By John J. Blanchard
August 17, 2013
Good morning, brethren! It’s a beautiful Sabbath day here in the north, and we are very pleased to have a number of people gathered here together. To those of you hooked up over the telephone, we are welcoming all of you to services as well. The title of this sermon is “Biblical Absolutes.”
Modern society frowns on speaking in absolute terms anymore. People are uncomfortable with absolutes. They feel their freedom of expression is constrained, and they feel their ability to rationalize is taken from them. They want no absolutes anymore. This is a common theme, and it has led to a lot of societal confusion and serious harms. That is what we want to talk about today.
I want to define a few terms as we go into this sermon, so that we get an idea of what we are talking about. I am first going to define rationalism. I want to understand rationalism. Rationalism can be broken down into several words. It comes from the word rational, so let’s start by defining rational. People confuse the word rational and the word rationalization and what the two mean.
Rational is “having or exercising the ability to reason.” It is synonymous with being logical. This is according to the New American Heritage Dictionary. They have a secondary definition that is “consistent with or based on reason or good judgment, logical or sensible: rational decisions.” Another sub-definition is “of a sound mind, sane.” The last definition is “mathematics capable of being expressed as a quotient of integers” or “a rational number.” So far so good! That’s very clear. Rational is a good thing. We all want to be sane in our decisions. We want to be logical and sensible when we think about things.
Now I want to define the word rationalize because there is a huge difference as you start to move through rational to rationalize to rationalism. According to the same dictionary, rationalize is “to explain rationally,” “to explain or justify (one’s behavior) with incorrect reasons or excuses, often without conscious awareness,” “to dismiss or minimize the significance of (something) by means of an explanation or excuse.”
Now you see the common sense is leaving here—the logicalness. The sanity is starting to diminish, and it is moving into excuses, often in error and often expressed without even realizing a person is making excuses for their behavior. We are beginning to see a potential here for problems. Errors creep into the idea of being rational and rationalizing things. It becomes gray, and it is starting to border on philosophy. That is where we come to the word rationalism. It is a philosophical term.
RATIONALISM INCLUDES IGNORING PAST EXPERIENCE
The same dictionary defines rationalism as “reliance on reason as the best guide for belief and action;” secondarily, “philosophy: the theory that the exercise of reason, rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the primary basis for knowledge.” Now we have moved into a philosophy of life where human beings can determine what’s right or wrong, what’s their best course of action without regard to previous experience (history you could say), authority, or spiritual revelation. We can rationalize our own knowledge and determine what is right or wrong for ourselves. In essence, this places human reason above God’s. That’s why the term “spiritual” enters the picture—spiritual revelation. The Bible is spiritually revealed.
We now have elevated mankind’s power of reason. You could call it humanism. You could call it rationalism. You elevate human reasoning above God. It has lots of consequences because now we have the freedom to decide right or wrong. We can decide, for instance, whether we believe in sin or what sin is. We are free to make up our excuses in regard to our own behavior. In other words, absolutes are gone. We have diminished the concept of absolutes, and some absolutes are essential.
ABSOLUTES PROVIDE GUIDELINES
We could say absolutes are absolutely essential. There are three reasons that I have identified. First of all, absolutes give us guidelines to live by and educate the next generation to live by. We know how to live ourselves. We live a life according to certain rules. Some are absolute. We have to live within certain absolutes that have been proven scientifically. Of course, the obvious example is gravity. It is an absolute that we have to live within. We have to live by gravity. We have to do it all the time in construction like I do. We don’t want to have men falling off roofs or falling off scaffolding, so we have to take it into account. Gravity will pull you down if you are not careful in what you are doing.
This is something we have to live with. Scientists live with it all the time. For instance, when they want to send a spacecraft out to outer space, they must make sure it has enough thrust behind it to achieve what they call escape velocity. It has to overcome the power of gravity. They also have to determine trajectories because gravity pulls things down, so it obviously creates an arc and you must have certain trajectories to reach your targets.
There is the concept of weightlessness once you are in outer space. It is the absence of gravity. Of course as you escape the earth, there are G forces that have to be taken into account. These are absolutes that are scientifically proven, but there are absolutes in life that without them we fail. We suffer. We have consequences.
