February 11, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

The 10 Commandments, God’s top 10 list. And so, Moses comes down from the mountain. He has all these instructions, all these regulations. If you started reading about them in Exodus, you’re gonna keep reading about them in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. you’re gonna get overwhelmed by them all, but they all come down to love God and love neighbor. These 10 kind of lay out the specifics on how that looks. What does it look like to love God and love neighbor?

And I want to say, I’m going to look at the 10 Commandments tonight through the eyes of grace, through the eyes of new covenant Christians, their application to us. But I want to say that grace was in the Old Testament. We tend to think of the Old Testament as some kind of legalistic law and the New Testament as grace, but if you read the 10 Commandments carefully, they start with grace. They start with what God has done for Israel. Here’s what it says, as a matter of fact, let me just read this.

It says, “I’m the Lord, your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt and the place of your slavery.”

2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. (Exodus 20:2, NLT)

Right after that, you can put a phrase that says, “therefore, in other words, here’s how you respond to that.”

My parents, Ron and Barbara Clancy, grew up in the World War II era, right after the World War II era, and they grew up listening to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and big band swing music. That was their jam, all right? They were pre-rock and roll. They were big band and they did the jitterbug.

And you’ve ever seen that kind of dancing, right? They did that kind of dancing. And we had a competition at our high school. time, where we brought our parents in and they did swing dancing at this assembly. And my parents won. They were so good at it. And it was awesome because I was in high school and they were my parents before all my friends and I actually wasn’t embarrassed. My friends afterwards were like, that was so cool, Clancy. your parents could really dance.

And we grew up in the generation where we had lost that kind of artistic dancing. We just shook our bodies rhythmically to music and then, if you were a guy, you really waited for the slow song because then you just got to hug a girl in circles. It’s like, “Ooh, I get to hold a girl close to me and go around in circles for a long time and this is great.” And that’s what we called dancing.

But my parents, man, they knew how to dance. And in swing dancing, it’s very clear. The roles are very defined. The man leads, and the woman follows. It’s interesting, though, that the woman is actually the one who’s shown off, right? Like my dad, he’d get out there and he’d do his little moves, but then he’d just, you know, he’d kind of toss my mom out that way, bring her back, spin her around, you know, and they were past the point. They probably did this when they were younger. They were a little heavier. They were past the point where, like, he’d throw her overhead and stuff like that.

But if you ever want to just be entertained, go to youTube and look at, you know, good swing dancing. And, you know, they’re just moving and that’s what God’s commandments are like. God is saying, “I’m the initiator, I’m the leader, I’m the one who determines the moves. But you actually look really good in responding to what I’m doing.”

Another way to look at the Ten Commandments is this: that God is the creator and designer of life. As we say here at the Firehouse Church a lot, “He is smarter than you, He’s smarter than me.”

And as the creator and designer of life, He’s saying, “Here’s how… Life works the best. Here’s how I designed it to work.”

If you look at a map of the United States of America, and you look at all major cities before dams, dams threw the whole thing off. Dams created places like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. Those cities would have never existed 100 years before dams, and we all know why, right? They’re deserts.

You look at cities that grew up 100 years before that, and where are they all located? Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, three rivers.

The junction of three rivers. New Orleans, the delta of the Mississippi River. St. Louis, on the Mississippi River. Kansas City, on the Missouri River. All right? They’re all, every major city, without exception, is on a river. They’re on rivers. Why? You need water. Rivers bring life.

Here’s when rivers get bad. They just discovered this in Southern California, when they exceed their boundaries. And then what was intended to bring life now brings destruction. We call it a flood. All right?

And you want to live by a river, because when you live by a river, you can irrigate your crops. You have water. Life flourishes. When you’re out in the middle of the prairies, you can always tell where there’s a river without seeing any water whatsoever. You just look to the right or the left, and if you see a bank of cottonwood trees, you go, “Behind those cottonwood trees is a river.”

Psalm 1 talks about that, right? “Like a tree planted by streams of living water.” Water brings life. God brings life. God is life. His spirit is life. But when life exceeds the boundaries that God has placed on it, it becomes a flood and it becomes destructive. So, if you want to live an abundant life, respect the boundaries. God is smarter than you. young people, old people, not just young people, oh goodness, not just young people. We always think that the rules don’t apply to us, that somehow we won’t reap what we sow, but we do. We do. When we step outside of the boundaries, we bring destruction. When we live great within God’s gracious boundaries, we experience his life.

And so, here are some of God’s boundaries. Here’s the top 10, if you will, of God’s boundaries. The Ten Commandments are spoken as prohibitions. Don’t do this. In other words, don’t cross this boundary. Life is inside this boundary. The first one is no other God. No other God. We talked about this as we’re going through Heizer’s book.

