“There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”
For some this story is familiar; well it is Nathan the prophet having a chat with King David. David has just made a royal cover up and taken Bathsheba as his wife after arranging the murder of her husband, Uriah. This was against a back drop of an adulterous affair. Nathan, first indulges the king in a intriguing allegory. (2 Sam 12)
David listens intently to the story and on hearing of such a gross miscarriage of justice tells Nathan in no uncertain terms, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
A 2008 survey of behaviours with moral overtones among adults conducted by The Barna Group over a one week period revealed that 19% of adults had viewed pornography, 11% had lied, 9% had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married and 28% had used profanity.
‘The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.’ -Ambrose Bierce
The question is do the Ten Commandments have a place or platform at all in this post modern world of the 21st Century? Well The Bible says that man is depraved and hates God in his thoughts and deeds. It also says we have all blown it and fallen short of the standard. Any deviation or flaw from that moral standard is called sin.
” There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14:3).
Nathan holds a mirror to Davids face. David sees a skewed and flawed “rich” man killing a “poor” mans lamb but its not just a story about the other man. Its a running commentary of his own skewed life. His conscience immediately comes to a halt when he realises Nathan pronounces the same conclusion that his conscience is drawing…wait a minute. “I am that man”.
Sin is transgression of the Law
What is sin? Sin is lawlessness; it is the transgression of the Law of God says the Bible. (1 John3:4) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness. If it had not been for the Law or the Ten Commandments, I would not have known what sin is. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Or to lie if it had not said, “You shall not lie” or to fornicate or commit adultery if it had not said “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus went further and expounded that who so ever looks upon a woman to lust after her, commits adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus said that there is none good except God. Yeah, not even the Prime Ministers or the Presidents and Kings. We all fall short of the mark…sometimes, every time and all the time. And the sad thing is even if we kept all the Laws of moral perfection but stumble at one point we are as guilty of the Whole Law.
A lady decided to post the old family Bible to her brother. At the Post Office she was asked as to whether there was anything breakable in the parcel she was about to post. Thoughtfully she replied, ‘Yes, only the Ten Commandments.’
Its sometimes easy to feel temporarily penitent or show remorse and even shed afew tears only because your deeds have been exposed by another man or the media. Caught with the hand in the cookie jar sheepishly we feel remorseful. But confession or acknowledgement of sin is not what a Holy God requires. Confession or acknowledgement does not absolve the sinner of sin. This is just part of the process of conviction of sin. At this point I will say take a deep sigh and say lets read on ever so gently…(Below are three excerpts that have been shared just because they are general knowledge and are already in the public domain).
In 1996 President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton was re-elected into a second term after receiving 49.2% of the popular vote. Just within two years and before the ink could even dry on the inauguration oath, whispers of indiscretions and philandering with an intern began to seep through the walls and tight doors of the White House. Faced with an overwhelming mirror of evidence, Mr William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of The United States of America finally admitted to the nation:
“Indeed I did have a relationship … that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.”
Scripture tells us that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Those who have a humble heart, who recognize their sin and see their desperate need for God’s mercy, will understand the gospel of grace. But the proud and self-righteous—those who proclaim their own goodness (see Proverbs 20:6)—don’t see their need for a Saviour. The self righteous man does not see his error or skewed ways for he denies that there is a norm or standard that he has departed from. Take another sigh…
Born late December 1975, Eldrick Tont Woods, better known as Tiger Woods has credentials that make every male of his generation cower into the woods. As a prodigy in his own right, he is the youngest and most charismatic of golfers in history to ever achieve the career Grand Slam. His immaculate hand-eye coordination has netted achievements which have ranked him as the most successful of golfers of all time. A doting father and role model to the “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from Caucasian, Black, (American) Indian, and Asian) due to his mixed ancestral heritage. However cracks in Mr Woods’ glossy, squeaky clean family-man façade began to appear late November 2009 with tabloid allegations of extramarital affairs. As the testimonies began to be made public through print and television, a contrite and apologetic press release by the once adored golfer was issued. It read:
“I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart, I have not been true to my values and the behaviour my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.”
God’s Law alerts the sinner to the malady of sin. It widens his complacent eyes and causes alarm. It brings the diagnosis proving to the patient that he is terribly and terminally diseased. It helps him to understand sin and its result, so that he will then appropriate the cure.
