Fear (Exodus 20:18-21)

November 26, 2023 | Brandon Cooper

This sermon discusses how the Ten Commandments are meant to lead people to a fearful obedience to God, intimacy in their covenant relationship with Him, and reliance on Jesus as their gracious mediator. It encourages examining one’s own life and striving to obey God perfectly while also relying on Christ’s atoning work for the forgiveness of failures.


The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.

Good morning church, want to go ahead grab your Bibles, you can open up to Exodus chapter 20, will be in verses 18 to 21. Today, Exodus 2018 to 21. As you’re turning there, you may remember from your school years, or perhaps you’re still in your school years having assembly days. And occasionally these assemblies were about teaching kids how to avoid certain kind of harmful behavior, maybe it’s bullying, maybe it’s drug use something like that. So you’d get an assembly on this subject. And the point was to communicate the dangers or the harm involved with his behavior, to give the students strategies for resisting and in ways to engage with their friends who might be at risk. These assemblies were not meant to be just interesting information. The point was not that the students would leave these assemblies and go, that was really interesting, I got some good answers for Jeopardy next week or something like that. These assemblies were meant to provoke a response in the students to lead kids to live differently. That’s actually what the word educate means. If you look at its component parts it parts is to, to lead fourth, so to those who lead children into something else away from danger towards good why do I mention this? Because we just finished hearing the law over the last 1011 weeks the 10 commandments here. And what exactly is the purpose of the law? The purpose of the law is not our salvation. That is it is not a list of guidelines where if we keep them to insufficient measure than we will be saved will be deemed good enough to get in or something like that. That’s not the point of the law. So what exactly is the point of the law then? Paul tells us in Galatians, chapter three, verse 24, therefore the law has become our tutor, to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith that same idea of leading in fact, the word tutor there is the word pedagogue like pedagogy. Some of you studied pedagogy, I’m sure in your education classes, it’s the same idea to lead for to lead a child forth. So the 10 commandments are meant to instruct us and lead us like children, somewhere where we’re going to see this clearly in the response to the giving of the 10 words. So how does Israel respond? And why? What about Moses? What is God doing during this time, let me read the passage for us kind of see what happens here in the narrative, and then we’ll unpack it as we go. So Exodus chapter 20, here’s verses 18 to 21. When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear, they stayed at a distance and said to Moses, speak to us yourself, and we will listen, but do not have God speak to us or we will die. Moses said to the people, do not be afraid, God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sitting. People remained at a distance, while Moses approach the thick darkness, where God was. Alright, so we’re gonna see what the law is leading us to. That’s our idea today. So the law leads us to more to look at kind of three destinations or three purposes for the law, I’m actually going to give you you got three blanks there three images that will help us understand the purpose of the law as we go. This is the response that the law should provoke in us. This is what the assembly is meant to do in us to change us. So let’s look at the law leads us to first of all, the law leads us to a fearful obedience, a fearful obedience. You notice that people’s immediate response is fear. They see God’s clouded presence. There’s thunder, there’s lightning, they tremble with fear. It says in verse 18, in fact, they stayed at a distance like they’re, they’re staying far away because they’re nervous here. They’re like little children during a thunderstorm who are cowering under the blankets. There’s no wonder or all at the power of the storm, there’s just terror. Of course, this is not Oh, there is a thunderstorm there, by the way, but it’s not really the thunderstorm that they’re scared of the Israelites. It is a a person, not an abstract power, but a loving person that they’re cowering from. I mean, He is God Almighty. Yes. But God Almighty is speaking to them covenanting with them even. And so again, they’re not saying and away from a thunderstorm. They’re staying away from me more like a kid who’s hiding from a gracious benefactor who’s there to serve and protect them. I think of home alone, it’s Christmas season so we can talk home alone, right? It’s the kindly older gentleman next door, who’s always salting the sidewalks for the neighborhood ends up being the unlikely hero of the story, but it doesn’t matter. Makoki Caulkins character is terrified over him. And that’s kinda what the Israelites are doing. They’re, they’re scared of the one who’s actually there to save them. And so in one sense, fear is an entirely improper response. That’s what Moses says, verse 20, Moses said to the people, do not be afraid you should