Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something Interesting Happened

A few days ago, I saw a comment in one of my posts from a Andrew Holmes, and in the comment he gave a web address to a post on his blog Live Like Dirt. I was amazed to find that he had posted something in response to what I had written. And so I obviously read what he wrote and responded in his comments. As we discussed, there were some comments from others; one in particular came from Tristan Zimmerman:

"...morality isn't something where one side can prove to the other who's right or wrong. It's not testable. It's philosophy; it's logic. And depending on what assumptions you start out with, you can come to radically different conclusions, with NO WAY to reconcile them... Me, I believe that my gut is the best judge of whether something is right or wrong – I trust my upbringing to be my moral guide."

Then a little later Andrew said "For right now I’m going to avoid any arguments about morality and the Ten Commandments" I replied "you said you do not want to discuss morality and the 10 Commandments - for now. When you do, I would love if you commented on my blog to start the discussion" and I was happy with his response "Sure I'll come on over to your blog for a little 10 commandment talk"

So this post is for Andrew and Tristan (but anyone can feel free to join in commenting; but to let you know, I moderate comments to prevent foul language)

The Ten Commandments and Their Purpose

A little girl was once watching a sheep eat grass and thought how white it looked against the green background. But when it began to snow she thought, "That sheep now looks dirty against the white snow!" It was the same sheep, but with a different background.

When we compare ourselves to man's standard we look pretty clean, but when we compare ourselves to the pure snow-white righteousness of God's standard—His Law, we can see ourselves in truth, that we are unclean in His sight. That Law is the holy standard by which humanity will be judged on Judgment Day.

This is the purpose of the Ten Commandments. This is why we cannot trust in our gut, or let our upbringing be our moral guide; when we do, it is easy to say compared to others we are pretty good - but how are we compared to God's standard?

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me. (Have you always loved God above all else?)
  2. You shall not make yourself an idol. (Have you made a god in your mind that you're more comfortable with, a god to suit yourself?)
  3. You shall not take God's name in vain. (Have you ever used God's holy Name as a cuss word?)
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder. (God considers hatred to be as murder - 1 John 3:15).
  7. You shall not commit adultery. ("Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart" Matthew 5:27-28; this also includes sex before marriage).
  8. You shall not steal. (Have you ever stolen anything? the value of the item is irrelevant).
  9. You shall not lie. (Have you lied even once? Including answering these questions).
  10. You shall not covet. (Have you ever jealously desired what belongs to others?)
Who of us can say we are not guilty of breaking these Commandments? All of us have sinned, and just as with civil law, you don't have to break ten laws to be a lawbreaker, so the Bible warns, "For whoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." (James 2:10)

The Law of God is merely like a mirror—all a mirror does is show you the truth. If you see egg on your face, you don't try and wash yourself with the mirror, it's purpose should be to send you to water for cleansing. Neither should you try and wash yourself with the mirror of God's Law...that's not its purpose. The sight in the mirror is not a pretty one, but if you don't face it and acknowledge that you are unclean, then all that "dirt" will be presented on Judgment Day as evidence of your guilt, and then it will be too late to be cleansed.

This may sound strange, but the solution is not to try and clean up your lifestyle—you realize that you have sinned, so from now on you will keep the Ten Commandments, do good deeds, say the right things and think only pure thoughts. But should a judge let a murderer go because he says he will now live a good life? No, he's in debt to justice and therefore must be punished.

If you read in the newspaper that a man received a $5 fine for a crime, you could conclude that his crime was insignificant. But if a man received multiple life sentences, you could conclude that his crime was heinous. In the same way, we can catch a glimpse of how terrible sin must be in the sight of God by looking to the punishment given for it—eternal punishment.

Perhaps you think that God is good and will therefore overlook your sins. But if you were guilty of terrible crimes in a civil court and said to the judge, "Judge, I am guilty but I believe that you are a good man and will therefore overlook my crimes," the judge would probably respond by saying, "You are right about one thing; I am a good man, and it's because of my goodness that I am going to see that justice is done, that you are punished for your crimes." The very thing that many are hoping will save them on Judgment Day, God's "goodness," will be the very thing that will condemn them. If God is good, He should punish murderers. liars, thieves, etc., and Hell will be their dreadful fate.