As I mentioned with gravity and with other things that are guidelines, you have to learn about them. When it comes to absolutes in life, you have to be taught. Therefore you must have rules to teach.
ABSOLUTES PROVIDE PROTECTION
The second reason is that absolutes are like lines that protect us, like lines on a highway. They delineate things for us. If you are driving down a highway and you see a solid yellow line, you know that you have entered a no-passing zone or you can determine if you are in a left-hand turn lane or a divided highway approaching. These lines become very strict guidelines for your safety and the safety of other people. There was an advertisement years ago that said, “the lines are our friends.” We ignore these lines at our own peril. There are a lot of lines we have to obey in life.
We have national boundaries. You can’t cross into a foreign country and ignore that boundary. You better have your papers or your Passport or your driver’s license. When you are traveling around the world, you have to pay attention to the time zones. If you are jumping multiple time zones on your trip, you have to take that into account. There are lines that are very, very critical to understand and follow in life.
ABSOLUTES PROVIDE MORAL GUIDELINES
The third absolute are moral lines that determine for us right from wrong. We have to understand by some guideline and some firm absolute what is right and what is wrong. In particular what I want to focus on our love of God, how to worship Him, and how to obey Him. There has to be an absolute set of rules in order to do this.
Secondarily, we need to know how to love our fellow man which is very much related to how we love God. Turn to Matthew chapter 22 for the first Scripture. Matthew 22, verse 34: “But when the Pharisees heard that He [talking about Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”
This literally means the entire Bible and the Christian way of life.
Christ broke it down into the greatest commandment and that is to love God, and the one that is close to it, the second greatest commandment, you could say, and that is to love your fellow man. It is through the commandments that we learn to do this. It’s the commandments that give us our guidelines.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
The Ten Commandments are the solid lines of life. They are the solid lines of life. Sticking in Matthew, let’s go back to chapter 5 where Christ talks about the commandments. Matthew chapter 5, verse 17 where Christ says this: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”
That sounds like a long time to me, so obviously they have not been done away.
Continuing in verse 19 of Matthew 5: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This is a very stiff penalty for not properly doing and teaching the commandments. He says, we have to keep and teach other people properly about these solid lines of life called the Ten Commandments. Christ made that absolutely clear.
When we turn to rationalism or we begin to rationalize the Ten Commandments, we turn them into the ten suggestions or we literally wipe away the lines entirely. We do away with a commandment or make it so gray no one understands or looks at it in absolute terms anymore. How do you teach? How do you guide? How do you live? It all becomes very confusing, and there are lots of consequences for that. We are going to talk about a few today.
Turning to Matthew chapter 15, Christ warns about rationalizing and rationalism. Matthew chapter 15, beginning in verse 1: “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’ He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying “Honor your father and your mother”; and, “He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.” But you say, “Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God…’”’”
They chose to ignore one of the Ten Commandments about honoring your father and your mother. They used a tricky device by saying, if we are not helping and caring for our mother and father, it’s because we are giving everything to God. You can always try to blur those lines to make it so confusing, yet make it sound right.
Christ goes on to talk with these men in verse 6 of Matthew 15: “…then he need not honor his father or mother. Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”
He said, your tradition that you are teaching wiped away the line! It removed My commandment! Here is what He says about that in verse 7.
Verse 7 of Matthew 15: “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
He said, they have wiped away My commandment, and they teach their tradition while they make it look like they are worshiping Me. He said, that’s hypocrisy, and He took them to task about that. He could have said, stop rationalizing away My commandments. Stop living by rationalism and rationalizing your behavior. But the rational thing for them to do—the rational thing—would have been to keep teaching the commandments as God gave them and to live by them. They turned what was rational into something that was really irrational and hypocritical just by doing away with the lines. This is just one commandment. Obviously there are ten.
Turn to Proverbs chapter 14 where it conveys a similar thought. The Pharisees had rationalized in their head so well that they thought they were right. Proverbs chapter 14, verse 12: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
That’s what Christ was saying in Matthew 15 when He said, if you push this too far, you’re not even going to enter the kingdom of God, which means eternal death. You can be claiming in your mind to be rational. You can be using rationalism to work your way right out of the kingdom of God. Yet, on the surface just listening to the arguments, you can sound right! You can sound like you were worshiping God, so it can seem right and it can lead to death. Christ is very clear in both the Old and the New Testament that this is very dangerous. The Ten Commandments are not the ten suggestions, and they are not to be diminished in any way.
