Keeping Power

Scripture: Romans 7:7, Leviticus 18:4-5, 1 John 2:3-5
Date: 07/06/2013 
The commandments of God represent a perfect expression of God's will for our lives. The first four commandments are about our relationship with God. The last six commandments are about our relationship to our fellow man.
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Well, it's hard to believe that we've come to the conclusion of this series on the Ten Commandments. I know some of you are probably very sad and wishing that there were more commandments and - there's actually been twelve presentations because we had an introduction, we've covered all Ten Commandments, and today we're sort of wrapping things up with a conclusion and I've titled the message today, 'keeping power' and the reason for that is because it's based on a couple of principles. 1 - For us to be obedient Christians we must be kept by God and then secondly, that God keeps us to keep His Word and his will and his law. The commandments of God represent a perfect expression of God's will and his will for our lives. He wants that law written in our hearts.

Indeed, for us to be saved, we must embrace the new covenant and the new covenant is the law of God written in our hearts. I remember, years ago, going to cairo, Egypt and just during that time the treasures of king tut were on display and, frankly, I was surprised because they didn't seem to have a lot of the sophisticated alarm equipment that we had in the museums of New York. I lived across the street - in New York city - from the American museum of natural history - right across the street. And I'd go through there and some of their rare exhibits had very sophisticated alarm systems and here in cairo they had this golden mask of king tut and it's just inside this - it looked like a primitive glass case with a wooden frame around it you could bust with a sledge hammer - and other priceless artifacts. And you've probably heard, in modern times, about some of the most incredible treasures that have been found.

I heard about one man that spent years diving off the reefs in the keys of florida and he discovered a sunken spanish galleon filled with gold. And others have found lost mines that still had precious silver in them. If you could think about what would be the most precious artifact that could be found in the world today - a hidden treasure - you know what it would be? Nobody has yet found the lost ark. I know they've had programs and movies have been made about it and they're full of misinformation. And one rumor I've heard says that king Solomon had an affair with the queen of sheba; they had a son and as a gesture of good will Solomon gave the ark of the covenant to his son, a prince of Ethiopia.

There's not a shred of Bible evidence or historical evidence for that, it's just an urban myth - at least it's urban in Ethiopia. And then they've got stories - 'it was captured by pharaoh necho and taken to Egypt and it was hidden in Egypt somewhere.' None of that is true. If you read in the Bible, it was very clear that the ark of the covenant was still in the temple in Jerusalem during the times of king josiah - you can read that in 2 Chronicles 35:3. I'm not going to go there right now. So what happened to it? When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and he ransacked the temple and he carried off the treasures, those treasures were all very carefully articled and chronicled and taken to Babylon.

You remember when belshazzar, during his feast, was drinking from the sacred vessels taken from the temple of God. They knew where they were. They were stored securely in a vault in Babylon. But the ark is never mentioned among those things. It vanishes before Nebuchadnezzar destroys the temple.

Obviously, the most precious treasure of the jews was that golden box - around which the whole temple was built with it as its nucleus. It disappears. You read in the book 'Patriarchs and Prophets' - I'm sorry, 'Prophets and Kings' that Jeremiah - knowing that Nebuchadnezzar was coming - with some of the priests, hid the ark in a cave in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Now, I've been to Jerusalem several times and it's honeycombed with tombs and caves. I mean, they can't do anything underground there before they run into another tomb or a cave.

So somewhere they hid it and they sealed it off and it's still there to this day. Wouldn't you like to be the one who discovered the lost ark? I mean, there's all kinds of golden artifacts and so, if you find some spanish doubloons, that's wonderful - they're gold coins - but if you were to find that golden box that has the rocks inside written with the finger of God, now that would be a treasure. Would they line up at a museum to see that? Especially if you could peek inside and see the stones written by the finger of God. Well, you know, something that's more precious than that: God wants us to be sacred temples that have his law written on the inside. You and I are to be living treasures.

We are to be vessels that have the law of God written in us for all men to read. And this is what the Ten Commandments are all about - reflecting the character of God - the love of God. We've shared before that those first four commandments talk about the love relationship - the vertical love relationship - our obligation to God. The last six commandments talk about our love relationship and our obligation to our fellow man and the whole duty of man is bound up in this. You can summarize the law of God with loving the Lord, loving your neighbor.

Jesus refers to it as a new commandment but, actually, he was quoting from Deuteronomy and Leviticus when he said it. The idea of loving the Lord with all your heart and all your soul comes from Deuteronomy chapter 6, and the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself comes from Leviticus 18 - it's not new. Jesus meant, 'it's a new concept for you that the whole law is summarized in love - love for God and love for your neighbor. Now, God does not call them the ten suggestions. I know I've mentioned this, but it needs repeating.

God does not call them the ten recommendations. He does not refer to them as the ten good ideas. They are called Ten Commandments. They're not the commandments of men. They're not from the highway patrol department, where if they're not looking or they don't have their radar detector, you don't need to worry.

You come to that stop sign out in the middle of the desert and you look around and think 'I can just slow down and ease on through.' Let's face it, have you ever come to a four-way stop where you know there's no reason to stop. You can see in every direction and nobody's coming. God's commandments are commandments you cannot really break. What I mean by that is nobody ever never ever gets away with breaking God's law because God sees everything. And there is a judgment day coming and he wants us to obey them.

