He who steals must steal no longer, but rather, he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need." That's a good thing. Have honor in the way you conduct your life and your business that you can bless. That's God's heart now, that's God's heart. Now, let's go look at the next of these commandments, the ninth commandment, "Be renewed in the spirit of truth." The ninth commandment is that we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor.
II. Be Renewed in the Spirit of Truth
Now, of course, there are a lot of Scriptures that talk about not having lying lips, but this Scripture is specific. It refers to what we say about other people. Words spring forth from that which fills the heart. One that I love, Luke 6:45, I've quoted it many times, Jesus said, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good." When you speak truth in the inner man, truth is a transforming power.
A. Treasure the truth
The mouth speaks from that which fills the heart, therefore we can say it this way, "Treasure the truth." Treasure the truth. How valuable is the truth? I'll tell you, virtually, all societal evils were based on lies.
You look at some of the great society evils in the history of the world, and they were based on lies. African slavery, that's a lie. Communism, Nazism, anti-Semitism, the foundation of all of those things are lies. It was interesting. Speaking of communism, in the Soviet Union days, the most influential newspaper was called Pravda, and that is literally translated into Russian as truth. In fact, it's an everyday word, it's an everyday word. I use it when I'm speaking Russian, it's a common word to use. Это правда, that's true. Это правда, that's true. They named the newspaper Truth.
The other major newspaper was called Izvestia, which means news. They used to make a joke, "There is no pravda in the izvestia," there is no truth in the news. The point that I'm making is that the Soviet state realized that they have to control what's called truth if they're going to control people. Nazis had to convince tens of millions of people that Jews were less than human. They had to have a machine. It wasn't just one man, it wasn't just Hitler. He had to convince tens of millions of people that Jews were subhuman and thus deserving of death. In medieval Europe, Jews were falsely accused of stealing Christian children.
Did you know this? This was called blood libel. It was a major problem in Europe. It was called blood libel. The Jews were accused of stealing Christian children and then taking their blood and using that blood to make Passover matzo, the bread of Passover. Now, any person who studied the Scripture at all would say, "The Jews are prevented from eating the blood of anything. That's not even logical." The Crusades were based on the idea that the Jews were responsible for the death and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, even today, you'll hear anti-Semitic words, "Christ killer," they'll say. Did Jesus die on the cross because the Jews put Him there, or did He die on the cross because our sins put Him there? Did He not from the foundation of the world determine that this was the ordained plan of God, that Jesus would die on the cross as the payment for all of our sins? A lie then comes from it that the Jews would be persecuted for it. We would all be persecuted if that's the case. It's a lie.
Many people have been hurt, my point being is because the truth was not treasured. This commandment speaks of the character of God, "You be all holy people. I've drawn you to myself. I brought you on eagles' wings, but you be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Let me tell you what that looks like. Speak well to your neighbor. Don't bear false witness against your neighbor."
It's the character of God, isn't it? God is truth. There are no lies in God. Jesus said, "I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life." Truth is not just something to know. Truth is not just something to know. Truth is something to live to become true. It's not just something to know, it's not just a sum of knowledge, something, a condition. Truth in the inner man, because God is truth, and Satan is a liar.
B. Let your speech always be with grace
Then we can add this, let your speech, therefore, always be with grace. Let your speech always be with grace. Words are like seeds that you plant when you speak of others, and you reap what you sow. They're seeds, you plant. Words are like seeds planted. Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy," but the principle applies to many things, "Blessed are the gracious, for they shall receive grace."
Many years ago, we had a garden in our backyard in the first house we ever bought when we were first married. I was excited because it had a place for a garden. When we moved in, I was shocked to see this garden had turned into thistles, and the thistles had grown like six feet tall. I remember watching with chagrin as these thistle seeds were carried up on the wind, a cloud of thistle seeds being carried off to my neighbors' yards. I thought, "We got to cut those things down. We got to cut those things down. You got to stop that at its root."
It's a picture, isn't it? It's a picture. What you speak is carried on the wind. What you speak, it carries on the wind. I say to the staff, "There's no such thing as a private email." Anybody agree with me on this? There's no such thing as a private email. Write every email as though it will be read in public. What a picture. You reap what you sow. I cut down those thistles. I chose what I wanted to plant. I wanted something sweet, sweet tomatoes, luscious corn, things that are good to the taste, because when you plant them, it comes back to you.
Galatians 6:7, "Do not be deceived." This is a very strong verse. "Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. That which a man sows, he will also reap. And when you speak about others--" May the words we speak be words of truth and said in the spirit of edification, of building others up. This is a directive from the Lord Himself. The Lord gives directives. Do you know that the Lord gives directives even in the New Testament?
He tells us how to live, He tells us how to speak, He tells us how to be. Ephesians 4:29 is one of those verses that is a directive. He says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth." Isn’t that a great verse right there? The key to that verse is the word no, as in none, nada, ничего. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth. It's important to God. What we say is important to God. Did you know this? What we say is important to God. Look at James. James has got a whole section on the power of the tongue, the danger of the tongue. With it, we bless God, and with it, we curse man.
No, this ought not be. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification. You know what that word means? Building up, building up as a Christian, as one carried on eagles' wings, drawn to Himself. He says, "Let me show you what it means to live the way I'm asking you to live." Only such a word which is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear it.
James 1:26, "If anyone thinks of himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart-" here it is again, "-this man's religion is worth nothing."