not be cowering under the blankets right now. But in another sense, fear is exactly the right response. Keep going in verse 20, do not be afraid, God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. Just one of Christianity’s many blessings paradoxes. Here. It’s the exact same word for afraid and fear the same word that’s used. So do not fear this is happening so that you’ll fear everyone’s clear, good. Clearly, what’s happening here is that there are two types of fear that are on view. These two types of fear, we experienced them earlier this year, my parents took me and my oldest three to Costa Rica, and we were there on the beach, the Pacific in the Pacific is not Lake Michigan, nevermind like a pond or a swimming pool or something like that, like these waves are big. The Undertow is real. There are rocks on the shore, all that kind of stuff. So I wanted my girls to have a healthy fear for the ocean. During a risk, respect, the fact that the ocean could kill them really. While at the same time, I didn’t want them to stay on the beach, or up in the lodge or something like that, like I want them to get in the water. That’s what we have here, too. Even more so with God. Moses is saying, absolutely, you need to take him seriously. You need to have that proper respect and all before him but at the same time dive in, dive in to a relationship with Him. We are meant to know him not to cower far away from him. I think this is the the idea that David expresses in the Psalms, Psalm 130. When he says with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. It’s it’s a relational fear. It’s a fear, even in light of the love and grace and forgiveness that we know in him. So what should this fear then produce in us two responses that you can see right there in verse 21st. We know that whatever we are doing, God is there. God has come to test you so that the fear of God will be with you. The fear of God is with us. Because God himself is with us. He sees all he knows all in one day, we will stand before Him and give an account for how we have lived our lives, which leads into the second response that fear should produce in us which is that we should have such a holy all before him that we dare not sin, writes of the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning. How can I possibly sin in the presence of this good. And Holy God, I think of Joseph here when Potiphar his wife is trying to seduce him. And he kind of catalogs all the reasons he wouldn’t do that. He said he’s talking mostly of Potiphar himself, you know, like he’s been good to me. He has, you know, given me all this responsibility and stuff. But then he wraps up by saying, how then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against not Potiphar but God, like he knows it’s in the presence of God that I dare not sin.
Now, hopefully, having walked through these 10 commandments, these 10 words were not like careless kids just diving into the ocean without thought to what the ocean could do to us what swim by the rocks. What’s the worst that could happen? What swim out farther than we should know that we have a proper respect before God while at the same time still swimming. Like that is the fearful obedience to which the law leads us. And thus, the law is here’s your image for this section. The law is like a muzzle. The law is like a muzzle of course, this is an image from like canine police squads. The muzzle is to keep us from doing what we shouldn’t be doing so that we’re free to do what we should be doing. A muzzle, you know, keeps the dog from biting, say passengers in a TSA line or something like that so that it can keep those passengers safe. If sniffed for drugs, bombs, whatever it may be, that’s the law. That’s what the law does for us. It keeps us from sin so that we’re free to obey. It keeps us from go through some of what we’ve talked about in the last few weeks. It keeps us from an idolatrous overwork, so that we’re free to rest. Where it keeps us from sexual immorality so that we’re free to experience the far greater blessings of chastity in singleness and faithfulness in covenant marriage, or foundationally. It frees us from chasing after false gods who are sure to disappoint us so that we’re free to know and love and be loved by the one true God. I think this understanding of the law answers a common but misguided objection to Christianity. The objection is that Christianity is just a long list of don’ts. kind of meant to wreck your fun, really, it is a fair point by the way, we got 10 commandments here. Eight of them are phrased as don’ts. You shall not kill you shall not steal you shouldn’t you know you’re a bunch of stuff you’re not supposed to do. To positives right. Honor your mother and father, and then remember the Sabbath. But even the Sabbath comes with remember the Sabbath, you shall not do any work on that day. So really, we’re nine out of 10 for don’ts. You understand why certain opponents of Christianity see it as a hindering our essential freedom as humans, it’s constraining us negatively. And in a culture of expressive individualism, where the the highest good is to discover what’s inside of you, and then live it out authentically. That’s just about the worst possible sin you can commit. Telling people what they can’t do. Here’s the way the French atheist philosopher Michel on Play