The Second Commandment—Exodus 20:4-6

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1 And God spake all these words, saying, 2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 

 

4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 

 

7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 

 

8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 

 

12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 

13 Thou shalt not kill. 

14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 

15 Thou shalt not steal. 

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 

 

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. 

 

I. IDOLATRY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

 

Before we can dig into the second commandment, we need to understand a little about idolatry in the ancient world. 

 

Simply put, idolatry, or the worship of gods, was the ancient man’s way of making sense of and trying to control his world. 

 

Particularly important was agricultural issues—why did it rain? How can we make it rain? A bad year was not simply a year to collect on insurance or maybe file bankruptcy—a bad year could mean death.

 

An image of a god was taken to be a communication conduit to the god that it represented. These gods could act on behalf of man, but they needed to be fed by the means of sacrifices. 

 

These sacrifices “bought” the god’s service (quite different from Biblical sacrifices covering sin). As long as you made your sacrifices, your gods would work on your behalf, and you could live your life anyway you pleased (again, different from the true God, who is concerned about how you live your life and wants your obedience). 

 

There were specialist gods for every facet of life—gods of rain and sun and fertility were very common because of the great dependence ancient man had on crops and animals. 

 

Temple prostitution was common because it was believed that a sexual act with a prostitute in the temple would cause a reciprocal reaction between two gods—say Baal (a male god) and Asherah (a female, mother goddess)—thus causing things to be born on earth.

 

This was the world that God called the Israelites out of to be a different people who worshipped one God. But it was difficult for the Israelites to break off from worshipping other gods, in part because, as one scholar explains…

 

Ancient people also believed in three categories of gods, all of which any individual was likely to differentiate by his or her own beliefs and worship: the personal god, the family god, and the national god. 

 

For most Israelites at most times, and for all other people who knew anything about Israel’s God, Yahweh [Jehovah] was merely a national god. 

 

Ancient Israelites might have, say, Dagon (Judg 16:23; 1 Sam 5; 1 Chr 10:10) as their personal god and perhaps Baal (e.g., Judg 2:13; 6:25, 28, 30–32; 1 Kgs 16:31–32) as their family god, but they would always have Yahweh as his national God. 

 

No Israelite, no matter how totally immersed in idolatry, would ever answer no to the question, “Do you believe in Yahweh?” (Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, The New American Commentary, [Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006], 2:452)

 

Doesn’t that sound familiar to what many “cultural Christians” do today? They will gladly say that Jesus is their God, even while in their lives they follow the gods of money, personal success, fame, or whatever.

 

The fact that the Israelites were so immersed in a culture of other gods, and worshipping images of those gods, necessitated that God be very clear about what they could and could not worship. 

 

Would the mighty Jehovah mind if I had a small wooden idol to help me with my crops? It wouldn’t hurt anything, honest! Continue reading

Testimonies Damaged By Disputes—1 Corinthians 6:1-8

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Levi Durfey

 

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. (1 Corinthians 6:1–8)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

I read a story about a Christian man who would pick up a newspaper from a small grocery store each morning on his way to work. One morning, he discovered that he had taken two newspapers by mistake. 

 

He considered paying the man back the next morning, but decided that he didn’t want the store owner to spend any time at all thinking that he was dishonest. So he drove back to the store and returned the paper.

 

About a week later, the small grocery store was robbed. The police were able to pinpoint the time the robbery occurred, and, as it turned out, the man was one of only two customers in the store at that time.

 

The store owner, however, told the police that it simply couldn’t have been the Christian man. He said, “That man is really honest. He came all the way back here just to return a newspaper he took by mistake.”[1]

 

What struck me about that story is that most people, including Christians, wouldn’t have thought it to be a big deal to have accidentally taken a newspaper. Many, I suspect, would have paid the owner double the next day. For the others, it would have slipped their minds by Noon.

 

But look at the impression it made on the store owner! That is the power of a simple testimony.

 

In the letter to the Corinthians, there is an undercurrent flowing through about the testimony of a church. It’s an undercurrent that suddenly burst to the surface in chapter five. 

 

A man was sleeping with his stepmother, which was something that not even unbelievers would do (5:1). Paul was shocked that the Corinthians, instead of disciplining the man for his fornication, boasted in it! His concern was for their testimony of Christ to the world.

 

Here in chapter six, there’s another problem—another way that they were dragging their testimonies through the mud—they were taking one another to court. I know one reason why many people don’t want to become Christians—they don’t see any difference between them and us. 

 

Sometimes Christians are just as angry as unbelievers when something doesn’t go our way, and we react in the same way—we sue, or defame, or whatever we can do legally to get our way. In our quest for our rights, we neglect our testimony.

