Peace and grace to you from God the Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus, Christ Amen!
Good evening, everyone. Tonight we are talking about the 10 commandments, and what they mean for us as Biblical Laws. As many of you here are parents or have had some kind of rules in your life, you will know that setting boundaries is important. They are an important part of being a parent, a friend, really any kind of relationship that you might have. Having proper boundaries for what is and is not okay is important, because it keeps others and ourselves in check, and makes sure that we can stay in relationship. Now, as Lutherans, we might be tempted to say “the Law? Boo, hiss! Why do we need that? We have Christ.” But I want to remind you that Christ came to fulfill the Law. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. '” (Matthew 5:17-18) And if Jesus talked about it like this, you know that it is important.
So, I want to ask you something real quick: Who here is an oldest child? You might be the ones the parents set rules for. Alright, and now who is a middle child? You were probably the ones that the rules got tested on. And any youngest children? Yeah, the rules probably don't apply to you the same way they did for your sibling. At least that's my family experience. But all the same, we need rules for our households. The same is true for our relationship to God. In the beginning, those boundaries got crossed, and creation wound up in a mess. So after claiming the Israelites as God's people, God knew that there would need to be some rules so that they could continue to get along. So, let's talk about the Commandments.
If you'd like to follow along, I invite you to join me on page 1160 of your red hymnal. Now talking about the Ten Commandments for me is a challenge, because I know that I could make this an entire Lenten session. But given that I only have a few minutes, let's see what I can do. So, first off, you will notice that the first three commandments deal with God, and the other seven deal with other humans. First, let's focus on God. The first three commandments, 1. I am the lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me, 2. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain, and 3. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. Okay. These are about giving God God's place in our life. If we are able to keep these, we should be able to have a good foundation for a relationship with God. Now, there are many ways we can honor God with our worship, and they all stem from these three commandments. You see, when God first gave these commandments, the Israelites were newly out of Egypt, a nation that had many gods. And so God set up his rules to set God apart from the other gods so that the Israelites knew who and how they were to worship. And the Israelites struggled, just as people struggle today with their own worship today. But God loved the people, and knew that they needed to be taught a better way of living and worshiping.
Next, let's talk about the other seven commandments, which are the ways in which God wants us to take care of our neighbors. We've got 4. Honor your mother and father, 5. you shall not murder, 6. you shall not commit adultery, or cheat on your partner, 7. you shall not steal, 8. You shall not bear false witness, or lie and slander your neighbor, 9. Don't covet your neighbor's house, and 10. don't covet anything in your neighbor's house or yard, including the people. Okay. These are a bit harder, especially that one about slander during election season. These are the commandments that were set down so that we know how to help care for our neighbors. What these commandments are telling us is that our faith is not all about us as individuals. Let me say that again: Our faith is NOT all about us. The first three commandments are about how we should be in our relationship with God, and giving God's proper place, whereas the other seven are about us and our relationship with our neighbor. It's not all about us as individuals. God knew that because humans need to work together to survive, we would need a set of rules to make sure that we could stand to be around one another.
So tonight we talk about the ten commandments. You see, as Lutherans, we have a faith that combines both law and Gospel. As Lutherans we see that there are three uses of the law. The first is that that the law helps to curb sinful nature. And while it does not stop sin, it prevents sin from completely breaking out. The second way that we use the law is like a mirror, as the law reflects how God created the human heart and life to be. And finally, the Law is used as a guide to help us towards better lives. Now, we also know that the law can't do everything, and it's through the grace that God gave us that we are able to live and love in this world and the next. And for that we can turn and say “thanks be to God. Amen!”