Today we continue our series regarding the ongoing, deadly spiritual war raging around us. Scripture warns us so often about that supernatural battle, that for us to close our eyes to it is to do nothing less than INVITE disaster into our lives and our homes.
Last week I introduced us to the series with a text from the book of Proverbs. That text forms the foundation for these messages: “For by wise guidance you will wage war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:6)
And so, I asked the rhetorical question last week, “Where then can we find this wise guidance with which to wage war? And where can we find counselors to advise us in those battles?” The answer, of course, is in God’s word and only in God’s word.
I also said last week that Satan didn’t tempt Adam and Eve to murder, steal, or cheat. He tempted them to question the word of God. His tactics haven’t changed. God’s word, and God’s word alone, provides us the SUPERNATURAL ammunition and the supernatural guidance and the supernatural counsel utterly necessary to successfully engage in this supernatural battle against the supernatural enemy.
I hope you noticed how often I repeated the word, ‘supernatural.” I did so because we cannot battle with our natural flesh and abilities the supernatural enemy.
That’s why the psalmist counselled us toward God’s supernatural counselors: “Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. (Psalm 119:23b-24) That’s why the Lord tells us again and again, His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (see Psalm 119:105); And we must ever keep before us the words of Jesus who said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12).
God has given us multiple infallible counselors to offer us guidance through the battles we face. We can find those counselors living between the covers of the Bible. Last week we looked at what counselor Moses has to say to us in that first chapter of Genesis to help us in our supernatural battle. What he said about God’s sovereignty is a critical part of the Christian’s supernatural armor and weaponry.
Today I want to look again at counselor Moses and the warfare strategy he gives us. This time we move to the book of Exodus. Many of you will recognize this text from chapter 20 of that book:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:2-17)
Since the psalmist counsels that God’s word is a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), and the apostle Paul counseled that the sword of the spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17), then we should pay attention to what God’s counselors tell us and ignore what false teachers tell us, especially when they try to persuade us with their demonic theology such as how we must unhitch ourselves from the Old Testament. They tell us to do that because (they say) the law of the Old Testament has been superseded by the New.
For example, a megachurch pastor in Georgia said of the Old Testament, specifically about the Ten Commandments:
“The old covenant law of Moses was not the go-to source regarding sexual behavior for the church. More importantly . . . the Law and the Prophets as they called it — was not gonna [sic] be the go-to source regarding any behavior for the church . . . “In other words . . . You are not accountable to the Ten Commandments.” https://thingsabove.us/andy-stanley-unhitch-old-testament/
He added: Jesus’ new covenant . . . does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures. https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/andy-stanley-says-we-need-to-unhitch-the-old-testament-from-our-faith/
Now my point is not to discuss what sounds like this pastor’s resurrecting the ancient heresies of Marcionism – which negated the Old Testament and the Old Testament God – and Antinomianism – which takes the principle of salvation by grace through faith to the extreme point of proclaiming that Christians are not bound to follow the moral law contained in the Ten Commandments.
Listen, please. THAT is absolutely false teaching. And do not doubt for a moment that Satan uses that lie to weaken Christians for the battles we face. After all, if we unhitch ourselves from the Old Testament scriptures, we also unhitch ourselves from the multiple INFALLIBLE counselors God gave us in those Old Testament scriptures.
Remember, Satan did not tempt Adam and Eve to murder or steal or cheat. He tempted them to doubt God’s word.
The New Testament did not abrogate or do away with the Ten Commandments. When Jesus said all the law and the prophets rest on the two commandments of ‘love God’ and ‘love your neighbor,’ in Matthew 22:36-40, His listeners could not understand what that means if they tossed aside the Ten Commandments. And neither can we understand Jesus’ remarks if we get rid of the Ten Commandments.
The first four commandments of the Decalogue deal with our relationship with God – how to demonstrate our love for Him. The last six commandments define how to demonstrate our love for our neighbor.
