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“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman at creation when He made them male and female, forming man from the dust of the ground and forming woman from the rib of Adam and bringing her to the man (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7; 2:18-25). Thus, marriage and the sexual union within marriage are honorable and God-pleasing, but God will judge those who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage and who do not live in accord with God’s purpose and design in marriage (the union of one man and one woman for life).

Knowing that God will judge those who commit adultery or are sexually immoral, how is it that so many just ignore God’s Word when it comes to marriage and sexuality? And how is it that even Christians seem to think nothing of living together outside the bonds of marriage or engaging in sexual relationships without being married?

Because God deals with people either according to His justice or according to His mercy, do people fail to understand and distinguish between the two and view God’s judgment as some sort of watered-down mixture of justice and grace – as though God really doesn’t demand perfect obedience, and as though God just winks at our sins? What Christ suffered to atone for sin says otherwise!

And, I wonder, too, do Christian pastors not warn those under their care who have fallen into sin of their need to repent? Many times, it seems, pastors are afraid to say anything; and, perhaps, it’s because they are more concerned about keeping members in their local congregations than keeping them in Christ’s everlasting kingdom. Could it be so?

The Word of God is not jesting when it says: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 10:26ff.; Revelation 21:8). One cannot be a Christian and continue in fornication or adultery – indeed, in any wilful sin against the Lord God and His Word. Those who do will find themselves cast into the eternal fires of hell on Judgment Day!

Rather than having us be cast out on the Last Day, God desires us to repent of our sinful and evil ways and look to Him for mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus and for the sake of His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. He would have us acknowledge our sins and look to Christ Jesus and His cross for pardon and forgiveness (cf. 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 1:9).

The Bible tells us why God can and does forgive those who repent and look to Him for mercy. It’s not because He is soft on sin. Rather, it is because “Jesus Christ the righteous … is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1,2). It is because Jesus atoned for our sins and the sins of all when He was condemned and suffered and died upon the cross!

The Bible tells us that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … he was buried … he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4); and that in Him “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

And, as a fruit of repentance, God would have us amend our sinful ways, looking to Him and His Word for guidance in what is good and pleasing to Him and for the willingness and strength to walk in His ways (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalm 119:9).

O holy and righteous God, I have sinned and gone astray by my every departure from Your Word. Wash away my guilt in Jesus’ shed blood and grant me Your Holy Spirit that I might walk in Your ways and seek to be pleasing to You in all things. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible

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“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” John 6:63

Only those who partake of Christ Jesus in faith – of His body given into death upon the cross as a sacrifice for sin, and of His blood shed upon the cross for the sins of all – have eternal life and will be raised up on the last day to the glories of heaven. Apart from such partaking of Christ’s body and blood in faith, one remains spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (cf. John 6:51ff.; Ephesians 2:1ff.). And, it is only by the gracious working of God the Holy Spirit through the Word of God that one can be brought to faith and made alive spiritually.

Does Jesus here speak of the Sacrament of the Altar? We would have to say no because, when He spoke these words, He had not yet instituted His Supper; and, though it offers many benefits, nowhere does the Bible make partaking of the Lord’s Supper necessary for salvation.

But Jesus, who called Himself the Bread of Life and that Bread which came down from heaven (cf. John 6:31ff.), does teach that He is the Life-giving bread and that apart from partaking of Him in faith, one remains dead in trespasses and sins and doesn’t have forgiveness of sins or eternal life. But, through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, one is made alive spiritually and has as his own God’s gifts of forgiveness for all sins and life everlasting in heaven (cf. John 3:14ff.; 8:24)!

But, as in Jesus’ day when many stumbled over His words, so also today, many people stumble. They cannot understand how Jesus could give his flesh and shed His blood for the sins of the world, and they cannot grasp how partaking of this heavenly food in faith gives life and salvation. Thus, they turn back and quit following Jesus and reject His life-giving Word.

As Jesus so clearly states, it is God’s Holy Spirit who gives life; the flesh, our own human reason and understanding, profits us nothing in regard to faith in Christ Jesus. It is as Luther explains in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth….”

And, the words which Jesus spoke are Spirit and they are life. They are the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit of God in His Word. And, it is through these words that the Spirit regenerates us, brings us to faith in Christ and gives us life in Jesus! “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17; cf. Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21).