There are all these competing gods. There are all these small “g” gods in the world, in ancient Israel, Baal, Asherah, Molech, the god of the Amalekites, the gods of the Philistines.

What’s the god that keeps falling down before the ark? Dagon. Yeah, you’ve got all these idols, all these gods. The Old Testament kind of gives us two pictures of those gods. On the one hand, it says those idols are nothing. On the other hand, it says, no, those are spiritual principalities that rule over these nations that are opposed to Israel. And I don’t want you worshiping any other gods. I want your heart to completely belong to me.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)

And so, we are to have no other gods. Our God is Yahweh, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He’s our God. We’re to have no other heart allegiance.

“Who have I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.”

25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalms 73:25-26, NLT)

He is our priority. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. God says, ‘If you want your life to work right, I’m not a piece of the pie.’ In other words, you have this pie of your life.

You’ve got a slice of religion, you’ve got a slice of family, you’ve got a slice of career, you’ve got a slice of hobbies, you’ve got a slice of sins that your wife doesn’t know about. Which isn’t nearly as big as you think because she knows about most of them or suspects them anyway, right? you’ve got your slices.

No, that’s not how it works. He’s the pie, and in him, we have family and career and hobbies, and we live our life in him.

And if you want to know what your priorities are, this is ancient, I know. I’m an old preacher. Nobody has a checkbook anymore. But look at your finances and look at how you spend your time. Look at your calendar. Time and money. Time and money will tell you what your priorities are.

Where do you spend your money? Where do you spend your time? I get it. You got to go to work to make money. You spend a lot of time at work. But do you work for Jesus? Are you at work for Jesus?

Do you raise your family for Jesus? Or is he just a slice of the pie? Two Sundays a month and an occasional desperate prayer when life hits the skids. No. Where’s your investment?

I don’t know of two things more valuable to us in this world than our time and our resources. What do we say all the time? ‘I just don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time.’ Or the other thing we say, ‘I don’t have enough money.’ you know?

‘Oh, Lord. Just a million dollars.’ That’s all? Just a million?

Just, you know, that’ll get me through, right? Pay off the house, you know? Get me through. No. Where does it go now?

I always teach people, tithe when you’re poor. It’s easier to tithe when you’re poor than when you’re rich. It’s a much smaller amount, right? It’s like, you make a buck, give away a dime. It’s easy. You know? You make a million, you’ve got to give away $100,000. That’s tough.

Start with giving away a dime. You can do this. All right. No other gods. And then the second one’s like it. It says no idols.

All right. We talked about this, that the tendency of humanity is to want to control things. And we want to control God. And as long as God is holy, and God is spirit, and God is other, and God is out there, he’s uncontrollable. But if he’s a little statue in my living room, if I can manipulate God by my religious rituals and by my idol worship, then I’m in control. And that’s the thing about polytheism. Polytheism, the gods are evil, the gods are capricious, but the gods can be played.

If we can make the right sacrifice, if we can pick up the right formula, if we can use the right magic words, if we can get the gods on our side, right? I love how God, in the book of Joshua, totally crumbles the ancient Near East view of idolatry.

The captain of the Lord’s army stands before Joshua. Jesus stands before Joshua, and Joshua wants to know, ‘Is the captain of the Lord’s army on our side?’ And the captain of the Lord’s army is like, ‘That’s the wrong question, son. Whose side are you on?’

Whose side are you on? See, idolatry is all about getting God on our side. Worship is all about joining God on his side. And so, don’t make idols. Don’t control, don’t worship those kinds. God is holy and God is spirit.

And the other thing is, these demonic beings then can attach themselves to those objects which we worship. So, don’t bow down to any object. Don’t bow down to a religious object. The church has debated how we use art, how we use statues. Certain branches of the church refuse to use statues.

They’ll say two-dimensional is okay, three-dimensional is idol worship. I think the key isn’t the object. The key is, is the object simply a reminder to launch me into the unknown, into the mystery, into the Holy Spirit of God? Or can I not worship God without that object? If you can’t worship God without that object, it’s become an idol. And whatever becomes an idol, demons attach themselves to. So never make an object, whether it’s a cross. Oh, I’ve had this cross since I gave my life to Christ. Great.

Let that cross motivate you to pray, but if you can’t pray without holding that cross, throw away the cross. You understand? It’s become an idol. If you can’t pray before that picture of Jesus you have in your prayer room, throw away that picture. It’s become an idol.

And it becomes an unholy thing at that point. And it’s just, there’s something in us. I think it was John Calvin who said, “The human heart is a factory of idols, makes idols.” We just want to make things that we can control. Legalistic religion becomes kind of idolatrous.

