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The Ten Commandments

Study this now "controversial" text with us ... verse-by-verse!



 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15






LESSON 1 ... JANUARY 4, 2005:

Each month of the year Sister Norma and I try to study some Bible text together.

Lord willing, our January "focus" will be "The Ten Commandments."

We shall use the Exodus 20:1-17 account. The Commandments are also repeated in Deuteronomy 5.

This being the first week of the month, we're just getting started into our selected Passage of Scripture!

And already I've seen something fascinating!  It's in the very first verse of Exodus 20.

Let me share that verse with you:  "And God spake all these words, saying ..." That's how Moses begins the chapter.

If I take these words literally, as I shall do, God Himself SPOKE the Commandments to His people Israel!

In my mind I had only thought of the Lord God writing them for Moses to share with the people! 

After all, Exodus 31:18 does tell us:  "And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God."

If these precepts are so important that God gave them twice ... and even then written and spoken ... I had better take notice!

Now if you're still having trouble with this concept ... do a little more reading. "Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?"  Deuteronomy 4:33

Then ... Deuteronomy 4:36 says "Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire."

Or Deuteronomy 5:4 --- "The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire ...."

And (for sure) Deuteronomy 5:22, which says:  "These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me."

When God speaks ... we had best listen!

So ... for a few days we shall do just that ... listen to God speak (through His Word)!

We can all remember other times He spoke.  At Jesus' baptism:  "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Matthew 3:17

And again at Jesus' Transfiguration:  "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."  Matthew 17:5

Then late in Jesus' earthly ministry on earth this is recorded.  Jesus is talking: "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.  Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."  John 12:27-27

What I am trying to say is this.  When God talks ... matters of paramount importance are being presented!

He spoke at the giving of the Law ... proving man is a sinner!

Then again during the Life of Jesus ... providing man a Saviour!

God audibly (verbally) revealed the problem (sin) ... and then revealed the Solution (The Saviour)!

How amazing!

In fact, it's called "amazing grace!"

Or as Peter put it:  "manifold grace!"

Either way, thank God for it today!

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 2 ... JANUARY 5, 2005:

The study of Old Testament "Law" can be so vast that one is easily confused.  After all, there are countless men who have given their whole lives to its content and interpretation!

However it might be wise to at least try to categorize (or compartmentalize) the Law of God in some way to help us better focus on the "heart" of it all, the Ten Commandments.

The old preachers used to do that this way.  They said all God's Old Testament commands could be placed under one of three headings.  Everything God required of His people either dealt with civil law (how a nation should be governed) or how worship should be conducted (before the Cross of Calvary) or how one's life should be lived (day by day activity). 

In the order I just mentioned, one can see civil law (government), ceremonial law (worship) and moral law (behavior).

The Jewish rabbis have said for centuries that the Ten Commandments are the "base" of the Law, from which 613 total commandments spring!  (Counting all the Old Testament they believe!)

Well, we are not going to study all 613 in this series!

Just the Ten Commandments!

They fit into the "moral law" category.

I know of no place where the civil law is still in force.  Israel today certainly does not observe it.  There are places where parts of it and principles derived from it are still in force ... but NOT the whole thing.

Neither do Bible-believing Spirit-filled believers today obey the details of the ceremonial law.  If they did, they would be sacrificing animals every morning and evening as they worshiped their Lord!

BUT ... I do believe we have no right to ignore the MORAL LAW of God ... even in this "modern" age!

It is still wrong to steal!

Or to murder!

Or to commit adultery!

In the days ahead, we shall study this critically important text, the first seventeen verses of the chapter before us!  (Exodus 20)

Anyone ready to get started?

Lord willing, let's meet here tomorrow ... with an open Bible in our hands!

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 3 ... JANUARY 6, 2005:

Now I realize what Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:9-10. "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."

And Paul is the New Testament theologian and preacher who explains to us that the law is designed to show us what sin really is!  (Then it condemns us as people who have miserably failed to keep its high and righteous standards!  It shows us that we need a Saviour!)

This all being true, I still want to emphasize something God said in Exodus 20:2. Here are His words:  "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

These are His introductory words ... to the whole decalogue (a term meaning ten commandments).

Just initially notice that the Lord is giving His Law to His people!

To those who have been redeemed!  To those formerly in "bondage" (in Hebrew "ebed" = slavery)!

Even to those whose homes (and lives) were covered by the blood of the little lamb back in Egypt!

These are words from the Redeemer (Who brought thee from Egypt, a picture of the lost world) to the redeemed (who have been so delivered)!

At first, the Law was NOT addressed to sinners ... but to potential saints!

This leads me to advance an opinion here.  And I believe it is a Bible based one too!

There are vital lessons drawn from the Law of God, specifically the Ten Commandments, that STILL need to be taught to God's people in this day!

The Law of God ... which comprises most of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy ... is NOT to be ignored and relegated to some unused "corner" on a Pastor's preaching schedule!


"ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God!"  (2 Timothy 3:16)

These things (the Old Testament) happened for a reason.  Listen to Paul in 1st Corinthians 10:11 --- "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

So ... fellow Christians, here we go!

Into a study of the Ten Commandments, the Law of God ... believing that there is profit in it for us all!

Again, Paul ... "All Scripture is ... profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness" ... that we might be perfect (mature) Believers!


In virtually the words of Psalm 119:18 ---"'Lord, open our eyes, that we might behold wondrous things out of Thy LAW!'  In Jesus Name we pray!"