Sad to say, many still seek to generate faith and give life by the flesh, which profits nothing. They seek to stir up their hearers’ emotions (with powerful preaching and moving music) so that people will make their own decisions for Christ. Rather than simply preaching the Bible, which is the Word of God, they offer up testimonials and share human doctrines and opinions. Rather accepting the Bible as the inspired and unerring Word of God, they subject it to human understanding and seek to explain it in ways which appeal to human reason. And when Christian pastors simply preach the Word of God and administer the Sacraments in accord with Christ’s own institution and commandment, many reject their sound preaching and obedience to the commandments of our Lord Jesus in favor of their own opinions and ideas of what will be more appealing and reach more of the lost.

But the truth spoken by Jesus remains: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life”; and, “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father” (John 6:63,65; cf. John 1:12-13; 3:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:3).

The words Jesus spoke to His hearers about being the Bread of Life and the only way to obtain eternal life are true. It is only through faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross for the sins of the world that we have been saved and have life eternal. And, it is only by the gracious working of God’s Holy Spirit through the Word and the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) that one can come to faith in Christ and be raised from spiritual darkness and death unto life everlasting for Jesus’ sake.

Gracious Savior, thank You for fulfilling all righteousness in our stead and bearing upon the cross the full punishment for the sins of the entire world. By Your Spirit and Your life-giving Word, bring us to partake of you in faith that we might have forgiveness and the everlasting joys of heaven. We ask this for the sake of Your bitter sufferings and death in our stead and Your glorious resurrection. Amen.

Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible

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God’s Ten Commandments are recorded in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and are repeated in many other places in the Scriptures. They reveal God’s good and holy will for us and warn us against sin and the consequences of disobedience and sin. None of us have kept God’s commandments perfectly in our thoughts, desires, words and deeds as God requires. Thus, God’s commandments, which are good, reveal to us our sinfulness and failures.

Though we have all come short, Jesus Christ, God’s only-begotten Son in human flesh, has fulfilled these commandments perfectly in thoughts, desires, words and deeds in our place – in the place of all mankind – and He also suffered our just punishment when He died on the cross. He did this for us that through faith in Him we might have forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting.

And God spoke all these words, saying: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:1-2

What right did God have to give these commandments to the people of Israel? Why should they listen to God’s commandments and obey him? God tells us the answer.

He says, “I am the LORD your God.” He is JEHOVAH God, the Creator of all things. He is the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the only true God! He also redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt. In fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God brought the people out of Egypt and was leading them to the land of Canaan, where He would fulfill His promise to send the Seed of Abraham – the promised Messiah and Savior – through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (cf. Genesis 22:18). This is why God had the right to give these commandments to His people. He is the LORD God, their Maker and Redeemer! And this is also why the people should have listened to these commandments and gladly and willingly obeyed them.

God has every right to demand that we, too, obey His commandments; for He is the LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer – we belong to Him! He created and formed each of us in our mother’s womb (Cf. Psalm 139:13-16). He made us for Himself – to live for Him and serve Him.

But instead of loving Him and serving Him, we love and serve ourselves. As fallen sinners, we do not and cannot keep God’s commandments as He requires.

Because of His gracious love and mercy, the LORD God also redeemed us and won salvation for us by sending His only begotten Son into the world to suffer and to die upon the cross for our sins and then rise again on the third day!

We are the LORD’s – and doubly so! He made us, and even though we have come far short of keeping His commandments, He paid the just penalty for our sins, redeemed us and made us His own again! He delivered us from our bondage under sin and is leading us to the promised land of heaven, which is ours, entirely as His gracious gift!

Therefore, the LORD God has every right to give us His holy commandments and to expect obedience! And, as His redeemed children – having His pardon and forgiveness for all our sins and failures for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have every reason to gladly and willingly obey Him!

O LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer, we give You thanks that You have both made us and, by Christ’s shed blood, redeemed us. Help us to gladly and willingly submit to Your holy commandments. Amen.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3

Since the LORD God is our Maker and Redeemer, we should have no other gods before His face. Since He is present everywhere and sees all, this means we are to have no other gods but Him!

