Find out the true purpose of the 10 Commandments!
INTRODUCTION / THE 10 COMMANDMENTS
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I'm the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Morning to you.
For much of 2017, we've been walking through the Book of Exodus in the
Bible...and following the Israelites journey out of slavery in Egypt.
1. In our chapter for today, chapter 20, the Israelites are at Mt Sinai, and
are going to receive the famous 10 Commandments
a. If you were here last week, we talked about how God has just
descended down onto a trembling mountain in smoke and fire...
i. ...in preparation for delivering the 10 commandments...so
that the people would take them seriously
ii. Speaking of the 10 commandments, that reminds me of the story of the first
grade Sunday school teacher who was teaching her class about the 10
1. When she got to "Do not commit adultery," she got really nervous and
was wondering how in the world she was going to explain it
a. She read the command, and then, a 7-year old girl raised her
hand, and said teacher... "What does... 'commit' mean?"
b. We are in a particular section of Exodus right now called "The Law"
i. Last week, in chapter 19, God prepared them to hear "the law"
ii. This week, in chapter 20, we're going to get the bedrock of "the law" (the 10
iii. And next week, when we do chapters 21-23...we'll get into the nitty
gritty of The Law
1. So next week we're going to cover many of tiny and odd laws in the
Bible that you may read and think, "Wait, what? Why is that in the
Bible? And why don't we pay attention to that anymore?"
i. Or maybe a skeptic who's never read the Bible...pulls
out that verse to you (because they googled it)...and
says, "Ha! See!! You guys just pick and choose what
1. We're going to cover that dicey topic next
week...so be here for that.
c. So God is going to give the 10 Commandments to the people now.
And by the way, God speaks the 10 commandments AUDIBLY to the
entire assembly of Israelites.
Probably, due to Hollywood interpretations, I think many of us picture
Moses going up the mountain, getting the 10 commandments from
God, and bringing them down and then explaining them.
Moses does indeed get them written on tablets by God later...
But the very first time God gave the 10 commandments,
they were spoken audibly by the voice of God to the
entire assembly of Israelites...so there would be no
doubt to their source and authority.
(Exodus 20:1-17) -- NIV
And God spoke all these words:
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 "You shall have no other gods before me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the
earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for
I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the
third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a
thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone
guiltless who misuses his name.
8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your
work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any
work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your
animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens
and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore,
the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land 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 give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his
male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
So there you have it.
10 incredibly important commandments on how we should be in
relationship with God and with each other.
WHAT THEY ARE NOT (CANNOT MAKE YOU OBEY OR SAVE YOU)
Now, I'm going to go about this kind of differently today.
I could do the typical thing...and just walk through each of the 10 ...giving you 3
paragraphs on each and why you should obey them.
But if I do that...my fear is that this chapter of Scripture...isolated from
the rest of the Bible (as it often is)...could lead you to the wrong
conclusions about the basic purposes of the 10 commandments...and I
certainly don't want that.
Because for generations...and for centuries...The 10
Commandments have been looked at as merely rules.
But, Biblically...their purpose is much richer than simply
I want to start by telling you about what the commandments can NOT do.
Firstly, they can NOT make you obey.
"The Law" (God's commandments) in the Bible...have often been called a
guardrail, a mirror, a guide...but...I was thinking about it this week, and I think
they could also be called a Radar Speed Sign.
Do you know what I'm talking about?
The signs that not only have the speed limit but show you how
fast you're going
Now, they're nice...studies show they're effective...
But they can't MAKE you obey.
Now, I suspect in 30 years...these things
will electronically communicate with
your car and MAKE you drive the speed
But for now...they can't make
you do anything.
(Back to MESSAGE TITLE SCREEN)
And "Biblical law" is similar.
Let me go at this a different way.
What do we want to see in our lives...as Christians?
We want to see good fruit.
The Apostle Paul describes that fruit in his letter to the
Galatians as Love, Joy, Peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
And you can create rules to make those things happen
If you have grumpy teenagers, you can't say,
"We have a new rule in this house...and you
WILL be joyful!"
People aren't going to obey God's commandments simply because
they've been made aware of them.
Awareness helps (but we'll talk later that it has to come in the right
Knowledge, without a change of heart, doesn't bring obedience.
I think a lot of Christians don't understand this Biblical
They are convinced that if they could just make
more people "aware" of God's rules...society
That's simply not what history tells us
There are plenty of examples of this.
John Calvin, who was one of the leaders of the Reformation in the
1500's, tried to enforce God's Biblical law on his entire town in Geneva,
Switzerland (it was enforced whether you were following Jesus or
not)...and it was a disaster.
Because you cannot legislate morality
Thank back to the 1920's and Prohibition.
Leading up to the 1920's, Christians were concerned that alcohol was
ruining lives of far too many people (as alcoholism was rampant), and so
they successfully lobbied politicians to ban the production and sale of
alcohol in America from 1920-1933....
It actually did make an impact on the overall amount of alcohol
that was consumed...
But rules don't change hearts...