If you punch the right buttons, you’ll get the right results. In the charismatic world that I’m so much a part of, there’s a lot of this. There’s a lot of how-to. This is the prayer, and these are the words, the exact words you have to say to get the demon out of this person. It’s like, no, no, that’s not true.

The demon comes out based on your relationship with Christ and the authority you carry. It’s not magic. Magic, we’re in control. Relationship and authority, he’s in control. It’s a subtle distinction, right? But it’s important.

It’s important. And that’s the second commandment. No other gods, no idols. Commandment number three, don’t misuse the name of God.

Now, the obvious ways we always think about that is in cursing. Somebody hits a bad golf shot. This is one of the reasons I know Jesus is God and the other gods aren’t God. Nobody ever hits a bad golf shot and says, “Ah, Hare Krishna.” They just don’t. Even in India, they don’t. Nobody ever misses a basketball shot and says, “Buddha!” No, what do they say? They take the name of our Lord.

I used to coach junior high basketball. Kids would miss a shot and they would take the name of my Lord right in front of me. And I would always say, “He did not make you miss that shot. your lack of practice made you miss that shot. Don’t blame Him.” All right.

And then, one of the worst curses we can ever put on somebody comes in two forms. We can say, “God, damn you.” That’s a terrible curse.

Calling upon the Almighty God to send somebody to eternal hell because they happen to drive in a way that you didn’t like is a terrible thing to say. “Or go to hell.” Terrible thing to say.

All right. However, that day when we get to judge the angels, the fallen angels who have tormented us, we might be able to say those two things and it’d be legitimate. So hold on to them. They might still be usable.

But there are other misuses of the name of the Lord.

The most famous one in our culture became incredibly famous in the 90s during the popular sitcom Friends. And my kids would watch Friends, and I’d watch Friends. I thought Friends was funny. I loved Chandler’s sarcasm. I love the humor. The girls were cute. You know, it’s all good. Except every episode. Every episode, at least once and usually multiple times, they would say, “Oh, my God.” And they made it a part of the common language. And I would call people on it. I tell my kids, “you can’t say that.” And it was not cursing, Dad.

It’s not using the name of the Lord in anger or to curse somebody. It’s just, you know, it’s just a phrase. It doesn’t mean anything. That’s what “in vain” means, literally. Taking the name when it doesn’t mean anything. God’s name means something. You can’t use God’s name and mean nothing.

So, don’t use that phrase, those initials. It’s taking the name of the Lord in vain. It’s trivializing God. All right? Use God’s name in adoration, in worship, in supplication, in glory, in witness. Use God’s name appropriately.

And finally, the worst-case scenario of taking the Lord’s name in vain is people like me, who make their living preaching the gospel. When they abuse the name of the Lord to make themselves rich, to give themselves power over other people, to manipulate, to gain prestige and glory and glamour, when they use the name of God religiously, not for the agenda of God’s kingdom advancing, but for their own personal agenda, that is the worst form of using the Lord’s name in vain. And if you see me doing that, you can slap me down.

If I do that, I want to be corrected by you before I stand before him. All right? Say, “Kevin, stop being an egomaniac. Knock it off.” Just stop me. I don’t want to face God and have him say, “you know, you never really preached the gospel for me. You just did it for yourself.”

Now, I will say this. If I am doing that, I’m doing a really bad job. I’m just saying, you know. I’m not getting a lot of that stuff, so I really stink at that, so hopefully I’m not doing that.

But that’s the worst form of it. That really is. There’s nothing worse than trying to get personal gain by using God to manipulate and control other people for your benefit. It’s horrible, it’s taking the name of the Lord in the worst possible way.

All right, number four, honor the Sabbath. I don’t care. I’m not a Seventh-day Adventist. It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be Saturday, it doesn’t have to be Sunday. Alright? The point is, you gotta rest. Alright? My Sabbath is not Saturday. Saturday, I’m working on Sunday. Sunday, I work.

I’m gonna go home tonight, and I’m gonna be tired. I preach twice on Sunday. Unless you’ve done it, you don’t know. This is work. There’s a tire. There’s a pouring concrete tire. And there’s a preaching tire. They’re a different kind of tire, but they’re both real tires.

I used to preach four times a weekend. And I would… We had a Sunday night service, and I would preach Saturday night, twice on Sunday morning. And Sunday night service was great. It was a healing and communion service. We did communion every Sunday. We prayed for people.

We saw the sick kids. It was a great service, but I would have to drag myself down there. And I made a vow. And this shows you the power of vows. I’m never gonna do Sunday night service again. Never say never.

“God, you know, I’m never gonna have a big crowd again. See if I can double psychology God into that one.” Or is that taking the name of the Lord in vain? Uh-oh. Better not do that.

All right, dear ones. But I rest. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

I’m gonna rest until my wife makes me go do paint at the new house. But I’m gonna rest at least for the morning. I’m gonna rest. Take a day and rest. It’s not all about making money. Take a day and rest.

You go, “I’m a parent. I never get to rest.” Find a way. Find a way. All right? Send your kids to a neighbor’s house. You and your wife, you and your husband, take a date night. All right? Get a babysitter. But rest. Rest. Take a nap.

Sometimes, the holiest thing you can do is take a nap. You think, “Oh, my gosh, I gotta make better use of my time.” No, take a nap. Say, “Lord, now I lay me down to sleep.” you don’t have to pray the rest of that. The rest of that prayer is kind of creepy anyway. Just say, “Now lay me down to sleep. Lord, be with me. Give me good dreams.” And rest.

Brian, rest. you’ve worked hard your whole life. And you have provided well for your family.

And you’re still working, because you don’t want to sit around and do nothing. Yeah, yeah. But rest. Rest on the seventh. And when you feel like taking a nap, take one.

All right, what do you do on the Sabbath? Again, I’m not a legalist. Some people say, ‘Well, pastor, I just love to garden. Can I garden on the Sabbath?’ Absolutely. Now, can I garden on the Sabbath? Absolutely not. I hate gardening. But can Isaiah garden on the Sabbath? That’s what he ought to do on the Sabbath, right? Because that recreates him. That recreates. Play music.

Cook. What do you love doing? Read. What do you love doing on the Sabbath? All right. I’m not proud of my Sabbath hobbies, but I like to watch sports and eat. That’s pretty refreshing. Yeah.

So there are other things, but anyway, we’ll stop at those two. My Sabbath hobbies are not really good. They’re not that productive. But they’re mine, and they refresh me.

All right, dear ones. Then take a daily Sabbath. What does that mean? As Christians, I think we have the opportunity to have a daily Sabbath. That’s the other thing about the Sabbath. Worship.

That’s what I wanted to say. The Sabbath is to get before God. Be refreshed by God. My goodness, church should not be a chore. Don’t make church a chore. You get to come to a place where the people in that room love you. I mean, hopefully so. Right? And God loves you, and you get to celebrate that with a group of people. Just let that refresh you.

Then, you get to have a daily time.

We call it a ‘quiet time’ or a ‘time with the Lord,’ a devotional. You get to have a time on a daily basis where you just carve out a space and you say, ‘you know what?’

Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the great revivalists of the 1700s. 18 kids, homeschooled them all. Taught them English, math, religion. Homeschooled them all. She would go into the corner once a day sit in a chair and put an apron over her head and all the kids knew to leave her alone. Leave her alone. She’s meeting with God. If Susanna Wesley can do it with 18 kids. We can do it. Carve out and, again, don’t make these things into legalistic duties because then they kill you.

It’s like one more thing. I’ve told you about my habit where if I see three sequential numbers, that’s the Lord calling me to prayer. That actually ended up becoming a burden to me. I would see it and I would think, “I prayed an hour ago. I prayed at 1:11, God. Why do I have to pray at 2:22?”

And, and, and, and I, and all of a sudden, I just, I had to, I had to shift gears on that discipline. Now, when I see three sequential numbers, I don’t necessarily, sorry you guys, I don’t necessarily go through my prayer list where I pray for you all anymore.

I still pray for you, but not that way. Now, what I do is I stop and I say, “Lord, thank you for inviting me into a relationship with you.” Instead of legalistically going through a prayer list, which at one time was refreshing and became kind of a burden to me, now what I do is I just pause and I say, “God still wants to talk with me.” That’s his way of saying, “Kev, I still like you. I liked you at 1:11 and I still like you at 2:22.”

If you don’t get the message, I’m going to tell you at 3:33 that I like you. At 7:77, which there is no 77, I won’t be able to tell you that I like you, but you’re going to turn on a piece of music and you’re going to glance down when there’s one minute and 11 seconds left in that song. I’m going to remind you again that I still want to be with you. Let whatever disciplines you have be a Sabbath refreshing to you. Does that make sense? Honor the Sabbath.

Honor your father and mother, young children, kids, your job. You can tell your kids, I’ll tell your kids, it’s still your job even though you’re 18. you’re under their roof. Guess what? you’re eating their food, you’re living in their house, do what they say.

Good. Sophia, do what they say. You can go home and say, Mark, Emmy, Micah, do what we say. We don’t want to. Pastor Kevin said you have to. You will live a long life. You know it’s true. I mean, generally that’s true. People who honor their parents live longer lives.

People who die crazy deaths at young ages usually do so, not always, but usually do so because of rebellion. That’s one of the leading causes of death amongst young people. I get it. This is not an ironclad promise thing where an accident can’t happen. But in general, this is very true.

And so we start with young children. your job is to obey your parents. your job is to respect your parents. Parents, your job is to make sure your kids respect you. Listen. Parenting, James Dobson, parenting’s not for cowards. Do your job. Three-year-olds are not easy.

Don’t negotiate. Don’t negotiate with terrorists. Don’t do it. Be respectful of your children. Realize they’re human beings, they have opinions, and they have feelings. I let my kids express their feelings. I let them express their opinions. But I also said, someday you will get to vote in a democracy, but that is not this home. This home is a parentocracy. your mother and I rule this home. The Bible says I rule. We know I may be the head, but she’s the neck that turns the head. So we know. But nonetheless, and don’t try to divide us.

My wife and I had a clear policy. If she and I disagreed about some strategy with the children, never in front of the children. Always behind closed doors. I would always back her play. She would always back my play. And then later we’d say, hey, I thought you were a little harsh, or I thought we could have handled it this way. Oh, OK, next time we will. But we realized those little original sinners wanted to divide and conquer. Don’t let them do it. you’re in charge. Be in charge. Make sure your kids honor you.

Make sure your kids’ husbands, fathers, make sure your kids respect their mother. The number one way they’re going to learn to respect their mother is if you do. If you treat her well. But don’t let your kids backtalk their mother. And don’t disrespect your spouse in front of your kids, because that tells them they can disrespect that person.

Teach your kids to honor their parents. Even grandparents. I mean, the pressure’s off, right? But I did this just last week. You know, nobody is better to our grand… Jill is.

Listen, if the Hindus are right, you want to come back as one of Jill’s grandchildren. You really do. That is a good life, right? She’s a wonderful grandma.

And so, Theo’s coming, spending the night. Any time those boys ask, “Can we spend the night?” Sure. Sure, come on over and spend the night. Theo wants to spend the night. Theo, you know, Noah’s got a ball game the next day. Theo doesn’t want to go watch his… He wants to spend the night. Spends the night. He just had a bunch of junk food.

We draw one boundary. Can I get so-and-so on the way? No, you can’t get a Slurpee on the way. He just had ice cream. We’re not doubling up on the sugar at 9 o’clock at night. your mom told us we can’t, so…

All right, so he immediately starts pouting. My wife tries to draw him out of his pout. She tries to talk to him cheerfully. He will not respond to his grandma, who’s trying to be nice to him. All the way home, he’s just being a little booger. Grandpa’s getting a little frosted. Just telling you.

Grandma’s just trying to be nice to this boy, and he is just, like, being all pouty and moody. We get home, pull in the driveway. ‘Go, Jill, go inside.’ Theo starts to get out of the car. I say, ‘Not so fast. Stay. You and Grandpa are going to have a little chat.’ And basically, I didn’t yell at him or anything. I just said, ‘Look here, buddy. Love you. Love when you spend the night. If you’re not going to be nice to your grandma and respond when she talks to you, that’s disrespectful.’

I’m taking you home right now. So, you got a choice. You go in there and be nice to your grandma… or you go home. What do you want to do?

“I’ll go in.”

All right, good call. you’re going to honor your parents. you’re going to honor your grandma in my house, right? Now, I’m sorry, that’s not abuse. That’s the way it works. Honor your aged parents. Honor your aged parents. Honor the elderly in general. It’s not easy growing old. I’m starting to, in my 60s, I’m starting to figure that one out.

The older you get, the more courage it takes to live, all right? And there’s going to come a time that, you know, it hasn’t reached the point with me and my wife, but it’s reached the point with our parents where three of them now have died and we’ve got one left and she can’t shop for herself and she can’t drive.

And you know what? She needs the love and care of her children. That’s what it means to honor your parents. You give them what you can. Now, some parents are really hard to honor.

They hold you at a distance, or they have abandoned you and they don’t want a relationship. And I just go back to St. Paul’s words, and here’s what St. Paul says. He says, “As much as it is within my power, I live at peace with all people. As much as it is within your power, honor your aging parents.” you don’t have to feel guilty if they don’t want that honor, if they’ve broken ties, but as much as it’s, and you don’t have to be controlled by them. Oh, you can still have boundaries.

You don’t have to, yeah, yeah, you need to honor me. Go get, you know, got an alcoholic parent who can’t drive anymore. Go buy my vodka. No, I’m not going to do that, dad. I love you too much. I love you too much. I’m not going to do that. All right? But you can still honor him and say, ‘I’ll go buy your food. I’ll get your groceries, I’m not going to buy your liquor, I’m not going to do it.’ But as much as it’s within your power, honor your aging parents, care for them.

It’s scary to grow old; it’s scarier to grow old alone, and children are the first line of defense. All right. Do not murder; any unjustified taking of human life. The value of human life is that it is in the image and likeness of God. We are image bearers; we are meant to be part of God’s forever family. Dogs and cats are not, horses are not, cattle is not, all right, chickens certainly are not, all right. So that’s not, that doesn’t belong to the animal kingdom. But you cannot kill people in an unjustified manner.

And be very careful about what a justified manner is. In fact, let God define that. You can’t kill them because you don’t like them, you can’t kill them because they hacked you off. It’s a very narrow scope of when another human life can be taken.

The value of a human life begins in the womb. Dear ones, people who say “believe in the science,” don’t believe in that science, but that science is absolutely clear.

God is a person, not a duck, all right.

And the value of the human life does not depend on the perceived functionality of that human life, either for the young nor the old. The value of the human life is that that life is created in the image and likeness of God. It is an image bearer, and is meant to be a part of God’s forever family. We don’t determine when that life has value and when it doesn’t based upon its functionality, based upon its intelligence or its usefulness to the rest of humanity. Does not make right.

In fact, we’re at our most human when we exert whatever power we have on behalf of the powerless, on behalf of the most vulnerable. Life of the impaired, life of the aged, life in the womb, here’s one, life of your enemy. You don’t just get to kill your enemy because they’re your enemy. They too are in the image and likeness of God. Pray for those who persecute you. Love your enemy. Even God causes the sun to shine upon what? The just and the unjust. Why? Because they are image bearers.

Do not take human life in any unjustified way. There may be cases for just war. There may be cases for the death penalty. There may be cases for self-defense. But those cases are very narrowly defined, and we cannot do it.

Listen, don’t drive recklessly. All right? Don’t drive recklessly. That’s one of my pet peeves. I drive a fast-looking car, but I don’t drive recklessly. Don’t drive recklessly. you’re disvaluing human life when you do that.

So, just value human life. Don’t commit adultery. All right? Here’s the deal. Here’s the Christian sexual ethic.

One man, one woman until death do them part. There it is. Bang. Simple. One man, one woman, till death do them part. For this reason, a man will leave his mother and father, be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. (Genesis 2:24, NLT)

Genesis 2, before the fall, is God’s sexual ethic.

People say, “Well, God allowed polygamy in the Bible.” He did, but it never works.

There are social, political, just reasons in a fallen world why God allowed that for women to be provided for and cared for, for children to be provided for and cared for, but polygamy was never God’s best idea. Serial monogamy is never God’s best idea. God hates divorce. That’s not his best idea. He likes it when people keep a promise.

You know why marriage vows are so strict? You know why we don’t say things like, “I’ll love you forever, cutie pie,” in our wedding vows?

We say things like, “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, in death do us part.” I’ll tell you why marriage vows are so strict, because it’s hard. It’s hard.

I tell young men all the time, “you know that cute thing? You know, when she smiles at you and tilts her head and she looks so cute and you just think, ‘Oh, I just want to be with her forever.’ That’s a trick.”

It’s a trap God has set to propagate the species.

You know that thing, girls, when you just look at him and go, “He’s just wonderful. Oh, he’s so smart and funny and handsome and strong and he will care for me and he’ll never be selfish. He’ll never be neglectful. He’ll understand me perfectly.” No, he won’t. He’s acting that way because you’re so cute. It’s a double trick. It’s a double trap. And God uses that trap to get us to make these commitments so we make babies and he gets more image bearers and his family grows.

And then he says, “Now that you’re in this relationship, become more like me in it. Now, you’re going to have to do, you’re going to have to exercise sacrificial love. Now, you’re going to have to give of yourself. Now, you’re going to have to take another person into account. More than one, if you’ve made babies.”

“you know how much money I’d have if those stinking kids hadn’t taken it all? You understand what I’m saying? They ate all my food.”

They brought their friends over to my house, and their friends ate my food, and it was a delight. Brian’s kids brought his friends over to his house, me included, and we ate his food. Thank you very much. That was a sacrifice. You may have enjoyed it. You and your wife did it very graciously, but still, it cost you money, cost you time, cost you work, and you did it not just for your sons, but you did it for other people’s sons.

You know where that grew out of?

That grew out of your love for Christ, but it also grew out of you and Karen’s love for each other. your home together would be a haven of that kind of place. Good for you. That’s what faithfulness builds. That’s what faithfulness builds.

Marriage is not meant to make us happy, it’s meant to make us holy. Don’t bail. Don’t get over-anxious. Don’t engage in premarital sex. All right, it’s fun for a minute, but I got to tell you something. There is no such thing as casual sex. God did not create it to be casual.

It’s not casual. It is bonding. Don’t engage in extramarital sex. One person is enough. Same-sex is out. God created male and female for each other, not male and male. If you have those urges…

And those desires, those urges and desires are. The culture lies to you when it says that is your definition of who you are as a human being. I have urges and desires too. They do not define me as a human being. What defines me as a human being is how I live before God and live with my wife.

Don’t believe the culture when it says you are what you feel. You are what you align yourself with and what you’re loyal and faithful to. Pornography is out. Romance novels are out. Sorry, romance novels are simply pornography for women. I mean, not all of them. Some of them are innocent, but seriously.

All right, what is pornography? Pornography for men is this illusion that there are a bunch of beautiful, attractive women out there and all they want to do is have sex with you.

Men, if you have not figured that out by now, that that’s just not true, you’re an idiot. It’s not true. It wasn’t true when I was in college and I was looking for that. It wasn’t true. It’s just not true.

And women, I gotta tell you something. That guy is not out there who looks like Fabio and yet is sensitive, but independent and rugged, yet caring and interested, who listens but is a man of strong convictions, who works hard but has nothing but unlimited time for you. He’s not there. He doesn’t ride a horse.

I mean, Stevan rides a horse, but I’m just saying. I don’t know if he ever rides a horse without his shirt on and sweeps you away and takes all your problems away. That guy isn’t there. You know who the guy is that’s there? He’s the guy sitting on the couch with the potato chips going, ‘tonight, honey.’ That’s the guy. That’s the guy, Sidney and Sophia, that you get to love. He’s not in a Jane Austen novel. That’s why she was single her whole life. That guy did not exist.

She wrote good books, but she didn’t know. All right. What that does is that sets you up for disappointment, right? When your wife is not that fantasy on the screen, you end up being disappointed in your wife instead of loving the real person you’re with. When your husband is not that escapist fantasy novel guy, you end up being disappointed with the real guy who’s working every day to love you and the kids that you’ve produced. No.

Love the real person that God has put in your life, and make it your goal that they will go to their grave knowing, “I was loved by that human being.” Less than perfect person that I am, that person loved me till death. That’s marriage.

Don’t steal. If it’s not yours, don’t take it. It’s real simple. Work for what you get. Work for what you get. Earn your own keep. Get a job. How hard is that? Get a job.

We actually live in an economy where that’s really easy actually right now. Just get a job.

Go to work. Save your money. Budget. I will show you a box right now of everything you’re entitled to and everything the world owes you. All right?

“Oh, my neighbor has more than me.” Get a better job. Work harder. And we’ll get to the last commandment. Don’t covet.

Listen, if somebody wants to give you a gift, great. But that’s a gift. They don’t owe you that. Get up, go to work six days a week. Our culture is so cool, you can do it five.

You got to work around your house for a day, but yeah, don’t take what’s not yours. Don’t lie, don’t cheat about it. Make an honest day’s living and live on what you make.

And we actually live in a culture where that’s easier than it’s ever been before in the history of the world. You realize that? We’d have missionaries in Haiti, and every once in a while, they’d be able to get somebody out of Haiti and come to visit the United States.

And one of the things you’d want to see is you’d want to take one of those kids from Haiti, and you’d want to take them into just the average American grocery store and see that kid’s eyes. I have never seen so much food in my life.

Dear ones, it’s not that hard in this culture. You may think it’s hard. I get it. It’s hard to live the lifestyles we want to live, right? It’s hard maybe to afford the houses we want to live in and the cars we want to drive.

But seriously, how many of us have involuntarily gone hungry in our lives? I have a friend, maybe I’ll bring him to church sometime. We support him, actually, Tyler Franca. He works down in the Dominican Republic, an American kid, right? He’s a young American man.

He has fond memories. He grew up in North Dakota. He’s one of those guys, you know, hunts, fishes, love to go camping. So he’s in the Dominican Republic, and they have a wonderful ministry with street children. And so he’s developing his relationship with all these young boys.

He says, “I know what’ll be great. We’ll take them camping.” It was a disaster. You know why? These boys are going like, “This is how we live our whole lives. Scrap, you know? We’re not Americans. This is like an adventure. Oh, we get to live off the land.” He goes, “No, this is not, no, take us to a restaurant. That would be the deal, right?”

And so, dear ones, don’t steal. I don’t, I don’t think we really got a problem with that here. I don’t, but just in case. All right. Don’t take what’s not yours.