                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 4 ... JANUARY 7, 2005:

It is foremost and brief.  Exodus 20:3 contains it all.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."

The Lord has spoken!

The little particle "not" is (in Hebrew) the first word of the sentence.  That is usually a way of emphasizing some vital truth!  God is saying NO here to other gods!  And He is saying NO dramatically!

The verb, "shalt have" is (surprisingly) not in the imperative mood.  It is in the Qal (simple active voice) stem and has a sense of timing that tells us God wants this fact to be obeyed incessantly (constantly)!  The verb is "hayah" and means to happen or occur, to come to pass or to take place!  God is simply saying: This can not be!  No gods!  Just Jehovah!

And the last two words of the verse ... "before Me" ... are classic!  The Masoretic Text (from which the King James Bible is translated) gives them (in Hebrew) as "al paniym."  They mean "toward the Face!"  Our God denies permission for any false god to even be ... "before His Face!"

This command is clear!

And of course this directive is repeated again and again throughout all Scripture. (Even in the New Testament:  "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."  1st John 5:21)

God loves us.  And that being so, He demands exclusivity!  (All real love does that!)  The godly faithful husband or wife does not smile upon adultery in any form!  He wants his wife (or she her husband) to be solely loyal ... forsaking all other lovers!

I say ... God deserves our single minded and full hearted worship and adoration!

And, lest any of us miss it, notice that the Gospel is inherent in this command too!  No other God!  Jesus is God!  One then (to obey) must accept Jesus as Saviour!  Jesus is The darling One Who made Blood atonement on our behalf! He is THE Way to Heaven!  John 14:6

Now, the Lord willing, more tomorrow on this "First Commandment."

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 5 ... JANUARY 8, 2005:

One day this week I was reading about the Ten Commandments. It was just a little commentary on Exodus chapter 20.

The author quickly said something like this in passing:  "There's a portion of Scripture that tells us the three main ways we are drawn away from the True God to idols!" 

I just HAD to learn the location of that Bible Passage!

I did.

It is found in Deuteronomy 13. 

Here are the three "potential" enemies to our worshipping God alone.

First Moses lists false prophets!  "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

Be careful around certain "preachers!"  Some of them are "skilled" at leading folks away from the living God!

Secondly, we are warned even about our own family members or close friends!  Here's the text:  "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him."


As dearly as family is to be held within one's heart (according to the Bible), they are NOT to be placed above the Lord!  He is Supreme!  I've seen some people refuse to worship at a certain Bible Believing Church ... because their "friends" had left there!  We had better put the Lord in first place!

Lastly, society itself (the world) is to be watched with utmost caution.  It would love to lead you into false worship!  "If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword."

City life is often not godly life!  Here's a pretty good illustration of the dangers of "worldliness!"

Christians, today we do not live in a theocracy (where God is the King), and the Mosaic penalty for idolatry is not applicable in American jurisprudence ... but we are still to exercise stringent caution concerning those who would lead us astray!  "Avoid them," Paul says! 

There is only One Real God! 

And He, because He loves us, demands our worship and praise!

How do we know?  Because the first of the Ten Commandments tells us so!  "And God spake saying ... Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."  Exodus 20:1 and 3

And He repeats this admonition in MANY other Bible Passages too!

Let us simply obey!

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 6 ... MONDAY, JANUARY 10, 2005:

The verse I'd like to discuss with you today is Exodus 20:3.  "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

God simply demands this of those who follow Him.  In fact, He requires this of all the world!

But, how can a people follow this command?

I mean people who have all their lives followed some other 'god?'

People who have prayed to some wooden idol or stone or some person claiming to be God?

There is only one way.

He or she MUST realize that there is but One true and eternally living God!

They must simply trust Him on the sheer force of His Word!

Hebrews 11:6 --- "Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God): for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."

And, once they get to know Him ... it's all over!

To KNOW Him is to LOVE Him!

Knowledge of the True God will expel any knowledge of false gods!

The Love of the True God (Love He has for us) will demolish any "fake" love of the false gods!

What idol ever answered a prayer ... at least in a good and proper way ... for our own eternal and spiritual good?

What god ever sent his son to die for you?

What god can tell you he will never die, claiming to be eternal?

What god can truly promise that he (or she) will never leave you or forsake you?

Yet the awesome living God of the Bible has done all these things (or will do them)!

We worship the Lord God Almighty for two reasons.

Firstly, He commands it and we accept that (and Him) by faith!

Secondly, He so far outclasses all that false religion ... that no real "contest" exists!

The TRUE ... once found and enjoyed ... always defeats the false!

An old preacher called this principle:  "The expulsive power of a new affection!"

If we ever experience the LOVE of God ... the love of false gods will wither and die!

Here's how John put it in his largest little epistle:  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."  1st John 2:15

See it?  The LOVE OF THE FATHER expels the love of the world!  You can't have both!  They are mutually exclusive.

Rib-eye steak conquers baloney any day!

Maybe that's why Jesus loved to invite people just to ... "Come and see!"

                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The very first of the Ten Commandments is quite clear in what it says.  The Lord thunders, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

Yet today many folks in America mock that "order" from God. 

I mean church folks!

"Of course no one at our church disobeys the first commandment," they assume!

But listen to something Paul said in Colossians 3:5.  "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."  Notice the last five words ... "And covetousness, which is idolatry."  

