"Seeing is believing." "What you see is what you get." "I'm from Missouri. You have to show me." These and other such like statements tell us something about a deep tendency we all have. We consider what we can see, smell, hear, touch and taste as real and true. We comfort ourselves with these, our surroundings . . . the "stuff" of creation.
But the second commandment enjoins us, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below . . . You shall not worship them." (Exodus 20:4,5)
Proper observance of this commandment requires more than for us to simply avoid some overt action of obeisance, such as bowing down or practicing some other ritual. The word "worship" encompasses a great deal more than ritual. The root of the word is "worth". To worship is to ascribe worth to - "worth-ship".
The first commandment has the radical requirement that we be singlemindedly devoted to God. The second commandment confirms this radical requirement by forbidding us to attach value to that which we see - the heavens above; the earth beneath; the waters below. The just shall not attach value to any of this: all of creation, including oneself.
"The righteous shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4) The righteous will not consider what can be seen (including self) as righteous. Rather, the righteous will ascribe righteousness to the Creator, whom he cannot see. (Job 32:1; 36:3) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) What we do see is sky above, earth beneath and water below. But this is not the realm of faith.
The coin of sky, earth and water is sight. But the coin of God's world is faith - not sight. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Much false religion is dedicated to giving believers something to see. The goal is to help the believer develop righteousness within himself (with God's help, of course). The end of these spiritual improvement programs is always the same: self worship and enslavement to the evil one.
How could it be any otherwise. Sin began when a created being, perfect as he was, became aware of the beauty of his perfection.
"You were blameless . . . from the day you were created till . . . your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor." (Ezekiel 28:15,17) This is the origin of evil, as Lucifer (the light bearer), became Satan (the evil one). From this foul fount spews all the suffering of man. The fount of self-worship so permeates supposedly Christian teaching and practice that it is no wonder to find it featured in the last great conflict on earth.
Paul warned us that "in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves . . . rather than lovers of God." (2 Timothy 3:1,2,4) John said that, "All inhabitants of the earth will worship [value] the beast [creature or creation]." (Revelation 13:8)
No wonder they have "no rest day or night". (Revelation 14:11) Ceaseless striving after personal righteousness gives them the mark. It is the same mark at the end as at the beginning - Genesis 4:15; Revelation 13:16.
We cannot attain righteousness or holiness in the here and now, that is adequate to survive God's piercing gaze. Struggling to do so consigns us to a living hell. But when we see Jesus as our substitute and surety, we find rest in him. We value him and his experience (worship). For he has fulfilled all righteousness for us. We can rest in his accomplishments. This is why he says: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) He begs us, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in . ." (Revelation 3:20)
Hearing this invitation, faith springs in our hearts. (Romans 10:17) It is faith that looks to the unseen One as Savior, not ourselves. It is faith that values and exalts the unseen Christ; and minimizes the seen Christian. This is the way to peace, salvation and power. (Isaiah 26:3) This is the way to obedience to the second commandment.
© Sorensen, 1993
As we continue to examine the message of the Ten Commandments, we will look at them from the perspective of the gospel. This means to exalt God and lay the glory of man in the dust. This approach may be helpful in reviving interest in the Ten Commandments. After all, they are more than an obscure and musty cultural artifact of the ancient Jews. In fact (by way of review) there are three things they should do:
First use: They should inform our civil laws. That is, the Ten Commandments needn't be enacted by the congress as national law, but we should have legislators familiar with the principles, who use them in formulating the minutiae of national law.
Second use: They should damn us to hell. That is, their careful study should continually reveal our shortcomings and unworthiness. This can only be bearable when followed with massive doses of the good news and acceptance that we have in Christ.
Third use: They should provide guidance to the every day conduct of our lives. As we seek happiness, peace and harmony under the umbrella of God's grace, the commandments point the way. Absolute, perfect happiness comes from absolute, perfect conformity to God's law.
NOTICE! NOTICE! NOTICE!
Our monthly gospel studies on first Mondays are for the time being in abeyance. This is the happy consequence of two factors: Business developments have required a heavy travel schedule that makes firm commitments to local events difficult. Also, Pastor Dave Brown at the Crossing Life Center has asked me to assist with some studies there. The focus of these studies will be the Christ of the Old Testament. When I am in town and our schedules agree I will be at the Crossing Life Center on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm. You can call Pastor Brown for more details at 665-7500.
Thursdays, 7:00pm, at the CROSSING LIFE CENTER, 223 Buxton Avenue, Troutdale
You are welcome. Come and bring a friend.
Your friend, Herb Sorensen
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
The East County
C H R I S T I A N
P.O. Box 85, Corbett, Oregon 97019
Volume 6 Number 4
Permit No. 18
Corbett, OR 97019
POSTMASTER: Address Correction Requested