Can you see your predicament? You are guilty of sinning against God Himself, and, because you have a conscience, you have sinned "with knowledge" (conscience means: con-with, science-knowledge) Isn't it true that every time you lied, stole, lusted, etc., you did it with knowledge that it was wrong? (Maybe this is the "gut" Tristan was referring to)

God Himself is not willing that you perish. To make clear what an incredible thing He has done for you in the Gospel, let's look again to civil law: You are standing in front of a judge, guilty of very serious crimes. All the evidence has been presented and there is no doubt about your guilt. The fine for your crime is $250,000 or imprisonment, but you haven't two pennies to rub together. The judge is about to pass sentence...he lifts his gavel, when someone you don't even know steps in and pays the fine for you. The moment you accept that payment, you are free to go. Justice has been served, the law has been satisfied, and what's more, the stranger who paid your fine showed how much he cares for you. His payment was evidence of his love.

That's what God did for you, in the person of Jesus Christ. you are guilty, He paid the fine 2,000 years ago. It is that simple. The Bible puts it this way: "he was bruised for our iniquities . . . Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law being made a curse for us...God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

It was no small thing for Jesus to die for us. The only thing that would satisfy the demands of Eternal Law was the suffering death of the sinless Son of God. What love God must have for you! He suffered unspeakable agony, so that you wouldn't have to be punished for your sins. His sacrificial death and resurrection mean that you need no longer be in debt to the Law, and God can now grant you everlasting life if you obey Him -- death no longer has a legal hold upon those who belong to Jesus Christ.

What should you then do? Simply repent (turn from your sin to Jesus) and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord -the same way you would put your faith in a parachute; you don't just "believe" it will benefit you, you actually trust yourself to it by putting it on.

Don't put it off until tomorrow.

* most of this explanation of the 10 Commandments and it's purpose comes from Ray Comforts booklet "are you good enough to go to heaven"


  1. Hello Mordecai,

    Sorry about the delay responding to this post. I intended yo get over here sooner, but it's been a busy week.

    It makes sense to me that if you believe that Yahweh is the one true god you would want to follow his rules. For individuals such as myself that do not believe in God(s) or supernaturalism you might be able to see how it would be difficult to accept these rules as a matter of fact.

    In this context the first four commandments are meaningless to me. All they really do is demonstrate the jealousy and insecurity of Yahweh.

    The fifth and sixth are matters of common sense. Respect your folks, don't kill people. I think most human beings can agree with these. However there are circumstances in which even rules must be disobeyed in order to act morally.
    First, what if your parents were rapists? Would you still be compelled to obey them? Secondly, what about killing someone in act of self defense? What about killing those that are truly evil (i.e. Adolf Hitler)? Aren't these instances in which the strict dogmatic guidelines must be avoided in order to do the moral thing?

    Commandments 7 and 10 force everyone in existence into a state of sin through the adoption of thought crime. Thinking about bad things doesn't make you into a bad person, acting on these thoughts is what counts.

    Commandment 8 and 9 are laws with which I agree. Stealing and lying are things people should avoid doing. What I find most striking about the ten commandents are those that are missing from the list:

    Thou shall not enslave other human beings.

    Thou shall treat all people equal despite of their sex, gender, race, creed, sexual orientation, etc.

    The human race can modify and improve the ten commandents, not by an appeal to one's gut, but though the use of critical analysis and reason.

  2. Thank You for your reply. While I think your response is well thought, I do have a few things to say.

    In the New Testament Jesus summed up the Law a few times saying "love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength & love your neighbor as yourself" So what you're saying about what is missing isn't missing. It is not laid out in the 10 Commandments the way the others are; but to love neighbor as yourself -is to not only treat all people equal, but to love them (we can treat all people equally bad, and that would be wrong)

    The Bible says God is jealous - and if God exist and is Creator and Ruler of all - He has the right to be. It makes sense that God being the source of life, would be upset when we don't honor Him with our life. If I bought my kids a new toy; and they then refused to obey me, show me affection, greet me when I came home from work, etc. I would be upset because they have chosen to love the gift more than the giver.

    Being immoral to be moral is also flawed; for example; to not dishonor your parents does not always mean obey them always. And about those who are "truly evil" what if you had a time machine to go back in time and kill every person before they killed someone - you would kill more than virtually every one who ever lived. And truly there are times that taking a life is not murder in certain instances; defending yourself - or when death is sentenced within the law (this depends on how moral the laws of the land are, but I think you know what I mean)

    But all this comes to a point where you say there must be a standard outside and independent of ourselves. Because we can agree Hitler was wrong; and if he thought he was not, it wouldn't make it OK. If I reasoned specific commandments were good, but thought adultery was OK; it would still be wrong. And so the source of the standard outside of us decides when our logic is wrong - and if He says our thoughts are also condemning, who are we to say otherwise?


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