The very things we desire (strongly crave or lust after) can become substitutes for the Living God!

The Greek root for covetousness means "to have ... more!"

Our "wants" can become our gods!

Think about that!

What do you WANT today so badly that the desire for that thing controls your mind and rules your emotions and alters your plans?

If such a thing exists, it is your god!

Therefore ... by concentrating on this verse, Exodus 20:3, we can easily see that one meaning it carries is this:  GOD ALONE is to be our SUPREME DESIRE!

See if you think this Psalmist had a desire for God.  "As for me, I will behold Thy Face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." Psalm 17:5

Now listen to David:  "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple."  Psalm 27:4

Paul, viewing death, said he had a desire to be with Christ!  "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ."  Philippians 1:23

Jesus taught us in Mark 12:30 to ... "Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." 

That just about says it all!

Who is first place in your life?

Again, here's where we started this morning:  "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

Let's meditate on this command today.

Then let's consciously practice it every hour we live!

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The first Commandment tells me Whom to worship, the Lord God Almighty.

The second Commandment tells me how to worship Him!

"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."  Exodus 20:4

The words "graven image" translate a Hebrew noun, "pecel," that means simply an idol!

God forbids our using any "likeness" of Him in worship.

We cannot lower God to a thing ... nor elevate a thing to God!

Likely this prohibition is aimed at making any representations of God ... more than its being aimed against substitutes for God!  (Although both are certainly included in the negation here.)

Jesus reminds us that to truly worship and adore the Lord our God we must do so "in spirit and in truth!"  (John 4:24)  That omits any visible "icons!"

Paul adds that our God is an "invisible" God!  "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen."  1st Timothy 1:17

But ... how then can we know Him?

In Colossians 1 the Scriptures clearly answer that!

It tells us of Jesus, God's ... "Dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature."  Amazing!

Jesus is the Image of the invisible God!

To see God the Father ... look at Jesus!

Worship Him!

... And we see Jesus ... in the Word of God, the Bible!  (Not in religious art or on some media screen!  But ... in the Scripture!)

There you have it!

Commandment Number Two:  Do not worship any image of God!  Only Jesus reveals the Godhead in all its Essence!

Worship Him, the darling Son of God!


                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 9 ... JANUARY 12, 2005:

The second of the Ten Commandments is unique.

To give you the whole commandment entails three verses of Scripture! 

"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."  Exodus 20:4-6

The Passage tells us that God is a jealous God!

This adjective is only used 19 times in the whole Bible.

And ... it (in Hebrew = "qanna") nearly always refers to God!

The "root" of the word involves "zealousness."  That means being fervent, heated, vigorously involved in or toward a matter!

It also can include the idea of being "envious," though here not in an evil sense.

The "classic" definition for these two words, jealousy and envy are as follows.

Jealousy ... a fear of loss!

Envy ... a desire for gain!

Let's apply these qualities (without any tinge of wrongdoing involved in them) to the Lord God Almighty!

Is He jealous?

He fears our loss of anything good and holy.  (He also had no intention of "losing" us either!  He paid a Price for our souls ... the Blood of Jesus ... and He does not allow for the possibility of our being "lost" to sin or the devil ever again!)

He just told us He is!

He desires that we worship Him and Him alone ... and in the very way He teaches us and in that way alone ... because He wants us to have spiritual growth and benefit and gain in our Christian life!  That's holy jealousy and holy envy!

You may question this concept of "holy envy!"  But James uses the Greek term for "envy and jealousy" in reference to the Holy Spirit once I believe.  "Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?"  James 4:5  (The Holy Spirit within us is VERY possessive, even purely jealous and envious of our souls ... for Jesus' sake!)

Our dear Lord Jesus, as His prime Disciple Paul is years later, is "jealous over us with godly jealousy ... that He may present us as a chaste virgin to Christ."  2nd Corinthians 11:2

God's jealousy burns so hot that He will thoroughly punish those who disobey this second commandment!

Read this.  "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:  Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;  And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.  Thou shalt make thee no molten gods."  Exodus 34:14-17  (Here God's very Name is "Jealous!")

For a view of the "heat" of God's jealousy, see Deuteronomy 4:24.  "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God."  Wow!

Ezekiel 39:25 relates to God's righteousness:  "Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name."  His Name is unique ... and to be reverenced!  ("Hallowed by Thy Name!")

And here's a new view of God's jealousy:  "Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people."  Joel 2:18  God apparently places special value on that real estate we call "Israel!"  Here's the same thought again:  "So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy." Zechariah 1:14

So ... how might we apply this "jealousy" concept in our lives?  (If we are to "be ye holy" because God is holy ... are we to "be ye jealous" because God is jealous?)  While I can't fully answer that question, I can say this.  Elijah adopted some of God's holy "jealousy!" 

Listen to him in 1 Kings 19:10 --- "And he (Elijah) said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."  Though discouraged at that time, he spoke the truth about his jealous feelings for God's Honor!  And, as we have seen earlier today, so was Paul jealous for the Lord's sake!  He wrote to his Corinthian converts:  "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."  2 Corinthians 11:2

Daddy, be jealous over your family to the Glory of God!

Mom, over your children!

Pastors, over your flock!

Christians, over your very souls!

It IS a godly trait if kept unselfish and pure and practiced for God's Glory alone!

What a thought for today!

"A Godly Jealousy!"