He is the only true God; and we should “fear, love and trust in Him above all things” (Martin Luther’s SMALL CATECHISM). We should remember that God is the Almighty Creator, and honor Him as such! We should obey His commandments and avoid all that displeases Him. Because the LORD God is our Maker and also our Redeemer, we should love Him with all our heart, soul and mind, and gladly live our lives for Him (cf. Matt. 22:37; 2 Cor. 5:15). Since God has so wonderfully made us and provided for all our needs, and since He has through Christ’s sufferings, death and resurrection, redeemed us from our sins and the eternal punishment we so deserve, we should also trust in Him with all our heart and commit our entire lives to His care and keeping.

Have we done this? We must all admit our utter failure; for we so often neglect Him and push Him out of our lives as though He did not exist. Every time we sin against any commandment of the LORD, we are also failing to fear, love and trust in God above all things. We place ourselves and other persons and things before the loving God who gave us life in our mother’s womb and everlasting life in Christ Jesus, our Savior; and we neglect to give to Him the glory and honor due unto His name!

LORD God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be merciful to us and forgive us for our many failures to honor You as the LORD God, our Maker and Redeemer. Enable and teach us to fear, love and trust in You above all else. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, God the Son and our Savior. Amen.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me….” Exodus 20:4-5

We are not to make ourselves an image or likeness of anything and worship or honor it as if it were a god or could in some way help us. While this clearly prohibits the making of idols of wood, silver and gold, it also forbids making a god after our own image. We are not to make our god like us, putting our values and our thoughts into our image and understanding. Rather, we are to accept and honor the LORD God of the Bible, believing what He tells us of Himself in His Word.

As our Maker and Redeemer, the LORD God has every right to be a jealous God. And, since He has made us, He also has every right to punish us when we turn away from Him and disobey His commandments. He created us to live for Him and to do His holy will. How it angers and disappoints the LORD when we are rebellious and sinful creatures!

Our God does not take sin lightly, as some suppose; nor can one escape His judgment. He visits and punishes the sins of the fathers upon the children even unto the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. This means that, in addition to the eternal punishments of hell which all unbelievers will suffer, God will, during their earthly lives, punish the unbelieving children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, for the sins of those who hate Him and turn aside from His holy commandments.

This is certainly a warning to us against giving in to the temptations of the devil, the world and our flesh! If we turn aside from the LORD and live in sin, He will punish us also! Our claims to love the LORD God mean little if we are unwilling to live for Him. Let us rather acknowledge our sins to the LORD and turn to Him for forgiveness and the needed strength to amend our lives and live for Him.

He sent His only-begotten Son to suffer and die for the sins of the world and then rise again that we might have forgiveness and life through faith in His name. For the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in our stead, God is gracious and merciful to us. He will forgive our sins and give us life eternal instead of His judgment and death! Let us rather acknowledge our sins to the LORD God and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.

The Bible tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Our God — the God of the Bible — is “faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” because Christ Jesus shed His holy and innocent blood for us upon the cross and bore our punishment.

And, not only will He graciously forgive our sins and give us life, He will also give us the needed strength to amend our lives and live for Him.

Dear LORD God, do not deal with us in Your wrath. For the sake of Christ’s bitter sufferings and death in our stead, deal with us in mercy, forgive our sins and give us life. Grant us also Your Holy Spirit and renew our hearts that we might live for You in obedience to Your holy commandments. Amen.

“For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:5-6

A key to knowing the LORD God and how He deals with man is contained in these verses of Scripture. The LORD God is a jealous God who punishes the sins of those who hate Him and rebel against Him and His commandments, even down to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Him. But He is also a merciful God who forgives the iniquities, transgressions and sins of those who, by His grace, repent and turn back to Him for mercy.

In Exodus 34, God describes Himself in these words: “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (v. 6-7).

In the history recorded for us in the Bible, we can see the truthfulness of these words. When Israel rebelled against the LORD, went their own way, and disobeyed His commandments, even worshipping other gods, God’s judgments fell upon them; and children and grandchildren who continued on in their sinful ways suffered the consequences, not only of their own sins but also of the sins of their fathers, when the Assyrians and the Babylonians came and destroyed their land and carried them away into captivity. On the other hand, God showed great mercy to such men as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Jeremiah, Daniel and others. For the sake of the promised Messiah and Savior who was yet to come, God pardoned and forgave the sins and iniquities of those who turned to Him for mercy and forgiveness.

