After our year-long study of the Ten Commandments, many comments were made about the value of the study. Perhaps the best is in this vein— “this has been convicting.” One person told me, and I paraphrase, “I was doing well until the tenth commandment. One through nine, I felt I was okay, but the tenth was very convicting.” I was pleased with this comment because it demonstrated what I tried to prove in the exposition of the last. None of us do very well at all because the tenth exposes the root of all sin—the heart. None of the commandments mention the heart, but the last has everything do with it. Covetousness is not seen. It is the attitude of the heart exposed in the act. It is not the act, but the exposure of evil desire.
In the final message, the intent was to elicit the same reaction as the Israelites had after hearing God speak in a thunderous voice from the mountain. The sights and sounds were stunning. The voice of God was accompanied by earthquakes and thunder and lightning. Fear was the expected result. Fear of God who judges and will not clear the one who violates His law. God got what He wanted. The people were so afraid they retreated and asked Moses to stand in for them. They asked him to speak with God because they were too terrified to hear His voice.
God expects the same from us when we approach Him. If we come based on the law, we should be terrified because we are offenders. We will experience His wrath if our violations are still upon us. The happy news of this story is the temperance of wrath because of mediation. In like manner of the mediation of Moses for the people, we have a mediator who will speak to God for us. We need not be terrified if our confidence is in Him. We do not need to fear the judgment of God in the same respect as without Him. Our fear of judgment is turned to the fear of respect, and the awesome wonder of the God who will forgive our horrible transgressions because of the untiring, unfailing work of the mediator.
The mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ. We dare not approach God to touch His holy mountain without His intercession. If we sidestep, if we slip around, if we circumvent His work, we approach God bare naked with the thoughts and intents of the heart exposed. The scriptures teach God is satisfied for our sins in only one way—it must be the work of Christ for us. When satisfaction is made, the terror of judgment is taken away. Justification by the merits of Christ’s righteousness is the only way God’s wrath is turned from us.
The Ten Commandments leave no doubt as to our guilt. Perhaps we believe we do well, but we will not reach the last and announce our good spiritual health. The heart, the beginning place of all evil, will catch us. Our transgression of this commandment is enough. One violation is the heart fully exposed before the commission of the act. It is enough to condemn us forever.
The epilogue of the law is to point us back to the first. The acts of God played out in the laws of chapter 20 must take us back to the prologue of the law in chapter 19. The prologue is grace— “Ye have seen what I did to the Egyptians.” Look back to Calvary to see what God did to sin. You didn’t do it. You could not do it. Only God can. Respond to Him in faith and it is sure you understand the purpose of the law.
Pastor V. Mark Smith