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 10 ... JANUARY 13, 2005:

One of the "consequences" of failing to obey God's Word is rather startling!

Exodus 20:5-6 give us the details:  "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."

This "warning" appears to be particularly attached to the Second of the Ten Commandments. (Although Numbers 14:18 seems to "expand" its context.)

Many enemies of our God have said this just isn't fair!

I will tell you right now ... whatever God does may or may not be "fair" according to man's standards ... but it IS always RIGHT!  God can do no wrong! 

Abraham knew this back in Genesis 18:25 when he asked:  "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" 

If a man (or a woman) refuses to worship God properly ... substituting idols in God's stead or even as a "representation" of Him, his sins will so impact and influence his children that for generations they likely will live according to that father's (or mother's) influence! 

And, according to the Bible, those oncoming generations will be punished for this wrongdoing as well!

In fact, to be exactly true to our text here ... whether those ensuing generations sin exactly as their parents did or not ... they will be visited by God in judgment!

Some refer to this truth as the Bible principle of "imputation."

We see it taught again in Romans 5 by the Apostle Paul. 

Watch this:  "By the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation!"  That's what Paul teaches!  By means of Adam's sin ... the initial sin by a human ... the judgment of God fell upon us all!  And that's more than 3 or 4 generations too!

Here it is again:  "By one man (again, Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men!"  All men die ... because of sin ... which started (humanly speaking) with Adam!

But here's some good news!

Just as Adam's sin is "imputed" to his children (us all) ... so is Jesus' non-sin (Jesus' righteousness) passed along (imputed) to those who become His children!

Watch this:  "Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one (JESUS) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."  Romans 5:18

Adam made us sinners!  Jesus can (by salvation) make us saints!

Look at Romans 5 again:  "For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one (JESUS) shall many be made righteous."  Romans 5:19

Glory to God! 

You may call this harsh ... but it the means of Grace that God legitimately used to impute Jesus Righteousness to our wretched (but repentant and forgiven and now Blood-washed) souls!

Daddy, be careful how you live!

Professing Christian Daddy, be careful how you worship!

Do these things Biblically!

If not, the consequences are "far reaching!"  (Literally so!)

Therefore ... if you really love your children ... you must first really love the Lord God Almighty!

Today ... even in Law ... we have seen GRACE!

Here's just a bit more Grace too.  In Exodus 20:5-6 we see that "sin" is visited to the 3rd or 4th generation ... while MERCY is visited to the 1,000th generation! That may not be fair either ... but it's God! Here again mercy rejoices against judgment! See James 2:13.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 11 ... JANUARY 14, 2005:

God's Name is so holy that the ancient Israelites refused to even say It!

They feared using The Name of The Lord in vain.

The Third Commandment in Exodus 20 gives us a legal basis for such reverence.  "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."  Exodus 20:7

The verb "take" here is interesting.  It is in Hebrew "nasa" (used 659 times in Scripture) and carries a host of meanings.  Of those occurrences, 58 are translated "take."

Its "root" idea is "to bear or lift up" something.  (Used 219 times in that sense.)

The Linguist Who wrote this verse (the Holy Spirit!) believed that to put God's Name on one's lips and speak It was (surely) to "lift It up" in honor, respect and holy worship!

I suggest to you that today men no longer consciously "lift up" The Name ... they decry It, belittle It, ignore It, and figuratively spit upon It millions of times a day!

I fear that even in Church we have so familiarized ourselves and acclimatized ourselves to His Name that we no longer place it on our tongues with an upward elevating thought behind it!

And the word "vain," a noun in Hebrew ("shav"), is only found 58 times in the whole Bible!  It means "emptiness, nothingness or worthlessness!"  It also means "false."

Its picturesque background suggests (from its "root" stem) a storm ... and means "to rush over!"  Hence the authorities say that by implication it means "devastation."

Do NOT speak God's Name without meaning behind It!   Reverently KNOW what you are saying.  Attach to It (consciously and mentally) Its proper significance as you utter It reverently!

And just to show us how serious God is about this matter ... we are told that He will not "hold him guiltless" that taketh His Name in vain!

This verb ("naqah") means "to be unpunished" or "to be innocent, clear or blameless."  Twice in the Old Testament (King James Version) it is rendered "acquitted!"

God just will not overlook the slandering of His Name!

Remember next time you speak of Deity ... do so respectfully!

The verse today bears repeating:  "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." 

I guess you might call me a "legalist" after I say this.  But this precept (this Third of the Ten Commandments) needs to be preached again today in all our Bible-believing Churches!

                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Yes, when we use God's Name it must be with utmost care!  Listen to the Prophet Isaiah. "Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness."  (Isaiah 48:1)  If we speak His Name, let it be in TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS!

And here's a group who did not use His Name properly also:  "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."  (Matthew 7:22-23) Wow!

The English word for God comes from a root stem that means "good."  Others say the word comes from a verbal stem that means "to pour," picturing God simply as one who must be appeased and satisfied all the time!

The Greek word for God is "theos" and comes from a verb that means to put or to place, revealing God Who created all things and put them into action.

And the Latin word for God is "deus" which probably means "sky," where they knew God to live!

Now look at how poorly (though truthfully to some degree) those words describe and define our True and Living God!

Now think of the Bible Names and Titles for Him!  How full and robust in meaning they are!  How divinely inspired!  How holy and reverent!  How filled with Truth to help us live day by day!  How loaded with encouragement!