The question for you and for me today is this: “Do we want God to deal with us in His mercy? or in His wrath?” If we continue on in rebelliousness and sin against God and His commandments, we will suffer His wrath, both here and forever in eternity! But if, by the gracious calling and mercy of God, we repent of our sinful and rebellious ways, turning to Him for mercy and forgiveness, He will, for the sake of the innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus in our stead, have mercy upon us, forgive our sins, and give us a place in His everlasting kingdom.

O LORD God, have mercy upon us and turn us from our evil thoughts, desires, and ways to Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son and our Savior, for forgiveness and life eternal. Amen.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

Many consider it a light thing to misuse God’s name in their language and speech. They curse, swear, lie and deceive by it. Some use God’s name or His Word, the Bible, to support their own false beliefs and teachings. Some use it superstitiously, as though their use of God’s name or things connected with it will bring them good luck and fortune. And, all too seldom, is God’s name used rightly to pray to Him, to praise and glorify Him, and to give Him thanks!

God says that He “will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” It is not a trivial offense with God to abuse His holy name, but a serious offense which will bring His wrath and judgment!

This commandment condemns us all for our misuse of God’s name and for our neglect to use it rightly in ways which bring to the LORD God honor and glory and praise. God’s Word applies to each of us, when it says, “The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, for He kept this commandment perfectly for us and used God’s name rightly. Jesus called upon His Father in prayer and praises. He taught God’s Word rightly. And His whole life brought honor and glory to God’s holy name – whether that be through His manner of living, His teaching or His miracles.

And, in His death and resurrection too, Jesus brought honor and glory to God’s holy name. He willingly carried out His Father’s will and went to the cross and bore the guilt and shame and punishment for the sins of all mankind that God might show us mercy and give to us forgiveness in His Son, Christ Jesus. And Jesus rose again and is ascended to the right hand of His Father and continues His work of bringing life and salvation to lost sinners.

Jesus, rightly prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…” (John 17:1ff.).

Jesus Christ, on the tree of the cross, brought glory to His Father’s name and bore the full punishment for all our sins. He desires that we, too, bring God glory by repenting of our misuse of God’s name and of our failures to live and speak in ways which bring God’s name glory. He desires that we turn to Him for mercy. And, in His Word, He promises that forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting, as well as the help to use God’s name rightly, are ours through faith in Jesus’ name.

And placing our faith in Jesus – trusting in Him alone for forgiveness and life – brings glory to God’s name!

O LORD God, forgive us for taking Your holy name in vain, and for neglecting to use it rightly. Graciously help us to hallow Your name among us. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross to redeem us. Amen.

“Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy….” Exodus 20:8

The Lord God required His people (under the old covenant) to set aside the seventh day as a day of rest from their labors and as a day to consider Him and His ways. Since God Himself created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested upon the seventh, so also His people were to refrain from their labors on the Sabbath, hear His Word and honor Him (cf. Exodus 20:8-11; Isaiah 58:13-14).

We are no longer required to rest from all our labors on the seventh day, or on any other day of the week (cf. Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-6). But, as God required the children of Israel to rest on the Sabbath Day that they might have time to hear His Word and worship Him, so He requires that we set aside time from our earthly labors that we also might hear and consider His Word and glorify His holy name (cf. Isaiah 58:13-14; Colossians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Luke 11:28; Acts 2:42; Psalm 95:1; Psalm 111:1; etc.). For this reason, we have set aside Sunday as a time for worship and meditation upon God’s Word and ought to take time each day for Bible reading and prayer.

To neglect the services of God’s house, and not to take the time for Bible reading and prayer in our homes, is a sin against God’s commandment. When we neglect to hear and carefully consider the teaching of God’s Word, we endanger our own souls; for it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit reveals to us our Savior and eternal life in His name.

Hearing God’s will and commandment regarding the Sabbath should move us to repent of our erring ways and turn back to Him for mercy and forgiveness in Messiah Jesus, God’s Son. It ought, then, also guide us as we seek to amend our ways and live for Him, so that we regularly set aside a portion of the time God has given us to meditate upon His Word and worship Him.