puts it he says, religion proceeds from the Deathwish wherever life begins to move, expand vibrate, a counter current sets intending to arrest the newborn movement and immobilize its ebb and flow. As soon as life fights its way out of the tunnel death is there, ready to start the clock ticking to collapse all life’s hopes and plans, fired by the same inborn death drive, the three monotheism sets Judaism, Christianity and Islam, two of them on view right here. The three monotheism share a series of identical forms of aversion. Here’s the negative right the don’ts, hatred of reason and intelligence, hatred of freedom, hatred of sexuality, women and pleasure, hatred of the feminine hatred of the body of desires of drives. Stirring stuff, absolutely. But is it fair? Not so much? Not so much? As John Dixon points out? Yes, the grammar of the 10 commandments is negative. But the vision the morality is actually positive. He says, a few things are forbidden, because pretty much everything else is to be enjoyed. Like the original don’t mean the very first don’t is don’t eat from this one tree. And so there it is, there’s the constraint, right? Well, God doesn’t say you can eat from this tree and this tree and this tree and this tree and this tree and this tree and that bush, and that was and that was because that would be tedious. So he just draws the boundary around the one it very positive, look at all that you have to enjoy. It’s not a don’t. It’s a series of dues. But it’s easier to state the don’ts. Dixon actually invites us to imagine the law stated positively you know, here’s a list of foods you may enjoy. Section 32 spices on chicken, rosemary, oregano, time, do I have to keep going like you think reading through the law now maybe it gets a little tedious in your year we Bible reading? Can you imagine that one? Here’s a list of activities that are permitted at home careers that you can enjoy. No, let me quote GK Chesterton to make the point because he always makes it well. The truth is that the correctness of the commandments is an evidence not of the gloom and narrowness of religion. But on the contrary of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to stay to things forbidden than the things permitted, precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden. So the law functions like a like a fence, then you put a fence in your backyard so that your kids can enjoy playing outside without danger. So does that fence inhibit your kids freedom? Yes, but No, not really. It actually allows them to enjoy even greater freedom. They’re free to play when you’re not outside say they’re free to play without getting lost or free to play without danger of getting run over by a car it actually allows them far greater freedom to live. So the law leads us to this kind of fearful obedience. We don’t do what God forbids. because we take him seriously, but also because we trust his heart. We know that the law is like a muzzle on those TSA dogs. The muzzle keeps the dog from harming me, so that it can help me. And that’s what the law does for my will. It keeps my will from harming me, so that it will instead help me. The law leads us to a fearful obedience. Secondly, the law leads us to a covenant intimacy, covenant intimacy. Now I will grant that at first glance, this passage doesn’t look much like intimacy, maybe covenant sure if by covenant, we mean something like treaty, because this kind of sounds like a conquering kings list of rules for his vassals. But if we dig deeper, we see it right there. In fact, it’s baked into the narrative from the beginning, even before the giving of these 10 words, in the previous chapter, Exodus 19, verse five, God says, Now, if you obey Me fully, and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession. So there’s the covenant, yes, this list of rules, but at the same time, there’s the intimacy, you’ll be my treasured possession, like you will be my special people. But here, they’re cowering under the blankets, or they’re staying at a distance, which is the opposite of course of intimacy. In fact, they even want Moses to go in their place. So why don’t you talk, you can have the intimacy, we’ll just hang out back here. And yet, let’s look at verse 20. Again, do not be afraid, God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you. The key word there is test. Now, what does test mean? Test can certainly mean prove. It’s what we normally think of when we think of tests, right? Your teacher gives you a math test so that you can prove that you learned the material, or didn’t learn the material as the case may be. So yeah, I think that’s here. Absolutely. Will they obey? Do they really believe me? Do they really trust in me certainly elements of that. But this word test in English, but the Hebrew word that you use here as well can also have the sense of try on or try out that his test like experience this for yourself. So here’s another time of the word is used. David is getting ready to fight Goliath. And he puts on Saul’s armor. No, David is a pipsqueak saw quite tall and whatnot, so doesn’t really fit him. Well. Here’s what we read. First Samuel 17, verse 39, David fastened on Saul sword over the tunic and tried walking around because he was not used to them. That part that’s underlined, that’s the same word, because he hadn’t tested them.