III. You Shall Not Covet
Now, that's a strong word, but God is not afraid to speak strong words, I've discovered. Then last, He said, "You shall not covet." The tenth commandment pre-supposes that fallen man will be unsatisfied and discontent. He's saying this for their good, for their good. "I carried you on eagles' wings, I drew you to myself. I brought you to myself. I'll show you what it means to live with my heart."
He knew the condition of man after the fall of Adam, that would he be unsatisfied. He would look for things that belonged to his neighbor to fill his emptiness. This commandment is the only one that actually speaks to the thoughts and the motives of the heart. The rest of them speak about behaviors. This is the only one that speaks about thought. He knows coveting is the roots of many problems in life. Many sins begin with coveting, but I'll tell you this is important to recognize.
A. There is a spiritual secret
There is a spiritual secret, there's a spiritual secret. What's behind coveting is the false assumption that if you have this thing or that thing that belongs to your neighbor, that you'd be content, but God knows that's not true.
That's not so, and so that's why He gives this word. Being content is what is lacking in many people's lives. Something out there. There's always something out there. A young person would say, "If I was just married, if I was just married, then I would be happy. I would be content with life." Then it was, "If we could just have kids, if we could just have kids, then we'd be content. If we could just buy a house, we could just get a house, then all would be good. If I could just get that promotion, then all would be good."
There's always something out there. It's never today. It's never today. It's always something missing. It's always tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Always something out there. Never today. God knew. God knew the heart was the issue, but there's this spiritual secret. Many people do not know the key. The secret, Paul does know the answer. Paul does know the secret. This is Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I've learned to be content in whatever circumstance. I know how to get along with humble means." Many people cannot.
They're frustrated with humble means. He said, "I've learned how to live. Get along with humble means. I know how to live in prosperity." Many people don't. Many people don't. "In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret. Being filled or going hungry, of having abundance or suffering need. I do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God's my source. God's my source of life. God's my answer. God satisfies my soul." The soul is the most important part about us. All of those things that we think are going to satisfy are actually appealing to the flesh, but the soul God knows must be satisfied.
Now, it's important to recognize that to covet is more than to desire. It's more than just to desire. It's not saying in one's heart, "What a nice house my neighbor has. I wish I had such a house." That's not what we're speaking about. It's taking steps to get that house. "No, I want that house and I will get that house," or, "I want that woman." That's your neighbor's spouse. That's off limits. "No, I want that woman." That's not your wife. "I want that woman," or, "I want that property. I will take that property," whatever it may be. It's that thing. It's taking steps to get that specific thing.
One of the classic examples in the Scripture has to be that of when King Ahab in Northern Israel coveted a vineyard that was owned by a man named Naboth. The vineyard was near to King Ahab's house, and Ahab wanted it badly. He came to Naboth. He said, "I like your vineyard. I want to plant vegetable garden. I want your vineyard. I'll pay you for it. I'll pay you an honest wage for it. I'll pay you for it, or if you prefer, I will trade you for it. Some other property, we'll give you more property somewhere else, but I want your vineyard."
Naboth responded, "How can I do this? This is my family inheritance. This property has been in my family for generations. I cannot sell, can I get rid of my family's inheritance? I cannot do it." Ahab couldn't believe it. He was dejected. He was depressed. He actually laid down on his bed and turned his head to the wall and started soaking. His wife, Jezebel, comes in, "What are you soaking about?" "Naboth won't give me his vineyard. I offered him money, he won't take it. I offered to trade it and he won't take it. I can't get Naboth's vineyard." Jezebel said, "Stop your soaking. I'll get the vineyard." She was a despicable woman.
I've never ever met anybody who named their daughters after Jezebel. She's just a wicked woman. "I'll get your vineyard, stop your soaking," plus she sent word, "Hold a fast and then for the feast, afterwards, have Naboth sit at the head of the table. Then have two despicable people falsely accuse and say, 'He blasphemed, he cursed God and the king.'" They did this, and then she said in her note, "Then immediately take him out and have him stoned." They did it. Then the word came back to Jezebel, "It's been done. Naboth has been killed." She went in to Ahab, "Stop your soaking, you got your vineyard."
Then Elijah showed up, the Prophet Elijah met Ahab who happened to be out looking at his new possession, admiring his new vineyard. Who should show up but Elijah. 1 Kings 21:20, "Ahab said to Elijah, 'Have you found me, my enemy?' Elijah answered, 'Yes, I've found you. I've found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord.'" Now, that's just a powerful thing. This is the end. This is the beginning of the end for Ahab right here. How much is enough? Will the flesh ever be satisfied? Many people long for what they don't have, believing, thinking that if they just had it, they would be satisfied. I'll tell you something, the flesh will never be satisfied.
B. Have a heart that’s thankful
Luke 12:15, Jesus said, "Not even when one has an abundance, does his life consist of his possessions." No, what we need is a heart that's thankful. That's all we need. We need to thank God for what we have. We are blessed, are we not? We are blessed. We are so, so blessed. So many people, they're focused on what they don't have, but to be thankful is to appreciate what you do have because God provides. God supplies your need. We are blessed. We are blessed. We are blessed. Solomon, in all of his glory, didn't have a microwave oven.
We're blessed. The question is who do we look to to satisfy our needs? We need God. We need truth in the inner man. We need the Holy Spirit in the inner man, and He knows it. That why He's speaking to it. "I've brought you on eagles' wings to myself. That's where you'll find your life. Brought you on eagles' wings, I brought you to myself. There, you'll find life." Where do you find life? Isn't life more than work or just breathing or just living day to day? Isn't life more than that? It's the soul. The soul is where life resides. "I've come that you have life and have it abundantly." We need God.