God Gave the Law for the Good of His People.

March 7, 2021 

Exodus 20:1–17

  • Everything that is to be a good work must arise and flow from and in this true fountain and channel. So apart from the Ten Commandments, no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great or precious it is in the world’s eyes. (LC I 311)


  • People may not welcome a sermon on the commandments. Many Lutherans quickly recall their confirmation course, which started with mandatory memorization of the commandments. “At home we cannot do this and mustn’t do that. Now we come to church and the pastor makes us memorize another bunch of ‘dos’ and especially ‘don’ts.’ Try to change such reminiscing to thinking of the commandments as a letter of advice for godly living from a loving Father in heaven, a Father concerned about us.

When Did God Give the Commandments?

  • Sixteen centuries before Christ, God’s own family from Abraham were slaves in Egypt. They have been there for more than 400 years. 
  • Their challenge is to live together successfully and arrive safely in the land of milk and honey.

Why Did God Give the Commandments?

  • God wanted to bring law and order to a community that had no experience in such matters. Also, a central issue for God, is the declaration of his name to nonbelievers. 
  • A key factor in the giving of the Ten Commandments is the part the Israelites are to play in God’s mission to the world.
  • The commandments lead us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and then map out for us how God wants us to live in our new life as missionaries to the world.

You Shall Have No Other Gods

  • Have you given up all other gods? Luther said: “Whatever your heart clings to or relies on—that is your God.”

You Shall Not Misuse the Name of the Lord

  • What we say about God and to God plainly shows our attitude toward him.

Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

  • When God “rested from his labors,” he was celebrating what he accomplished. Creation would not have been complete without the Sabbath. Neither is our week complete without remembering with celebration what God continues to do for us. 

Honor Your Father and Your Mother

  • This is first of God’s commandments about living in harmony with each other and it focuses on the home. 

You Shall Not Murder

  • God gave this commandment because we have a right to live. 
  • We must not kill by hand, heart, or word!

You Shall Not Commit Adultery

  • Experience shows that one person runs headlong into sexual sin while another makes a mad dash to the moral high ground. 

You Shall Not Steal

  • Honesty is not only the best policy but also happens to be God’s will. 

You Shall Not Give False Testimony 

  • We are not free to speak as we choose. 
  • Telling the TRUTH may not release one from the restrictions of the 8th commandment!! i.e. Social Media - may be speaking the truth in a hateful/hurtful/agenda based way that is a violation of the command!

You Shall Not Covet

  • Coveting, having a compelling desire to get something that is not yours, 


  • So. . How does your life reflect in the mirror of God’s holy Law? We all fall short.
  • The Ten Words show us:
  • The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. (Ps 19:7–9)
  • It was suspicion of God’s love that was the original sin, and that same genetic defect that we all share 
  • So some confused Christians say, “Well, as Christians, we retain the moral law, but not the ceremonial law.” 
  • the Third Commandment. It’s not a moral issue. It’s a health issue. 
  • “A day of rest now is neither necessary nor is it commanded except for the teaching of God’s word and prayer. The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment is that we not only cease from our labor and trade but much more—that we let God alone work in us and that . . . we do nothing of our own” (LW 44:72).
  • Sabbath means “stop.” Israel was to stop work for one day. To imitate the Lord God, who stopped after creating the world in six days, and to be with God, ,  their Creator and Savior. 
  •  “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27). It wasn’t an extra duty; it was a break from duty. 
  • We often hear holy defined as “set apart.” 
  • They only know what they aren’t. 
  • James Nestingen: “the law is like a wolf that you train as a guide dog. Good guidance, good protection, but you never know when it will turn on you.”
  • The law that guides or protects today can easily slip back into its crushing role, and Christians must be sensitive to how the law is impacting their hearers.
  • The gospel is about what God has done and does for me today in Christ!!
  • God is completely clean, completely good, and completely well. What it boils down to is that God is free from anything that causes death. God is totally alive. That’s what holy means. 
  • The more we study this command, and the Ten Commandments as a whole, the less and less they sound like hard demands, and more and more like invitations to live! 
  • In each of the first three commandments, he spoke of the people’s relationship with God. Commandments 4–10 would govern their relationship with their fellow man. 
  • “It is of utmost importance. . . that. . . the Decalogue is in indicative, not imperative form. . . . These are statements of what the believer who has experienced God’s grace will voluntarily do” (Horace D. Hummel, The Word Becoming Flesh [St. Louis: Concordia, 1979] 74).

God Gave the Law for the Good of His People.