As we read earlier, Christ had said that all the law and the prophets hang on those two commandments: loving God and loving your fellow man. That’s the whole Bible. The entire Christian way of life hangs on the Ten Commandments. That includes all of prophecy and getting it right, our worship, and how we have interpersonal relationships with other human beings. Our whole way of life between man and God and between man and man is based on those Ten Commandments.
If you turn back to the Book of Revelation, we see the testimony of God. We read about the prophecies mentioned here. Turn to Revelation chapter 19, and I want to start in verse 9. After talking about the innumerable multitude that’s coming along (and they are very happy about the way things are working out when Jesus Christ installs the kingdom of God,) we are told here in Revelation 19, verse 9: “Then he said to me [this is an angel talking to John], ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.’ And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony [the writings and the law] of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’”
There you have all the law—the testimony—and all the prophets and their writings based upon the Ten Commandments because Christ said, they all hang on these commandments. All the law and the prophets hang on these commandments. If we start to erase them or diminish them or rationalize them away, we lose sight of what Christianity is all about. We start to forget what God’s thinking is and what He has to say about various aspects of life.
GOD’S THOUGHTS HELP US GROW
In Isaiah 55 there is a Scripture we have often read. In Isaiah 55 we are told about the word of God, prophecy, and all the things that He has tried to convey to mankind through the Bible. Let’s turn back to Isaiah chapter 55, and we are going to read what God has to say about His thoughts.
In Isaiah 55, beginning in verse 8, Christ says here as the spirit of prophecy: “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’”
He compares His words and His thoughts—the Bible—to rain and the snow and the sun that comes upon the earth, and it makes the earth a green and verdant place. He says, this is what I do with human beings. I send My word—the Bible—and, like rain, it causes you to sprout, to grow, to learn, and to produce. Without it you would go nowhere. Those are God’s thoughts.
This word “thoughts” come from machashebeth (#4284, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) in the Hebrew which means a contrivance or texture. It is a very complicated word. His thoughts are like a contrivance or a texture, almost like something machined and built, an intention or a plan that comes together. It is related to the word chashab (#2803, Strong’s Concordance, 1995). It comes together as if to plait, to interpenetrate, to weave, or to fabricate, to regard, or to compute. It’s the ultimate rational way of thinking. It computes and adds up perfectly. It teaches us about His plan. We can see the fabric of His plan come together like a woven tapestry, and then we can view it. We can see what He says about how to live our lives all through His word, and of course all His word is based upon the law of God.
God’s thoughts are like lines and threads that weave together this beautiful tapestry that we call the Bible. It has all the computations for prophecy and the timing that God the Father ultimately is in charge of for the start of the Millennium and the return of Jesus Christ. All these tremendously complex computations are in the thoughts of God. It is way beyond what human beings are capable of. If we do away with the lines, we will never understand what God’s plans are, and we won’t know how to live properly. We have to stay within these strong firm lines called the Ten Commandments. They are absolutes.
These absolutes are essential for us to understand the mind of God, to know how to live, and to know how to prosper like it said in Isaiah 55. Then we produce good character. We grow a good crop in our lives.
If we do away with the lines, weeds begin to creep in. Evil begins to creep in. A lack of understanding and ignorance begins to prevail. Ignorance is probably mankind’s greatest enemy. It’s what Satan is always a proponent of. He tried to rob knowledge from Adam and Eve, and he succeeded. He put ignorance in its place. If you look around the world, there is so much ignorance that leads to suffering that it’s unbelievable. It is unbelievable how much suffering there is because people have ignored God’s simple absolutes.
My Bible has a little over 1,200 pages. We have the Ten Commandments—the Law—and the first five books which are also called The Law—The Torah. We have the Ten Commandments, and then we have all these thoughts of God around them like this woven pattern. They are to understand how to apply the Ten Commandments, how to live by the Ten Commandments, how they prophetically are going to be fulfilled, so that they are the way of life for everyone in the Millennium. We have all these wonderful thoughts of God surrounding the law. People ask why is the Bible so complex, so people are chopping it down all the time. Get rid of the Old Testament! Get rid of certain writings of Paul! By the time you get it down, it’s a little pamphlet. Some people call it a little missalette or a little thought and prayer book. They have it all digested. God had way too much in it.