Real Light about God comes from His Name as It is revealed in the Bible!  (Not in an etymology dictionary!)

Even God's creation tells us some things about His precious Name!  "Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare."  (Psalm 75:1)  Therefore I suggest to you that evolution, which denies God as Creator, may be a violation of this Third Commandment! Darwin therefore further popularized another form of blasphemy against the Almighty!

I believe the fullest revelation of God's Name is in the Son!  In the Lord Jesus Christ! Can anyone prove me wrong?  Acts 4:12 says of Jesus:  "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."  Of course, the Jehovah of the Old Testament is The Jesus of the New Testament!  That's what Jesus taught when He said to Philip:  "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father."  John 14:9

We now live in a country where God's Name is profaned daily millions of times. (And television and Hollywood are among the top offenders!)  But ... let them ONCE start blaspheming or cursing or using the name of Allah (the God of the Muslims) in vain and see what happens!  No telling!

All I can say is this.  Judgment Day is coming!

In the meantime, I can reverence and obey God's Name daily as long as I live! 

It just may be that the "Lord's Prayer" is so structured that the petition "Hallowed be Thy Name" is also tied in with the descriptive phrase "In earth as it is in Heaven!"  If grammatically so ... we must revere The Names and Titles of God with utmost care! Amen!

He is such a deserving God!

                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 13 ... SUNDAY, JANUARY 16, 2005:

The fourth Commandment reads this way:  "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."  Exodus 20:8-11

This is the one Commandment that is not precisely repeated in the New Testament.

In fact we today worship NOT on the Sabbath (Saturday), but on Sunday!

Yet I believe there is a principle at work in this commandment (as is operative in ALL God's orders to us) that transcends Moses and his era.

I am not willing to say that this "day of rest" concept is void in the Age of Grace, the Church Age in which we live!

I will tell you right now that the idea of Sabbath rest was around a long time before Moses and the law!

It began Creation Week!  And God Himself started it!  Read Genesis 2:2 ---"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."

Rest ... on the seventh day ... the first week of world history!

Here's another pre-Mosaic incident concerning rest.  In Exodus 16 we are told that the manna did not come on the Sabbath Day!  Therefore God allowed a double supply the day before!  The Jews would not have to bake on the Sabbath!  "And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.  And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning."  (Exodus 16:22-23)  Again, this was before the law was ever given!

And of course we all know that Sabbath rest and worship was in force for the hundreds of years of Law (The Dispensation of Law).  (Roughly from 1500 BC until the death of Christ!)

But ... even now after Jesus has come and bled and died, being buried and raised again ... Paul (using the motif of the Sabbath and its rest) tells us in Hebrews: "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."  (Hebrews 4:9-11)  Heaven itself is a type of this rest!  And so is the Millennium!

That's right!  Even prophetically (one day with  the Lord being as a thousand years) this earth has only existed so far about 6,000 years (six days to the Lord) ... and soon (I believe) there will follow 1,000 years of millennial rest (a Sabbath "Day") when Jesus comes again!  Even our God's program of prophecy may be based on the Sabbath principle of rest!

So ... let me close by saying this.  We would be wise NOT to mock the Sabbath principle.  Not to ignore God's program of rest and worship!

When I grew up in rural South Carolina my Mom and Dad would not allow us to do much on Sunday, the "Christian" Sabbath!  The stores were all closed too.  No one would think of cutting grass or working on a car!  And the godly older ladies even cooked on Saturday so Sunday meals would be served without work!

Excuse me, but I think those were the "good old days!" 

Some day we may all wish we had "rested" according to our God's glorious plan!

The is more to the Law that the letter!

There are behind it principles of godly living that we have yet to discover!

After all, we serve an ALL WISE God!

(Do you remember why God put Judah in Babylonians captivity for 70 years? Exactly because she had failed to obey 70 years of sabbaticals on her land!  Israel refused to let the land (and her farmers, etc.) rest for a total of 70 (sabbatical) years! So God just added up her violations and place them all together into one 70 year period of forced rest!  Read it for yourself!  "And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years."  (2nd Chronicles 36:20-21)

God kept count! 

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Often it is said about some portion of the Bible: "That does not apply to us anymore!" Or "That's archaic!"  Some would even say: "This is not 'workable' in today's world!"

Now while I do believe in the Dispensations God has meted to this old earth and its people ... I also believe that no Scripture is without profit!  ("All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  2 Timothy 3:16-17)

For example, how many times have I heard one of us fundamentalists say:  "You can forget what the Bible says about all that Sabbath business.  It's not for our age."

Now of course it is true that we do NOT worship on the Sabbath day any longer. (That was Saturday!)  We worship on the First Day of the week, on Sunday, the day our Lord Jesus Christ arose from the grave!  (And we base our practice on the patterns established by the early post-resurrection church in the book of Acts!)

BUT still ... the fourth commandment has relevance for us in other ways.  There are "principles" behind those "precepts!"

Exodus 20:8 tells us to ... "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

Then Deuteronomy 5:12 adds:  "Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee."

Here's an example of "truth" to be gleaned from these two expressions of God's Commandment.

