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The Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:3-17 1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD Will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 6. Thou shalt not kill. 7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 8. Thou shalt not steal. 9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's. Weighed in the Balances IN THE FIFTH CHAPTER of Daniel we read the history of King Belshazzar. One chapter tells us all we know about him. One short sight of his career is all we have. He bursts in upon the scene and then disappears. THE EASTERN FEAST We are told that he made a great feast to a thousand of his lords and drank wine before them. In those days a feast in Eastern countries would sometimes last for six months. How long this feast had been going on we are not told, but in the midst of it, he "commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone." While this impious act was being committed, "in the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote." We are not told at what hour of the day or the night it happened. Perhaps it was midnight. Perhaps nearly all the guests were more or less under the influence of drink; but they were not so drunk but that they suddenly became sober as they saw something that was supernatural--a handwriting on the wall, right over the golden candlestick. Every face turned deathly pale "The king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another." In haste he sent for his wisest men to come and read that handwriting on the wall. They came in one after another and tried to make it out; but they could not interpret it. The king promised that whoever could read it should be made the third ruler in the kingdom; that he should have gifts, and that a gold chain should be put around his neck. But the wise men tried in vain. The king was greatly troubled. At last, in the midst of the consternation, the queen came in, and she told the monarch, if he would only send for one who used to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar, he could read the writing and tell him the interpretation thereof. So Daniel was sent for. He was very familiar with it. He knew his Father's handwriting. "This is the writing that was written, Mene. Mene, Tekel, Upharsin. This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene-- God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it. Tekel-- Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting. Peres-- Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians" (Dan 5:25-28). If someone had told the king an hour before that the time had come when he must step into the balances and be weighed, he would have laughed at the thought. But the vital hour had come. The weighing was soon over. The verdict was announced, and the sentence carried out. "In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Mede took the kingdom" (Dan 5:30-31). Darius and his army came marching down those streets. There was a clash of arms. Shouts of war and victory rent the air. That night the king's blood mingled with the wine of the banquet hall. Judgment came upon him unexpectedly, suddenly: and probably ninety-nine out of every hundred judgments come in this way. Death comes upon us unexpectedly; it comes upon us suddenly. Perhaps you say: "I hope Mr. Moody is not going to compare me with that heathen king." I tell you that a man who does evil in these gospel days is far worse than that king. We live in a land of Bibles. You can get the New Testament for a nickel, and if you haven't got a nickel, you can get it for nothing. Many societies will be glad to give it to you free. We live in the full blaze of Calvary. We live on this side of the cross, but Belshazzar lived more than five hundred years on the other side. He never heard of Jesus Christ. He never heard about the Son of God. He never heard about Cod except, perhaps, in connection with his father's remarkable vision. He probably had no portion of the Bible, and if he had, probably he didn't believe it. He had no godly minister to point Him to the Lamb of God. Don't tell me that you are better than that king. I believe that he will rise in judgment and condemn many of us. All this happened long centuries ago. Let us get down to this century, to this year, to ourselves. We will come to the present time. Let us imagine that now, while I am preaching, down come some balances from the throne of God. They are fastened to the very throne itself. It is a throne of equity, of justice. You and I must be weighed. I venture to say this would be a very solemn audience. There would be no tiring There would be no indifference. No one would be thoughtless. Some people have their own balances. A great many are making balances to be weighed in. But after all we must be weighed in God's balances, the balances of the sanctuary. It is a favorite thing with infidels to set their own standard, to measure themselves by other people. But that will not do in the Day of Judgment. Now we will use God's law as a balance weight. When men find fault with the lives of professing Christians, it is a tribute to the law of God. "Tekel." It is a very short text. It is so short I am sure you will remember it: and that is my object, just to get people to remember God's own Word. GOD'S HANDWRITING Let me call your attention to the fact that God wrote on the tables of stone at Sinai as well as on the wall of Belshazzar's palace. These are the only messages to men that God has written with His own hand. He wrote the commandments out twice, and spoke them aloud in the hearing of Israel. If it were known that God Himself were going to speak once again to man, what eagerness and excitement there would be! For nearly nineteen hundred years He has been silent. No inspired message has been added to the Bible for nearly nineteen hundred years. How eagerly all men would listen if God should speak once more. Yet men forget that the Bible is God's own Word, and that it is as truly His message today as when it was delivered of old. The law that was given at Sinai has lost none of its solemnity. Time cannot wear out its authority or the fact of its authorship. I can imagine someone saying, "I won't be weighed by that law. I don't believe in it." Now men may cavil as much as they like about other parts of the Bible, but I have never met an honest man that found fault with the Ten Commandments. Infidels may mock the Lawgiver and reject Him who has delivered us from the curse of the law, but they can't help admitting that the commandments are right. Renan said that they are for all nations, and will remain the commandments of God during all the centuries. If God created this world, He must make some laws to govern it. In order to make life safe we must have good laws; there is not a country the sun shines upon that does not possess laws. Now this is God's law. It has come from on high, and infidels and skeptics have to admitthatitis pure. Legislatures nearly all over the world adopt it as the foundation of their legal systems. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the the simple: the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes (Ps 19:7-8). Now the question for you and me is-- are we keeping these commandments? Have we fulfilled all the requirements of the law? If God made us, as we know He did, He had a right to make that law; and if we don't use it aright it would have been better for us if we had never had it, for it will condemn us. We shall be found wanting. The law is all right, but are we right? AN INFIDEL'S TESTIMONY It is related of a clever infidel that he sought an acquaintance with the truths of the Bible, and began to read at the books of Moses. He had been in the habit of sneering at the Bible, and in order to be able to refute arguments brought by Christian men, he made up his mind, as he knew nothing about it, to reed the Bible and get some idea of its contents. After he had reached the Ten Commandments, he raid to a friend: "I will tell you what I used to think. I supposed that Moses was the leader of a horde of bandits; that, having a strong mind, he acquired great influence over a superstitious people; and that on Mount Sinai he played off some sort of fireworks to the amazement of his ignorant followers, who imagined in their fear and superstition that the exhibition was supernatural. I have been looking into the nature of that law. I have been trying to see whether I could add anything to it, or take anything from it, so as to make it better. Sir, I cannot! It is perfect! "The first commandment directs us to make the Creator the object of our supreme love and reverence. That is right. If He be our Creator, Preserver, and supreme Benefactor, we ought to treat Him, and none other, as such. The second forbids idolatry. That certainly is right. The third forbids profanity. The fourth fixes a time for religious worship. If there be a God, He ought surely to be worshipped. It is suitable that there should be an outward homage significant of our inward regard. If God be worshipped, it is proper that some time should be set apart for that purpose, when all may worship Him harmoniously, and without interruption. One day in seven is certainly not too much, and I do not know that it is too little. "The fifth commandment defines the peculiar duties arising from family relations. Injuries to our neighbor are then classified by the moral law. They are divided into offenses against life, chastity, property, and character; and I notice that the greatest offense in each class is expressly forbidden. Thus the greatest injury to life is murder; to chastity, adultery; to property, theft; to character, perjury. Now the greatest offense must include the least of the same kind. Murder must include the least of the same kind. Murder must include every injury to life; adultery every injury to purity, and so of the rest. And the moral code is closed and perfected by a command forbidding every improper desire in regard to our neighbors. "I have been thinking. Where did Moses get that law? I have read history. The Egyptians and the adjacent nations were idolaters; so were the Greeks and Romans; and the wisest or best Creeks or Romans never gave a code of morals like this. Where did Moses obtain that law, which surpasses the wisdom and philosophy of the most enlightened ages? He lived at a period comparatively barbarous; but he has given a law in which the learning and sagacity of all subsequent time can detect no flaw. Where did he obtain it? He could not have soared so far above his age as to have devised it himself. I am satisfied where he obtained it. It came down from heaven. It has convinced me of the truth of the religion of the Bible." The former infidel remained to his death a firm believer in the truth of Christianity. We call it the "Mosaic" law, but it has been well said that the commandments did not originate with Moses, nor were they done away with when the Mosaic law was fulfilled in Christ, and many of its ceremonies and regulations abolished. We can find no trace of the existence of any lawmaking body in those early times, no parliament, or congress that built up a system of laws. It has come down to us complete and finished, and the only satisfactory account is that which tells us that God Himself wrote the commandments on tables of stone. BINDING TODAY Some people seem to think we have got beyond the commandments. What did Christ say? "Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." The commandments of God given to Moses in the Mount at Horeb are as binding today as ever they have been since the time they were proclaimed in the hearing of the people. The Jews said the law was not given in Palestine (which belonged to Israel), but in the wilderness, because the law was for all nations. Jesus never condemned the law and the prophets, but He did condemn those who did not obey them. Because He gave new commandments, it does not follow that He abolished the old. Christ's explanation of them made them all the more searching. In His Sermon on the Mount, He carried the principles of the commandments beyond the mere letter. He unfolded them and showed that they embraced more, that they are positive as well as prohibitive. The Old Testament closes with these words: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal 4:4-6). Does that look as if the law of Moses was becoming obsolete? The conviction deepens in me with the years that the old truths of the Bible must be stated and restated in the plainest possible language. I do not remember ever to have heard a sermon preached on the commandments. I have an index of two thousand five hundred sermons preached by Spurgeon, and not one of them selects its text from the first seventeen verses of Exodus 20. The people must be made to understand that the Ten Commandments are still binding, and that there is a penalty attached to their violation. We do not want a gospel of mere sentiment. The Sermon on the Mount did not blot out the Ten Commandments. When Christ came He condensed the statement of the law into this form: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and with all thy strength . . . [and] thy neighbor as thyself" (Mk 12:30,31). Paul said: "Love is the fulfilling of the law" (Ro 13:10). But does this mean that the detailed precepts of the Decalogue are superseded and have become back numbers? Does a father cease to give children rules to obey because they love him? Does a nation burn its statute books because the people have become patriotic? Not at all. And yet people speak as if the commandments do not hold for Christians because they have come to love God. Paul said: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" (Ro 3:31). It still holds good. The Commandments are necessary. So long as we obey, they do not rest heavy upon us; but as soon as we try to break away, we find they are like fences to keep us within bounds. Horses need bridles even after they have been properly broken in. "We know that the law is good if a man use it lawfully; knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Ti 1:8-10). Now, my friend, are you ready to be weighed by this law of God? A great many people say that if they keep the commandments they do not need to be forgiven and saved through Christ. But have you kept them? I will admit that if you perfectly keep the commandments, you do not need to be saved by Christ; but is there a man in the wide world who can truly say that he has done this? Young lady, can you say: "I am ready to be weighed by the law7 Can you, young man? Will you step into the scales and be weighed one by one by the Ten Commandments? Now face these Ten Commandments honestly and prayerfully. See if your life is right, and if you are treating God fairly. God's statutes are just, are they not? If they are right, let us see if we are right. Let us get alone with God and read His law-- read it carefully and prayerfully, and ask Him to forgive us our sin and what He would have us to do. The First Commandment Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. MY FRIEND, are you ready to be weighed against this commandment? Have you fulfilled, or are you willing to fulfill, all the requirements of this law? Put it into one of the scales, and step into the other. Is your heart set upon God alone? Have you no other God? Do you love Him above father or mother, the wife of your bosom, your children, home or land, wealth or pleasure? If men were true to this commandment, obedience to the remaining nine would follow naturally. It is because they are unsound in this that they break the others. FEELING AFTER GOD Philosophers are agreed that even the most primitive races of mankind reach out beyond the world of matter to a superior Being. It is as natural for man to feel after God as it is for the ivy to feel after a sup port. Hunger and thirst drive man to seek for food, and there is a hunger of the soul that needs satisfying, too. Man does not need to be commanded to worship, as there is not a race so high or so low in the scale of civilization but has some kind of god. What he needs is to be directed aright. This is what the first commandment is for. Before we can worship intelligently, we must know what or whom to worship. God does not leave us in ignorance. When Paul went to Athens, he found an altar dedicated to "The Unknown God," and he proceeded to tell of Him whom we worship. When God gave the commandments to Moses, He commenced with a declaration of His own character, and demanded exclusive recognition. "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex 20:2-3). Dr. Dale says these words have great significance. The Jews "knew Jehovah as the God who had held back the waves like a wall while they fled across the sea to escape the vengeance of their enemies; they knew Him as the God who had sent thunder, and lightning, and hail, plagues on cattle, and plagues on men, to punish the Egyptians and to compel them to let the children of Israel go; they knew Him as the God whose angel had slain the firstborn of their oppressors, and filled the land from end to end with death, and agony, and terror. He was the same God, so Moses and Aaron told them, who by visions and voices, in promises and precepts, had revealed Himself long before to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We learn what men are from what they say and from what they do. A biography of Luther gives us a more vivid and trustworthy knowledge of the man than the most philosophical essay on his character and creed. The story of his imprisonment and of his journey to Worms, his Letters, his Sermons, and his Table Talk, are worth more than the most elaborate speculations about him. The Jews learned what God is, not from theological dissertations on the Divine attributes, but from the facts of a Divine history. They knew Him for themselves in His own acts and in His own words." Someone asked an Arab: "How do you know that there is a God?" "How do I know whether a man or a camel passed my tent last night?" he replied. God's footprints in nature and in our own experience are the best evidence of His existence and character. ISRAELITES EXPOSED TO DANGER Remember to whom this commandment was given, and we shall see further how necessary it was. The forefathers of the Israelites had worshiped idols, not many generations back. They had recently been delivered out of Egypt, a land of many gods. The Egyptians worshipped the sun, the moon, insects, animals, etc. The ten plagues were undoubtedly meant by God to bring confusion upon many of their sacred objects. The children of Israel were going up to take possession of a land that was inhabited by heathen, who also worshipped idols. There was therefore great need of such a commandment as this. There could be no right relationship between God and man in those days any more than today, until man understood that he must recognize God alone, and not offer Him a divided heart. If He created us, He certainly ought to have our homage. Is it not right that He should have the first and only place in our affections? NO COMPROMISE This is one matter in which no toleration can be shown. Religious liberty is a good thing, within certain limits. But it is one thing to show toleration to those who agree on essentials, and another, to those who differ on fundamental beliefs. They were willing to admit any god to the Roman Pantheon. One reason the early Christians were persecuted was that they would not accept a place for Jesus Christ there. Napoleon is said to have entertained the idea of having separate temples in Paris for every known religion, so that every stranger should have a place of worship when attracted toward that city. Such plans are directly opposed to the divine one. God sounded no uncertain note in this commandment. It is plain, unmistakable, uncompromising. We may learn a lesson from the way a farmer deals with the little shoots that spring up around the trunk of an apple tree. They look promising, and one who has not learned better might welcome their growth. But the farmer knows that they will draw the life-sap from the main tree, injuring its prospects so that it will produce inferior fruit. He therefore takes his axe and his hoe, and cuts away these suckers. The tree then gives a more plentiful and finer crop. GOD'S PRUNING-KNIFE "Thou shalt not" is the pruning-knife that God uses. From beginning to end, the Bible calls for wholehearted allegiance to Him. There is to be no compromise with other gods. It took long years for God to impress this lesson upon the Israelites. He called them to be a chosen nation. He made them a peculiar people. But you will notice in Bible history that they turned away from Him continually, and were punished with plague, pestilence, war, and famine. Their sin was not that they renounced God altogether, but that they wanted to worship other gods beside Him. Take the case of Solomon as an example of the whole nation. He married heathen wives who turned away his heart after other gods, and built high places for their idols, and lent countenance to their worship. That was the history of frequent turnings of the whole nation away from God, until finally He sent them into captivity in Babylon and kept them there for seventy years. Since then the Jews have never turned to other gods. Hasn't the church to contend with the same difficulty today? There are very few who in their hearts do not believe in God, but what they will not do is give Him exclusive right of way. Missionaries tell us that they could easily get converts if they did not require them to be baptized, thus publicly renouncing their idols. Many a person in our land would become a Christian if the gate was not so strait. Christianity is too strict for them. They are not ready to promise full allegiance to God alone. Many a professing Christian is a stumbling block because his worship is divided. On Sunday he worships God; on weekdays God has little or no place in his thoughts. FALSE GODS IN AMERICA TODAY YOU don't have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you make most of is your god. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. Many a man's heart is like some Kafirs' huts, so full of idols that there is hardly room to turn around. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, all classes of men and women are guilty of this sin. "The mean man boweth down, and me great man humbleth himself" (Is 2:9). A man may make a god of himself, of a child, of a mother, of some precious gift that God has bestowed upon him. He may forget the Giver and let his heart go out in adoration toward the gift. Many make a god of pleasure; that is what their hearts are set on. If some old Greek or Roman came to life again and saw man in a drunken debauch, would he believe that the worship of Bacchus had died out? If he saw the streets of our large cities filled with harlots, would he believe that the worship of Venus had ceased? Others take fashion as their god. They give their time and thought to dress. They fear what others will think of them. Do not let us flatter ourselves that all idolaters are in heathen countries. With many it is the god of money. We haven't got through worshiping the golden calf yet. If a man will s+ll his principles for gold, isn't he making it a god? If he trusts in his wealth to keep him from want and to supply his needs, are not riches his god? Many a man says, "Give me money, and I will give you heaven. What care I for all the glories and treasures of heaven? Give me treasures here! I don't care for heaven! I want to be a successful businessman." How true are the words of Job: "If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; if I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had begotten much; if I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above" (Job 31: 24-28). But all false gods are not as gross as these. There is the atheist. He says that he does not believe in God; he denies His existence, but he can't help setting up some other god in His place. Voltaire said, "If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent one." So the atheist speaks of the Great Unknown, the First Cause, the Infinite Mind, etc. Then there is the deist. He is a man who believes in one God who caused all things; but he doesn't believe in revelation. He only accepts such truths as can be discovered by reason. He doesn't believe in Jesus Christ, or in the inspiration of the Bible. Then there is the antheist, who says: "I believe that the whole universe is God. He is in the air, the water, the sun, the stars" the liar and the thief included. MOSES FAREWELL MESSAGE Let me call your attention to a verse in the thirty- second chapter of Deuteronomy, thirty-first verse: "For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." These words were uttered by Moses, in his farewell address to Israel. He had been with them forty years. He was their leader and instructor. All the blessings of heaven came to them through him. And now the old man is about to leave them. If you have never read his speech, do so. It is one of the best sermons in print. I know few sermons in the Old or New Testament that compare with it. I can see Moses as he delivers this address. His natural activity has not abated. He still has the vigor of youth. His long white hair flows over his shoulders, and his venerable beard covers his breast. He throws down the challenge: "Their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." Has the human heart ever been satisfied with these false gods? Can pleasure or riches fill the soul that is empty of God? How about the atheist, the deist, the pantheist? What do they look forward to? Nothing! Man's life is full of trouble; but when the billows of affliction and disappointment are rising and rolling over them, they have no God to call upon. They shall "cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble" (Jer 11:12). Therefore I contend "their rock is not as our Rock." My friends, when the hour of affliction comes, they call in a minister to give consolation. When I was settled in Chicago, I used to be called out to attend many funerals. I would inquire what the man was in his belief. If I found out he was an atheist, or a deist, or a pantheist, when I went to the funeral and in the presence of his friends, said one word about that man's doctrine, they would feel insulted. Why is it that in a trying hour, when they have been talking all the time against God--why is it that in the darkness of affliction they call in believers in that God to administer consolation? Why doesn't the atheist preach no hereafter, no heaven, no God in the hour of affliction? This very fact is an admission that "their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges." The deist says there is no use in praying, because nothing can change the decrees of deity; God never answers prayer. Is his rock as our Rock? The Bible is true. There is only one God. How many men have said to me: "Mr. Moody, I would give the world if I had your faith, your consolation, the hope you have with your religion." Isn't that a proof that their rock is not as our Rock? Some years ago I went into a man's house, and when I commenced to talk about religion he turned to his daughter and said: "You had better leave the room. I want to say a few words to Mr. Moody." When she had gone, he opened a perfect torrent of infidelity upon me. "Why did you send your daughter out of the room before you said this?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "I did not think it would do her any good to hear what I said." Is his rock as our Rock? Would he have sent his daughter out if he really believed what he said? NO CONSOLATION EXCEPT IN GOD No. There is no satisfaction for the soul except in the God of the Bible. We come back to Paul's words and get consolation for time and eternity: "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him" (I Co 8:4- 6). My friend, can you say that sincerely? Is all your hope centered on God in Christ? Are you trusting Him alone? Are you ready to step into the scales and be weighed against this first commandment? WHOLEHEARTED ALLEGIANCE God will not accept a divided heart. He must be absolute monarch. There is not room in your heart for two thrones. Christ said: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Mt 6: 24). Mark you, He did not say, "No man shall serve ... Ye shall not serve" but "No man can serve.. .Ye cannot serve." That means more than a command; it means that you cannot mix the worship of the true God with the worship of another god any more than you can mix oil and water. It cannot be done. There is not room for any other throne in the heart if Christ is there. If worldliness should come in, godliness would go out. The road to heaven and the road to hell lead in different directions. Which master will you choose to follow? Be an out-and-out Christian. Him only shall you serve. Only thus can you be well pleasing to God. The Jews were punished with seventy years of captivity because they worshiped