All right. And the opposite, be generous with what you do have. All right. Don’t bear false witness. Don’t lie. Be a truth teller. You know how you can tell a liar. All right. They say things like this, “Swear to God.” And somebody says, “Swear to God, I’m telling you the truth.” What do you know about that person? They’re a liar. What are they telling you? Typically, my yes is not yes, and no is not no. But this time, I mean it really, really. I’m not lying this time.

Well, you know, I want people in my life who don’t have to go, ‘Really? I’m not lying.’ When they say something, it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re not lying.’ I love what Jesus says, ‘Let your yes be yes.’ you know, we have in our court system, people take an oath. Jesus says, ‘Don’t take oaths.’ Why? Because we ought to be the kind of people who don’t need to take oaths, who don’t need to go and say, ‘I swear on the Bible that what I’m about to say is true.’ That we just tell the truth.

Don’t lie. Don’t bear false witness against a neighbor. Don’t lie in court. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t flatter. Don’t flatter. Look, I try really hard to be an encourager, but I also try really hard not to be a flatterer. All right?

When I tell you something nice about you, that’s because I believe it to be the truth. It’s a truth that I see in you. And isn’t that more valuable than me telling you you’re handsome when you’re really not? Not that any of you, I’m just not going to make any comments beyond that right now.

But I just, just be a truth teller. It’s not that hard. And finally, don’t covet. Don’t set your mind on what you do not have. There’s nothing in life that will make you more miserable than believing the lie that I’ll be happy if. Only if I get that car. Only if I get that house. Only if I get that girl or that guy. Then I’ll be happy.

And you will spend your whole life being happy for one week when you get what you wanted, and then being unhappy again for a long period of time where you’re pursuing the next thing that you think will make you happy. Be happy with what you have. And be thankful for what you have.

And you will be content. You will be content. Just be a thankful person. Be grateful to God. You have an abundance. I have a wonderful wife. I get to wake up next to a person that I truly love. And truly share values with.

And share a life together. And we have a sense of humor together. I was on Facebook today. It was great. And she laughs at that. She doesn’t get mad at that. Most of the time.

I have wonderful children. They all love Jesus. Their spouses love Jesus. I have grandkids and I just show up and they love me. Granted, sometimes I show up with a sprinkled donut. It helps. But even if I didn’t.

I have grandsons and I tell them this. I love you bigger than the sky. And because they’re boys, they have to compete.

I love you bigger than the universe. Well I love you bigger than two universes. I love you bigger than infinity. I love you bigger than infinity plus one. And we just play this little game. And I don’t even have to do anything for that. I got a great life. I got you in my life. I come to Paul’s Bowl every Sunday night and I get to see you guys. How cool is that? You know, I get to see Sydney and Sophia. Sydney sticks her tongue out at me and Sophia smiles. It’s a perfect combination.

Sweet and savory. My life, my cup overflows. Doesn’t yours? Doesn’t your cup overflow?

And dear ones, when this life ends, you’ve inherited a great salvation. You have Jesus. The God of love, the savior of the world, the God of all creation has come down and he has sought you, and he has found you, and he has included you.

What do you need? What do you need? What’s going to make you happier?

Who have I in heaven but you? And besides you, I desire nothing on earth.

My heart and my flesh may fail, but God, you’re the strength of my life and my portion forever. God, forgive me and forgive us for all covetousness, for believing the lie that that one more thing would do the trick when you have already given us all that we need for all time.

Dear ones, don’t forget that. Okay? These are the boundaries. These are God’s grace. These don’t earn God’s favor. These don’t earn God’s love. God’s love and favor is already upon you.

But if you don’t want to make a mess of things, then ask God for the grace to live within these boundaries. If you’ve lived outside of these boundaries, I don’t know if anybody in here has ever broken one of the Ten Commandments, but if you have, I got great news for you. your sins are forgiven.

I just want to let you know, when I fell in the parking lot, I did not take the name of the Lord in vain. You can trust that your pastor did not do that.

Unfortunately, you cannot trust that your pastor did not say a bad thing, but it wasn’t the name of the Lord in vain. I just want to be transparent. I’m not going to say what I said in church, but it wasn’t something I’d want to say in front of my grandkids.

Dear ones, if you need help remembering, come to church every week and take this meal. On the night that he was betrayed, he took bread and he broke it and he said, “This is my body given for you.” you have received a great salvation.

This is my blood, which is shed for you and for everyone for the forgiveness of sins. If you’ve stepped outside of these boundaries, your sins are forgiven.

If you want to live more consistently inside of these boundaries, he provides means of grace: Bible, communion, prayer, fellowship, the Holy Spirit indwelling us to help us live these new lives that we will live forever with him.

So take this meal tonight and be thankful. It’s the food of God for the people of God.