Loving God by Following His Commands

Steve Viars February 19, 2006 Deuteronomy 5:1-33

- If you had a choice this morning, would you prefer to live in a place where there were no laws, no rules, where you could do what you please?
1) for example, on the way over to church this morning...there were speed limits you had to follow...
- somebody was telling you how fast you could drive...
- and Pastor Dutton has explained to me that if you go over the speed limit, there are policeman who actually stop you and make you pay a fine for breaking the law...
- would you prefer living in a place that had no traffic laws?...
2) Or, the last time you received a pay check, you probably noticed that someone got to your paycheck before you did...
- the government, with their tax laws...and they took out a fairly significant amount of money...
- and they didn’t ask you first...no pretty please...no choice in the matter...
- they just took it because there are all kinds of laws that allow all sorts of entities to do that...
- well, would you prefer to live in a place that had no tax laws...if you wanted to send something you could, but it was completely up to you...
3) then there are all these laws to govern your behavior...
- in fact, there are many choices you could have made this week that would have resulted in you being in a steel cage this morning...commonly referred to as a jail cell...
- the rule of law is a powerful thing...
- I’m simply asking...would you prefer a community where there were no laws?...

- now, many of us would say something like...
- that sounds good for a minute or two...but there would be some problems...
1.  Like, there’s all these other people who live here...and they’re no very good drivers...so if they didn’t have any traffic laws...they would probably injure me with their car or at least get in my way...
- or, I would pay my fair share of taxes even if they were optional...but I’m not sure some of my neighbors or co-workers would voluntarily support these necessary public services...
- and we have some criminals living among us...so maybe we do need civil law and policemen and jails and judges...and even a few lawyers...
- so maybe law us necessary because of all those other people...

- after thinking a few more minutes, we might even say this...
2. Maybe having laws is even good for me...for us...
- because sometimes we’re not thinking correctly...
- sometimes we can be selfish and careless...
- we ought to do right simply because it’s right...
- but occasionally we just do right...because it’s the law...because we were commanded to whether we felt like it or not...
- so if the question is, would it be better to live in a place where there was no law...most of us would say...probably not...
- now let me ask you this...is that any different when it comes to being a follower of Jesus Christ?...
- what is our relationship to the law of God as NT believers?...
- is it all optional...is it all “do it if you feel like it”...
- or are there commands?...are there laws?...
- and if the answer to that in any sense is yes...then is that really in our best interest?
- and, what should our attitude toward these commands be?...
- and, what is the benefit of cultivating such an attitude...and what is the price of getting this wrong?

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to Deuteronomy chapter 5.
- [page 136 of the Bible under the chair in front of you, page 232 of our Chinese English Bibles...]
- this year we’re talking about Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness...
- what does the next step look like in your growth and in your service?...
- these are very exciting days of ministry for us because the opportunities are everywhere...
- and we want to be good stewards of that as individuals and as a church...
- so we don’t respond to God’s blessings with complacency and smugness...
- we want to gear up...we want to get to the next place...especially because of some of the ministry initiatives we’re seeking to accomplish in the next 17 months together...
- being read is an important piece of the puzzle...

- to help us in this endeavor, we’ve been studying the book of Deuteronomy...because God’s people are completing their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness...
- [map of Beth Peor]
- and now they’re at Beth Peor...right across the Jordan River from the promised land...
- and God has even allowed them to have some warm up victories as they have begun to rise up and take their journey...
- and you can almost taste the anticipation of God’s promise being fulfilled...
- and His power being evident among them in new and fresh and substantial ways...

- but before they move out...Moses gives them a series of speeches // like the coach addressing his team in the locker room before the big game...
- and all of that is recorded for us in the pages of Scripture...
- and we feel like this is a perfect book to help all of us gear up for greater effectiveness...

- now, what do you think this morning’s section of Scripture is going to be about?...the beauty of the law...
- we’re talking about Loving God by Following His Commands...

- with that in mind, let’s read Deuteronomy chapter 5 beginning at verse 1 – [read 5:1-33]

- in the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 Necessary Steps to being a Person who Loves, Appreciates, and Follows God’s Commands.