You can discipline someone into outward
compliance...(which may look like changed
behavior)...but that doesn't mean you changed
This happens in parenting all the time.
Parents can create an exhaustive list of rules,
and through those rules, they can discipline and
force their kids into outward compliance
But God isn't concerned about
compliance if the heart doesn't come
Think of the Pharisees in the NT.
They followed hundreds of rules, but Jesus
called them whitewashed tombs...because
while they looked good on the outside...they
were rotten on the inside.
And that's why I'm not simply standing
here and telling you to obey each of the
The enforcement of
commandments (absent of the
misunderstands the purpose of
In fact, what happens when you enforce commands (without the heart
going along with them) is what I like to call "whac-a- mole syndrome"
So go back to Prohibition: The U.S. government banned alcohol
in the 20's (the mole goes down)...but in its place (another
mole) popped up (because you haven't changed the heart!!!)
As a result of prohibition, the American Mafia exploded
in growth all over the country...
"The Mob" (which previous to this...was tiny)
was now tolerated because it was the "The
Mob" that began to illegally brew and distribute
Which police and politicians still
And so...the Mafia (now
unchecked) morphed into an
enormously powerful system of
So, it looked like we appeared to fix one
problem...but it just popped up in a different
Because you cannot create a rule, and just by the existence of said
rule...change someone's heart to obey it
Even the Book of Exodus itself clearly proves this
Just a few chapters after the 10 commandments...we're
going to see Moses go up the mountain to meet with
God...and by the time he comes back 40 days later...
The people all seem to be in one drunken, sex-
worshipping a golden calf as their God!
They knew the rules!
But mere knowledge and enforcement
of the rules won't change hearts.
SO what's the purpose of rules
and commandments, then?
d. Before we answer that, let me give you one more thing that God's rules can NOT do.
1) They cannot make you obey AND 2) They cannot save you.
Think back to the Radar Speed Sign.
If I'm driving high up in the mountains somewhere...along a
dangerously curvy road.
And I'm flying around the curve at 40mph, and I see a
Radar Speed Sign that says 25 mph...will that save me?
No...it could help me...but a command can't
And the 10 commandments and God's
law...they can't save you either.
And yet, Christians have been dealing with the temptation to believe that for the last
Every century has had its battle with legalism (the idea that if I adhere to the
law well enough...I can earn God's love)
Which is the exact opposite of what Christianity is.
I've been reading the biography of Martin Luther...who was the leader of the Protestant
Reformation in the 1500's...and the main reason we have more than just the Catholic
Before Luther broke away from the Catholic Church...and started the movement
that would become the Lutheran Church...Martin Luther was a Catholic monk.
And he struggled mightily with the weight of his own sin.
So to try and make up for his sin on his own, he constantly
fasted, continually did penance for his sins (slept w/o blankets,
lived in severe poverty, and couldn't stop going to confession.
He later said, "I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of
my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk
got to heaven by his monkery, it was I"
But eventually, he worked himself into a severe depression...because as
hard as he tried...he could not be perfect...nor anywhere even remotely
But to his benefit (and to ours too), he eventually helped
Christians rediscover that the Bible clearly teaches us that the
law (God's commandments) weren't ever meant to save us
They're not meant to be a standard by which you earn
your way to heaven
(Galatians 2:16) -- NIV
16 know that a person is not justified by the works
of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too,
have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be
justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of
the law, because by the works of the law no one
will be justified.
PURPOSE #1: TO CONVICT
So, what then is the point of the law? What is the point of the 10 commandments?
If the commandments and rules aren't there to force us into compliance or save
us...why are they there? What is their purpose??
There are two purposes really.
One for the unbeliever and one for the believer.
Let's start with the unbeliever.
The purpose of the law...for the unbeliever...is to convict them of sin.
The Bible is really clear about this:
(Romans 3:20) -- NIV
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of
the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
(Romans 7:7) -- NIV
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I
would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would
not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "You shall
Again, if I'm driving in Blaine...and I'm driving faster than I should (which unfortunately
for me, is too often)
And I see the Radar Speed Sign say that I'm driving 39 in a 30...
It doesn't force me to obey
It doesn't save me from death
But it can convict me of sin...of my wrongdoing.
Let me be honest with you...I actually hate those things.
Sometimes I just feel like shaking my first at it
I read an article this week about them, and it
said, "That some, in reaction to being told they
are speeding by a radar sign, actually speed
And that's what the law and the commandments do for many in society.
When our hearts are not ready to hear God's truth...often the words of
the law just cause us to want to rebel even more
iii. But if you take a different person, who's not yet a Christian, and YET
God has started to begin move in their heart...
When you're not a Christian yet, and God starts moving in your
heart...and now you hear that you've sinned (you've lied, you've lusted,
you've dishonored your parents and God...now it starts to hit home.
And you see that now...you will never be good enough...that you
could never accumulate enough good deeds to be forgiven.
The law, then, actually helps people become Christians
It shows the seeker that they are indeed guilty of sin...and they
only way to be saved...is through a Savior.
