It’s all about God Exodus 20 First St Johns March 8, 2015

For the audio version of this sermon click on the above link

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know it’s all about God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit said … AMEN!

Caesarius of Arles said: We should also know that the ten commandments of the law are also fulfilled by the two gospel precepts, love of God and love of neighbor. For the three commandments which were written on the first table pertain to the love of God, while on the second tablet … are recognized as pertaining to love of neighbor. The Lord said in the Gospel: ‘On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”[1]

The commandments, which are also called the Decalogue in Greek, are to you, they’re about loving God and loving others. When we do that, is there any doubt that we are loved back? Again, I want to emphasize, that we’re not talking about the sentimental, mushey love that we Americans have understood love to mean, or this sort of enabling “love” that doesn’t judge or rebuke. It’s love that wants what is best for us, that helps us to grow and to become people who are led to live lives that God had intended.

An article about a man Noel Biderman who started an on-line website that helps married people meet other married people to have an affair. This was published in Forbes Magazine, in the next issue of Forbes, the “letters to the editor”, were mostly appalled, but sure enough there were the “well if that’s what they want…” and “if he can make money…” There are people in today’s world who would try to convince you that for a variety of reasons it is loving to help people to sin. Let’s be very clear here, it is in no way shape or manner “loving” to help people do things that are clearly destructive. There is no such thing as a victimless crime, and it is not loving to think that there is.

To be truly loving, we do the things that benefit and enhance our spouses, our children, our parents, siblings, all those we encounter. Someone may hit me up for money for a “burger”, which means booze, when I refuse they accuse me of being unloving/unChristian, a bad pastor. Really? Am I really doing anyone any good by expediting their death? When we remember the Decalogue, we are remembering, yea, the things that we’re not supposed to do, but we also remember the why and not only the “don’t”, but also the “should”. Walter Roehrs writes: “…they are a basic epitome of the response that God expects of the participants in His covenant of grace…” He goes on to say: “..They lay claim to man’s total being from the hidden stirrings and intentions of the heart to their overt expression in word and deed. It eliminates all assertions of man’s self – determination. The new covenant doesn’t minimize but rather sharpens the demands of an uncompromised surrender of self to the Redeemer and the Fulfiller of the Law.”[2]

Remember the “Small Catechism”? Those basics of our faith that get shoved into the back of an out of the way bookcase, or, worse, a box in the basement, assuming you took your copy with you from your parents home, decades ago.

Let’s take a quick pass through, not just the don’t do this, don’t do that, but one thing that is unique about Lutheranism it also helps us to see what we should do.

“You shall have no other gods.” What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.”

“Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”

“Honor your father and your mother.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.”

“You shall not murder” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.”

“You shall not commit adultery.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.”

“You shall not steal.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or possessions, or get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his possessions and income.”

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get out neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.”

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers or animals or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.”[3]

We should keep Dr Luther’s commentary in a contemporary context, can you imagine if we all lived that way? For God and each other and not ourselves? We should also remember that Christ certainly lived these commandments. He not only obeyed, but He also lived for what is best for us. The example He lived in the Incarnation was not just about not doing something, but pro-actively living so that others might come to know how to truly live the Decalogue. He also died so that we who were powerless to save ourselves, He served us who did nothing to earn His service and who don’t deserve to be served, but to be lost. He died to save us and to serve us.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

[1] Joseph Lienhard editor, quoting Caesarius of Arles “Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture OT III” p 102-101

[2] Walter Roehrs “Concordia Self Study Commentary” p 75

[3] Lutheran Service Book pp 321-322

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