Sermon Notes: The Ninth Commandment – To tell the truth

22 03 2016

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.”

A lot of people these days think that telling the truth can just cause problems. In the film, “Liar, liar”, when Jim Carrey is forced to tell the truth it’s an absolute disaster for him.

Telling the truth is different to being brutally honest, or “telling it as it is”. We’re called to speak the truth in love; that is, to have the good of the other person in mind. The important thing is the attitude behind the truth telling.

The commandment refers to our neighbour, but we know from the story of the good samaritan that this is not limited to those we know and like.

A witness report was highly important in the ancient near east – on just one witness report you would be considered guilty until proven innocent.

“One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offence they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you.”
– Deuteronomy 19 vv 15, 18-19

The ten commandments generally cover the most serious form of each sin – for example for murder this covers forms of hate and anger, it looks at the condition of the heart.

Other things covered by lying include exaggeration, misleading, and taking words out of context.

Words are powerful and can be damaging. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” – James 3 v 6.

Gossip is talking about people to do damage to their reputation; malicious sharing of information. It’s a big issue for the church when things will be shared under the disguise of “for prayerful concern”.

We should ask ourselves:

  • Is what I’m saying true?
  • Does it need to be shared with this person?
  • Would I say it if the person it’s about was here?

It’s as bad to listen to gossip as it is to share it; it ropes us in and encourages it. If we find ourselves gossiping, let’s stop and pray for the person instead!

If someone is complaining about a grievance against someone, suggest they go to them directly, not to have a go, but to express the hurt caused in love, and try to reconcile the relationship.

All commandments have a positive side to them – speak the truth!
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body.” – Ephesians 4 v 25
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1 v 14
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.”
– Isaiah 53 v 9
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14 v 6

The world does brutal honesty; we’re called to speak the truth in love.

No matter how hard we try, none of us speak completely wholesomely.
“All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.’
‘Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practise deceit.’
‘The poison of vipers is on their lips.’”
– Romans 3 vv 12-13

Because of what Jesus did, we don’t need to live lives tied to the burden of lies.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8 v 32

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4 v 29

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Sermon Notes: The Eighth Commandment – What’s mine is God’s

11 03 2016

“You shall not steal.”

We live in a corrupt world. Corruption is responsible for about 5% of the global GDP.
We pay the price in insurance, tax, higher prices in shops to cover losses from shop lifting..

Tax avoidance is a huge issue for respectable companies – fraud is theft!

Some forms of theft have almost become normal or even acceptable. Dream holidays that are building sites, taking office stationary, even wasting work time.

A lot of the ten commandments tie together. Theft (8) often stems from coveting (10), can hardly be done without lying (9) and often ties in with idolatry (2).

Consumerism is a religion, shopping centres are the new cathedrals.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” – Luke 16 v 13

The desire to acquire, to keep up with others, is a danger of consumerism.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honour come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” – 1 Chronicles 29 vv 11-12, 14

People have their wealth and possessions, but we’re stewards, not owners. Stealing is therefore an offence against God – it implies the robber is not trusting God for all he needs.

A steward is someone who cares for someone else’s property and manages it to their intentions, not being wasteful or letting it get into disrepair.

Good stewardship means working hard – “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” – Ephesians 4 v 28

Good stewardship involves giving away to those in need

Three attitudes to possessions:

  • What’s yours is mine – Thief
  • What’s mine is mine – Most common attitude
  • What’s mine is God’s – Correct

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6 vv 19-21

Our gifts and talents are from God and are to be used for His glory. When we waste time and fail to use gifts we’re robbing God.

Breaking other commandments robs God of his glory, and so in breaking them, we often break this one.

When we steal, we are saying that what God has given us is not enough.





Sermon Notes: The Seventh Commandment – Faithfulness in Marriage

29 02 2016

“You shall not commit adultery.”

I went to our early service this week, which means these notes are from a different speaker than usual, but still on the seventh commandment!

Marriage was God’s idea right from the start.
“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2 v 24

It wasn’t long before they thought they knew better. We have free will, so it’s no surprise we struggle.

Adultery can be committed mentally as well as physically.
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – Matthew 5 v 28

We live in a very sexualised culture. Not just in things that make sense to be romantic, but absolutely everything!

Our hearts may be given to the Lord, but we’re still susceptible – thoughts go round our head.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4 v 8

It’s about thought life. Thoughts lead to feelings lead to behaviour. Thoughts work their way outwards.

External influences are important too. Be careful what you put in, because it tends to start to come out.

We should also consider spiritual adultery.

Adultery is by definition an act of unfaithfulness, and so spiritual adultery is an act of unfaithfulness in our relationship with God.

Hosea was told to marry a woman who would be unfaithful, symbolising Israel’s behaviour.

“you have forsaken the love you had at first.” – Revelation 2 v 4b

We will make mistakes, but God is gracious.
“You see the depths of my heart and you love me the same” – Indescribable, by Chris Tomlin

We shouldn’t treat our relationship with God lightly or carelessly. The enemy is looking for any way to trip us up.





Sermon Notes: The Sixth Commandment – Live and let live

22 02 2016

“You shall not murder.”

