Sixth, that we do not hurt, or hate, or be hostile to our neighbour, but be patient and peaceful, pursuing even our enemies with love.
Seventh, that we abstain from sexual immorality and live purely and faithfully, whether in marriage or in single life, avoiding all impure actions, looks, words, thoughts, or desires, and whatever might lead to them.
Eighth, that we do not take without permission that which belongs to someone else, nor withhold any good from someone we might benefit.
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8–10 ESV)
It is estimated that over the last 12 months, the crime figures in Northern Ireland alone is over 96,000 incidents of criminal activities. This is high!
Adultery, Murder, Stealing: You have read about it, you can even watch it on your tv, or you can get a notification through your phone of the latest news around the world. So, you will know it is in the interest of the media sector that you have access to this kind of information.
Sadly, and I know this because I worked in the news programme of a television station, these kinds of news have a tremendous financial gain. It is well known that the prime television programme is after before or after the news! News sells!
Remarkably, we who are God’s prime creation have become God’s agent of destruction to his creation and the world he created.
Humankind’s sinful nature is corrosive. It is lethal, and it leads to death. I want to remind you that the ultimate example of total depravity is when humankind crucified the author and giver of life!
Peter’s great sermon recorded in Acts 2 points out that we have killed the Son of God!
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:22–23 ESV)
The late RC Sproul describes what it means us the idea of Total Depravity, and he says: “It means that the fall was so serious that it affects the whole person. The fallenness that captures and grips our human nature affects our bodies; that’s why we become ill and die. It affects our minds and our thinking; we still have the capacity to think, but the Bible says the mind has become darkened and weakened. The will of man is no longer in its pristine state of moral power. The will, according to the New Testament, is now in bondage. We are enslaved to the evil impulses and desires of our hearts. The body, the mind, the will, the spirit—indeed, the whole person—have been infected by the power of sin”
This is why God gave these commandments because they threaten the very core of who we are, the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage and the gracious provision of God.
Now, let us not become self-righteous. Let us not pretend that we are clean and never murder, steal or be unfaithful.
The beauty of the Scriptures is that we have numerous accounts of this depravity in this very book. Even the most remarkable people that we admire in the Bible they are not that clean. There is so much of it that it is hard to pick one, but I think there is one where one man’s unfortunate decision broke all these three commandments, and that is David.
We read from 2 Samuel 11-12 the account of David his actions towards Bathsheba, Uriah and ultimately God.
David’s action and the consequences of them led to the death of his son, and only by God’s grace, his life was spared. Yet, as we know from Psalm 51, he grieved the Holy Spirit of God.
- So, David lusted over a woman, and he committed adultery.
- He took the wife of Uriah, that is stealing
- He murdered as he planned the execution of Uriah, who, by the way, was a faithful servant and soldier, even he showed more honour than David.
David showed true repentance, and we have his repentance account on Ps 51 where he says:
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.” (Psalm 51:1–4 NLT-SE)
Rebellion is an interesting term. It has to do with an uprising, with mutiny, with revolution, with an insurrection.
It seems that David understood after being convicted by the Prophet Nathan that he acted in Rebellion towards God and the Bible teaches that rebellion is an act of witchcraft.
“Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshipping idols…”(1 Samuel 15:23 NLT-SE)
So what I am trying to convey is that behind the act of adultery, the act of committing murder, and behind stealing, three mighty forces can, if you and I are not careful, infiltrate our thinking, our motivations and our actions.
- Satan’s influence. If rebellion is as bad as witchcraft, then its source is Satan and all his demons.
a. He is described as the father of lies
b. The one who comes to steal and destroy
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 ESV)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10 ESV)
- Our sick hearts, this is the result of our total depravity that I described earlier!
Out of the heart comes all kinds of nasty things, Jesus said:
“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” (Matthew 15:19 NLT-SE)
- The love of the world
“ Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 1John 2:16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.” (1 John 2:15–16 NLT-SE)
When these three come together, a stronghold is developed in us. In other words, you and I have just opened the front door to become influenced by the devil, and this can happen to Christians and not Christians.
Now, I can finish here and tell you that you need to pray more and read your Bibles, which is very good and avoid the world with all its passions and desires!
But we are asked to live as light in this world, and we can read all we want and pray as much as we like. The way to be light and avoid committing adultery, murder and stealing are that you have an Encounter with the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, to finish, I would like to point out two important things that we need to know, believe and accept, if we will be salt and light in this world and not become like this world, living under the worlds’ standards and principles.
The Bad News!
If you think that the ten commandments were hard to follow, especially these three commandments, well, they just got even harder with Jesus’ teaching.
Jesus elevated the law to another level so that the teachers of the law and the religious authorities, those who were seen to be highly religious, were exposed to the reality of their fragility.
Jesus disclosed for all of us to see the reality of our sinfulness and hopelessness as we come to realise that these laws cannot be fulfilled unless we experience the Grace of God.
So, Jesus said in Mat. 5
“Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ Matthew 5:22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21–22 NLT-SE)
It seems that Jesus is revealing what is behind any murder. There is anger. But he goes even more profound, and he says that anger can lead you to speak words of the same weight as murdering someone, call someone an idiot, and curse someone is an expression of verbal, vocalise, audible anger that can kill.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” (Proverbs 18:21 NAS95
“James 3:9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:9–10 ESV)
You can kill someone by the words you use, uncontrolled anger is powerful, and it can destroy. “idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,” (Galatians 5:20 NAS95). Anger is the fruit of the flesh, which stand in opposition to the fruit of the Spirit.
The very first murder in biblical history is the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, and it was motivated by anger.
“Matthew 5:27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ Matthew 5:28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27–28 NLT-SE)
Imagination is a powerful thing! What do you think that went through the mind of David when he saw her? She was or thought she was safe, but she did not know that David was watching her. When David should have been with his troops, he claimed to the palace’s roof and saw her. I can tell you what he said: I must have her! So he did.
Let me tell you what is at the very heart of murder, adultery and stealing, just one word: Entitlement. I will be better than you, and the land will be mine. I need to remove you. I am going to kill you. I need to have you for my pleasure. You are mine. I am going to steal you. I deserve you! Entitlement.
Do you know that in the parable of the Lost Brother in Luke 15, the elder brother, the one who knew best, the faithful one, the obedient one, told his father that he had served him all his life and he has never had a party? The father told him everything I have is yours, yet the elder brother felt entitled to question his father and demand the father an answer, but we don’t know if he ever got into the party.
The Good news!
We can fulfil the law because the very one who came to meet its demands lives in us.
The Spirit of Jesus lives in us!