God started with the ten laws—the ten absolutes—and the rest of it fleshes it out. Before we think that is crazy, I know you have heard about the new health care law. It is Obamacare or whatever you want to call it. It is 2,700 pages for a law. God had Ten Commandments for His law, and it doesn’t even take up a half page in your Bible. Here is what happens with the 2,700 pages in the new health care law. In order to implement it, they said they are up to 17,600 pages of rules and regulations on how to implement that law, so now you have 20,000 pages. That is eight times as much as my Bible! That is for one law which isn’t even a way of life.
It shows you God could get all these thoughts into a book that really in comparison is very small. His thoughts are so deep and so intermixed with the weaving of His plan, so that one thread combines with another thread and with another thread and makes the law part of our life. Oh, how I love I thy law, as King David used to sing.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
I want to look at just the first four absolutes today, because you can’t possibly do it justice by going into all Ten Commandments. We have several sermons and articles about the Ten Commandments. Let’s start at the beginning with the greatest set of commandments: how to love God.
Go back to Exodus chapter 20, please. We are going to look at the first four absolutes briefly. This is at Sinai where He was giving the law to the people. Exodus chapter 20, and we will start in verse 1. “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.’”
Here we have a very succinct first commandment. Some people like to relegate it that it was for ancient Israel coming out of Egypt, so we don’t have to pay attention to that anymore.
We are told here I am the Lord Your God, Yahweh. Lord is Jehovah, the Self-Existent One, the Eternal One. His thoughts are the thoughts that we need to understand to gain eternal life. He says, “I am the Lord your God.” The name God here is Elohiym (#430, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) which means in the Hebrew God in the ordinary sense, used in the plural sense of the Supreme God.
We have Christ speaking as Yahweh saying, I am the Lord your God. I am the God who brought you out of Egypt in representation of the family of God—God the Father and Myself. That’s why it is plural—Elohiym. To understand that, all we would have to do is go back to Genesis. Keep your finger in Exodus chapter 20 or mark it with a marker.
Go back to Genesis chapter 1, verse 26 when God the Father and Jesus Christ were forming Adam. Genesis chapter 1, verse 26: “Then God [Elohiym, plural] said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
We were created in the image of God the Father and Jesus Christ. The subject of the sermon isn’t to discuss how we are like God, but it goes without saying, we are much like God. He intends to make as many of us who desire it, to be children of God and to be like Him in every way.
We are made in the image of these two Beings. Christ was saying here, I am the one who brought you out of Egypt. I was the one. I was Jehovah who brought you out of Egypt, so have no other gods above Me. Don’t put any above Me, let alone above the Father because I brought you out of Egypt.
We need to look at a few things here as far as bondage goes. To have no other gods above Him in respect for what He has done to bring Israel out of Egypt is less of a miracle, you might say, than bringing all of mankind out of the bondage that we are under to Satan. When He said, don’t have any other gods before Me, the word “before” is the Hebrew word which means above, over, or against. We can have no other god above Him or in place of Him or against Him. Of course, Satan who is the god of this world (with a little “g” as we like to emphasize) is the adversary of God the Father and Jesus Christ. His name actually means adversary.
Coming out of Egypt was just a physical type of what Jesus Christ and God the Father are doing with all of mankind, intending to release us from Satan’s bondage. This word bondage here in the commandment is ebed (#5650, Strong’s, 1995) which means servant, bondage, bondman. It comes from abad (#5647, Strong’s, 1995) which means to work, to serve, to till, or to enslave. Back in the garden Satan enslaved Adam and Eve. Of course, ever since then mankind has been a slave to Satan. That’s in the Bible. It’s a thought. We could look that thought up. We could look up “slavery” and “bondage to Satan” and see all the Scriptures that have to do with it which would be more than a sermon in itself, but let’s look at a few.
Turn to Isaiah chapter 14. This speaks about Lucifer and him becoming Satan. Isaiah chapter 14, beginning in verse 12: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!”
Lucifer had a place in heaven. He was the chief light bringer, the son of the morning. He had the truth of God, and was supposed to take care of mankind with it. Instead he weakened the nations.