In the original Hebrew this commandment is two words: “Don’t kill”. The Hebrew language has 8 words for killing. This one is forbidding unlawful killing of a human being.

For further reading on the subject our Pastor recommended “Issues facing Christians today” by John Stott.

Life is valuable and comes from God. He is the author of life, He gives and takes away: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2 v 7

Issues of Life and Death:

  • War
    Most Christians would treat war as a last resort. Some would say that all war is wrong. Sometimes it can be the lesser of the two evils available, eg the Holocaust.
  • Capital Punishment
    Capital punishment isn’t an issue in the UK anymore, but people still being up the question of it after a major crime eg a mass murder in the news. The question raised is the idea of a life for a life, vs it being barbaric, and the risk of legal mistakes.
  • Abortion
    Life is valid from conception: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” – Psalm 139 v 13. This is the biblical understanding. All abortions are results of unwanted pregnancies, whether these be from rape, sex outside of marriage, or other, they’re all from situations outside of God’s perfect plan.
    But we must not forget there is still Grace. God comforts and heals.
  • Euthanasia
    The voluntary choice to end life goes against God having authority to begin and end life. Again there are complexities of course.
    All life is valuable and God given. This isn’t a popular view in our society, we want freedom to choose.
  • Suicide
    Again we don’t have the authority to choose when our lives will end. But again there are complexities. Issues of mental health, awareness of what one is doing.

All of these subjects are complex and require further reading than can be covered in a sermon. For anyone who has broken this commandment though, there is forgiveness available.

It’s much harder to keep this commandment than it initially seems.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.” – Matthew 5 vv 21-22a
Jesus raised the bar substantially. These are the things in our lives that can become seeds of much greater issues.

It’s ok to be angry about injustice in this world – we want to share God’s heart. How could God be indifferent to the freezing Syrian children?!

When there is damage in a relationship there may be anger, and it needs dealing with. “In your anger do not sin” – Ephesians 4 v 26a.

Often our anger is tied in with a desire for revenge, that is not ok.

There are four unhealthy ways in which we express anger

  • Pressure Cooker
    Blowing up easily at anything, running on a short fuse.
  • Passive-aggressive
    Won’t express anger in public, bottling it up so our bodies have to deal with it, both physically and mentally, leading to resentment.
  • Martyrs
    Thinking everything is their fault, life is a pity party to which only they are invited.
  • Manipulators
    This could come in many forms, silent treatment, sabotage, little comments, deliberately forgetting things.

We’re capable of any of these!

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” – James 1 v 19
This indicates that we will become angry.

When we are angry with someone we should go to them, but not to explode at them. It’s biblical to describe the hurt we feel and talk it through. We should do this before coming to the Communion table.

It’s not easy! We’re works in progress, and need to work on it.

The bible teaches us not to take revenge or bear grudges.
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” – Hebrews 12 v 15

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6 vv 14-15

When we’re looking to deal with a broken relationship we need to do it slowly and humbly.

We’ve all broken this commandment, Jesus never did. Through Him we find forgiveness.





Sermon notes: The Fifth Commandment – Respect Authority

16 02 2016

“Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

In current society this can be a particularly sensitive commandment with all the family breakdown.

“If anyone fails to honour his parents, is there anyone he will spare?” – Augustine

Parents are ordinarily the first people we know, our first school, our first government, our first hospital.

Honour is a word meaning weighty or heavy, to give due weight to position.

“But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” – 2 Timothy 3 vv 1-2

Parents deserve honour for the sacrifices they make for their children.

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” – Colossians 3 v 20. It pleases Him!

This commandment has a wider application of all authority. The Israelites referred to their Kings and spiritual leaders as Father.

We should be praying for our politicians. “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, […] Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.” 1 Peter 2 vv 13,17.

We should be praying for our employers. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. […] because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6 vv 5,8.

Submission is often seen as a forceful suppression, but this is not the case. Submission means cooperating with the God given roles that others have, for His kingdom.

Therefore submitting to church leadership is cooperating with them. In turn, leaders are to exercise this in a way pleasing to God.

The balance to this commandment is Ephesians 6 v 4: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”

We live in a society where there’s a lot of cynicism towards those in authority – police, politicians etc, so leaders have to work harder to build trust.

This commandment remains in force when children grow up and move out – caring for them as they age.

We all fall short of this commandment as we do with others, but Jesus paid the penalty for us, in doing so in obedience to His heavenly Father.





Sermon Notes: The Fourth Commandment – Work and Leisure

31 01 2016

‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Sunday trading is big news at the moment, but some shops are not in support of it! In fact, Tesco are stopping many of their shops from being open 24 hours. The Keep Sunday Special campaign has been running since 1993.

We don’t want work to be the be all and end all for this country.

Sunday’s are time for rest, family, etc, but primarily to gather with God’s people to worship Him.

Not everyone thinks a day of rest is efficient: “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” – Bill Gates. But it’s not about efficiency, we keep the sabbath because God commands it.

This commandment breaks into three parts:

  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” – v8 – what to do
  • When the Israelites were in the desert, God provided manna for six days and on the seventh they were due to rest.
    Remembering to rest on the sabbath is an active thing, we can’t just remember it’s the sabbath and then do nothing about it. That’d be like remembering it’s your anniversary but not doing anything about it.