When anyone tells us we do not need to follow the Old Testament teaching about faith and morals, they are spewing a lie straight from hell. When St Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:16, said “all Scripture is inspired by God,” he was speaking specifically of the Old Testament. Without the moral teaching embedded throughout the Old Testament scriptures, warnings such as this next text by Paul to the Christians in Ephesus would give the Christians there no reference point to determine moral lifestyles:
“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints . . . For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:3-5)
That is why the apostle added in the next verse this warning – not only to the Christians in Ephesus, but also to Christians in Georgia and every-where else in our world: “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:6)
In this spiritual battle against a supernatural enemy, we strip ourselves of our defensive and offensive weapons when we dismiss the Old Testament counselors from informing our lifestyle in the Church age. That’s why Satan raises up teachers who teach that kind of hellish theology – so as to weaken our defenses.
No one – including that megachurch pastor – no one can fully understand the theology of the New Testament without first understanding the theology of the Old. It was St Augustine of Hippo – certainly one of the more brilliant theologians in the entire history of the Church – who said the Old Testament is revealed in the New, and the New Testament is concealed in the Old.
Even a cursory study of the Bible demonstrates that truth again and again. For example, how can we know what it means that Jesus is a ‘propitiation for our sins’ in places such as Romans 3 and Hebrews 2 if we did not know about the propitiatory sacrifices of the Old Testament?
If we unhitched ourselves from the Old Testament, we could not know what the writer of the book of Hebrews meant when he calls Jesus our high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Without counselors such as Moses and King David, we would not know the role of the Levitical priests, and the reference to Melchizedek. In fact, if we knew nothing of Melchizedek from the Old Testament, then the entire 7th chapter of Hebrews would be unintelligible.
Speaking of the Old Testament moral laws, listen to the counsel from the psalmist in psalm 119: “How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies . . . How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:1-12)
Here also is Jesus in Matthew’s gospel: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
When Jesus met His two disciples along the road to Emmaus, counselor Luke tells us Jesus said to them: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27)
I hope you can see how critical to our defense in the supernatural battle is our knowledge of the Old Testament – and not just our knowledge of it, but also our obedience to its teachings of morals and faith
One reason, I am sure, Satan wants Christians to disregard the Ten Commandments under the pretext that it no longer applies to us in the Church era – one reason is that in those Commandments, Moses gives us important guidance in this battle for our souls. I hope you will take the time to reread the Ten Commandments later today and spend time thinking about how those timeless truths apply to you in the 21st century.
So, for the remainder of today’s message, let’s look today only at a couple of those commandments. First, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
Jesus repeats this commandment about idolatry in different words to His disciples: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37-38)
St James defines idolatry as giving homage to anything or anyone above the homage due only to God: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)
And in his letter to the Christians at Colossae, St. Paul counsels us about covetousness, which is a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Jesus said essentially the same thing in Matthew chapter 6, “You cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).
So, let’s stop a moment and make some application of the Ten Commandments to ourselves in the 21st century. As for the first commandment, do I really love God above all things, or have I put other things like family, money, friends, and entertainment ahead of Him?
Do I make time for God each day in prayer? Have I endangered my faith by reading horoscopes or watching movies and television programs that are opposed to godly faith and morals? Am I whole-hearted in following God’s teaching or do I pick and choose the convenient parts of His message? Have I tried to learn and understand my faith better? Have I been willing to defend and practice my faith in public and not just in private?
These are serious questions and our answers help reveal to us our love for God above all else. We can expect to be unsuccessful in this supernatural warfare if God is not the primary love of our life.
And then what about the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”? (The Hebrew is better translated, “Thou shalt not murder”). Do I harbor an unforgiving spirit toward someone? Do I support so-called ‘mercy killing’ and abortion or infanticide by voting and supporting politicians and organizations which promote those evils?
And what about the commandment about bearing false witness? Do I make a practice of lying? Do I participate in uncharitable talk or gossip? Do I faithfully keep secrets, or what others tell me in confidence?
God has given us counselors – INFALLIBLE counselors to guide us through the minefields planted by the enemy of our souls. From Moses to John the apostle, and the dozens and dozens of counselors in between the pages of Scripture, if we throw out Moses and the prophets, we doom ourselves to disaster in this supernatural battle.
Do not listen to false teachers – regardless of their popularity, their title, or their academic degrees. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the first century were well-educated in their seminaries. And what did Jesus say of them? He told His disciples to ‘beware’ of their teaching (Matthew 16:12).
God has given us infallible counselors in both Testaments, counselors who have very much to teach us regarding faith and morals – instructions that transcend time and culture. Do not dismiss any teachers and guides whom God has given us for the battle.
We will continue our series about our counselors next time.