Continuing in verse 13 of Isaiah 14: “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [the stars of God are the other angels]; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation [ancient Israel and the church today] on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’”
This is where the concept of the Trinity comes from. He wants to be the third of a godhead. Instead of God the Father and Jesus Christ, he would like himself right there.
Verse 15: “Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?’”
He kept the earth prisoner, and still to this day most people of the earth are his prisoners. He holds the earth in a death grip. Everyone must die since the sins in the Garden of Eden. He is constantly causing problems among human beings. He has the human beings of this earth in obedience to him instead of to God without realizing it. They rationalize their behaviors in various ways thinking they are doing right, which is just following the father of lies and his lies. He has wiped away the lines of the absolutes and made everything gray, so that everything looks okay. We see all these weird behaviors depicted in movies and television. We see ways of life that are the opposite of what God intends.
Satan has blurred all the lines, so that no one can tell what’s right or wrong, and he feeds your ability to reason and rationalize. He has helped mankind come up with the philosophy of rationalism. Sometimes it is called humanism.
Isaiah 14 shows indeed that the world is held captive. Let’s look at a New Testament Scripture.
Turn to Romans chapter 8, verse 18 where Paul says this: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”
We see that the world is held captive in bondage to Satan’s way of life and all the suffering that goes along with it. Even those who have been set free still struggle against the temptations that Satan throws out there and the ways of the world. It is still hard. Even though you may have a firstfruit down payment of the Holy Spirit, it is still very difficult.
If you back up to verse 12, it explains it again from the start, fleshing this out a little bit further. Romans 8, verse 12: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
There are different ways of life.
Romans 8, verse 14: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”
Once we have received the Holy Spirit, we have been set free. We are free from the bondage of Satan, but we still live in Satan’s world until the kingdom of God is instituted. Indeed coming out of Egypt was a type of a greater setting free of bondage for all of mankind.
Concluding the thought here in verse 16 we read: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
We suffer, too. We groan. But because of that suffering, we learn compassion for our fellow man. We learn that suffering comes from Satan and his way of life, so we try to overcome. We try to become like Christ. We try to get ourselves to be in the image of God the Father and Jesus Christ as best we can utilizing the blood of Christ for those times when we fall short. It’s a marvelous thought of God! It is one of these contrivances that only God could come up with. It is a system and a way of life based on Ten Commandments that only someone in absolute authority could give us and say, this is the way of life. Do it! Do it!
The next three commandments would really set men free if they would obey them, and they are so simple. They are absolutely free and freeing, but they just have to be obeyed and done. God gives us the free will, and they are absolutes when it comes to the way of life.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
For the second commandment, let’s go back to Exodus 20, verse 4: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
You will notice, not keeping the commandments is demonstrating hate toward God, and that hatred of course originates with Satan—the lawless one. He says, for those who love Me and keep My commandments, I will bless to the thousandth generation. But to those who disobey and hate Me and show this hatred and demonstrating this way of life that is the opposite of what Jesus Christ and the Father want, they will suffer the consequences for up to the third and the fourth generation. If they continue to break the commandments, there can be an unbroken cycle that can go on for hundreds if not thousands of years. We see that in the world today.
The command would set us free from ignorance, teaching us how to worship God and bring about blessings that would go on for a long, long time. Eventually it would be eternity. There would be untold blessings. God tells us here not to bow down to anything else, and that sounds so simple. Don’t set up carved images, but also don’t bow down. Don’t worship anything.
When we break the commandments and follow a different way of life, that is a form of worship. We are absolutely showing which we want to follow, and usually that’s done in ignorance because most of mankind is in ignorance. But within the Christian realm, it shouldn’t be that way. We should all understand that the Ten Commandments are absolutes. Yet in the Christian world we see literal physical carved images. People bow down to statues. People kiss rings. If you go outside the Christian realm, you still see people worshiping forces of nature or creatures. People are all in ignorance about these things, but simply following the Ten Commandments does away with that ignorance. It teaches us how to worship God and how to live. It is essential. It is a commandment. It is an absolute.
