Are there things of which you ought properly to be afraid? Are there unreasonable phobias? What role does fear play in your relationship with God? Exodus 20:18-21 describes the fear of the people of Israel when God spoke to them—and the response of Moses. In what may seem (upon a superficial look) to be contradictory, he assures them that they should not be afraid, while, at the same time calling them to the fear of God. How do you, some 3,500 years later, think of God? Are you afraid—or not? Should you be afraid of God?
Do not be afraid. A holy God is someone to fear. The signs on the mountain indicated the presence of a holy God. God must punish sin. His holy nature cannot tolerate sin, Habakkuk 1:13a. With good reason Adam was frightened when God appeared in the Garden after he had sinned. John Murray writes, “When the reason for such dread exists, then to be destitute of it is the sign of hardened ungodliness.” By nature, as sinners, all of us have good reason to be terrified of God. Hebrews 10:31 reminds you that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Continue reading “Afraid? Or Not Afraid?”
“Part of my heart is in _______.” Fill in the blank with the name of a place where you lived, a place that continues to have an impact on your life. Where your heart is includes not just places you have lived, but also shows what is central to your life, as the 10th Commandment, Exodus 20:17, makes clear.
Don’t defraud. It is not wrong to desire things. God pronounced his creation very good as he entrusted it to Adam and Eve to use to this glory. Sin does not lie in things or wealth. The sin begins when you desire what is your neighbor’s.Today your neighbor may not have a donkey or ox to covet, but the Jaguar or Viper on his driveway may tempt you to break this commandment! The idea that desire in itself is wrong has much more to do with Buddhism (liberty is found in the death of desire), than it does with Biblical Christianity. The world is God’s creation. He has entrusted it to you as his steward. To use and subdue it is a God-glorifying activity. Enjoying the good things God has made can glorify him. Abraham was a very godly man—who was very rich. Desiring wealth can be good, as long as that desire is bound by God’s law, Proverbs 30:8,9; 1 Timothy 5:8; 6:17. Continue reading “Where Is Your Heart?”
Have you ever had to give testimony under oath? You made a solemn promise, you affirmed that you would tell the truth. That is the setting of the 9th Commandment, Exodus 20:16.
Do not lie. Do justice. God’s law outlines basic principles of justice: judges and public trials were established, Deuteronomy 16:18. Justice was not to be swayed by outside considerations, Exodus 23:1-9. The duty of witnesses was important. There were to be a plurality of witnesses, and they were to be participants in the judgment. Maliciously false witnesses were to be punished. True witness is impossible without the fear of God. Nothing but the truth must be spoken in testimony. Justice needs God’s law, 2 Chronicles 19:6,7. In an age when the name of God has become an expletive, is it any wonder that the truthfulness, even of sworn testimony, is often in doubt? Continue reading “To Tell the Truth”
How do you relate to money and things in the world around you? Do you own things, or do they own you? Exodus 20:15 commands you not to steal, but behind that commandment lies a way of looking at yourself, those around you, the world, and, above all, God.
God has given you dominion. God has delegated authority. He alone is sovereign, Exodus 9:29; Psalm 50:9-12. He made you in his image. Therefore you have dominion, Genesis 1:26-28. Though dominion is abused, God has still given you the world to use. You hold the office of king, serving the King of kings. That puts perspective even on what seems to be mundane work. Salvation in Christ restores the image and the proper use of dominion. God’s delegated authority includes that which he has given to the state to prevent and punish theft. The protection of property is part of its God-given function. The sin of theft (and the greed from which it arises) reverses roles, and makes you controlled by things. Continue reading “Honest to God”