Yes, they are not suggestions, they are commandments. God wants us to obey them. I hear, sometimes, my friends who are pastors in other churches - they say, 'God gave the Ten Commandments to the people because he knew they couldn't keep them - so he could prove how helpless they were - and they could only be saved by his grace.' He wants to save us from our sin, not in our sin. He wants to show that you are a people who are transformed. We are new creatures.

He's written his law on our hearts and because we do love him and we do love each other, we do keep his law. There is to be a difference between the people who are in the world and those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus. And that's really what I want to summarize in this. That new covenant can be found in Hebrews 8, verses 8 through , "'behold the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of judah'" - and you jump to verse 10 - "'for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' says the Lord: 'I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'" So here's the question: if you love the Lord and if you love your neighbor and if God writes his law in your heart, will you be a hearer of the law or a doer of the law? And during this message - the whole message is in vain. All the message does is compound your guilt in the judgment day - all twelve parts of it - if you're not different.

If you don't realize, through this, that God is sharing his will, he is going to keep you to keep His Word. He will help you to do what he's asking you to do. Would God command us to do something then sit back, fold his arms, and laugh and say, 'I knew you couldn't do it anyway'? Wouldn't that be a little tyrannical for someone to do that? Would a parent command their child to turn off or on a light switch they couldn't reach and then punish them for not doing it? Wouldn't that be cruel? Is there a punishment for sin? Is the penalty for sin death? There's also suffering in death, the Bible says. Is sin transgressing God's law? And so, if God says 'I'm going to punish you for not obeying my law and he doesn't give you power to obey, then wouldn't that be cruel? Inherent in every command of God is the power to obey. Let me ask you this a different way.

As you read your Bible, can you find anywhere in the Bible where anyone obeyed God? Can you? I can. Just take Jonah - the first time he heard God's law he said 'no'. He had a hard time. Second time he heard God's law he said 'yes' and he survived, didn't he? Things went a little better. People were converted.

By the way, when we disobey the Word of God and we run from God, people are perishing. When we surrender to God people are suddenly being saved. As soon as Jonah surrendered and he obeyed, people started being saved around him - and that's what happens with us. God wants his law written in our hearts - not just because he wants you in his kingdom, but that he might reach other people through you. First of all, God keeps us.

The word 'keep' that you find here is 'persevere' - I'm sorry - 'preserve; maintain, to watch over; to defend; to keep us from harm; to take care of'. You know, the Bible says abel - right there in the beginning of the old testament - abel was a keeper of sheep. the Lord will keep us to obey. It means, 'to maintain in good, orderly condition'. In Genesis, God tells us that abel was a keeper of sheep.

You go to the new testament it says, 'while shepherds kept their flock'. God is the one who is our shepherd that keeps us. Genesis 28:15, the promise he made to Jacob, he says, "i...will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." Now, did Jacob disobey God? Sure he did. Did he break his commandment? Yeah, he lied, he stole, he dishonored his father. I mean, you can go down a litany of things that Jacob did.

Did he repent? And after he repented was he different? He was - and that's what it's about. When you're different, can you be different? Can you obey? Exodus 23:20, "behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared." This is what he told the children of Israel: 'I'll keep you.' They wandered. Did they sin in the wilderness? Did the children of Israel sin in the wilderness? More than once. Did they learn something along the way? Did they get to the place, when they entered the promised land, where they started trusting God? Were they acting different? They were. Matter of fact, a lot of blessings fell on them, especially during the time of Joshua - they had victory after victory after victory.

You can have victory in your lives. Psalm 91, verses 11 and 12, "he shall give his angels charge over you," - for what purpose? - "To keep you" - keep you how? - "In all your ways." God'll send angels to keep you. Do you think, when you're tempted by the devil and his angels - by the way, the devil, personally, doesn't have time for most of us, he's sending his fallen angels. And if fallen angels are used by the devil to tempt us, does God send good angels to keep us if we want to be kept? He will. God'll give you power to be a doer of the word.

Number 6 - this is the blessing that the priests were to pronounce on God's people. 'the Lord bless you and' - do what? - 'Keep you.' God'll keep you. He is able to keep what you have committed unto him against that day. 'the Lord bless you and keep you. the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you and give you peace.' And then I started quoting where Paul says, in 2 Timothy, verse 1 - I'm sorry, 2 Timothy chapter , verse 12, "nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to him until that day." And then Jude, it says, 'unto him who is able to keep you from falling.' Is he able to keep us from falling? Falling how? Falling into sin. Falling into temptation. We know the devil is out there tempting us to sin. Do we all agree? Is the Lord wanting to keep us? Is he able to keep us? 'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.' This is a message that we don't hear very often - not only that God wants us to obey but he will help us do what he asks us to do. And if you fall and if you sin, which you all have, do not stop there.

