Exodus 20:1, “And God spoke all these words, saying . . .”
Exodus 34:28, “So [Moses] was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.”
This coming Sunday—January 10th, 2010—we’ll be launching into a new sermon series picking up where we left off in the book of Exodus before Christmas. This new series—“10Words in Twenty10”—will focus on the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:1-17, known traditionally as the “Decalogue,” a compound term which literally means the ten (deca-) words (-logos). Each week we’ll work our way through one of God’s covenant “words,” fleshing out first how that law applied to the people of Israel when it was originally received and then examining its relevance for us today.
It should come as no surprise that the key danger in devoting ourselves to series of sermons focused on the law is, of course, legalism—what has sometimes been called “works-righteousness.” Legalism is a way of relating to God that places the determinative factor in our relationship squarely on our (make-it-or-break-it) shoulders.
Every system of philosophy and major world religion operates on this straight-forward, “legal” principle. Sometimes people call it “karma” instead of “law,” but whatever the particular name, it always boils down to the same, simple equation: “Obedience means acceptance.” In other words: “You reap what you sow.” The Beatles encapsulated it like this: “And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give.”
The gospel, on the other hand, operates on a principle of grace: “In the end, the love you get is insanely out of proportion to the love you actually give.” Over-and-against the principle of law, the gospel says: “In Christ, God has already accepted you (fully and unconditionally), therefore obedience is an act of gratitude—the powerful outworking of the new, spiritual life God has imparted to you through His Spirit.”
In light of this danger, we’ll begin by focusing first on what the law isn’t—the law is not a rulebook that if we keep God will save us and reward us with heaven—and then on what the law is—the law is God’s perfect and soul-reviving revelation (Ps. 19:7) given to guide his redeemed people for the good of both themselves and the nations (i.e., the lost people) around them.
If you’re interested in studying along with the series here are a few recommendations: