Pastor Brian - “Rules of Engagement” - Deuteronomy 5:16-20, 6:20-25
The term, “Rules of Engagement,” can mean rules of war or rules of relationship. Many see the Ten Commandments as rules of war because of the power struggle it causes between our desire to control and yielding to God’s authority. From another perspective, God’s commands are rules of relationship that cause us to be more engaged with Him. In reality the Ten Commandments are both. His commands deal with our power struggle with God and also provide a way to engage with Him that leads to a full and abundant life in our families, in our communities and in Himself. How do God’s commands lead to a fulfilled life?
1) God’s commands lead to a fulfilled life in the FAMILY. The family unit is a key component to any thriving community. Dt. 5:16. This fifth commandment is a transition from the first four commandments which stresses loving God first and foremost in our lives. When we hold our parents in high esteem we too are honoring God who created parenting. The significance of this commandment is further shown by the fact that this is the first commandment with a promise and is repeated in the New Testament. Life is abundant when we obey God’s command to honor our fathers and mothers but life can also be very meaningful when we follow God’s desires where we live.
2) God’s commands lead to a fulfilled life in our COMMUNITIES. Where we live is fulfilling when we obey God’s commands. God’s instructions are guidelines towards a better life. People of God know that in our hearts we want to be good citizens. His rules of engagement transform us into productive people in our communities. Living out His commands produce healthier emotional, physical, and spiritual lifestyles. Can you imagine the impact upon our society if all of God’s people followed His commands? Dt. 5:17-20
The first four commandments teach us that those rules apply to our relationship with Father God. The fifth commandment shows us how to live a fulfilled life within our families. These next five commandments reveal how our lives can make a positive impact in a society that needs repair. Even in the midst of the chaos that we read, see and hear about each day, the life of the Christ follower can be full and abundant. It is challenging to live under the instruction of God but in the end, the commands teach us that having respect for God, ourselves, and others leads to a more complete and fulfilled life.
It’s unlikely that anyone can keep all of these laws without failing. You shall not murder - Murder is private, intentional killing of people. It does not apply to war time situations. On the other hand when you hate your brother you have failed and committed murder in your heart. You shall not commit adultery - Desiring someone other than your spouse is adultery. You shall not steal - Whether intentional or not if something is not yours and you took it, that’s stealing. You shall not bear false testimony - Have you ever spoke behind someone’s back in a negative manner? That’s destroying a person’s reputation it’s being a false testimony. You shall not covet - Desiring something or someone you do not have and you obsess about getting it. You can see it’s impossible to be obedient in every command all the time. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole Law but fails in one point has become guilty of all.” Without Jesus, no one can be saved from sin. Only by the grace of God through Jesus will our sins be removed, forgiven, and turned “white as snow.” Isaiah 1:18. Followers of Christ should be law abiding citizens not just to be good people but because obeying God’s commands honor Him which leads to a fulfilled and respectful life in our communities.
3) God’s commands lead to a fulfilled life in HIM. The instructions of God are meant to lead us into a deeper relationship with Himself. There is no better place than to be in the center of God’s will, the focal point of His heart. It is when we are in-sync with God’s plans that we are most satisfied because His rules are always for our good. (Dt. 6:20-25)
Moses instructs Israel to tell their children that God’s rules are always for their good. He wants the next generation of Israelites to never forget how God freed them from the hardships of Egypt. Through God’s mighty power and great works, Israel would soon enter the Promised Land as God said they would. They would live long and prosper if they followed God’s commands. It is the same for us today. We are not Israel but we are His chosen through Jesus who leads us to the promised land of heaven. Though God’s relationship with Israel looks different than ours it’s also the same in that faith in Him and His Word is key to having a blessed life.
A dull blade is more dangerous than a sharp one. When a razor is dull it takes more pressure to shave. Pressing harder to get a smooth shave causes razor burns. With a new, sharp razor blade, less pressure is exerted and avoids the burns. Did you know that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) sharper than any two edged sword (Heb 4:12)? If we do not live in the sharpness of His Word, we soon find ourselves pressing to perform better for God in the way we think pleases God. In pressing, we get burned as we think we are pleasing God, but if it is not according to His Word we are not.
Verse 25 goes on to tell us that it will be righteousness for us to do all His commandments. You may be thinking we have been taught that it is by grace we have been saved and not of ourselves. Yes, that is the truth. But now we read, "It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God.” Righteousness and salvation are two different outcomes of faith in God. God is informing Israel that through obedience they will be blessed in their temporary new home. Faith in God through Jesus is salvation from sin in a permanent, eternal home. In this present-day, God’s commandments are summed up in Matthew 22:36-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This first proclamation summarizes the first four of the ten commandments which are about loving God with our entire being. Continuing with Matthew 22, “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ This summarizes the last six commandments. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Isn’t that genius!? Two statements sum up the ten commandments to love God and others as yourself.
One significant way to obey the commandment to love God is to believe and receive in His Son Jesus as Lord and Savior. By obeying this command to love God through Jesus, you gain a new eternal purpose and perspective in life. When you accept this truth, that no matter how many times you fail, Jesus is your hope and hope gives life abundantly.
The ten commandments are the “Rules of Engagement” that simultaneously battle the rebellion of our spirits and builds relationship with God. Because of our sin nature we don’t like being told what to do. We rebel against God’s advice because we desire our control over His control. The commandments of God at the same time build relationships in our family, in community, and most importantly, with God. In these commands we are drawn nearer to Him and others.
Thank you, Helen Lee-Takaki for the Children’s Message on the rules in our lives that are there for our own good. God also gave the ten commandments to bless us with a good life.