Get back up, press on, and do not be satisfied until you are a doer of the word and not a hearer only. And this is possible for us to do, friends. Do soldiers take the advice and listen to recommendations from their captains or do they obey? What kind of army do you have if soldiers just sort of have a committee whenever they get an order and to dialogue about to process the order? What kind of army - would you ever get anything done? You know, I heard this was attributed to alexander the great, but I heard it and I've never seen it in writing so it may be another king and something could have been lost, but when this king, ostensibly alexander the great, was going across asia and conquering these various kingdoms along the way, he came to the capital of one kingdom and it was a hilly country and he had his army all staged up on this very steep precipice looking down across another hill to this king and - that they were going to conquer - and alexander sent a messenger and the messenger said, 'if you surrender and open your gates we'll spare your lives if you submit to our authority.' And they didn't respond positively. And so, alexander sent his messenger to the King and he said, 'I want you to see my soldiers up on the cliff.' Alexander gave an order and a group of ten soldiers in single file were ordered - alexander ordered ten of his soldiers to March off the cliff to their death. They Marched off the cliff to their death and then he sent the messenger back and he said, 'surrender.

We will not give up until we tear down every stone in your building.' the King then hoisted the white flag, so to speak, and surrendered. He realized that his soldiers were so committed to their king and so resolved to obey that they would March off a cliff if they were told to - even if it seemed like it had no purpose. If soldiers will do that for their captain, what will we do for Jesus? Or do we question every order that he gives us? We're asked to obey. Soldiers obey their captain. Subjects obey their king.

We're not only soldiers, we're citizens of his kingdom. He's the Lord! Do lords give orders? Do we obey? We talk about accepting Jesus as our Savior and lord - that means that he's our king. And when he commands something - he's a king - how much higher do you get than a king? And if you're the King of Kings, how much higher do you get than the King of Kings? Well, you get the King of king of Kings - but figure out whatever the top is. Jesus is at that zenith point. And so, when he gives an order, if there is any order that is to be obeyed without question or without flinching or hesitating, it would be that king's order.

And so, when he says, 'look, I'm going to communicate with you. I'm going to communicate - I'll speak through holy men and women. I'm going to communicate through prophets and I'm going to communicate through writings. But, finally, when I give my law, I'm going to speak with my own voice. I'm going to write with my own finger these ten words - that's what the Bible calls them, the Ten Commandments or the ten words.

They're very succinct. He's summarized all the duty of man, really, in here. Are they suggestions or does he want us to obey? This is his law. You know, I found this picture and I wish I had a clearer copy of it, but - you've heard of dogs that go to obedience school? This is a - if you can see it - it's a bunch of german shepherds lined up, sitting down, in fairly good order, and a cat is prancing slowly right in front of them. Now, you know what those dogs are thinking, 'let me at 'em.

Let me at 'em. Let - I want to...' - Whatever dogs think. They are wanting to go after that cat. And if one of them were to take off, what would the others do? That'd be the end of it. And that cat would be the fastest cat that you've ever seen.

But I thought to myself, 'they've got obedience school for dogs and, let's face it, the dogs don't have a very big forward section of their brain that's governed by the higher powers of the Spirit, they're governed more by the carnal side of things because they're dogs, right? They don't always have the very best of manners, but if a dog could be taught obedience, then what is your excuse? Does that make sense? Christians have a thousand excuses for not obeying God. And will God ever ask us to do something that is not, ultimately, good? Every command of God is going to ultimately be good. So he's calling us to be doers of His Word. Not only does he keep us, we keep his law. You know, we're just coming off the tail end of the independence weekend and some of us have seen some reviews and programming dealing with the signing of the declaration and our constitution.

James madison, who is really the primary author of the constitution of the unites states said this, "we've staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the ten commandments.' Did you know that? Now, I'm not saying that the government ever intended to enforce the Ten Commandments on people, because they knew that the first four commandments - that's really an individual matter about the name of God and how you worship him and so forth - but they understood the principles of the ten commandments and they were especially thinking about the last six. The only way that our constitution would survive is if we respected those principles. Otherwise, we're going to keep legislating more and more control from the government when you don't have control from the people. The more lawless a people is, the more laws their government will be forced to make.

You cannot name a law our government has that did not spring out of somebody breaking it. Someone pushes the envelope and they have to make a new law, don't they. The more lawful a people are, the fewer laws they need written down. Indeed, it came as a surprise to most of the angels that God had a law until lucifer rebelled. Did you know that? It says that in the 'spirit of prophecy'.

They were always motivated by love. I mean, if you've got children, do you think all day long, 'there's a law that says, I can't murder my children. I can't murder my child. Oh, I can't murder my child. Oh, there it is again, I can't'.

You don't even think about it, hopefully, because if you love your children you naturally want to preserve them, right? Love is the fulfilling of the law and if you're having problems obeying, it means you're usually having problems loving. If you're having problems obeying God, the key is going to be knowing him better and loving him more. But does he want us to keep the law? Very simple question. I could spend a lot of time giving you Scriptures. Corinthians 7:19, "circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing," - he's talking about the ceremonial law - "but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.

" What commandments do you think he's talking about? Obviously, not the ceremonial laws. Timothy 3:6 - I'm sorry, 1 Timothy 6, verses 13 and 14, "I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before pontius pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless" - how does he want us to keep it? - "Without spot, blameless until our lord Jesus Christ's appearing." He wants us to be witnesses for him. 1 John 2, verses 3 through 5 - I don't know if you're taking notes. I'm going to stop putting pictures on the screen and start putting Scriptures on the screen. I want you to see it and also read it in your Bible where you can Mark these things.

"Now by this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." Alright, just stop right there. Park on that thought. I'm not done yet, with that verse, but just park on that part of that verse. 'This is eternal life that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent.' Eternal life - he'll declare to the lost, 'I don't know you.' And to be saved we must know the lord. Do we believe that? Have a personal relationship.

How do you show that? "By this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He who says, 'I know him,' and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word" - what does he mean by 'keep' there? Obeying - "truly the love of God is perfected in him." If we're not obeying very well, we're not loving very well. If some guy says to his wife, 'I love you. I love you.

' - And he has an affair every other week, how much does he love her? And if we say, 'lord, I love you. I love you.' - I heard - actually I read a story this week from, some of you know, elizabeth elliot, the famous Christian speaker and writer. Her husband was the missionary killed in south America back in the 50s, I believe, and she said when she was growing up that she and her brother were told to, you know, always clean up after themselves and her brother, in particular, liked to take the paper lunch bags and he'd cut them up and make things out of them. His mother said, 'you can take them out and do that, but you've got to clean them up before you do anything else.' And she came in the kitchen one day and the paper bags and the crayons were everywhere and he was in the living room singing hymns with dad. And she said, 'Johnny' - or whatever his name was.

I just made that up. Johnny is always a default name you fall back on. Sorry - 'Johnny, come in here and clean up your mess.' And he said, 'oh, but mommy, I'm singing praises to Jesus with daddy.' And daddy said, 'you can't be singing praises to Jesus if you're not obeying Jesus. You need to go in there and listen to your mother and clean up your mess.' And a lot of us come to church and sing the praises of Jesus and we know very well - we get home and we're not taking care of the mess. And the best way to praise the Lord - what's better, obedience or sacrifice? 'To obey is better than sacrifice and hearken than the fat of rams.

' A lot of people think, 'I'm going to compensate for the known sin in my life by a good offering.' Well, we appreciate your offerings here at central church, but God would rather have you obey him. And there's a lot of people that are - they're honking their horns and saying 'I love Jesus - honk your horn.' 'I'm singing praises to Jesus' and we know that there's a mess that we're ignoring and we're thinking that we can live in continued - now, I know, sometimes we struggle and we keep falling in the same area. Don't get discouraged. I'm not trying to discourage you. But do not ever, ever deceive yourself into being satisfied with continuing in known disobedience thinking it will just be okay eventually.

We can get to where we continue in sin so long that our conscience gets seared and we don't think it's that bad because maybe everyone's doing it or we've just done it so long we figure God's tired of hearing us repent. He's not tired. The danger is you will grow weary of repenting and you'll get to where you're used to it. God wants us to obey. He wants our lives to be in harmony with His Words - to line up with His Words.

Is that right? Why does God give us the Holy Spirit - or what's the purpose of the Holy Spirit? Does God fill and baptize with the Holy Spirit people that are living in known high-handed rebellion? When the apostles received the baptism of the Holy Spirit what happened first? They humbled themselves. They confessed their faults to one another. They repented of their sins. They prayed. Their hearts were in tune with God.

They were surrendered to do his will and then he poured out the Holy Spirit. Listen to how Peter describes it, acts 5:32, "and we are his witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him." Now is that some kind of language that's hard to comprehend? We're witnesses and the Holy Spirit is a witness and God is giving the Holy Spirit to those that obey him. I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, don't you? The Holy Spirit - the Holy Spirit is the one who brings you conviction so don't misunderstand. The Holy Spirit, he's the one who gives you the gift of repentance. But the filling of the Spirit that's used for witnessing - a special gift of the Spirit - the baptism of the Spirit he doesn't give to those who don't obey him.

Why do you think David prayed after his sin with bathsheba? He pled, 'please take not your Holy Spirit from me.' Why was he worried about that? Because he knew that he was living in high-handed disobedience and God can withdraw the Holy Spirit. What happened to sampson? God was very patient. He had the Spirit even during some bad times. But he pushed the envelope and one day he went a little too far with delilah and gave away his secret. Hair was cut off.

He got up and thought he was going to shake himself - at other times sent the philistines flying in every direction - and he didn't know the Spirit had departed because he was living in disobedience. Can we grieve away the Holy Spirit? That's a terrifying thought, but the Bible tells us it can happen. Again, John 14:15, these are the words of Jesus, "if you love me," - sing my praises louder - "if you love me," - give more offerings - that's the way some preachers preach it. I probably have given in to that once or twice - "if you love me," - by the way, tithe is a commandment, so they both work - "keep my commandments. And I will pray The Father," - you notice the sentence goes on.

It doesn't stop there - "if you love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray The Father and he will give you another helper that he may abide with you forever." The Holy Spirit, right? If you love me, obey me and I will send the Holy Spirit, but the power of the Spirit cannot be entrusted - if you've got a kid that will not listen to your instructions when you ask them to mow the lawn, and they can't drive a lawnmower, are you going to give them the keys to your new car? The power of the Holy Spirit - if you're not obeying God in the basics of being a Christian can he promise to give that baptism of the Spirit to those who won't obey? Why does he give the spirit? Because he wants us to do his will. You know, I heard that Pennsylvania did an audit and they found out that on their books they had 26,000 prisoners in their jails and their prisons that were receiving jobless benefits every week for unemployment. They wanted all the benefits of being unemployed plus they were getting shelter and three meals a day and medical but - I know, as aggravating as that is to hear, and I'm sure it's happening in other states too, many churches are filled with professed Christians that freely admit they - they don't believe that God's law can be kept yet they expect all the benefits of being a Christian. And, you know, if we're living for the devil and we're following the devil, and we're praying for all the benefits of Christianity, there's something incongruous about that.

It doesn't match. God wants us to obey his law and you can. You know, even from our own pulpit, sometimes, I hear - I believe in grace. If it wasn't for grace I couldn't stand here. I believe in mercy.

I believe in the patience of the Lord. I was singing a song to nathan and stephen they didn't know I wrote years ago, called 'be patient with me o God'. I mean, God has been so patient with me. I believe in all that. We're not saved by our works.

I made that clear at the beginning. We're saved entirely by grace. But then, if you are saved, he wants us to be doers of His Word. Let me give you a couple of verses on that. Romans 8:13 - I'm sorry, Romans 2:13.

People often misquote Paul. They try to use Paul to say it's okay to disobey. "For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;" - if that's clear, say 'amen'. The doers of the law. John 2 - I'm sorry - 1 John :17, "and the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

" Not just the hearers, the doers of his will. Psalm - and what is the will of God? Psalm 40, verse 8, "I delight to do your will, o my God, and your law is within my heart." That's the law written on the inside. Psalm 143, verse 10, "teach me to do your will, for you are my God;" Matthew 7:21 and 22, "not everyone who says to me, 'lord, lord' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will" - not just hears. Does doing mean something? Doing means you do something, isn't that right? And yet, we always think that 'it's the philosophy, it's the principle of the law. It's the ethos of the law.

It's the feeling of the law.' No, God wants you to do it. He wants us to obey his commandments and you can. Yes you can. Name a commandment you don't think can be obeyed. Be careful, you might be giving away the one you're not obeying.

Can a wife be faithful to her husband and a man his wife? Yes. Of course you'll say that if she's sitting next to you, right? Do you have to steal from your employer or can you be honest? Can you be honest? Sure you can. Now we're going to get serious. Do you have to gorge every time you see food or can you eat for strength - the right things? It doesn't mean there's never a treat, but you eat in a healthy way. Can it be done? Sure.

Can you turn away your eyes from beholding wickedness when it pops up on a billboard or a tv screen? Can you? Oh, I know we're surrounded with it. It doesn't mean you'll never be tempted, but can you obey? You can. You can live a Godly life. There's too many examples in the Bible of people that did. I know we always like to point to the examples of those that fell.

Let me give you a few more verses. Matthew 7:24, parable of Jesus, "whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:" and who's the fool? "He that hears these words of mine and does not do them." By the way, who wrote the Ten Commandments? All things that were made were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made. Matthew 21, verse 28, "but what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I'm going father'" - no, no, I said that wrong, sorry - the first son says, "'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said, likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go.

" - And finally Jesus sums up the point by saying, "which of the two did the will of his father?" Some say they're going but they don't. Some say they're not but they do. And the bottom line is he says, 'are you going to do it? Yes, you weren't surrendered to me - you were living a selfish life, but you can repent and say, 'I go.' And Jesus said, 'I understand that.' The first son said, 'I'm not going to do your will' and he just rebels and does his own thing. But he realizes that's a dumb decision, he repents, and he goes out and he does it. The other one says, 'lord, lord' but he doesn't do it.

God wants us to be doers. I mean, just think about it. Have you ever been to a wedding before? Where everyone's gathered and, you know, there's - there's a sort of a zenith moment - there's the high point of the wedding when - after all the fanfare and the music and the seating and everyone's seating and then there's a sermon and after the sermon you reach the big point and the big point is you do the vows and they hand off the flowers and they turn and they face each other and they're looking wistfully into one another's eyes and they're holding hands and you're getting ready to make them promise in the presence of God and all these witnesses that they are promising to have no other husband or wife - forsake all - sickness and health - love, honor - and then he says to the groom, 'do you so declare?' And he says, 'maybe.' Or he says, 'I'll try.' You ever heard that one? 'I'll try' or 'I hope so'. Guys, if you ever are at that point and she just says, 'well, I hope so.' I'd call it off right then and there before you sign the documents. What do you want to hear? 'I do' - do, do - it means you do it, right? There's a difference.

Mark 3:32 to 35, "and a multitude was sitting around him; and they said to him, 'look, your mother and your brothers are outside seeking you.' But he answered them, saying, 'who is my mother or my brothers?'" - Do you want to be part of Jesus' family? - "'Who is my mother or my brothers?' And he looked around in a circle at those who sat about him, and said, 'here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God'" - are the Ten Commandments the will of God? Did he just want to show how difficult he is and so he made up these arbitrary rules to prove that you can't do it or are the Ten Commandments something that God really wants us to follow? Yes, there's a difference between the old and the new covenants, but in the new covenant it's written in the heart. The principles are still the same. He wants us to obey. "'The same is my brother and my sister and mother.'" And, of course, I've been quoting this all along, James :22 to 25, "but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." - This one will be blessed in what he does. Why does God want us to obey? 'O that there was such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all of my commandments always that it might be well with them and their children.

' That's in Deuteronomy 5:29, I think, yeah. You look it up. I quoted it right, I just don't remember the reference. 'O that there was such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all of my commandments always' - why? - 'That it might be well with them and their children.' He wants it to be well with us because he loves us. Now, here's the part I want you to know: there is no - in spite of the rumor that goes around among churches that, 'you know, we just need to resign ourselves to the idea we're going to keep on falling and God can't keep us and we can't have victory.

' In spite of that, the Bible tells us there is no invincible temptation. Any temptation God can give you the strength to - any temptation that you couldn't possibly overcome is not a temptation, it's not even a sin. If you have absolutely no option - if, in the garden, the devil had somehow wrapped his coils around eve as she was walking by and held her down and pushed the fruit in her mouth and made her chew it - that would have been something to see, but - just suppose that could happen. Would it have been a sin for her if there was no way that she could have avoided it? No, sin is because you do have a choice. Do you understand that? It's not a sin if you have no choice.

It's because you do have a choice to obey that you're culpable when you choose not to. If you are kidnapped in a car and you're tied up and gagged in the back seat laying down on the back seat because they carjacked your car and you get pulled over - the carjacker gets pulled over by the police for speeding but it's your car - is the policeman going to give you a ticket? Maybe, huh? Who gets the ticket? You can't help it, you've been kidnapped. And so, in the same way, it's because we do have a choice. There is no invincible temptation. Corinthians 10:13, "no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;" - we're all tempted the same.

I mean, different temptations but we're human - we all get tempted. It's common - "but God is faithful," - he will keep us - "who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able," - there's something. Do you underline in your Bible? That's a good one - "he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" - you might be going through some trial. He is not going to allow any weight to be put upon your shoulders that you are not able to bear with his grace. Anything you're going through, you ought to know that Jesus'll come alongside and he will give you strength.

- "...beyond what you're able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape," - you say, 'oh lord, I can't. I've got to surrender to the Egyptians. They've surrounded me. There's mountains on both sides. They're coming.

They're more powerful. I'm not going to make it.' God said, 'well look, I parted the sea. I made a way of escape.' God'll make a way of escape. You've got to choose whether you surrender to the enemy or you take the way of escape he's provided. It doesn't say it's always easy, but he will provide a way of escape.

Sometimes it's very hard. What you don't overcome in the Christian life - and you may have fallen many times, but don't stay down. You've got to get up. What you do not overcome will ultimately overcome you. I venture that you're like I am and as your life goes by you see things that you've wanted to change for years and there you are.

You feel like it just hasn't happened. Do you want your life to end where you just look back and you say, 'you know that thing - I never did, by the grace of God, get the best of it. It just always stayed a problem.' Or do you want to be able to say, 'by God's grace I whipped it.' By God's grace I've whipped it.' I praise God for the victories he's given me. It doesn't mean I've gotten all the victories, but I believe that what he started he can finish - that every victory in the past is evidence that he can give me victory in the future and I believe that every Christian needs to think that way - that we can believe - and don't become satisfied being overcome. Be satisfied when you're like Jesus.

Let me read something to you. This is from a 'signs of the times' article - August 4, 1890, "we are not required to overcome in our own strength." - Praise God - "by living faith we can grasp the hand of infinite power and when satan comes with his temptations, we can point to the cross of calvary and say, 'Christ died for me. In his name I can and will overcome." - Yes you can - "the divine power" - this is from another article - 'signs of the times' February 14 - "the divine power combined with human effort" - you can't lay there like a blob of mashed potatoes and expect God to do everything. He gave you a brain and muscle he wants you to use and a will power - he wants you to use your will - "divine power combined with human effort will give to all perfect and entire victory." - That's a great promise, isn't it? - "Every believing mind will be filled with conscious power. The language of the soul will be 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

' His victory is an assurance that we too might become victors in our conflicts with the enemy. But it is not our Heavenly Father's purpose to save us without an effort on our part to cooperate with Christ. We must act our part and divine power, uniting with our effort, will bring victory." So how do we have that victory? Well, you know, living a victorious life is really impossible. But with God, all things are possible. It's a miracle, but God performs miracles.

Could you normally walk on water? How was Peter able to walk on water? Wasn't water skis. God didn't freeze the ocean that day. When he kept his eyes on Jesus he was able to do the impossible. And if we keep our eyes on Christ, we can do the impossible, which is living a holy life in this sinful generation. That's why Jesus said, 'why did you doubt? Through faith all things are possible.

' Peter took his eyes off Jesus. He said, 'why did you doubt? O ye of little faith.' Hebrews 12, verses 1 and 2, "therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," - we've got the witness of all these heroes and saints in the Bible - "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us," - when we look at the witnesses, what does he challenge us to do? Lay aside every weight and the sin. There's probably differences between weights and sin. Some things are just inconvenient - they don't encourage Christian growth - other things are very clearly sin. Lay it all aside.