false gods. They have suffered nineteen hundred years because they rejected the Messiah. Will you incur God's displeasure by rejecting Christ too? He died to save you. Trust Him with your whole heart, for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. I believe that when Christ has the first place in our hearts--when the kingdom of God is first in everything--we shall have power, and we shall not have power until we give Him His rightfulplace. If we let some false god come in and steal our love away from the God of heaven, we shall have no peace or power. The Second Commandment Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt nor bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments THE FIRST COMMANDMENT, which we have just considered, points out the one true object of worship; this commandment, is to tell us the right way in which to worship. The former commands us to worship God alone; this calls for purity and spirituality as we approach Him. The former condemns the worship of false gods; this prohibits false forms. It relates more especially to outward acts of worship; but these are only the expression of what is in the heart. Perhaps you will say that there is no trouble about this weight. We might go off to other ages or other lands and find people who make images and bow down to them; but we have none here. Let us see if this is true. Let us step into the scales and see if we can turn them when weighed against this commandment. I believe this is where the battle is fought. Satan tries to keep us from worshiping God aright, and from making Him first in everything. If I let some image made by man get into my heart and take the place of God the Creator, it is a Sin. I believe that Satan is willing to have us worship anything, however sacred--the Bible, the crucifix, the church--if only we do not worship God Himself. You cannot find a place in the Bible where a man has been allowed to bow down and worship anyone but the God of heaven and Jesus Christ His Son. In the book of Revelation when an angel came down to John, he was about to fall down and worship him, but the angel would not let him. If an angel from heaven is not to be worshiped, when you find people bowing down to pictures, to images, even when they bow down to worship the cross, it is a sin. There are a great many who seem to be carried away with these things. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to any graven image." God wants us to worship Him only, and if we do not believe that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh we should not worship Him. I have no more doubt about the divinity of Christ than I have that I exist. Worship involves two things: the internal belief, and the external act. We transgress in our hearts by having a wrong conception of God and of Jesus Christ before ever we give public expression in action. As someone has said, it is wrong to have loose opinions as well as to be guilty of loose practices. That is what Paul meant when he said: "We ought not to think , that the Godhead is like unto gold or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device" (Acts 17:29, italics added). The opinions that some people hold about Christ are not in accordance with the Bible and are real violations of this second commandment. A QUESTION The question at once arises--is this commandment intended to forbid the use of drawings and pictures of created things altogether? Some contend that it does. They point to the Jews and the Muslims as a proof. The Jews have never been much given to art. The Muslims to this day do not use designs of animals, etc., in patterns. But I do not agree with them. I think God only meant to forbid images and other representations when these were intended to be used as objects of religious veneration. "Thou shalt not make unto thee ... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." In Exodus we are told that God ordered the bowls of the golden candlestick for the tabernacle to be made "like unto almonds, with a knop and a Aower" (Ex 25:33); and the robe of the ephod had a hem on which they were to put a bell and a pomegranate alternately. How could God order something that broke this second commandment? I believe that this commandment is a call for spiritual worship. It is in line with Christ's declaration to that Samaritan woman, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:24). This is precisely what is difficult for men to do. The apostles were hardly in their graves before people began to put up images of them, and to worship relics. People have a desire for something tangible, something that they can see. That is why there is a demand for ritualism. Some people are born Puritans; they want a simple form of worship. Others think they cannot get along without forms and ceremonies that appeal to the senses. And many a one whose heart is not sincere before God takes refuge in these forms, and eases his conscience by making an outward show of religion. The second commandment is to restrain this desire and tendency. God is grieved when we are untrue to Him. God is love, and He is wounded when our affections are transferred to anything else. The penalty attached to this commandment teaches us that man has to reap what he sows, whether good or bad; and not only that, but his children have to reap with him. Notice that punishment is visited upon the children unto the third or the fourth generation, while mercy is shown unto thousands, or (as it is more correctly) unto the thousandth generation. THE FOLLY OF IMAGES Think for a moment, and you will see how idle it is to try to make any representation of God. Christians have tried to paint the Trinity, but how can you depict the invisible? Can you draw a picture of your own soul or spirit or will? Moses impressed it upon Israel that when God spake to them out of the midst of the fire they saw no manner of similitude, but only heard His voice. A [manmade] picture or [manmade] image of God must degrade our conception of Him. It fastens us down to one idea, whereas we ought to grow in grace and in knowledge. It makes God finite. It brings Him down to our level. It has given rise to the horrible idols of India and China, because they fashion these images according to their own notions. How would the president feel if Americans made such hideous objects to resemble him as they make of their gods in heathen countries? Isaiah bore down with tremendous irony upon the folly of idol-makers: upon the smith who fashioned gods with tongs and hammers; and upon the carpenter who took a tree, and used part of it for a fire to warm himself and roast his meat, and made part of it in the figure of a man with his rule and plane and compass, and called it his god and worshiped it. "A deceived heart hath turned him aside." A man must be greater than anything he is able to make or manufacture. What folly then to think of worshiping such things! The tendency of the human heart to represent God by something that appeals to the senses is the origin of all idolatry. It leads directly to image-worship. At first there may be no desire to worship the thing itself, but it inevitably ends in that. As Dr. Mac Laren says: "Enlisting the senses as allies of the spirit is risky work. They are apt to fight for their