Dear LORD God, forgive us for neglecting to set aside time to hear Your saving Word and to worship You. Give us a true love for You and Your Word, that we may continue to learn of the salvation You have provided for us in Christ Jesus, our Savior. In His name, we pray. Amen.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

This commandment of the LORD requires us to honor our parents as our God-given representatives. Children are to obey their parents; and parents – especially fathers – are to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; Deuteronomy 6:4-9). The only exception to God’s command to honor and obey parents is that we are “to obey God rather than men” when there exists a conflict between the will of parents and the will of God Himself (cf. Acts 5:29).

This means that children sin against God when they disobey their parents and do not show them the honor and respect which God requires. Parents too are guilty of sin when they do not bring up their children to know the LORD and His ways.

How thankful we can be that Jesus Christ kept this commandment perfectly for us, not only in deed but in word and desire! The Scriptures tell us that He submitted Himself to His parents and honored them (Luke 2:51; cf. John 19:25-27). And, how thankful we can be that Jesus also bore upon the cross the just punishment for our sin! In Him, we sinners find pardon and forgiveness; and, in Him, we find strength and guidance to amend our ways and live in accord with God’s will and command.

Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and our Savior, forgive our sins against the perfect will of God, our Maker, and give us the desire to live our lives for You. Amen

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

Every human life is a creation of God, and every human life is precious to God. Why? Because God created man in His own image and Jesus Christ died for all people (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7,21-22; 9:5-6; Psalm 139:13-16; 1 John 2:1,2; 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Except in cases of punishing evildoers and waging just wars to protect life and property, God has reserved for Himself the right to end or destroy any human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:14; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 31:15; 39:4-5; 90:1-3; Job 14:1-12; Acts 17:24-28). The Bible teaches that the practice of euthanasia, abortion, self-inflicted death (suicide) and all other unjustified taking of human life is murder and sin.

Most feel they have kept this commandment of the LORD, as long as they have not actually killed or murdered another human being. However, as we see from the Scriptures, this commandment is far more reaching than the act of murder itself.

Exodus 21:29 and Deuteronomy 22:8 expand this commandment to manslaughter or the taking of human life through carelessness or negligence.

Jesus, in His sermon on the mount, says: “Whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). The Apostle John also writes: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

Perhaps we have not actually killed another person, but have we ever hated someone or called him a fool or empty-headed? If so – and which of us has not – we are guilty and condemned by this commandment of the LORD! This is why the Scriptures tell us that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

It is also the reason why each of us needs to repent – acknowledging our sins and failure to keep God’s holy commandments in our thoughts, desires, words and actions, and trusting in the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Messiah Jesus as full payment for our sins. In the crucified and risen Jesus, we sinners find forgiveness and life everlasting!

Dear Lord Jesus, true Son of God and true man, for the sake of Your blood, shed for us upon the cross, forgive us for our failures to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

While me might commonly think of adultery only in the narrowest sense of being unfaithful to the marriage vow by engaging in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, this commandment of the LORD God really applies to all perversions of – all adulterating of – God’s original design and intent for the marriage relationship described for us in Genesis 2.

Thus, a person commits adultery when he or she is unfaithful to the marriage vow and has a sexual relationship outside of marriage; but a person also commits adultery through divorce, evil thoughts, pornography, fornication, sexual immorality, homosexuality and any other sexual perversion. Even a refusal to fulfill one’s duties in marriage is contrary to God’s intent and design (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:1ff.). And, whatever is not in accord with God’s intent and design at creation – the lifelong commitment and union of a man and a woman in marriage – is adultery.

This is why Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). He also says, “Whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32; cf. Mark 10:12; Matthew 19:3ff.). The Bible clearly teaches: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

When we consider this commandment, we again see our sins and failures to live up to God’s holy intent and design in creation. In fact, our whole culture is in rebellion against God’s will and design for marriage and a sexual union within marriage; and we, as individuals, have also disobeyed and rebelled in our thoughts, words and actions.

Our only hope is in Messiah Jesus, who kept this commandment perfectly in our stead and then bore our full punishment and won our pardon and release when He suffered and died upon the cross for the sins of the world and rose again on the third day. He calls us to repent of our evil ways and turn unto Him for forgiveness and life everlasting. Only in Him and His blood shed for us upon the cross can we sinners find pardon, forgiveness and peace!