Why? Because you're running a race and you can't run a race with those weights. Some of you have been struggling to run a race with weights for years. Let us lay aside how many weights? Every weight - with endurance - "and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus," - and that word 'looking' there - this is one place where I like the niv - it says, 'fixing your eyes on Jesus' - "the author and finisher of our faith." So, we've been talking about the Ten Commandments and how are we going to respond? 'That was interesting.' 'Good study.' 'I've never thought of that before.' 'I didn't realize it applied in this area.' Or are we going to say, 'lord, I want to do something about it. I want to be an obedient Christian.' The key is, a Christian is a follower of Jesus. We want to imitate Jesus.

We want to be like Jesus. Is that right? Imitate him. Ephesians 5:1, Paul says, "therefore, be imitators of God as dear children." You know sometimes you look at a child and then you say, 'boy, they've come to look like their parents.' And how many of us have sometimes seen a child as they grow up and they get to look more and more like their parents? And I see with our boys at home. Sometimes people call in they think that stephen or even nathan now is me because their voices - when they were younger they thought that they were their mom. Now they think they're me.

So if you're children of God, imitate them. John 15:9 and 10, Jesus said, "as The Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept my father's commandments and abide in his love." As Jesus kept his father's commandments, he invites us to keep his. John 20, verse 21, Christ said, "as The Father has sent me, I also send you." God sent his son to come into the world as an example of holiness. The Bible says, 'be ye holy' - new and old testaments - 'for I am holy.

' God is calling us to lives of holiness. Don't you think that means as a very basic that he wants us to obey the Ten Commandments? Where's a Seventh-day Adventist going to be if we don't believe in obedience? What's the point? Why not keep another day and just stop being an irritant to Sunday-keeping Christians? But it's because God is particular about obedience. If we don't get this right, friends, we're going to implode as a faith. And I know some that are getting it messed up right now. Peter 2:21, "for to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps:" we are to live lives following Jesus.

John 13:15, "for I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you." He wants us to live like him. Christians are to be followers of Christ. We are to love each other like Jesus loved us. We are to listen to The Father as Jesus listened. Colossians 3:13, "bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another, even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

" So how do we forgive each other? That's hard. Forgive as Jesus forgave? How many agree that's a tall order? How many agree we just read it? In spite of it being a high standard - matter of fact, it's the highest standard - we're talking about, right now, the highest standard. How many agree that obeying the Ten Commandments is a pretty tall order? But is he asking us to? What else could God do? I mean, even after he cleansed mary he said, 'go and sin no more.' What's he going to say? 'Go and commit a little less adultery'? Jesus is perfect. He healed that other man. He said, 'go and sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.

' There is a connection between sin and the problems in our lives. the Lord wants to save us from those things that cause us those problems. John 13:34, "a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;" - how? - "As I have loved you." God wants us to love the way he loves. Is that just he's idealistic or is that the goal and the will of God for man? John 2:6, "he who says he abides in him ought himself also to walk just as he walked." That's very clear. A Christian studies and absorbs the life of Jesus and says, 'I really want to be like Jesus in my life.

' You know, I've been having a - for me it's been kind of a new thought lately and that's sort of that we're living right now in the moment. Your life is whatever's happening right now. What I mean by that is every day could be your last day. And if it was your last day, how would you want to live? Every day really is the last day you're going to live that day. And then it goes off into the record books.

And I've been trying to be conscious of God's leading and his spirit and every little trial and opportunity to minister - to love people - that comes on I'm thinking, 'how can I be like Jesus?' Of course he expects you to be like him in your personality. We're all unique. All the apostles were different but they were like Jesus, weren't they? And he wants us to be like him and I'm just looking and every day, every moment I'm wanting to be like Christ and, you know, that's a full-time job walking with the Lord. But that's what he's calling us to do. Yeah, this is serious business.

What kind of Christian do you want to be? A serious Christian - a real Christian or just the generic brand? As Jesus came into the world, The Father has sent us into the world. So what shall I more say? I can't tell you until I open my notes. There we go. Oh, I remember reading where michelangelo was talking to a number of his friends that were artists and he said, 'why do you continue to fill galleries with portraits and statues of Jesus and you always show Jesus weak and suffering, emaciated or dead?' He said, 'why don't you show a painting of Jesus alive?' And, you know, when I think about the challenge in the Bible that we follow Jesus, it's not a dead Jesus we're supposed to follow. It's supposed to be a living Jesus.

We can model - most of what we know about Jesus was not the few hours he was in the tomb or on the cross, it's the three and a half - or thirty-three and a half years that he lived. And that's especially the part of Christ he wants us to model. If we're always portraying that it's a life of suffering and sacrifice and death, people aren't going to get the picture of the positive side of what it means to be a Christian. So keep that before you as well. You know, in summary, I'd just like to share something you've heard me say before.

In the Ten Commandments, God has revealed his character. Everything you're going to read in the Bible about the law of God, you will read about the personality of God. God is a person. Just like - as you might describe some friend or someone you know with a bunch of characteristics, God has characteristics. His law is a perfect reflection of the character of God.

An attack on the Ten Commandments is an attack on the personality of God because the law expresses that. Let me illustrate. The Bible says the law is good, Romans 7:12 - the Bible says God is good. The Bible says the law is holy - same chapter in Romans. Isaiah 5:16, "God is holy.

" The Bible says that the law is just. The Bible says God is just. The law is perfect. It says in Matthew 5:48 God is perfect. The Bible says the law is love - Romans 3:13 - God is love.