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
Let’s briefly look at the third commandment in Exodus 20:7. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
People say, I can’t cuss! No, this is much broader than that. It is much, much broader than that. The word “vain” in Hebrew is the word shav (#7723, Strong’s Concordance, 1995) which is the same as the word “show” or “shoa” in the sense of desolating, of a desolating evil, as a destructive force. The word “show” and “shoa” (#7722, Strong’s, 1995) means to rush over, a tempest, and by implication a devastation, a ruin or figuratively it can mean idolatry or uselessness.
When we make God’s commandments useless or we set up a false god—idolatry—we are taking God’s name in vain. When we all attribute to him the characteristics of destruction, we are taking God’s name in vain. God is not trying to destroy mankind. He is liberating mankind! We saw that. He is calling us out of the house of bondage. When we portray God—and I say “we” because many Christians do this—and show God to be a harsh God who wants to destroy mankind rather than set them free from their ignorance, we are actually taking God’s name in vain. We are actually supporting the one who does have the name “destroyer.” Satan and his name Apollyon mean destroyer and adversary. It is a totally different god. When we teach a message of destruction, we are literally worshiping the wrong god and taking God’s name in vain.
Just think, if no one would take God’s name in vain and teach destruction in the name of God, we would have no jihads. Look at what’s going on in the world today. There would be no jihad. We would have no crusades, which is the Christian version of jihad. We would have none of these religious wars—and most wars have at their base a religion or religious philosophical division that leads to the war. By just keeping the first three commandments, we wouldn’t have all this conflict. We wouldn’t have people killing each other in the name of God or Allah or Jehovah. They wouldn’t be following leaders, ministers, or imams who promote that.
Let’s face it. There have not just been popes who have advocated war. There have been Protestant leaders who have advocated war, and there have been Islamic leaders who have advocated war all in the name of God. We can see on the news every night where that got us. If we follow this absolute, we wouldn’t have that problem.
God is not a destroyer. He is a builder. He is a creator. Anytime we promote destruction, we are worshiping a false god and taking God’s name in vain.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
In conclusion I want to look at the last commandment that I want to talk about today. Go to Exodus 20, verse 8: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
It is not Friday, and it’s not Sunday. Look at the conflicts in the world over that. It is the Sabbath on Saturday—the last day of the week.
KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
If we would just keep those first four commandments, we would see how easy it would be. The burden would be light. People say the commandments of God are such a burden. They weren’t meant for us. If they would follow these absolutes instead, the world’s ignorance would diminish. The knowledge of God would increase. Peace and harmony would be breaking out all over the place, and that’s not even talking about the last six commandments, which is how to get along with each other. If you follow all ten absolutes, you have the Millennium—you have the kingdom of God. That’s where we are headed. Christ taught this when He was alive, as we saw earlier in Matthew.
Let’s turn to the gospel of John chapter 14, verse 15 where Christ says this: “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
The Christians say they love God. The Islamic world says they love God. They believe Jesus Christ was a Prophet. Why isn’t the whole world keeping these commandments? If you love God, keep His commandments. The seventh day is the Sabbath. You shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. You’re not going to have wars and killing in God’s name.
Continue in verse 16 of John 14: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth…”
If we are willing to obey the commandments to show love of God, we are then ready to receive the Spirit of truth—understanding. Ignorance will vanish!
Continuing in verse 17: “…whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Christ says, if you love Me, keep these ten rules. Make them absolutes, and I will send you the truth. I will send you My Spirit to help you understand everything you need to know to keep yourselves in a peaceful state, moving forward in harmony with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
It is so simple, yet so few people will admit that they have to follow these ten rules starting with the most important, the first four—how to love God. Think of the human misery that could have been avoided throughout history had more people been willing to do that and follow these four absolutes. If they would follow all ten, like I said, we would have the Millennium. We would have peace on the earth.
Go to the very end of your Bible Revelation chapter 22. I want to start in verse 12 of Revelation 22. We are told some beautiful things here, and important things. Revelation 22, verse 12: “‘And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.’ Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
In other words, those not willing to follow the commandments.
Revelation 22, verse 16: “‘I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’”
The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ tell us, along with His bride, to come.
Continuing in verse 17: “And let him who hears, say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
We need to simply be willing to obey the absolutes, and the blessings that would flow from that would be so enormous, they are incalculable! The sufferings and the sadness and the ignorance that we see around the world would simply vanish when we love God’s absolutes.