That's one of the main ways that God still uses the law
and the commandments today.
PURPOSE #2: TO SHOW YOU HOW TO LIVE
But there is a second great purpose of the commandments and the law
And this one is for those who are already Christians.
We hinted at this a little last week when we described how God doesn't just want you to
avoid falling over the guardrail at the grand canyon, he wants you to LIVE...
And the flashing radar sign isn't just to convict you of wrongdoing...but to help
you live...and to continue to enjoy life in a way that's good for you...and
honoring to Him.
Next year, I'll be 36 years old.
I came to Christ when I was 18.
So then I'll have lived 18 years not following him...and 18 years
And one of the strongest evidences I have for the existence of God is the reality
of what I found in my heart while NOT living for Him versus LIVING for Him.
I spent so much of those first 18 years breaking as many
commandments as possible...
Trying to find pleasure and life...and instead it brought me anger
And in the last 18 years, as I've tried to live trusting in God's way...I am
constantly in awe of how wise our God's path is for us.
a. Internally I often think... "I'd rather just sin"
But one of the things that helps me avoid it...is the trust
I've developed for God that His way is INDEED so much
His law is the flashing sign to where we
experience the life we want.
So as a Christian, I believe that I ought
to take the 10 commandments
incredibly serious...because I believe
they are 10 ways to glorify God and 10
ways to experience a better life on
And our culture is drowning in the pain of not understanding this right now
It seems like every day we find out there are 1 or 2 more famous people that
have sexually harassed or abused a host of people.
And it's heartbreaking to hear about what these victims have gone
But you know what else is heartbreaking?
Watching the culture-at- large trying to figure out why
it's all happening
I've read countless articles in the last month of
writers who just cannot believe that this is
happening to us right now.
And yet, it should come as no shock to us.
Since the late 1960's, Americans have been doing their very
best to deconstruct and tear down any radar signs, rules, or
regular guardrails when it comes to sex
Our movies, our television shows, our journalists have
tried their hardest to erase all the boundary lines of
But we must understand that when we do
that...and we take away the speed signs...and
we take away the guardrails...all so we can say,
"it doesn't matter what you do, sexually,
Then, we mustn't be surprised when we
feel the pain of falling off the cliff.
Our culture got sick of the radar speed signs
telling us what to do...
...so we labeled them as repressive and
we threw them off...forgetting that they
were the very things that helped us stay
on the path to life!
THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE TO OBEDIENCE
But we must be careful...even with that example...
What's the answer to a changed society?
Is it just to return to old fashioned morals?
Would all the sexual harassment and abuse stop if we once again
helped everyone memorize the 10 commandments?
No. Remember, just knowing the commandments can't make you obey...nor can they
change you inside or save you...
We have to understand the purpose of rules in their proper order.
But who can change you? Who can change your heart and the way you live?!
(Romans 8:3-4) -- NEW LIVING TRANSLATION!!!!!
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our
sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in
a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an
end to sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He
did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for
us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Jesus perfectly obeyed the law...so he was a perfect sacrifice for
And if we believe in Him...the Holy Spirit comes in
us...and starts empowering us to actually obey the law!
He CHANGES our heart
Which, previously...was always magnetized
towards disobeying God's laws...to now
(through the Spirit) we often want to obey his
You change a society by introducing the
society to one who changes hearts and
thus truly changes lives...Jesus Christ
Trying to obey the commandments by reading a list of rules and attempting to obey
them in your own strength is like trying to drive a car up and down a steep, curvy
mountain road while putting the car in neutral.
It's God who gives you the strength to not covet, to not lust, to not worship
money as an idol.
And so the proper order (the proper place of commandments)...is that once you have
the Holy Spirit inside of you...empowering you to obey the commandments...you want
to know them as well as you can...
So you can live as God wants you to!
But we must be careful to not flip the order around!
If you go back to what we said about parenting earlier...So often parents put so much
effort into getting compliance and obedience from their kids
But they put hardly any effort towards developing the heart!
But what we should be doing is prioritizing our efforts into helping our
kids fall in love with Jesus, so they can be empowered by the Spirit to
obey God's will.
Because with God's love flowing in them, obedience comes
much more naturally
And that is the purpose of commandments in their right & Godly order
And yet far too many parents focus all of their efforts into obedience
and rules (and not the heart), and it's actually a completely backwards
way of looking at the commandments
And if you teach the commandments in this backward way (and
you're always telling your kids, "This is what a Christian
does...you need to obey God"), you end up risking raising a
rebellious child or a Pharisee
But if you instead put your effort to help your child (and this is true for
you too)...you put the effort into falling in love with Jesus
And out of that...you expose their hearts to commands (in the
context of this is how we love and honor our God who saved
us)...then they will truly see those commands as radar speed
signs pointing to more LIFE
So when you go back through the 10 commandments (maybe even in House Groups this
I want you to look at them with fresh eyes.
See them not just as heavy rules to be obeyed.
But as signposts to life.
And don't try and obey them in your own strength...ask
the Spirit to empower you on the path to life
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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