So he tried it on he tested it out. That’s the idea. He’s experiencing it now firsthand for the first time. And I think that’s what God is inviting the Israelites to do, as well. Like I’m trying to bring these two ideas together of test, the closest I could think of is, so it’s like a test drive. Right? You test drive a car to see if you like the car. But then you have a driver’s test, to see if you know how to drive the car. So put them together. And this would be a very weird choice I grant. But you know, you’re 16 you’re about to get your driver’s license. You’ve saved up money all year long to buy a car. So you’re taking your car for a test drive while you’re taking your driver’s test. Again, odd choice I grant but that’s what we have going on. Here. God is inviting Israel to take the covenant for a spin, to see if this isn’t how life works best. If this isn’t an expression of God’s love and goodness towards us, the commentator John Durham says that God gives them so vivid and unforgettable an experience of himself, including his own statement of his principles for life and relationship with him. That’s the 10 commandments, that they will not only not forget, but we’ll follow his way as a first priority of life. So God is inviting them to try on the covenant and the invitation still stands for us today. These 10 words these 10 commandments they are for all people, not just for believers, because God made us and so we’re his whether we acknowledge it or not, this is how life works best regardless. This is the only way that we will find what we’re seeking in life, the fullness of life that we desire. But the trouble, of course, is that our selfish hearts miss lead us, right? The law is meant to lead us. They’re selfish hearts mislead us. And they take us away from what will give us the joy and hope and peace and love and meaning that we are seeking. The only way to find that is within this covenant within these laws, but there’s a catch, you can only see that this is the right way to go from the inside. You have to try it out, you have to test it out. Or else Yes, it’s going to look very much like what our French philosopher said, it’s going to look like arbitrary restriction. So in this then the law and here’s your image for this section, the law is like a map. The law is like a map and that it shows us how best to please the God who loves us, and how to experience the abundant life that He desires. For us. God has given us a treasure map as it were. But it only works if we follow it. Treasure Map does no good. You know, fold it up in your back pocket, you got to pull it out, you got to actually go in the way it directs you. JD Greer was preaching on Exodus 20. Recently, and he compared it to railroad tracks like they show the train where to go, but they do not make the train move. And that’s what the law is for us. But you can know God and experience deep intimacy with this God who loves you, if you will follow the map, if you will follow the law. If you love me, Jesus says John 1415. If you love me, you will keep My commandments. There’s covenant intimacy, right there. And that’s what the law leads us to the law leads us to covenant intimacy, experiencing relationship with God in ways that please Him. The law is our map home. So all leads us to a fearful obedience, and a covenant intimacy. And then lastly, a gracious mediator, a gracious mediator, notice what happens. The people are afraid and so they send Moses instead, right, verse 19, they said to Moses, speak to us yourself, and we will listen but do not have God speak to us or we will die. And sure enough, that’s how it goes down. Verse 21, under the story that people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. So even though God is inviting them into a covenant relationship, they recognize their unworthiness to be in relationship with Him. This is like a novice violinist like a middle school violinist getting invited to sit first chair for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. But not going to take long before you go, I shouldn’t be here. I don’t know third position yet. Like I can’t play these pieces. You want me to help you tune I don’t know how to tune. I don’t have much of an ear yet. I’m not up to snuff. And that’s what the Israelites are doing before God, I’m not up to snuff. I