The old Jewish rabbis taught their people this.  The verb "remember" carries the implication of doing positive things that would enhance one's delight in the Lord's Day.  While the verb "keep" forbids doing negative things that would desecrate the Lord's Day!  The Hebrew verbs are obviously quite different in scope!  "Remember" (in Hebrew = "zakar") means to think upon, to be mindful of or to mention!  "Keep" (in Hebrew = "shamar") means to beware, to heed or to guard!  (One verb IS more positive while the other IS more negative!) What beauty is to be found in Bible vocabulary!

On remembering the Lord's Day ... many older saints used to "count" the days until worship and preaching time!  Each day was numbered by how far it was from the Sabbath or how near it was to the Sabbath!  Wouldn't it be something if we Christians woke up each morning and thought ... only two days ago I was in church!  Or ... only three days until Sunday! 

Then notice that the fourth Commandment also "includes" others in one's household!  Just after the order from God, He adds:  "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."  One's family, employees and guests must also worship!  (That says a lot about:  "Preacher, we won't be here next Sunday.  We have company coming for the weekend!"  Hey!  Tell them, "Be ready to go to the Lord's House with us Sunday morning and Sunday night when you come!")  Also notice in the verse above that even the animals rested! The Bible says more than we realize about caring for livestock and God's other little creatures too.

Lastly for today, look at this.  In Exodus 20 remembering the Sabbath is based upon the fact of creation.  Here's verse 11 --- "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."  But in the Deuteronomy account Sabbath observance is based upon something else altogether!  "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day."  Here things are based upon redemption, deliverance from bondage!  (Creation and Redemption!  Our Lord is both Creator and Redeemer! Both! By the way, if He is NOT your Creator ... you may have no need for a Redeemer!  The whole Bible must be true!  One cannot "pick" and "choose" what parts he likes or rejects!)  Their Sabbaths celebrated creation and redemption!

The great Apostle Paul himself used those two approaches to lost folks in His ministry too!  Often when talking to Gentiles (with no Bible background) he started with creation and led them to redemption! 

Think of this too! (So much for that "lastly" I used two paragraphs ago!)  God's "creation" work week was headed toward REST!  Not more and more obsessive work!  His "goal" was rest!  And that's exactly where we Christians are headed too!  We had best work now ... while it is yet day ... night's coming!  For after our "work" comes an eternity of rest and praise and worship of our darling Saviour! Adam and Eve were created BEFORE the command to tend the garden was given.  They were not primarily (or exclusively) made for work!  They were made to fellowship with God!  To "rest" in Him!  So were we made!  Hebrews 4:9 promises us today:  "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."  Amen!

Look what we've done this Monday.  While NOT teaching Sabbath (Saturday) worship ... we have nonetheless drawn several brief but helpful (I trust) "principles" of truth from this most neglected Commandment.

What "beauty" the Law of God contains!

What "grace" it enfolds!

And folks, also don't forget ... go to Church next SUNDAY!

Because ... Jesus lives!

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 15 ... TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005:

The Bible says "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."  That's found in Exodus 20:12.  It is known as the Fifth Commandment.  The "parallel" passage in Deuteronomy 5 words it like this:  "Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." 


Paul calls this "the first commandment with promise."  See Ephesians 6:2.

The verb "honor" (in Hebrew = "kabad") is an imperative here, expressing a direct order from God!  It means to prize highly or to show respect.  (Literally, to give "weight" to their positions and opinions and instructions and persons!)  Leviticus 19:3 goes so far as to say "fear" (reverence) them!

Notice the parents are named, father and mother.  This is a two parent home, God's ideal standard.  (I'm about tired of this world's portrayal of a family as anything but a husband and a wife!  I'll stick with Moses' description here.)

And God promises generally longer life to those who honor their parents too.

In Deuteronomy things "going well" in one's life is also an added "benefit!"  The idea here is a good, pleasing, joyful, glad, right and even beautiful life!  (Quite a list!)

One preacher showed me how Deuteronomy 21:18-21 catalogues three areas of "honor" toward our parents.  "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

Honor them with our words!  With our actions!  And with our attitudes!  (Three areas where the "rebel" in our verses above did NOT excel!)

And of course the Pharisees had figured out how to avoid honoring their elderly parents by using a "religious" cloak to cover their disobedience!  Listen to Jesus:  "But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites ...."  Matthew 15:3-7  (The "support" money, that should have gone to elderly parents to care for them, was instead diverted to Temple service by calling it "gift" money!  In Mark's account this "gift" is called "corban."  Stealing from one's parents and justifying such evil actions by calling the money a "gift" to God!)  Jesus condemns such foolishness!

It appears that Jesus loved family life!  He healed Peter's Mother-in-Law and worked a miracle for Jairus' sick daughter too.  The wedding at Canaan was a family affair too.  From the Cross, as He died, He placed His Mother into John's hands for safe-keeping!  Yet our Lord said such things as:  "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37) or "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."  (Luke 14:26)  Explain this!

I believe Jesus here was just subordinating the fifth commandment to the first one! Parents must be honored ... but God solely must be worshipped!

Lord willing, more tomorrow.

Keep reading.

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




While most folks have long since forgotten the Ten Commandments (much less the "order" in which were given), let me suggest to you there's reason even for the sequence in which they occur!

The fifth Commandment about honoring one's parents follows the first four Commandments about being right with God!


Likely because of this one great fact.  If a person is RIGHT with God (the Authority above) ... he or she will also be right with his or her parents (one's first authority on earth)!

Therefore:  "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee."  Exodus 20:12

This honoring one's parents goes deep into the soul and spirit!  Listen to Paul in Hebrews 12:9 as he almost incidentally mentions:  "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?"  He just taught us to "reverence" our fathers!