own hand when they once begin, and the history of all symbolical and ceremonial worship shows that the experiment is much more likely to end in religion than in spiritualizing sense." If, every day, I bow before a crucifix in prayer, if I address it as though it were Christ, though I know it is not, I shall come to feel for it a reverence and love which are of the very essence of idolatry." Did you ever stop to think that the world has not a single [manmade] picture of Christ that has been handed down to us from His disciples? Who knows what He was like? The Bible does not tell us how He looked, except in one or two isolated general expressions as when it says, "His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men." We don't know anything definite about His features, the color of His hair and eyes, and the other details that would help to give a true representation. What artist can tell us? He left no keepsakes to His disciples. His clothes were seized by the Roman soldiers who crucified Him. Not a solitary thing was left to be handed down among His followers. Doesn't it look as if Christ left no relies lest they should be held sacred and worshiped? History tells us further that the early Christians shrank from making pictures and statues of any kind of Christ. They knew Him as they had seen Him after His resurrection, and had promises of His continued presence that pictures could not make any more real. I have seen very few pictures of Christ that do not repel me more or less. I sometimes think that it is wrong to have pictures of Him at all. Speaking of the crucifix Dr. Dale says: "It makes our worship and our prayer unreal. We are adoring a Christ who does not exist. He is not on the cross now, but on the throne. His agonies are past forever. He has risen from the dead. He is at the right hand of God. If we pray to a dying Christ, we are praying not to Christ Himself, but to a mere remembrance of Him. The injury which the crucifix has inflicted on the religious life of Christendom, in encouraging a morbid and unreal devotion, is absolutely incalculable. It has given us a dying Christ instead of a living Christ, a Christ separated from us by many centuries instead of a Christ nigh at hand." THE INDWELLING CHRIST No one can say that we have nowadays any need of such things. "Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." If Christ is in our hearts, why need we set Him before our eyes? "Where two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." If we take hold of that promise by faith, what need is there of outward symbols and reminders? If the King Himself is present, why need we bow down before statues supposed to represent Him? To fill His place with an image, someone has said, is like blotting the sun out of the heavens and substituting some other light in its place: "You cannot see Him through chinks of ceremonialism; or through the blind eyes of erring man; or by images graven with art and man's device; or in cunningly devised fables of artificial and perverted theology. Nay, seek Him in His own Word, in the revelation of Himself which He gives to all who walk in His ways. So you will be able to keep that admonition of the last word of all the New Testament revelation: little children, keep yourselves from idols" (1 Jn 5:21 ). I believe many an earnest Christian would be found wanting if put in the balances against this commandment "Tekel" is the sentence that would be written against them, because their worship of God and of Christ is not pure. May God open our eyes to the danger that is creeping more and more into public worship throughout Christendom! Let us ever bear in mind Christ's words in the fourth chapter of John's Gospel, which show that true spiritual worship is not a matter of special times and special places because it is of all times and all places: "Believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall " neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father... . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:21-24). The Third Commandment Thou shall nor take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. I WAS GREATLY AMAZED not long ago in talking to a man who thought he was a Christian, to find that once in a while, when he got angry, he would swear. Isaid: "My friend, I don't see how you can tear down with one hand what you are trying to build up with the other. I don't see how you can profess to be a child of God and let those words come out of your lips." He replied: "Mr. Moody, if you knew me you would understand. I have a very quick temper. I inherited it from my father and mother, and it is uncontrollable; but my swearing comes only from the Iips." When God said, "I will not hold him guiltless that takes my name in vain," He meant what He said, and I don't believe anyone can be a true child of God who takes the name of God in vain. What is the grace of God for, if it is not to give me control of my temper so that I shall not lose control and bring down the curse of God upon myself? When a man is born of God, God takes the "swear" out of him. Make the fountain good, and the stream will be good. Let the heart be right; then the language will be right; the whole life will be right. But no man can serve God and keep His law until he is born of God. There we see the necessity of the new birth. To take God's name "in vain" means either (1) lightly, without thinking, flippantly; or (2) profanely, deceitfully. USING GOD'S NAME IRREVERENTLY I think it is shocking to use God's name with so little reverence as is common nowadays, even among professing Christians. We are told that the Jews held it so sacred that the covenant name of God was never mentioned amongst them except once a year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement, when he went into the holy of holies. What a contrast that is to the familiar use Christians make of it in public and private worship! We are apt to rush into God's presence and rush out again without any real sense of the reverence and awe that is due Him. We forget that we are on holy ground. Do you know how often the word "reverend" occurs in the Bible? Only once. And what is it used in connection with? God's name. Psalm 11:9: "holy and reverend is his name." So important did the Jewish rabbi consider this commandment that they said the whole world trembled when it was first proclaimed on Sinai. USING GOD'S NAME PROFANELY But though there is far too much of this frivolous, familiar use of God's name, the commandment is broken a great deal more by profanity. Taking the name of God in vain is blasphemy. Is there a swearing man who reads this? What would you do if you were put into the balances of the sanctuary, if you had to step in opposite to this third commandment? Think a moment Have you been taking God's name in vain today? I do not believe men would ever have been guilty of swearing unless God had forbidden it. They do not swear by their friends, their fathers or mothers, their wives or children. They want to show how they despise God's law. A great many men think there is nothing in swearing. Bear in mind that God sees something wrong in it, and He says He will not hold men guiltless, even though society does. I met a man sometime ago who told me he had never sinned in