don’t meet these requirements. I shouldn’t be here. And so in this sense law, you get your image early in this section, the law is like a mirror. The law is like a mirror. It shows us who we really are blemishes and all. And in our case, when it comes to how we live our lives, mostly blemishes. We are lawbreakers guilty before a holy God in need of forgiveness. I feel like we learned this in the series. Right? Well felt conviction a lot in this series, like a little bit uncomfortable. I think Merritt said earlier. I know this was my story. So in Journey groups, and a lot of you are in our journey group, their discipleship groups, you know, and every now and again, we’ll ask the question, you know, what’s an application you’ve made from Scripture to your life recently? And I’ve been answering this question for eight years now. And I’ve always taken it from my private worship times. Except in this series, because I just got messed up by all that like Man, this expansive obedient stuff like I am not up to snuff saw the same thing happened with the elders don’t mean to throw the elders under the bus. But hey, we’re all in this together. Right? We do ask that same question monthly, like what’s God been teaching you through His Word? And again, normally the elders answer from their times of private worship except in this series, where they just they all name different commandments. They just went through like, I’m not up to snuff. I shouldn’t be here. We’ve all felt conviction in this series. We are law breakers. We’ve sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Like the way James puts it. understatement, James three verse two, we all stumble in many ways. Yes, yes, we do. Yes, we saw that for sure. And so that’s one reason the God that God gives us the law. It humbles us. Like we realize we cannot save ourselves. If if it’s up to us keeping this, then we have no hope. So what do we do, then we have to keep reading. In Exodus, really, we got to finish the book. So I don’t know if you know how the story goes from here. And we’re not going to read the next 20 chapters. But what happens from here after Moses gets the law, he’s like, getting ready to come down the mountain. And there’s that whole Golden Calf thing. Like the Israelites, while they’re, you know, sitting at the foot of a mountain where God is present to them decide they should worship idols instead, not a great choice, but there they are. And so Moses smashes these two tablets, because the covenant has been shattered, right, but then, you know, kind of goes from there, Moses intercedes, we talked about a lot of this and, and then Exodus 34, verse one, God is speaking to Moses, and he says, chisel out two stone tablets, like the first ones, and then I’m gonna write, you know, the same words on them. So it’s two tablets, what you’ve always pictured with actually, you know, we’ve got two even up in our little graphic there, right? We always picked these, you got two tablets always. Now why are there two tablets? Is it because God ran out of room on the first stone? Should he use a smaller font size? No, not at all. Okay, he writes all 10 commandments on both tablets. Why to because when you make a covenant and agreement, each party gets a copy. And we just did this. So during our city, new renovation stuff, you know, we would do change orders and stuff. And every month, we would all three was actually three in that case, because the general contractor, the architect, and the owner would all get the agreement between us. Alright, so that’s what we have here. We’ve got these two copies, one for Israel, one for God, this is the covenant. But then notice what happens at the very end of the book. Exodus 40, verse 20, says Moses took the Tablets of the Covenant law and placed them in the ark. The Ark remembers the mercy seat. This is where God dwells in the fullness of His presence here on Earth. This is also where atonement is made. On the Day of Atonement, Moses, the high priest would sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. Alright, so this is a really key moment, inside the mercy seat inside, you know, the Ark of the Covenant, these two copies are placed, you see what’s happened. God took both copies. This is God’s seat, God took both copies, God is assuming responsibility for our covenant keeping.
That’s grace, because that’s the only hope we have takes us back to where we started Galatians 324 a law, the law was a tutor that was meant to lead us to Christ. We need a gracious mediator. It’s what Israel experiences here. Right? Like I should not be in the presence of a god, this holy, I need someone to stand between us and this Holy God, or else I will be destroyed. That’s exactly what we have in Jesus. Because what we couldn’t do, which is keep the law he did, and he did for us. And then we, we exchange rewards, so to speak, we get the blessing of his obedience, and he gets the punishment for our sin we get as if we were covenant keepers, because he’s treated like he was a covenant breaker. So now, when we approach this awesome, and a holy God, we are closed in Jesus’s righteousness, which is just a fancy religious word for like performance. The record of his performance, we get his perfection as our very clothing. So now, when we approach God, we don’t approach him. cowering in fear, knowing will be destroyed. We approach him confidently. And boldly, we approach him like Jesus, like we were his kids, which is what we are, if we are in Christ, I’m reminded of Tim Keller’s great line. If there’s only one person in the kingdom who dares wake up a king at three in the morning for a glass of water. And it’s not a treasonous rebel, right? It’s not the guy in the dungeon downstairs going, Hey, little parts down here plus my arms hurt from the rack and stuff. No, it’s the kid. Right? It’s the heir to the throne who’s going Dad, I had a bad dream and I’m thirsty, and dad’s happy to see his son, his daughter, and that is who we are now, in Christ, the law by showing us who we really are. The mirror idea leads us to our gracious mediator, who lived the life we should have lived and then died the death we deserve to die in our place. It’s the passage that Robert read for us earlier, Hebrews 915. For this reason, Christ, Christ is the mediator of a new covenant that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed, under what we’ve been studying the last couple months, the first covenant, the law, the law leads us to a fearful obedience, and covenant intimacy. And our gracious mediator it is a muzzle and a map and a mirror for us so. So what do we do now? We are meant to leave this assembly, which is a good analogy, since that’s what the word church means anyone want to leave this assembly differently than when we came in? The law should provoke a response in us. I’ve said many times before, I will continue to say this is a really dangerous place to be, isn’t it? Hearing the word of God proclaimed because now we know. And now we’re held to this standard. So how do we respond as simultaneously? Sinners and saints, sinners who have been saved by grace Thomas Watson, the great Puritan preacher gives us the blueprint for very related responses. first response is that we give full assent to the law. That is, we might not keep the law perfectly. But we agree with it wholeheartedly. We go, Yes, this is right. This is a good standard that God has given us. We give full assent to the last second, we lament that we don’t keep it perfectly. When we don’t we weep, we confess. We’re not angry with the law for restricting our freedom. We’re angry with ourselves for not living out the fullness of the life God intends for us. Which is the flip side of number three. We delight in the law and desire to keep it. Just what we aspire to be our prayer is David’s prayer in Psalm 119, verse five, oh, that my ways were steadfast in keeping your decrees, yes, that’s what I want. And then that leads us to four. We strive to obey perfectly. We won’t. But we strive to obey perfectly when we don’t we run to Christ’s blood to supply our defects. Yes, that’s great. But let us really strive. And I want us to take time as we close this series to consider how we can strive, like, what’s a step we can take I, we had a community group meeting a few weeks back, because during this series, we were talking, I was talking to the Sabbath in particular, which is, you know, kind of a big, important command. And we got to that last question, which if you’re in Community Group, you know, our last question is always the application question, you know, what is that one step you’re going to take, and we had this wonderfully rich conversation, 2025 minutes easily of just good insights and thoughts and honesty, we came to the end of it. And I was like, Guys, that was great. Like, I love that conversation. I’m so glad we had it. But did you notice that not one single person among us actually listed as step we’re going to take? Because that’s just kind of how we roll isn’t it? Like all it was so good. Moving on. Right? So let’s actually think of a step here. If you flip over your Bolton insert, you’ve got a question there, right, what’s one step you can take, to strive to obey perfectly, probably should come at that point of deepest conviction that you