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my sins in thought, word and deed. Change my heart to be like Yours. Amen.

“You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15

With this commandment, the LORD God forbids us to take or desire that which rightfully belongs to another. Thus, we are not to rob, steal or take the property of another by any dishonest means, including fraud, deception, unjust lawsuits, gambling, unrighteous labor or wages, unfair pricing and the like. Instead of seeking dishonest gain, God urges us to work and earn our own property and goods and to share with those in need.

The Bible teaches: “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). God also tells us: “You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:35-36).

Psalm 37:21 says: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives.” Jeremiah 22:13 warns: “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work….” Expressing these same principles, Leviticus 19:13 says, “You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning.” (Cf. Deuteronomy 24:14-15.) God even warns against taking advantage of the poor and lending for personal gain when He says: “If you lend money to any of my people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest” (Exodus 22:25). God even forbids us to be lazy and dependent upon the charity of others when His Word commands: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

What does God require of us when He forbids us to steal? He would have us love our neighbor and do all in our power to help him protect and keep his property and business. We see this from the principle established by this command: “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again” (Exodus 23:4). While it may not be an ox or a donkey, we are to return to our neighbor property which he has lost and help him to keep what God has given him. Jesus Himself says: “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). The Scriptures require us to treat our neighbor in the same way we would want to be treated. Thus, instead of taking away our neighbor’s property and business, we should be of service to him in keeping it.

Finally, instead of seeking to obtain the property of others for ourselves, God would have us share what He has given us and help others in their need. The Bible says, “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).

Have we kept this commandment as the LORD God requires? Again, we must admit our shortcomings and sins and repent, turning to the LORD God to deal with us in His grace and mercy for Jesus’ sake and imploring His help and strength to amend our ways and live for Him! In Jesus, and for the sake of His blood shed for us upon the cross, we find forgiveness.

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for my selfishness and greed. Forgive me for not loving and caring for others in need. Cleanse my heart and renew my mind that I might live for You and seek to keep Your holy commandments. Amen.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:16

First and foremost, this commandment requires witnesses in any court of law to be truthful in all that they say; and it forbids any false witness or testimony against another (cf. Exodus 23:1-3). The Bible plainly warns: “A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who speaks lies will not escape” (Proverbs 19:5). Under Old Testament civil laws, false witnesses were to be punished with the same punishment that the one they falsely accused would have received if their witness were true (cf. Deuteronomy 19:15-21). Those who were not punished by man would come under the judgment of God Himself, who knows all!

Most people think little of speaking evil of others and spreading rumors and gossip about other people, but this commandment condemns this as well. Again, the Scriptures say: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren….” (James 4:11); and, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:13). When a brother commits a trespass, we are to first go to him privately in an effort to bring him to repentance (cf. Matthew 18:15ff.); we are not to go and tell everyone else what evil he has done.

The prophet Zechariah writes: “’Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; and do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ says the LORD” (Zechariah 8:16-17).

Rather than bearing false witness against our neighbor and speaking evil of him, we are to love him and defend him against false accusation and gossip. The Bible says: “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Peter writes: “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (1 Peter 4:8).

When we examine our own lives, thoughts and actions against this commandment of the LORD, we see again that we have fallen short and are in need of repentance and forgiveness. Messiah Jesus, God’s own dear Son in human flesh has kept this commandment for us; and He suffered our punishment when He shed His blood for us upon the cross. Acknowledge your sins and failings and turn to Him for forgiveness and life everlasting!

Dear Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, forgive me for speaking evil of others, spreading rumors and gossip, and failing to love my neighbor and defend him against the evil words of others. I ask this for the sake of Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead and because of Your glorious resurrection and ascension. Amen.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

This commandment of the LORD teaches us that God requires not only outward holiness but inward holiness as well. Not only are our actions to be pure, but our thoughts and desires as well. Thus, we learn that we not only sin when we commit adultery or take our neighbor’s property or goods; we sin when we desire what belongs to our neighbor and is not rightfully ours.

Therefore, we are not to covet or desire our neighbor’s house, his wife, his servants or employees, his stock or any of his property. Rather, we are to trust in the LORD God and be satisfied in Him and in that which He has given us.