his life. He was the first perfect man I had ever met. I thought I would question him, and began to measure him by the law. I asked him: "Do you ever get angry?" "Well," he said, "sometimes I do; but I have a right to do so. It is righteous indignation." "Do you swear when you get angry?" He admitted he did sometimes. "Then," I asked, "are you ready to meet God?" "Yes," he replied, "because I never mean anything when I swear." Suppose I steal a man's watch and he comes after me. "Yes," I say, "I stole your watch and pawned it, but I did not mean anything by it. I pawned it and spent the money, but I did nor mean anything by it." You would smile at and deride such a statement. Ah, friends! You cannot trifle with God in that way. Even if you swear without meaning it, it is forbidden by God. Christ said: "Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Mt 12:36, 37). You will be held accountable whether your words are idle or blasphemous. A SENSELESS HABIT The habit of swearing is condemned by all sensible persons. It has been called "the most gratuitous of all sin,," because no one gains by it; it is "not only sinful, but useless." An old writer said that when the accusing angel, who records men's words, flies up to heaven with an oath, he blushes as he hands it in. When a man blasphemes, he shows an utter contempt for God. I was in the army during the war, and heard men cursing and swearing. Some godly woman would pass along the ranks looking for her wounded son, and not an oath would be heard. They would not swear before their mothers, or their wives, or their sisters; they had more respect for them than they had for God! Isn't it a terrible condemnation that swearing held its own until it came to be recognized as a vulgar thing, a sin against society? Men dropped it then, who never thought of its being a sin against God. There will be no swearing men in the kingdom of God. They will have to drop that sin, and repent of it, before they see the kingdom of God. HOW TO KEEP FROM SWEARING Men often ask: "How can I keep from swearing?" I will tell you. If God puts His love into your heart, you will have no desire to curse Him. If you have much regard for God, you will no more think of cursing Him than you would think of speaking lightly or disparagingly of a mother whom you love. But the natural man is at enmity with God and has utter contempt for His law. When that law is written on his heart, there will be no trouble in obeying it. When I was out west about thirty years ago, I was preaching one day in the open air, when a man drove up in a fine turn-out, and after listening a little while to what I was saying, he put the whip to his fine-looking steed, and away he went, I never expected to see him again, but the next night he came back, and he kept on coming regularly night after night. I noticed that his forehead itched--you have noticed people who keep putting their hands to their foreheads?--he didn't want any one to see him shedding tears--of course not! It is not a manly thing to shed tears in a religious meeting, of course! After the meeting I said to a gentleman: "Who is that man who drives up here every night? Is he interested?" "Interested! I should think not! You should have heard the way he talked about you today." "Well," I said, "that is a sign he is interested." If no man ever has anything to say against you, your Christianity isn't worth much. Men said of the Master, "He has a devil," and Jesus said that if they had called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household. I asked where this man lived, but my friend told me not to go to see him, for he would only curse me. I said: "It takes God to curse a man; man can only bring curses on his own head." I found out where he lived and went to see him. He was the wealthiest man within a hundred miles of that place, and had a wife and seven beautiful children. Just as I got to his gate I saw him coming out of the front door. I stepped up to him and said: "This is Mr. ~, I believe?" He said, "Yes, sir; that is my name." Then he straightened up and asked-- "What do you want?" "Well," I said, "I would like to ask you a question, if you won't be angry." "Well, what is it?" "I am told that God has blessed you above all men in this part of the country; that He has given you wealth, a beautiful Christian wife, and seven lovely children. I do not know if it is true, but I hear that all He gets in return is cursing and blasphemy" He said, "Come in; come in." I went in. "Now," he said, "what you said out there is true. If any man has a fine wife I am the man, and I have a lovely family of children, and God has been good to me. But do you know, we had company here the other night, and I cursed my wife at the table and did not know it till after the company had gone. I never felt so mean and contemptible in my life as when my wife told me of it. She said she wanted the floor to open and let her down out of her seat. If I have tried once, I have tried a hundred times to stop swearing. You preachers don't know anything about it." "Yes," I said,' know all about it; I have been a drummer." "But," he said, "you don't know anything about a businessman's troubles. When he is harassed and tormented the whole time, he can't help swearing." "Oh, yes," I said, "he can. I know something about it. I used to swear myself." "What! You used to swear?" he asked; "how did you stop?" "I never stopped." "Why, you don't swear now, do you?" "No; I have not sworn for years." "How did you stop?" "I never stopped. It stopped itself." He said, "I don't understand this." "No," I said, "I know you don't. But I came up to talk to you, so that you will never want to swear as long as you live." I began to tell him about Christ in the heart; how that would take the temptation to swear out of a man. "Well," he said, "how am I to get Christ?" "Get right down here and tell Him what you want." "But," he said, "I was never on my knees in my Life. I have been cursing all the day, and I don't know how to pray or what to pray for." "Well," I said, "it is mortifying to have to call on God for mercy when you have never used His name except in oaths; but He will not turn you away. Ask God to forgive you if you want to be forgiven." Then the man got down and prayed-- only a few sentences, but thank God, it is the short prayers, after all, which bring the quickest answers. After he prayed he got up and said: "What shall I do now?" I said, "Go down to the church and tell the people there that you want to be an out-and-out Christian." "I cannot do that," he said; "I never go to church except to some funeral." "Then it is high time for you to go for something else,"I said. After a while he promised to go, but did not know what the people would say. At the next church prayer meeting, the man was there, and I sat right in front of him. He stood up and put his hands on the settee, and he trembled so much that I could feel the settee shake. He said: "My friends, you know all about me. If God can save a wretch like me, I want to have you pray for my salvation." That was thirty odd years ago. Sometime ago I was back in that town, and did not see him; but when I was in California, a man asked me to take dinner with him. I told him that I could not do so, for I had another