The righteous requirements of God were given to His people in Exodus 20:1-17 and are known today as the Ten Commandments.
- No idols
- No graven images
- No taking of the Lord’s name in vain
- Keep the Sabbath
- Honor your father and mother
- No murder
- No adultery
- No stealing
- No false witnessing
- No coveting
Written in stone. Unchanging. God is holy and so also must His people be. Selah and amen.
On the whole, it seems fairly simple. Do and don’t do. Easy enough. For most people, it’s a dream position, isn’t it? “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
Making God Happy: Three Essential Steps To Holiness
- Learn the Ten Commandments,
- Do and don’t do accordingly;
- Reap the results.
Simple! Nothing complicated here. So easy a caveman can do it, right? Let me ask you this: Have you ever lied? Cheated? Stole something? Ever disrespected your parents? Ever done something they told you not to do?
Sinner! You’re in good company. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Every one of us is guilty before God. And you’d better believe that we are reaping the results. The Israelites had the whole sacrificial system in place to deal with their mistakes. Whenever they messed up, they just sacrificed an animal or two … or two thousand. Now, before you starting searching the yellow pages for Animal Sacrifice, think first about the sheer number of bulls, goats, and turtle-doves they actually sacrificed over the ages because of sin. And yet, “Every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11). What?!
We have all sinned. No one has completely kept God’s Perfect Ten. So why bother sacrificing those poor animals if doing so does not take away sins? As a Christian you are thinking, “Because the wages of sin is death!” How right you are. Blood is required for all sin. “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). The constant problem of sin is the reason so many animals were sacrificed.
But, you say, if sacrificing animals didn’t completely take away sin, what good was it? “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Even in terrible situations, God can bring out good. Rest assured no Israelite could forget about sin for very long. The daily blood and guts of an animal sacrificial system was undoubtedly in-your-face to remind them. The sinful state of their hearts could not be avoided. They were constantly aware of the discrepancy between their hearts and God’s standard of holiness.
The Law – all those commandments resulting in all those offerings – had a purpose. The purpose of the Law is to lead us to Christ. First, the Israelites had to perceive the holiness of God. Second, they had to recognize their own sinfulness. Third, they had to come to understand that sinfulness is not merely outward behavior, but a condition of the heart. It is the same today. We sin, not because we weren’t paying attention or because of a mistake, but because it is the very condition of our hearts. We are rotten to the core. No matter what good we may do or what love we may give, it is always, always infected with the disease of self. “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is no one who understands; there is none who seeks after God …” (Romans 3:10-11, from Psalm 14:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20).
The law was designed to show us that sin and death have penetrated to the very marrow of our being. Because the commandments reveal sin, we realize we are sinful. And no matter how hard we try to clean up our act, we cannot, and in any event it is too late. Already we have sinned. Already spiritual death has overcome us. We have behaved, and continue to behave, according to the dictates of our heart. Sin is not just a set of behaviors that we sometimes do. No. Sin is a heart issue. It is ever-present within us. “As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man” (Proverbs 27:19). We don’t just sin; we are sinners. We cannot change this. We need rescue. We need salvation. We need Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). As sinners, our very life is required of us. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. We are truly caught between a rock and a hard place.
But here’s the good news: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Only Jesus kept God’s commandments perfectly. This is why, when Christ willingly gave his life and died on the cross, his death satisfied the righteous requirements of the Law. The evidence that God’s justice was satisfied in Christ is seen in Christ’s words, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The result was the resurrection.
When we confess our sin to God, when we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, our sins are forgiven and we are saved from eternal death. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Do you believe this? Do you?
Are you saved? Have you availed yourself of the free gift of salvation and forgiveness in Christ? If so, then ask God to continue to help you to seek His face that holiness would be your heart condition. If not, please pray in sincerity something like this:
God, I believe you. I have not kept Your commandments. I confess that I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross fully paid the debt of my sins and that You raised him from the dead. I place my trust in Jesus who died that I may live forever with You. Amen.
If you prayed this, please tell someone! Talk to a Christian friend or pastor. And email me. I’d love to pray for you.