They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. Rom 2:15
As a pastor, teacher and evangelist Jimmy Lee Swaggart, in the 1980s reached over 3,000 stations each week and was being viewed by more than 500 million people worldwide. He is considered to be one of the pioneers of evangelism through television (televangelism). In 1988, lurid photos of the married man of God were leaked that showed him in the compromising company of a local Louisiana prostitute. Such rank deceptive hypocrisy made the pudding of media frenzy. Jimmy knew his secret sins had been brought to light. No body doubted how much he knew of a God who holds His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor. This time the threshing floor was to be his heart. He had on countless Sundays passionately preached of how the Lord would gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. That infamous Sunday as he faced his wife, family and congregation and the world wide fellowship was best described by People magazine, Jimmy Swaggart’s televised confession was “the most tortured public display of contrition in recent memory”. He tearfully confessed:
“I do not plan in any way to whitewash my sin. I do not call it a mistake, mendacity; I call it sin. I would much rather, if possible — and in my estimation it would not be possible — to make it worse than less than it actually is. I have no one but myself to blame. I have sinned against You, my Lord. And I would ask that Your precious blood would wash and cleanse every stain, until it is in the seas of God’s forgetfulness, never to be remembered against me anymore.”
“Coming clean” or confession or acknowledging sin is just the first step to restoration. Sadly for many its the only station they stop at before turning back into the same trend of skewed flawed habits that they once decried openly. Man is depraved and flawed. The fabric of decay and sin is tightly bound to our nature. Its by the mercies of God that we are not consummed. His mercies are new every morning. Yet God has every right to unleash his wrath and like a vapour reduce us all to an after thought. If we look at our selves in light of the Ten Commandments we realise we are caught like a deer in the head lights of an on coming train. The Law was given “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).
Jonathan Edwards in his famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of An Angry Godwarns of how we sinners take every day for granted. Perchance a loving and gracious God is giving you one more day of mercy before you slip out of his hands into eternity and face the wrath of a Holy God:
Their foot shall slide in due time.(Deut 32:35) They are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
Nevertheless I have not come to stick a finger in my nose and gloat over other peoples sins or laugh in their face. For in the mirror of the Ten Commandments, “I am that man” too. I am as much a sinner as the biggest mass murderer. I am as guilty as that adulterer. Telling one lie makes me as much a law breaker as a Barabbas. In Gods eyes we all fall short at moral perfection.
We have not one but ten Nathans pointing fingers at us. With exquisite precision each emissary makes our conscience scream reminding us of our depravity. What can appease a perfect judge who already set the penalty for sin as death? (Rom 6:23)
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Rom 3:20
The Good news of this excursion is here: Jesus was perfect in thought and deed; he fulfilled the requirements of the Law. But God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God(2 cor5:21). Jesus had your sin and my sin imputed on him to the point he became sorrowful unto death. He faced God’s wrath on the cross. He came as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world through his suffering and death on the cross. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
The Hymn How Great Thou Art sums it all:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin – Carl Gustav Boberg (1859-1940)
My depraved self righteousness, my lies and sexual sins and “warts and all” were imputed upon a perfect man and in exchange God gives me Christ’s righteousness! Jesus died my death! He paid the penalty! This can only be the best news that I can share with any man big or small, footballer or golfer, Prime Minister or President.
To appease the wrath of an infinite and perfect God, God Himself killed his own infinite and perfect son so that the helpless and imperfect sinner can be pardoned. This shows how Gracious and Good God really is! There is indeed none Good…no not one except God.
Oh! There be some of you to whom conscience is as a ghost, haunting you by day and night. Ye know the good, though ye choose the evil, ye prick your fingers with the thorns of conscience when ye try to pluck the rose of sin.–Charles Spurgeon
The Bible says Salvation comes through repentance and faith in the work that Christ did at the cross. It is by faith that you are saved and that is not of your selves lest any man should boast. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. The Ten Commandments are a moral mirror; they help man to realise that we are wretched and depraved. But the Good news is in the Gospel -For God sent his Son into the world in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
God’s cross hairs are on every man through the Ten Commandments. He could take you out with one shot and say “Thou fool, thy soul shall be demanded of thee this night.” His salvation is only through Repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. How then shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?
If you are going to boast, make your boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the world has been crucified to you and you to the world.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Phil 3:8-9
At the cross your fine was paid. Your sentence commuted. Today Jesus gives you a chance to start anew. In Christ, you can say…“I WAS that Man!”