engagement. Then he asked if I remembered him, and told me his name. "Oh," I said, "tell me, have you ever sworn since that night you knelt in your drawing-room, and asked God to forgive you?" "No," he replied, "I have never had a desire to swear since then. It was all taken away." He was not only converted, but became an earnest, active Christian, and all these years has been serving God. That is what will take place when a man is born of the divine nature. Is there a swearing man ready to put this commandment into the scales, and step in to be weighed? Suppose you swear only once in six months or a year--suppose you swear only once in ten years--do you think God will hold you guiltless for the act? It shows that your heart is not clean in God's sight. What are you going to do, blasphemer? Would you not be found wanting? You would be like a feather in the balance. The Fourth Commandment Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant. nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. THERE HAS BEEN an awful letting-down in this country regarding the Sabbath during the last twenty-five years, and many a man has been shorn of spiritual power, like Samson, because he is not straight on this question. Can you say that you observe the Sabbath properly? You may be a professed Christian: are you obeying this commandment? Or do you neglect the house of God on the Sabbath day, and spend your time drinking and carousing in places of vice and crime, showing contempt for God and His law? Are you ready to step into the scales? Where were you last Sabbath? How did you spend it? I honestly believe that this commandment is just as binding today as it ever was. I have talked with men who have said that it has been abrogated, but they have never been able to point to any place in the Bible where God repealed it. When Christ was on earth, He did nothing to set it aside; He freed it from the traces under which the scribes and Pharisees had put it, and gave it its true place. "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath." It is just as practicable and as necessary for men today as it ever was--in fact, more than ever, because we live in such an intense age. The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. The fourth commandment begins with the word remember, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding? I believe that the Sabbath question today is a vital one for the whole country. It is the burning question of the present time. If you give up the Sabbath the church goes; if you give up the church the home goes; and if the home goes the nation goes. That is the direction in which we are traveling. The church of God is losing its power on account of so many people giving up the Sabbath, and using it to promote selfishness. HOW TO OBSERVE THE SABBATH "Sabbath" means "rest," and the meaning of the word gives a hint as to the true way to observe the day. God mated after creation, and ordained the Sabbath as a rest for man. He blessed it and hallowed it Remember the rest-day to keep it holy. It is the day when the body may be refreshed and strengthened after six days of labor, and the soul drawn into closer fellowship with its Maker. True observance of the Sabbath may be considered under two general heads: cessation from ordinary secular work, and religious exercises. 1. CESSATION FROM SECULAR WORK A man ought to turn aside from his ordinary employment one day in seven. There are many whose occupation will not permit them to observe Sunday, but they should observe some other day as a Sabbath. Saturday is my day of rest, because I generally preach on Sunday, and I look forward to it as a boy does to a holiday. God knows what we need. Ministers and missionaries often tell me that they take no rest-day; they do not need it because they are in the Lord's work. That is a mistake. When God was giving Moses instructions about the building of the tabernacle, He referred especially to the Sabbath, and gave injunctions for its strict observance; and later, when Moses was conveying the words of the Lord to the children of Israel, he interpreted them by saying that not even were sticks to be gathered on the Sabbath to kindle fires for smelting or other purposes. Inspite of their zeal and haste to erect the tabernacle, the workmen were to have their day of rest. The command applies to ministers and others managed in Christian work today as much as to those Israelite workmen of old. WORKS OF NECESSITY AND OF EMERGENCY In judging whether any work may or may not be lawfully done on the Sabbath, find out the reason and object for doing it. Exceptions are to be made for works of necessity and works of emergency. By "works of necessity" I mean those acts that Christ justified when He approved of leading one's ox or ass to water. Watchmen, police, stokers on board steamers, and many others have engagements that necessitate their working on the Sabbath. By "works of emergency" I mean those referred to by Christ when He approved of pulling an ox or an ass out of a Pt on the Sabbath day. In case of fire or sickness a man is often called on to do things that would not otherwise be justifiable. A Christian man was once urged by his employer to work on Sunday. "Does not your Bible say that if your ass falls into a pit on the Sabbath, you may pull him out?" "Yes," replied the other; "but if the ass had the habit of falling into the same pit every Sabbath, I would either fill up the pit or sell the ass." Every man must settle the question as it affects unnecessary work, with his own conscience. No man should make another work seven days in the week. One day is demanded for rest. A man who has to work the seven days has nothing to look forward to, and life becomes humdrum. Many Christians are guilty in this respect. SABBATH TRAVELING Take, for instance, the question of Sabbath traveling. I believe we are breaking God's laws by using the cars on Sunday and depriving conductors and others of their Sabbath. Remember, the fourth commandment expressly refers to the "stranger that is within thy gates." Doesn't that touch Sabbath travel? But you ask, "What are we to do? How are we to get to church?" I reply, on foot. It will be better for you. Once when I was holding meetings in London, in my ignorance I made arrangements to preach four times in different places one Sabbath. After I had made the appointments I found I had to walk sixteen miles; but I walked it, and I slept that night with a clear conscience. I have made it a rule never to use the cars, and if I have a private carriage, I insist that horse and man shall rest on Monday. I want no hackman to rise up in judgment against me. My friends, if we want to help the Sabbath, let business men and Christians never patronize cars on the Sabbath. I would hate to own stock in those companies, to be the means of taking the Sabbath from these men, and have to answer for it at the day of judgment. Let those who are Christians at any rate endeavor to keep a conscience void of offense on this point. SABBATH TRADING There are many who are inclined to use the Sabbath in order to make money faster. This is no new sin. The prophet Amos hurled his invectives against oppressors who said, "When will the ne

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