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3. God's Law


3.1 So what are the Ten Commandments?
The Ten Commandments are the law of God that expresses His will for us. + / -

Jesus spoke about these commandments and showed God hasn't changed His mind about them:



3.2 How did Jesus summarize the Ten Commandments?
Once Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest in the Old Testament. He summed up the Ten Commandments in two commands-one directed toward God, the other toward our neighbor.

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3.3 Does God intend His Ten Commandments to apply to us today?
Absolutely! It wouldn't make much sense for Jesus to summarize the laws into two broad statements if He intended to abolish them. The Ten Commandments continue to provide modern society with the blueprint for living an ordered, meaningful life, which promotes peace with others and shows how we honor God. + / -


3.4 Can we earn our salvation through following the Law?
Sure-if we can keep each of God's commandments perfectly, never violating a single law during our entire life. Our big problem is that none of us is perfect, for all of us sin. So, no, sinners can't earn salvation through following the Law.


3.5 What is original sin?
The trouble is our sinful condition goes far deeper than the evil deeds we do and the good things we leave undone. Our entire being was contaminated with sin from the moment we are conceived-long before we could do any good or evil deeds. The Bible calls this original sin. Original sin is the sinful nature we received from our sinful parents. + / -


3.6 How strict is God about our obedience to His Law?
God's holiness (that is, His absolute sinLESSness) and justice demand us to be absolutely perfect in all our thoughts, desires, words and deeds.


Why so strict? God is absolutely holy and perfectly just. Why doesn't He strike us down instantly? He doesn't because He is merciful and wants to forgive our sins. + / -


3.7 If we cannot save ourselves, how can we be saved?
Like a condemned criminal there is nothing we can do to earn His favor or turn away His wrath. But God's love and mercy for us moved Him to provide a Substitute. Jesus became human to take our sins upon Himself, and He received the full punishment for those sins in His suffering and death on the cross. Watching the brutality Jesus suffered in movies like The Passion of the Christ helps us realize how serious God is about His Law and holiness. But it also reminds us that God completely satisfied His holiness and justice by laying our sins on Jesus, who paid for each one in full.



3.8 What purposes does God's Law serve?
God's Law works in three different ways:



3.9 What are the Ten Commandments?


3.10 First Commandment: You shall have no other gods.
In this commandment God requires us to put Him first in our lives. We must love Him above all things, shun doing anything to displease Him, and trust Him more than we trust in anyone or anything else in our lives. + / -


Once we see God for who He really is, when we experience His love in Jesus Christ and the joy that comes from committing our lives to Him, we won't be so easily persuaded to make worldly things our greatest passions. In fact, we can more thoroughly enjoy the good things God gives us here on earth when we give Him credit and thanks for providing them to us.


3.11 Second Commandment: You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord your God.
In this commandment we are required to think highly of God and be careful only to speak about Him and use His Name in ways that will lead others to trust in Him as well. + / -


3.12 Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
In this commandment God calls us to set aside time each week to gather with fellow believers in worship and to hear His Word in worship. From this we receive great blessings from Him. In the process He puts our lives back in balance by reminding us of our purpose on earth and the life to come.

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Weekly worship affords us the opportunity to have fellowship with other believers, to grow in our faith and to pray together.



3.13 Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.
In this commandment God reminds us He has appointed our parents and other authorities to protect and provide for us as His representatives. He commands us to honor and obey them so long as they do not command us to do things contrary to His will.

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Parents aren't the only authorities God places over us. Beyond them He also gives us grandparents, mentors, teachers, pastors, bosses and supervisors, police officers, government officials, and other authorities who care for us and are deserving of our honor.


There is one case where God requires us to disobey parents or other authorities, and that is when they want us to disobey Him. If they want us to disobey God they are certainly no longer acting as His representatives.


3.14 Fifth Commandment: You shall not murder.
This commandment not only forbids the taking of human life, but it also requires us to protect the lives of other people, especially those who cannot protect themselves. We are forbidden to harm anyone in any way, even from holding grudges in our hearts. Since the Fifth Commandment prohibits us from killing other people (murder), it seems like the easiest of the commandments to keep. However, the following examples show how challenging this can be.

1. Suicide - God forbids suicide. Being the Author and Giver of life, He alone has the right to end your life or that of anyone else. Self-murder is an expression of doubt in His almighty power to forgive us, or to transform and improve our lives.


2. Euthanasia - Likewise, God never gave us authority to put people "out of their misery," in order to relieve their suffering, or to ease the burden of the care of those who are seriously ill. God in His wisdom and mercy knows the right time to end people's lives. He alone retains that authority. However, when it is evident that a person is in the process of dying, it can be permissible to stop heroic medical intervention.


3. Abortion: The Bible makes clear that each of us is a valuable person from the moment of our conception. Except to save the life of the mother, abortion is a violation of God's commandment forbidding murder.


4. Hatred and anger - Jesus explains in the following passage that hatred and anger also break this commandment. God judges not just our actions, but also our words, thoughts and desires. You and I may never have caused someone's death by intention or accident, but which of us has not been angry at another, or insulted him, or refused to forgive? What about abuse, prejudice, bigotry and hatred?


There are times when God permits the taking of a human life. If we are defending an innocent person or ourselves from a lawbreaker, God permits the use of force, even lethal force, to curb the evil and protect the innocent. For the same reason, the government has the same authority to carry out capital punishment and wage wars for just causes.


Life is a gift from God. As we were created in the very image of God, we must consider our lives-and the lives of every other person-as precious and worth protecting. We should do all that we can to befriend our neighbor, offering help and support in every way we can.


3.15 Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
In this commandment God addresses His good gift of sexuality. From the very beginning God created humans as sexual beings. However, He reserves sexual activity for husband and wife in a lifelong marriage alone. He forbids all other forms of sexual activity because of the harm they inevitably bring upon us.

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This commandment forbids common practices in our society.


In summary, God doesn't want to hinder our enjoyment of sex. Instead, He provides the healthy boundary of holy marriage within which it will richly bless our lives-body, heart, mind, soul and spirit.


3.16 Seventh Commandment: You shall not steal.
In this commandment God gives us the right to own property. He protects that property and forbids us from stealing anyone else's property in any way, even in a way that may seem right. He also commands us to help others keep and improve those things He has entrusted to them.

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3.17 Eighth Commandment: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
In this Commandment God forbids us to lie or gossip about our neighbor. Instead, He directs us to protect our neighbors' reputation and presume the best motives lie behind their actions.

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3.19 Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's house. Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
In these commandments, God cuts through our words and actions to expose the sin lurking in our hearts and minds. He forbids us to covetously desire in our hearts those things He has given to others, and commands us to remain content with what He provides us.


Contentment transforms everything. Our neighbor can get that promotion or pull up in a fancy, new car. He or she might even leave on another exotic vacation, and we can praise God on their behalf.

When God is truly the center of our lives we can rest assured He will provide us with everything we need-and enough left over to help our neighbor in his or her need too.

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