  • “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.2 – vv 9-10 – how to do it
  • Labour isn’t just paid work, but voluntary, or any form of working.
    It’s not just a day off, Sabbath means “a day of sacred assembly”, it comes from a word meaning to cease, or rest. A day to stop the business as usual.

  • “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – v11 – why to do it
  • The Sabbath is a gift from God: “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2 v 27
    It was also a celebration of being saved from Egypt: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” – Deuteronomy 5 v 15

We don’t look back to the Exodus for our salvation, and to slavery in Egypt, but to Jesus saving us from slavery to sin and death!

It is no longer called the Sabbath on a Saturday, but the Lord’s Day on the Sunday.The apostles observed their day of worship and rest on the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the dead. E.g. “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” – Acts 20 v 7.

“Christ took the Sabbath into the grave with him and brought the Lord’s Day out of the grave with him on the resurrection morn.” – BB Warfield
“Christians no longer observe the Sabbath, but direct their lives toward the Lord’s Day, on which our life is refreshed by Him and by His death” – Ignatius

To rest on the Lord’s day, we begin with work. We all have a duty to work in the six days, not necessarily paid work, but for doing useful things with our time: raising families, volunteering, running the home.

According to the Baptist Union, the average amount of times Christians go to church each month at the moment is 2.2.

The Lord’s day is for…

  • …worship
  • To gather together, to enjoy fellowship with God’s people, for catching up on spiritual reading, and spending the whole day in ways that make it God’s day.

  • …mercy
  • The pharisees made up ridiculously strict rules about how little could be done on a Sunday, to the point that if a wall fell on someone they couldn’t be rescued until the next day if they weren’t badly injured. Jesus performed miracles on the sabbath! We can show mercy by visiting someone, have people round for dinner, give to the foodbank.

  • …rest
  • We should cease from our normal daily routine, from work, from studies, from housework. Of course some have to work on Sundays, those who provide medical care or preserve public safety, and church ministers! – they are wise to set another day aside for rest at least if not public worship.

We’re to come together for worship: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2 vv 19-22

The greatest rest and spiritual refreshment we can find is at the foot of the Cross.

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” – Matthew 11 vv 28-30

It’s not my day off, it’s His day, the Lord’s day.





Sermon Notes: The Third Commandment – Name Above All Names

26 01 2016

“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Our names are given to us, we don’t get to choose them. Our parents use their authority over us to give them to us. But we didn’t give God His name, He tells us.

This is the first commandment where God speaks about Himself in the third person. So that He can call Himself LORD or Yahweh – “I am who I am”. It’s not a name, but an identity. Not just a label.

A more literal translation of this commandment would be “You shall not lift up the name of the LORD your God for nothingness”. We’re not to use His name thoughtlessly, carelessly or flippantly.

We can still use God’s name! We just can’t misuse it. Yahweh is in the Old Testament nearly 7000 times!

God’s name was misused in the Old Testament in three ways

  1. Sorcery
    “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practises divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” – Deuteronomy 18 vv 10-12a
  2. False Prophecy
    “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries[a] and the delusions of their own minds. Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them” – Jeremiah 14 vv 14-15a
    The prophets always said “Thus saith the LORD”
    Church history is littered with people claiming the name of God on their side for all sorts of things to advance their own agendas.
  3. Swearing False Oaths
    A common phrase was “As the LORD lives”, and so if this is used when lying, this is not casual.

The consequence: “the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” – v7b.

Misusing God’s name is a sin because it’s a direct attack on His honour and glory. It’s serious.

The most obvious misuse today is using Jesus’ name as a swear word or exclamation point.

Imagine someone you know insults a member of your family, we’d react. It’s scary, but maybe we should politely tell people it offends us when they take the name of our God in vain.

We need to watch our language too. If we use it as a throwaway word, it’s an indication of the true spiritual condition of our heart.

We may say we don’t do that, but there are more subtle ways.

It’s easy to say that God told us to do something without testing it against God’s word or with other Christians. If it goes against the bible then it’s a form of false prophecy. With all things we should be testing against Scripture.

Even more subtle, and potentially more dangerous – taking a bible verse out of context, to say something we want it to say.

Some non-conformists and puritans went through a period of not singing in church for fear they couldn’t live up to what they were singing. This may sound extreme, but we’ve lost some reverence for God’s name. Do we really live out what we sing with our mouths? Singing is biblical and fundamental, but we need to think about the words we’re singing.

It’s not just not negative, but positive to – we’re to honour God’s name. The Lord’s prayer says “Hallowed be Your name”. The Psalms are great for honouring God’s name.
“Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name” – Psalm 29 v 9
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” – Psalm 103 v 1

We’re also instructed to
“trust in the name of the LORD” – Isaiah 50 v 10
“fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD Your God” – Deuteronomy 28 v 58

As Christians, we bear Christ’s name, we’re baptised into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That name is now associated with all we say and do. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3 v 17.

It may say He will not hold anyone guiltless, but this is where the gospel steps in! “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1 v 9