Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ten Commandments: the before and after

I've realized that many people still think that God is angry with them. Especially when we foul it up or 'sinned'. Or when we had done something that we shouldn't do and the bible clearly states that it's wrong, we deserve what we get.

And we should expect bad things to happened to us. Should we?

Yes, this is the kind of mentality I'm talking about. I'm sure many Christians (and non-Christians) can identify with these few thoughts:
  • "Er, perhaps I've done something that God is displeased with."
  • "I deserve it."
  • "There must be some sins I've accidentally done and have yet to confess and be forgiven."
  • "If I had more faith in God, then this wouldn't have happened."
  • "This is my fault because I was angry with <someone> or I had bad thoughts about so-and-so."
  • "Karma, what you had done comes back to you."
  • "You reap what you had sown."
  • ...etc

The basis is that:

  1. I've sinned
  2. Bad consequences should result. I deserve them.
  3. God (or whomever or circle of life or karma) is right in allowing it to happen

Perhaps in the next few posts I hope, I can banish some of our misconceptions and what the bible says about 'our sins'.

Let's start with the Law (or the Ten Commandments) first. This was in response to Mr Wang's blog but I disgress.

A lot of Christians hold the Law in the highest regards. Even non-Chrisitians and boy, can they quote it better than we Christians do! It is like the pinnacle, the epitome of the bible - THE LAW. Don't play-play.

It is what God demands of a person to be right with Him, to be holy and pure. Failure means bad consequences. And it is righteous and just for God to zap anyone as a result of that sin.

If one didn't die but had misfortunes, it's called mercy. In doing so, God is righteous and merciful.

And that was what happened in the Old Testaments. God's anger and justice were shown through fatal deaths by the thousands, sicknesses, curses, calamities, failures, etc.

Before the Law (or 10 commandments) was given, God gave grace and mercy. It doesn't mean God allowed sin to reign over the land. But there wasn't any 'guide' to let man know what was expected of him to be holy and righteous. There was no 'yardstick' to measure how much 'sin' the people had committed.

People lived with different standards, or had different kinds of moral values. Man has a conscience (or in-built moral values). However this conscience can be seared and numbed through repeated doings and habits till the act becomes 'right'.

Yet God is slow to anger and abounding in love, wanting all to repent and turn back to him. On the other side, His holiness and righteousness demands a punishment.

It's like God was in a fix. He loved the sinner but hated the sin. How could He destroy one without destroying the other? (This is another topic I hope to cover in later posts.)

But what about Sodom and Gormorah? Didn't they live before the Law? God wiped them out, didn't He? So your argument that before the Law, God gave grace to the offenders is moot, right?

God's destruction on Sodom and Gormorah was because the people in those cities were so hardened in their hearts that they no longer hear God anymore. If you read carefully, God didn't want them wiped out.

In fact He waited for them to repent. He allowed Abraham to intercede for them. He was even ready to withhold His hand if there were only 10 righteous men in the whole city (against maybe a ten thousand population?).

Wow, that's a lot of grace and mercy for a city where the word 'sodomy' comes from!

And if only Abraham had counted down to 1 man, God would have spared the 2 cities. That's because Lot, his nephew, was amongst them. But Abraham didn't. Maybe he knew there wasn't much to hope for these 2 cities.

The point is before the Law was given, people didn't drop like flies or die because of God's wrath. He was slow in meting out the justice though His anger burned. Yet He was abounding in love and mercy to give the people to turn back to Him.

There were many instances when God could have zapped people but He didn't. Cain didn't drop dead for the first murder recorded in the bible. He murdered Abel in cold blood (that's why Abel's blood called for vengence, justice).

Well, Adam and Eve didn't die too! Abraham lived in spite of lying twice (mind you). Jacob lied too!

You see, people started to die in great numbers after the Law was given. Such was the power of the Law to give death.

3,000 died (remember this number) when Moses carried the Ten Commandments down Mount Sinai and saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. These very same people had previously boasted in their effort that they were able to do whatever God told them.

Wasn't it interesting that before the Law was given, they murmured in front of the Red Sea and didn't die? And even after they complained while in the desert, God still provided for them?

Yet immediately after the Law was given, the very first command - to worship the Lord God and Him only, was broken. It was an end to man's effort in trying to reach God's holiness and righteousness.

And the first murmurings had people dying again. And again thereafter...

This is what Paul wrote in the Romans. Before the Law was given, man lived by God's grace and mercy. However, when the Law was given, it pointed that man was imperfect. The Law itself is perfect and holy according to God's standard. It demands perfection and the keeping of it to be blessed.

Failure to keep it usually results in death, curses, diseases, etc. And these were rightly so as mentioned in the many deaths and misfortunes in the Old Testaments.

The breaking of 1 law = the breaking of 10 laws, ie if one lies, he is also guilty of commiting adultery.

That is God's standard for us! There is no big or small sin in God's eyes.

Alas! Tell me then, who can be righteous and stand before this holy God? Indeed the Word said we all are like sheep gone astray, waiting to be slaughtered.

The Law exposes that no man can boast of his works and efforts to enter the Kingdom. Yet it does not tell man how they can reach God's standard of holiness which is perfect.

It cannot save man but can only point to his weaknesses through Adam's sin.

That's why we need a Saviour. We need someone who identifies with us (must be a man), and must also perfect and sinless to fulfill the Law (divine like God). This someone will stand in the gap for us and also fulfil God's demand of perfection and holiness.

We all know his name - Jesus.

And when He died, His blood called out for grace and mercy (not justice and vengence as Abel's blood cried out). When the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples and Peter preached, 3,000 people were saved! Remember that 3,000 died when the Law was given.

Grace gives life, the Law gives death.

Those who think they can (by their own efforts), He cannot save them. Just like the Pharisees. Only those who say "Lord, I cannot but You can" will be saved. These are evident with those 'sinners', outcasts and tax collectors whom the Pharisess scorned. Those people who know they cannot help themselves.

That's why Jesus says I've come for the sick and lost, not the well and self-righteous.

This is the New Covenent.

...more coming up in the next few days.


Teabie said...

heya, i popped by your site since i usually read mr wang's blog on certain occasions. i'm a christian myself, but i haven't really involved myself in the discussions between u and him. :) i'm a singaporean studying in perth at the moment, and gonna be moving to melbourne after my graduation in dec. so, it was a nice surprise to see pics of melbourne and church names brought up in your blog! it'll help me loads when i settle in melbourne and hunt for a church to visit.

Kaffein said...

Heya, welcome! Hope my lengthy articles didn't bore anyone.

Let me know if there is anything I can help with or advise you on.

Email me liquidfuel at mailworks.org