April 5, 2014 in City

Fuss in Sandpoint goes beyond Ten Commandments monument

Steve Massey
 

ABOUT THIS COLUMN

Three times a month, community columnists weigh in on matters of faith and values. The column appears Saturday and features artist Donald Clegg, of Spokane; retired Methodist minister Paul Graves, of Sandpoint; and Steve Massey, a pastor from Hayden.

What’s all the fuss about?

Why do we Christians get so animated, even angry, each time someone wants to remove a Ten Commandments monument, as is now being weighed in Sandpoint, thanks to legal saber-rattling by the Freedom from Religion Foundation?

Is it really that big a deal?

Yes it is. But not merely because we want to freely express our religious beliefs. Nor is it a big deal merely because the Commandments represent the historic values of many of our nation’s founders.

The Ten Commandments comprise God’s moral law. And there is a beauty in God’s moral law that defines Christianity itself.

Let me explain.

It is the moral law that first and foremost shows us we need to be rescued from sin. Who among us can honestly say we’ve never violated any of the Ten Commandments? Of course we have. So the law lets us know we cannot possibly measure up to God’s moral standard; we need some other way to be justified before God than our own goodness.

The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the law. He lived as a man, but unlike any other person, he never sinned by violating God’s moral law. Yet when Christ died on the cross, He was judged by God as if He had committed all of our sins. He took upon himself the condemnation we deserve; and he offers to credit to us his perfect law keeping.

Friends, this vital truth can be expressed in many different ways, but it is the core of the Gospel, and therefore the core of Christianity itself. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (New Living Translation), “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

God’s moral law also reflects to us and others the character of God. There is a sense in which the Ten Commandments are God’s self-disclosure.

Human beings are made in the image of God, and God’s image is reflected in his moral law. So when you and I live by the Ten Commandments, we are living as God’s image bearers. And that’s what we’ve been created to do: bear the image of God to those who do not know him.

When we break God’s law, we distort the image of God that others see.

And so we Christians need to take care that we do not shout loudly to keep the Ten Commandments in public places, while we ignore God’s moral law in our private lives. Such duplicity is an offense to the Gospel, and it distorts the image of God that is seen by others.

Finally, God’s moral law was given because it reflects the best life that individuals, and communities, can live and enjoy.

Moses put it this way in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “What does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases Him, and love Him and serve Him with all your heart and soul.

“And you must always obey the LORD’s commands and decrees … for your own good.”

Did you catch that last part?

God’s moral law is not given to us because our creator is some sort of cosmic killjoy. He wants us to experience the best life possible as those made in his image.

I hope these few words help some understand why this long-standing Ten Commandments debate is so important to Christians. The Commandments show us our need for Jesus, they reflect the very nature of God and lead us into God best for us.

That’s what all the fuss is about.

Steve Massey is pastor of Hayden Bible Church (www.haydenbible.org). He can be reached at (208) 772-2511 or steve@haydenbible.org.

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