Now I believe this fifth Commandment implies something in reference to the parents too.  These are supposedly godly parents Moses is addressing here.  They are assumed to be teachers of spiritual things to their children!  "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  Ephesians 6:4  (Teach them the things of God!)  Next parents are to provide for their children physically.  You Dads listen:  "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  1st Timothy 5:8  (Wow!)

Yet, regardless of one's parents, he or she is to honor them!  (If you can't respect their persons ... respect their position as the ones who brought you into the world!)

Recent surveys now tell us that half of America's young folks do NOT believe it's their responsibility to honor and (in later years) care for their parents!  Let someone else do it!

Let me show you what's about to happen in our Country.  The parents now have aborted 1,500,00 babies a year for a long time.  America has been killing the brothers and sisters of our current children for over 30 years now (since 1973)!  So ... guess what?  When these kids are grown and in political office ... they are going to return the favor ... and start killing the old folks!  No, it won't be called murder! (Just as abortion is not called murder now!)  It will be called euthanasia!  (The word means "good death!"  Mercy killing!)  And it's on the way to the USA! (Ever heard that verse about reaping what one sows?)

Christian parents, if you are wise, you will teach this fifth Commandment to your youngsters!

Lastly, notice what kinds of sins Paul associates with disrespect to parents in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.  "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."  Few sins stand alone!  They come in packs!  One leads to another!

Truthfully, in a craze one Preacher calls "youthism" ... our nation has devalued old age and idolized youth!  (How very stupid!)  Old folks now are ignorant, decrepit, and useless to hear many tell it.  And young folks are "it!"  We've forgotten Scriptures such as Proverbs 16:31 --- "The hoary head (gray, white hair) is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness."  Amen!

My Mom and Dad are in heaven now ... but I can still honor their memory and their testimony and their teaching by living a godly life!  After all, I'll see them again some day.  And, knowing my Dad, I'd better be "right" when I get there!

Someone today reading these lines needs to immediately log off ... pick up the phone or grab the car keys ... and apologize to a dear Mom or Dad for your past living.  And start today honoring them to the glory of God!  (Take a Christmas present or a Birthday gift with you as you go!  You just may have overlooked that earlier!)

                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 17 ... JANUARY 21, 2005:

Scripture says clearly "Thou shalt not kill."  Exodus 20:13

Jesus, of course, never really "negates" that Command.  In fact, He "intensifies" it.

The verb used here for "kill" is (in Hebrew) "ratzsah."  It specifically means to slay (to murder).  Originally it had the idea of premeditated action!

The word is used 47 times in the Bible.

Gradually, in a grammatical sense, the word expanded its meaning to include manslaughter (accidentally killing someone) as well as deliberate murder.

In the historical context, about the eighth century (the 700's AD) the word came to mean even more!  That is, violence against a person resulting from feelings of hatred or malice!

In one of His six "antitheses," Jesus said "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."  Matthew 5:21-22

Now THAT is amplifying a Scripture Text!

James, the Disciple whom Jesus loved, took up that theme from our Lord and said: "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."  1st John 3:15


Lord, help us to live by those words!

Help us to "love one another!"  1st John 3:11

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




As I studied the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," I came across an interesting list of prohibitions.

Let me share them with you.

Homicide is forbidden! (The deliberate act of slaying another human being)

So is feticide!  (Killing an unborn fetus, an infant, a little boy or girl)  In the Bible the "fetus" of little John the Baptist jumped in the womb when He heard of the coming Messiah!  Of course the Bible never uses the word "fetus," just baby or babe.

Suicide is not allowed either under the sixth commandment.  That's the murder of oneself! 

Deicide (killing God) is against the Law too, but the people of Jesus' day did so anyway.  I fear they have paid the consequences for that too!  Of course He arose from the dead!  (Some liberal preachers and theologians are trying to kill Him yet again!  They will fail!)

In forbidding murder (the meaning of that verb "kill") God also excludes the emotions that lead to murder!  Envy, hatred, anger and revenge were often called acts of "hidden murder"!  That's what the old fashioned preachers used to say.

Jesus, commenting on this commandment, shows us the spirit behind it rather than just the letter of it!  His remarks are found in Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount.  "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."  The "spirit" of this law goes far beyond merely not killing someone!  It even goes to the thoughts that would lead to such killing ... anger for example! The word "raca" simply means useless or senseless or empty and "fool" means (literally in English) a "moron!"  (Here's name calling as a "root" behind eventual murder!)

Then Jesus goes even further!  Listen ... "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison." Here the Lord "adds" to His teaching.

Not only "do not kill" ... and not only do not have angry revengeful feelings that could somehow lead to murder!  Neither should we let "unrest" or "alienation" between us and someone else continue!  If someone has "ought" (anything or something or just a certain little thing) against you ... get it solved immediately!

Talk about the "spirit" of a command!

Jesus could really get to the "heart" of a verse of Scripture, couldn't He?

Let none of us be guilty of murder in any way!  Either in act or emotion or thought!

"Patch" the problem before it festers into something worse!

However, do keep in mind that Jesus was willing to STAND on issues of great importance spiritually and morally and theologically!  He is not here teaching compromise on those great facets of life!

I believe that we have had a lesson in hermeneutics today ... from the Master Teacher, the dear Lord Jesus! (Hermeneutics is the science of Bible interpretation.)