 

Folks, this issue of our testimony is really quite important. Ponder this question today—If an unbeliever could observe you throughout your day, would he or she want to consider becoming a Christian? Would he see a difference in your life?

 

Let’s take a look at how Paul addressed the Corinthians about lawsuits against one another and their testimony of Christ. Continue reading

Sinners Inside And Outside The Church—1 Corinthians 5:9-13

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1 Corinthians 5 began with a man in the Corinthian church who was living with, sleeping with his stepmother. Instead of speaking out against the sin, the church instead boasted in the man’s sin. 

 

Perhaps they thought it was his Christian liberty to do so, or perhaps they thought it was an expression of Christian love. 

 

There are times and places for liberty and love, of course, but not when the sin is so obvious and so corrupting of others in the church.

 

Paul called upon the church to discipline him by removing him from their presence. The goal of this discipline was to hopefully to see the man come to his senses and repent and be “saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 

 

In verses 6-8, Paul gives a foundational principle for his command in verses 1-5 to expel the man. Basically, it’s the “one rotten apple spoils the whole bunch” principle. Sin has a tendency to spread and so, if a believer is persistent and unrepentant in a sin, they need to be disciplined by the entire church.

 

Before he ends this section, Paul has to clear up a misunderstanding. He says—

 

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 

 

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 

 

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Corinthians 5:9–13)

 

When I first started pondering this passage, the dominant feature that I saw was the list of sinners in verse ten and then repeated in verse eleven. The sinner in focus in this chapter was a fornicator, why did he add other sinners? And why are there two lists? And why is one list longer than the other?

 

Let’s start our lesson here by…

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The First Commandment—Exodus 20:1-3

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

One mistake that people sometimes make with the Ten Commandments is assuming that it constitutes the totality of what God’s law is—of what he requires from us. 

 

It is far from it, as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount:

 

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery [the seventh commandment]: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27–28)

 

And in the very next chapter of Exodus, we see that God immediately expands on the Ten Commandments with more commandments, “Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them” (Exodus 21:1).

 

The Ten Commandments are not God’s complete law to Israel or to us; they are more like a constitution laying out basic principles for worshiping God and living together as his people. 

 

In fact, Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments (and the rest of the law) exactly that way—

 

30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30–31)

 

Now Jesus didn’t mean that that’s all we need to obey (“Hey, I can love my neighbor by committing adultery with her!”). He meant it as a summary of all what God wants us to do.

 

What I hope to do as we go through each of the Ten Commandments is to show how it’s really just a jumping off point of more detailed commands found in both the Old and New Testaments. 

 

For example, not committing adultery unpacks into commands about lusting, loving your wife, submitting to your husband, and so on.

 

In doing so, I want us to see the relevance (and the proper application) of the Ten Commandments for us as Christians.

 

Ultimately, what we’ll discover is that we can’t keep the Ten Commandments through our own strength.

 

It’s by faith in God that we are to obey. It’s because God has given us new hearts that desire to obey him, even if we still fail him from time to time (Jeremiah 31:33).

Continue reading

Purge The Leaven For Purity—1 Corinthians 5:6-8

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Last time we saw that there was a man in the Corinthian church who was living with, sleeping with his stepmother. Instead of speaking out against the sin, the church instead boasted in the man’s sin. 

 

Perhaps they thought it was his Christian liberty to do so, or perhaps they thought it was an expression of Christian love. 

 

There are times and places for liberty and love, of course, but not when the sin is so obvious and so corrupting of others in the church.

 

Paul called upon the church to discipline him by removing him from their presence. The goal of this discipline was to hopefully to see the man come to his senses and repent and be “saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 

 

In verses 6-8, Paul gives a foundational principle for his command in verses 1-5 to expel the man—

 

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6–8)

 

Paul used the idea of “leaven” to illustrate this principle; today we might say…

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The Goal Of Discipline: Salvation In The Day Of Jesus—1 Corinthians 5:1-5

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In the Word of God, we read…

 

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 

 

3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:1–5)

 

I. PRIDE IN A SIN THAT EVEN UNBELIEVERS AVOIDED

 

A. A Man And His Stepmother

 

In chapter five of 1 Corinthians, Paul moves on to a new topic. He had been discussing the divisions in the church at Corinth, but now he moves to another, even more disturbing, report that he had heard from Corinth.

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Fire On The Mountain—Exodus 19:16-25

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Levi Durfey

 

16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 

 

19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. 

 

23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24 And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them. (Exodus 19:16–25)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Israelites had spent two days preparing to meet with the Lord. They had washed their clothes as a symbol of their inward purity. 

 

They had abstained—fasted—from marital relations to help them focus less on themselves and more on God himself. 

 

In addition to all that, a border had been marked off that the people were not to cross lest they got too close to Mount Sinai. They were to take God seriously.

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