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10-23-22 Great Themes of the Bible: The Law, Part 2

Great Themes of the Bible: The Law, Part 2

David Peterson

Great Themes of the Bible / Love; Ten Commandments / Romans 13:8–10; Exodus 20:12–17

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: The law given through Moses reveals God’s character, which is love. We know this even more in the appearance of Christ. We are to make him our template for living.


1. It’s not until the Axial age when religion and morality come together (700s to 200s BC)

The Old Testament and Apocrypha (The Text in Its Ancient Context)

Samuel Greengus notes that the anchoring of law in religion may be unique to the legal tradition of Israel in the ancient Near East (4:243–52). The result according to Z. W. Falk is that law and spirituality become merged into one in the formation of the Hebrew Bible. He writes: “The commandments are meant not only as norms of behavior but also as objects of contemplation to lead toward the perception and love of God” (130).

2. Ten Commandments stand out in their time (possible date 1400s BC)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Commentary)

It is especially noteworthy that the second-millennium Hittite suzerain-vassal treaties exhibit the same five parts as the Mosaic Decalogue and the whole book of Deuteronomy, which conservatives also date in the second millennium.

I. The Laws Reflect the Will and Character of God. God is Love. (Romans 13:10)

1. Explanation

a. First 4 Commandments focus on God’s person in distinction from the gods of Ancient Near East

b. The last 6 Commandments reveal what it means to reflect God’s character.

2. Application

a. Jesus is the one who embodies what it means to be both God and Man (Romans 13.14)

3. Illustration

A Young Woman Learns That Jesus Loves “Dirty Roses”

Pastor Matt Chandler writes about a time he and a couple of his friends invited a young woman named Kim to a gospel concert. Matt was hopeful that Kim would come to Christ that evening; however, what occurred was a “train wreck.” In retrospect, Matt was grateful for the experience because it changed the way he saw how to proclaim holiness in light of the cross of Jesus. Chandler writes:

The preacher took the stage, and disaster ensued …. He gave a lot of statistics about STDs. There was a lot of, “You don’t want syphilis, do you?” …. His big illustration was to take out a single red rose. He smelled the rose dramatically … caressed its petals, and talked about how beautiful this rose was and how it had been fresh cut that day. [Then] he threw the rose out into the crowd, and he encouraged everyone to pass it around. As he neared the end of his message, he asked for the rose back …. [But by now] it was broken and drooping, and the petals were falling off. He held up this now-ugly rose for all to see, and his big finish was this: “Now who in the world would want this?” His word and his tone were merciless. His essential message, which was supposed to represent Jesus’ message to a world of sinners, was this: “Hey, don’t be a dirty rose.”

Matt didn’t hear from Kim for a few weeks, until one day her mother called Matt to inform him that Kim had been in an accident. Matt immediately went to visit her.

In the middle of our conversation, seemingly out of nowhere, she asked me, “Do you think I’m a dirty rose?” My heart sank inside of me, and I began to explain to her the whole weight of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that Jesus wants the rose. It’s Jesus’ desire to save, redeem, and restore the dirty rose.

Source: Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel (Crossway, 2012), pp. 206-208

Gazing at Christ Exposes Our Selfishness

“It is only when we look the Crucified One in the eye, that we recognize the abyss of selfishness—even of that which we are accustomed to call love.”

Source: Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Love Alone Is Credible (Ignatius Press, 2004), p. 66

II. We must Love if We’re to Be true to Our nature and Reality itself. (Romans 13:8)

1. Explanation

a. Honoring parents, giving them weight, leads to blessing.

Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 3: Exodus (Comment)

The piel imperative singular כבד means “honor, give weight to, glorify, esteem,” in the sense of giving a place of precedence, of taking someone seriously. This verb is so used both of human beings, as here, and of Yahweh, as in 1 Sam 2:30, Isa 24:15, Ps 22:24 [23], or Prov 3:9 (cf. also Gamberoni, BZ 8 [1964] 169–72).

b. Debt in Romans speaks of something owed, something that is necessary to pay—refers to verses preceeding where Paul is talking about what God has set in order.

2. Application

a. Don’t waste time (Romans 13:11-14).

b. Clothe yourselves with Jesus (Love 1, Romans 12:9-21 & Love 2, Romans 13:8-10)

3. Illustration

Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less. There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed. (People are not fools: they have a very quick eye for anything like showing off, or patronage.) But whenever we do good to another self, just because it is a self, made (like us) by God, and desiring its own happiness as we desire ours, we shall have learned to love it a little more or, at least, to dislike it less . .  .

Lewis, C. S.. The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis (p. 81). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.

III. Love is Wanting and Acting on your neighbors behalf as you would for yourself. (Romans 13:9)

1. Explanation

a. Assumption is the will to live and have what makes for a good life

b. Such willing and acting for the best, brings about fulfillment of the law/order of being

2. Application

a. Body of Christ in Romans 12 is a picture of this reality

3. Illustration

Try to understand exactly what loving your neighbour as yourself means. I have to love him as I love myself. Well, how exactly do I love myself? Now that I come to think of it, I have not exactly got a feeling of fondness or affection for myself, and I do not even always enjoy my own society. So apparently ‘Love your neighbour’ does not mean ‘feel fond of him’ or ‘find him attractive’. I ought to have seen that before, because, of course, you cannot feel fond of a person by trying. Do I think well of myself, think myself a nice chap? Well, I am afraid I sometimes do . .  . but that is not why I love myself. So loving my enemies does not apparently mean thinking them nice either. That is an enormous relief. For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain thai: they are.

Lewis, C. S.. The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C. S. Lewis (p. 80). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.


1. The key to our loving is not coveting

2. We won’t covet as we focus on what matters.

1000 Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching Earth Recedes—Heaven Opens

Earth Recedes—Heaven Opens

Shortly before Dwight L. Moody died, he spoke these words: “Earth recedes; heaven opens before me.” This statement has become famous around the world.

Moody’s son, William L. who was with his father, testified that the evangelist continued: “No, this is no dream, Will. It is beautiful. It is like a trance. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.” Soon the rest of the family was assembled. Only recently, the evangelist and the family had lost two of the grandchildren, Dwight and Irene.

Moody’s face suddenly lit up, and he exclaimed: “Dwight! Irene! I see the children’s faces!” There is a blessedness of meeting our loved ones over there!


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