I.  Understand the Christian’s Relationship to the Law.


- without a doubt, what we are studying comes from the OT...
- and a person can make one of 2 mistakes in thinking about that...
1.  One is to conclude...I am a NT believer living in the age of grace...so these concepts have nothing to do with me...
2. The other is to automatically carry over everything that God said to the nation of Israel to people like you and me as if it equally applicable when its not...
- so let’s try to sort some of this out...but I think we have to start here...
A. The Old Testament foundation.
- God’s Word presents the distinct possibility that a person can get to the place where he/she really loves the law...who delights in it...who treasures it and joyfully seeks to obey it...verses like that are all over the Bible....
1. Survey.
Psalm 1:2 - But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 19:7 - The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Psalm 40:8 - I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
Psalm 119:18 - Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
Psalm 119:34 - Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.
Psalm 119:72 - The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psalm 119:92 - If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
Psalm 119:142 - Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
Psalm 119:174 - I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
Proverbs 29:18 - Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

- so the recurrent point here is that God’s law wasn’t something His people simply put up with, or endured...is was something they loved, they appreciated, they sought to joyfully follow it...
2. An important distinction.
- I need to point out somewhere along here that the word “law” is used different ways in the Bible...
- remember, in studying God’s Word as any other piece of literature, words derive meaning from their context...
- when reading any of these verses about the law...you have to ask yourself, what aspect of God’s law is being discussed here?...
- some times it is the 10 commandments...God’s moral, unchanging law...
- at other times, it is His ceremonial law...the principles given exclusively to Israel to make them distinct as a nation...
- at other times, all of God’s Word is in focus...
- we’ll talk about that more in a minute....but the clear point thus far has been...it honors the Lord when a person delights in His law...

- now another important question is...what was...
B. The law’s purpose.
- and I’m thinking now especially of the 10 commandments, but some of these points would apply beyond that...why did Moses review the 10 commandments in Deuteronomy 5 prior to the Israelites entering the promised land?...

1. To reveal the righteousness and holiness of God.
- Deuteronomy 4:6-8 - Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
2. To provide a moral compass for daily living.
- Joshua 1:7-8 - Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
- if Joshua wanted he and his people to prosper and enjoy godly success, he had to lead them to be people of the book...people who delighted in the commands of God...
- but here’s the key question...was a person ever saved by keeping the law?...in either the OT or the NT?...was that ever the way a person earned righteousness before God?...in any time period?...
3. To reveal our imperfections and sinfulness.
- Romans 3:20 - Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
- so how does that apply to a person who says...”I’m 10 commandments Christian...”  [Develop]
4. To bring us to Christ.
- Galatians 3:24 - So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.
- Galatians 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
- but what happens after a person has come to God by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone?...
- if you were here a couple of weeks ago, you may remember that we quoted from Jeremiah 31, which tells us that one of the essential provisions of the new covenant is that the law of God is written on our hearts...
- we’re no longer under the law in the sense that we are living under its curse...and its constant accusation...
- but that does not mean that as NT believers, we have no commands to follow...
- no, the moral law of God is given...
5. To direct our steps as followers of Christ.
- Matthew 5:17-18 - Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

- now if you say...that was too much, too quick...
- here’s the summary...the law was never given to save us, it was given to direct us...
1.  To our own sin...which is why James said... James 2:10 - For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
- that’s why when the rich young ruler came to Jesus in Luke 18 and said...good teacher, what can I do to inherit eternal life...what did Christ say to him...
- why are you calling me good?...[meaning, you don’t agree that I am the Messiah, the Son of God sent to die in your place....only God is good and you don’t believe I’m good so don’t call me God...]...
- and then he said...you know the commandments...
- so what did the man say back...not, I fall short of keeping many of the commandments, maybe I need to reevaluate my need of a Savior, and consider whether are that Person...
- what did the rich young ruler say...
- I’ve kept them all from my youth?...
- to which Jesus said what...go sell all you have and give it to the poor?...
- why...because by selling all you have, you can earn eternal life?...
- no, to try to help this man understand...nobody has kept all the commands...
- the law reveals our sin...
2.  But the great news is...Christ died to release us from sin’s penalty...and sins power...
3.  and now it is possible, with His help and strength and enablement...to actually begin loving the commands, and treasuring the commands, and keeping the commands...
- which is why the apostle John would make this crucial statement...
- 1 John 2:3 - Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

- an OT believer, through the sacrificial system, could only look forward to the death of Christ symbolized by the never ending sacrifices...
- but when Jesus died...how many times did that have to happen...once...
- and now, because of His finished work on the cross and the power demonstrated in the resurrection...people like you and me can live right where the Psalmist so desperately wanted to be...
- as persons who love the law of God...who treasure the law of God...and who are progressively learning to keep, to follow, to obey the law of God...[repeat 1 John 2:3]

- now, let’s put this back into Deuteronomy chapter 5...


II. Cultivate a Commitment to Guarding the Commands.


- obviously we can’t do a full treatment of the 10 commandments here...in fact, we could spend months on this...
- but one convenient way to organize this material is to recognize that the 1st four deal with a person’s relationship to God, the last 6 deal with relationships to people...
- so let’s think about:
A. The “Godward” commands.
1. Do not worship other gods.
2. Do not make images of God.
3. Do not use God’s name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day.