The Bible teaches us: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

We may not realize it, but our hearts, as they are by nature, are filled with evil thoughts and desires. When we entertain these thoughts and desires, they grow and often even lead to sinful words and actions.

This is why God warns against the sin of covetousness, for it is contrary to God’s will and desire for us and leads to acts of disobedience and rebellion. The Bible is filled with examples. David lusted after Bathsheba and took her, even committing murder to cover up his sin of adultery. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard and committed murder to get it. Judas desired money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Rather than coveting, which leads to death, the LORD God would have us trust in Him and be satisfied with what He gives us. The Bible tells us: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:3-7).

From this commandment, we truly see that God commands and desires that we be holy as He is holy – in thoughts, desires, words and deeds (cf. Leviticus 19:2; Mathew 5:48). Though we have miserably failed to keep God’s holy commandments, Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, has fulfilled them for us by living a holy life in thought, word and deed. He also went to the cross and bore there the full punishment for our sins and the sins of the entire world that we might have God’s pardon and forgiveness and life everlasting in heaven through faith in His name.

O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my evil thoughts and desires as well as for my sinful words and actions. Cleanse my heart and give me a genuine desire to live for You. I ask this for the sake of your holy and precious blood, shed for me upon the cross. Amen.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: and Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:29-34

We may consider this account of insignificance; but, in fact, it has a message of great significance to every Christian today.

As Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau had the birthright, a double portion of the inheritance and, in Esau’s case, the blessings given to Abraham and Isaac which included, not only the promise of the land, but of the Messiah and Savior of the world. Yet, for a single meal when he was hungry, Esau sold his birthright to Jacob his brother. For one serving of food which satisfied him for only a few hours, Esau gave up blessings which extend into eternity!

The sacred text concludes the account with the words: “Thus Esau despised his birthright.” The word “despised” doesn’t necessarily mean he hated it or loathed it, but that he regarded it of little value or worth.

As Christians – believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – we have an eternal inheritance awaiting us in heaven. It is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” made sure to us by the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from the dead (1 Peter 1:3,4). Jesus Himself told us that He is preparing a place for us to be with Him in the mansions of His Father’s house (cf. John 14:1-6). By His innocent sufferings and death, Jesus won for us and all people complete forgiveness of sins and a place with Him in heaven. His resurrection is proof that our eternal salvation is won.

Yet the Scriptures also warn us of the dangers of sin and its deceitfulness: “Lest any man fail of the grace of God … lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:16,17; cf. Genesis 27:30-40).

And how often it happens! Those for whom Christ died – those who have heard of His blessings of forgiveness and life everlasting and who have, for a time, even trusted in His name – for the passing pleasures of sin give it all up and despise their heavenly birthright in Christ Jesus!

Then, when Jesus returns on the Last Day to bless all who have placed their trust in Him with life eternal in the mansions of His Father’s house, they will cry, “Bless me, even me also.” But there will be no blessing left for them because they did not trust in Jesus and count the blessings He won for them by the shedding of His holy and precious blood of any value – they traded them all for the pleasures of this world which pass away with their use. The blessing which was once theirs will be taken from them forever!

The warning for us as believers is not to esteem the grace of God lightly – not to risk it all or sell our birthright in Jesus Christ to enjoy the temporary pleasures of this world.

How do we know that God, who has so graciously called us to faith will again rekindle faith in our hearts when we deny our Savior and reject the Spirit’s working? Christ shed His blood on the cross to redeem us. Let’s not trample His precious blood under our feet and count it as an unholy thing, lest we bring the wrath of God upon ourselves (cf. Hebrews 10:29)!

And, for those many times we have not treasured the blessings of God which are ours in Christ Jesus, let’s turn to the promises of God’s Word:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:9: 2:1,2).

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

Have you despised your birthright in the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you counted it of so little value that you have risked it all for the sake of the pleasures of this world? If so, look to God for mercy now, before it is too late! Repent and place your faith in Christ Jesus that you may have pardon and peace and obtain the blessings he won for you when He sacrificed Himself for all upon the cross!

Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for despising my birthright in You – for failing to take hold of and treasure the forgiveness and life You won for me by Your innocent sufferings and death in my stead. Graciously bless me with Your Holy Spirit and restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen.

[Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible]

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