experienced during this series. In a moment, we’re gonna give you some space before we take the Lord’s Supper together, to pray, to reflect on this to do the self-examination that we’re supposed to do before we take the Lord’s Supper any way that we might not take it in an unworthy manner what needs to happen? And by the way, I mentioned community group but clearly, this is not the kind of thing you want to keep to yourself, right? We got to share this so that we are held to account community group be a great place to do that. That’s your last question. So I’ve spoiled that for you. Journey group. Great place to do this as a family. Great place. To do this. We need community You can do this work. If today’s your first Sunday here, questions a little bit harder, you don’t have 12 weeks to think through, you just got one. But hey, plenty of stuff still to consider, and I invite you to participate still don’t leave here, unchanged. Because God, if we’re in a covenant relationship with Him, if we’ve trusted in the finished work of his gracious mediator, God means to change us. To tell a story that Colin Smith tells in his book, your 10, greatest struggles, to close our series, I think it captures this point exactly is the story he heard of a man who was in prison, because he was a thief, is what he did. He just stole he broke the law was his lifestyle. Well, while he was imprisoned, he heard the gospel. And he was converted, not unusual in prisons, by the way, really easy to accept the bad news that you didn’t measure up when you’re in prison, which makes the good news sound really, really good. The problem with those of us on the outside is that we forget the bad news is true of us. And so the good news sounds kind of good to us. But he got it and he was converted. And as he was about to be released, he was warned of the temptation that he would face to return to his old way of life, even to his old friends who would lead him astray, of course. And so there’s one thing he wanted to do as he got out, which is find a new community. He wanted to go to church. Amen to that, by the way. So he wanted to go to church, his first free Sunday, he went there, you know, new church, of course, sitting in a wooden pew, and he’s looking up as he’s waiting for the service to begin because people who are new to church are the only ones who come on time. You know that, right? And so he’s there early, so he’s got time to look at what’s above the pulpit, and there are the 10 commandments, inscribed on plaques above. And, you know, its number eight is like mine will be in flashing neon at this point, you shall not steal. His heart sinks. It says like, this is the last thing I need to be reminded of my failures. I already know my struggles. But he kept looking up at it. As a service went on. And he’s hearing not just the law proclaimed, but the good news of grace proclaimed as well. Commands started to change like at first he heard it as a command. It’s like, reading it like Gandalf when he’s fighting the Balrog. Right. He’s like you shadow monster, I kind of feel but then by the end, because he’s hearing grace, it didn’t sound like a command, it sounded like a promise. He shall not steal.
If you notice, by the way, we got an all through all of this. These are not imperatives. Hebrew has an imperative form. They could have said Don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t commit adultery. It doesn’t. It says it in the Indicative You shall not commit adultery. Now there’s a command force to it. You know, this is a parent, right? You’ve gotten down on your knees and looked kid in the eye, hands on the shoulders. You will not throw a tantrum. And there’s a command, right? But there’s more, it really is a promise as well. You’re gonna be different. You’re gonna be a new creation. In Christ, God’s will is your sanctification. No one who calls you is faithful. And he will do it, he will accomplish it in you if you are his. He was a new person in Christ, who would not steal any longer. we are new creations, if we are in Christ, because of our gracious mediator, we are not condemned. But we are now free to obey our good and gracious God, let’s pray to him now. Father, we boldly approach your throne of grace, even now to receive mercy in our time of need. how grateful we are, Lord, that we can approach you boldly, despite the fact that we’re unworthy to approach you. Because you have made a way by the blood of Christ shed on our behalf. And so we come to you now as your adopted children loved by you, despite our being lawbreakers and what do we come to ask? But that you would keep your promise in our lives, that you would sanctify us through and through so that our spirit souls and bodies will be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that you are faithful and you will do it. That is our hope and our prayer. Make us new in Christ, the glory of your name, amen.

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