- now it’s not hard to summarize these words...why?....
- because Jesus did it for us... Matthew 22:37-38 - 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.

- in other words, everything we’re talking about this morning revolves around your love for God...
- this isn’t some kind of grudging, forced obedience...it’s simply an evidence of how you have chosen to make God first place in your heart and life...
- you obey Him, because you love Him...
- that’s what Paul meant in Colossians 1:18 – He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

- one of the questions each of us would have to answer this morning is...what does your level of obedience to God’s Word reveal about your depth of love for Him?...
- and I realize some might say...but is that something I feel?...no, it’s something you cultivate...its something you choose...
- the feelings will often follow...but this is the result of settled choices...
- you choose what you value...you choose what brings you delight...you choose what you worship...you choose what you will sacrifice for...you choose what you will think about...you choose what you organize your life around...
- and when you are learning to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength...the outgrowth of that is a willingness to obey the Word of God...
- to be a principle oriented person...
- where his law is written in your heart...

- and it comes out everywhere [that why we raised the question we did a minute ago...]
- and one of the things I love about being part of this church family is that there many people who obey God’s Word in a way that gives strong indication that they really love Him, that they have no other gods before Him...

1.  The desire to grow...[mention II Peter 3:18]...
- deal with upcoming FBI classes...strong registration...

2. The desire to serve God well...
- [cf. I  Cor. 10:31, Rom. 12:1]
- mention custodians, the great job they do with the building [even one that is used more and more by the day...]
- mention Stan Imel and the job he is doing with men’s basketball...
- that’s exactly what we mean by gearing up...

3. Perhaps we need to back up and ask an even more basic question...
- have you demonstrated your love for God by accepting His Son as Savior and Lord?...
- develop...
- [could also talk about the issue of obedience in baptism, and becoming part of a church...mention Intro to Faith]


B. The “manward” commands.
1. Honor your father and mother.
2. Do not murder.
3. Do not commit adultery.
4. Do not steal.
5. Do not lie.
6. Do not covet.

- now, how did Jesus summarize these commands?...
- Matthew 22:39-40 - And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

- it is amazing how much is covered by those 6 simple statements...
- a home is transformed when children obey God’s command of honoring their parents and when mom and dad remain faithful to one another...
- a culture is transformed when men and women treat every life as precious...and when people choose to tell the truth, and protect one another’s property...
- even to the point of guarding against coveting...or wanting something that doesn’t belong to them...

- now, can I ask you again....what about the issue of your obedience to the commands of God?...what does it reveal about your love for Him?....
- and is your obedience on the rise, or the decline?...
- are there things that God clearly forbids in His Word that you are doing anyway?....
- are there things that God clearly commands in His Word that you absolutely have no intention of doing?...
- and what does all of that say about the depth of love you have for God, and the depth of love you have for others?...

- now, how does all of this fit into gearing up?


III. Embrace the Opportunities a Commandment Oriented Life Provides.

A. The opportunity to be drawn closer to Him.
- we can’t say too often that the commandments were never given as an end in themselves...they lead us to closer dependence on the Lord...
- so let’s say a person is here today and is estranged from a friend...and knows the Bible commands him to try to communicate and seek restoration...
- we didn’t get the job done this morning if the person simply leaves this morning with some sort of grudging scowl...”OK, I’ll obey...so I’ll call him up, and hope he doesn’t answer the phone so I can leave a quick message and then say I obeyed God’s commands....”
- no, this is...going to the throne of grace and acknowledging...Lord, I’m bitter, I’m hurt, I don’t want to solve this, I don’t want to work on this...
- but you are my king...and I will obey you even when it is hard...
- but would you please give me the grace to communicate better than I often do, and would you work in and through me in fresh and powerful ways...

- apply to husbands/wives...
- apply to inviting folks to FBI
- could even apply to program tonight...

B. The opportunity to demonstrate the righteousness that only God can give.
- remember, Moses wanted God’s people to keep the commands so that the nations around would have a greater understanding of their God...
- when you choose to live an obedient life...that stands out to the Lord...
- [could develop – attending the Myer’s 25th anniversary – many in our church working hard to keep their marriage vows, and grow their marriage...
- [develop how marital fidelity could come up at one of these basketball leagues...]
C. The opportunity to minister to others through the testimony of an obedient life.

- [develop – working with teens, upset at parents, using the commands to lead others to the Savior who makes keeping the commands possible....]

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video