The law is righteous - God is righteous. You just take my word for it. You can find these notes and all the references. God is truthful - the law is truthful. God is pure - the law is pure.

God is spiritual - the law is spiritual. God is unchangeable - the law is unchangeable. God is eternal - the law is eternal. So everything the Bible tells us about the law, it's really telling us about God. How can someone say, 'I love God' and hate his law? That doesn't make any sense at all because his law expresses who he is.

The law is his character. And then God calls us to be overcomers. You know, when you read in the last book of the Bible - Revelation - in every single message to every single church, Jesus emphasizes 'to him that overcomes' - 'to him that overcomes'. What does he promise to him that overcomes? It's a number of beautiful things. Revelation 2:7, "to him who overcomes I will give to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

" Would you like to eat from that tree? Revelation 2:11, "he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death." We'll be raised to live forevermore. Revelation 2:17, "to him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And...a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." Revelation 2:26, "and he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations - 'he shall rule them with a rod of iron;'" Revelation 3:5, "he who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life; but I will confess his name before my father and before his angels." By the way, Jesus said, 'I will confess the name of the one who overcomes before my father and his angels'. He also said that in the gospels: 'whoever confesses my name in this sinful generation, I will confess their name. But whoever denies me, I will deny them.

' Do you remember the book of job - when God says, 'have you considered my servant job that he is a just man?' Let me read that to you. Job 1:1, "there was a man in the land of uz, whose name was job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil." Now, you might be saying, 'Pastor Doug, this is the most legalistic sermon I have ever heard.' Well, call it what you will, but the Bible said there once lived a man named job and he was a Godly man. He loved the Lord and hated evil. That's what I'm asking you to do. Whatever that is - you figure it out.

He says there are people like that. That's one from the old testament. There's many more. Let me give you one from the new testament - in Luke 1:6 - you know zachariah and elizabeth? "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." Whatever that means, there were some human beings, besides Jesus, that are declared by heaven as living Godly lives. So does the Bible say it's possible to be one of those people? Can you be somebody who walks with God - like Enoch or like Joseph or like Daniel? Indeed, in this last generation he needs people like that in the world.

Especially where sin abounds, grace abounds. Why does grace abound? God gives us grace to keep us from falling. He gives us grace to not only be hearers but doers of His Word. I'm not done with Revelation. Revelation 3:12, "he who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and.

.. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God." Revelation 3:21, "to him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my father on his throne." To live and reign with Christ - to him that overcomes. What kind of promises - what - some of you have anything written from the devil of what he's going to offer you? You got any document the devil's - what he's going to give you for disobeying? Any good promises you can cite? Sell your soul to the devil - tell some wonderful thing? I've got a promise from God of wonderful things for those that trust him and obey him. And the reason to do it is because we love him. God's calling us to be doers of His Word.

I read about king henry of bavaria who had gotten - in the 11th century - he had become very tired of court life and all of the ceremony and the pageantry and the pomp and the work and the committees. He got so tired of living in the palace that he ran away one day and he showed up at a local monastery and he was talking to the prior there - prior richard - and he said, 'look, I want to enter the monastery and become a monk.' And he said, 'your highness, are you sure know what you're doing?' He said, 'I'm tired. I'm just looking for some peace. I am so tired of the battles I have to deal with every day - all the work - I long for peace. I yearn for peace - and the quiet.

' He said, 'well, you realize, your highness, that if you become part of this monastery we have a very strict code of unquestioning obedience. You must be willing to obey whatever I say.' He said, 'I'll do it.' He said, 'now, your highness, you've been a king for a long time. You've been giving orders but you're not used to taking orders.' He said, 'are you sure that you're prepared to promise to obey and do whatever I tell you to do?' King henry said, 'I am. I'm ready. I want to do whatever you tell me to do.

He said, 'okay.' He said, 'I want you to turn around and go back to the palace and be king.' He wanted maybe some new rules to be written - but he said, 'you've been called by God to do this.' And God has told us in His Word what he wants us to do. I heard about a teacher that, at the end of a school year, she wrote 50 questions on the board and she told the students, 'I am telling you right now exactly what is going to be in the final exam. You will have 20 of these 50 questions. I'm not telling you which 20, but here is what the test will be. You learn the answers to these questions and you will pass the test.

' You know, the Lord's done that for us too. James 2, verse 10, "for whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For he who said, 'do not commit adultery,' also said, 'do not murder.'" - Where do those commandments come from? Ten Commandments - "now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty." And, you know, that's what the Ten Commandments are called, a law of liberty. 'I will keep your law forever and ever and I will walk at liberty' - the Bible tells us in psalm 119 verses 44 and 45, "and I will walk at liberty, for I seek your precepts.

" God wants you to be free - free to obey. That's where freedom comes from. The prisons are full of people who disobeyed. If you are free, God willing, it's because you're obeying. If you want to be free through eternity, and even free in this life, it comes from surrendering your life to Jesus, trusting him to keeping you from falling, doing everything you can do with the gifts and the power and the mind and the will he's given you to resist temptation - to flee from the devil and to be a doer of his will.

So we've talked about the law. We going to stop there? Or are we going to ask God to help us be obedient children that it might be well with us?

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