Class dismissed.

                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 19 ... JANUARY 25, 2005:

It was certainly in force in the Garden of Eden! (Genesis 2:24)

And it was reinforced in the day of Moses! (See Deuteronomy 5:18)

Jesus preached it too!  (Matthew 5:28)

And I am quite sure ... God requires it yet today!

What, Preacher?

The seventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

That's exactly what Exodus 20:14 says!

And Jesus, just as He did with the other commandments, not only emphasized literal obedience to it ... but also strict adherence to anything associated with it as well.

For example, do not just avoid adultery (a sinful sexual relationship by a married man or woman with someone other than his wife or her husband) ... but also avoid any thoughts that could lead to adultery!

Listen to our Lord.  "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28

And twice Jesus said this about the matter:  "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."  Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9

I know that today I am on an unpopular verse.

But it's still in the Bible!

I really believe that one reason (among many) that God is so careful about this commandment is that the marriage relationship pictures something precious to Him!  The husband is a "type" of the Bridegroom Jesus ... and the wife is a picture of the Church Jesus died to save!  And the Jesus/Church union is NOT to be dissolved!


Brethren, each of you today should make it a point to tell your wife that you're committed to her "till death do you part!"

Probably nobody will visit here tomorrow, but I'm not through with this one yet.

Why is this sin particularly so rampant today among professing Christians?

We shall try to deal with this question Wednesday morning, Lord willing.

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It is perhaps now the "silent" commandment!

At least one has to admit that it's not preached much any more!

Violations of it have inched into our churches as these days of apostasy have developed.


"Thou shalt not commit adultery."  Exodus 20:14

Why is this so?

I believe the first answer to that question must be placed in the hands of us preachers!

We have simply failed to preach the WHOLE Word of God!

As folks have more and more developed "itching ears," we have more and more designed "politically correct" sermons to please them!

It seems we don't mind preaching about Heaven ... but not about living right on the way there!

We love to declare salvation ... but not separation!

We tells folks about Jesus as Saviour ... but not too much as Lord!

We proclaim the positive ... but not the negative!

God, help us to "Preach the Word," the entire Word of God!

Next I think we as Christians have failed to emphasize the lines against sin that once were so clearly marked!

If we let liars serve in Church leadership positions ... as well as gossips and rebels and profane people, why not include adulterers also?

We are about to adopt the world's philosophy which denies the very existence of sin anyway!

Lying is a sin ... slander and gossip are wrong ... rebellion is Biblically compared to witchcraft ... and adultery is as bad (really ... worse) than them all!

Let me draw one of those lines today.  It might help someone.  Preachers, do not TOUCH any woman other than your wife!  A lot of adulterous activity got started with that one forbidden "touch!"  Men of God, keep your hands OFF the women (in and out of church)!  Do NOT meet with a woman (other than your wife) alone anywhere under any circumstances!  If an emergency develops, take someone with you.  Avoid the very "appearance" of evil.

Lastly, at least for now, we have removed any "penalty" for sins of this type! Adulterers and adulteresses are now too often allowed to return to church un-rebuked and accepted back into their former positions while yet unrepentant and proud!  There are Pastors today in (formerly) fundamental Churches that fit into this category!  Listen to Proverbs:  "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.  A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away." (Proverbs 6:32-33)  Sin, even when forgiven, still has consequences! Whatever happened to old-fashioned church discipline?  Has the word "disqualification" passed into extinction?

Jesus certainly put all this in perspective when He cautioned us not to commit adultery ... then immediately brought up our thought life!  Even to "think" adultery in some lustful way ... is wrong in God's eyes!  (That's likely where it all begins anyway!)  Paul re-emphasized this truth by saying: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."   Plus ... "But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."  Then ... "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."  Yet again ... "Keep thyself pure."

In 1631, during the early days of the printing of the King James Version of the Bible, a printer made an "error" in the typesetting.  He left out the word NOT in that seventh commandment.  Exodus 20:14 wrongly (again, due to human error) read:  "Thou shalt commit adultery."  You don't reckon a few copies of THAT Bible still exist today, do you?  After so many years?  If so ... I think I know some churches where they're using it!

But the real Bible still says ... "Thou shalt NOT commit adultery," and we had better obey it!

If would not surprise me that today someone is reading these lines and is now angry!

But neither would it surprise me that someone has ventured here and read ... convicted by the Holy Spirit ... and ready to decide some changes have to be made ... before it's too late!

If so, our time today has been well spent!

                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




We of course are studying the Ten Commandments.

A Preacher just made reference to the six "antitheses" Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount (concerning these Commandments).

I thought, "What?"

(An "antithesis" is a contrast in ideas or definitions!  It in Latin means "to set against.")

Well, after some investigation, I found them!  Here they are.

Again, each will quote one of the commandments or one of their derivatives.

Number 1:  "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."  Matthew 5:21-22

The antithesis begins with the words ... "BUT I SAY UNTO YOU!"

Number 2:  "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."  Matthew 5:27-28

Number 3:  "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."  Matthew 5:31-32

Number 4:  "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."  Matthew 5:33-37

Number 5:  "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."  Matthew 5:38-39

Number 6:  "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."   Matthew 5:43-45

Now, grouping these all together, I see several great things bout Jesus our Lord!

Notice His great POWER!  His Authority!  He is taking the very place of Moses and further amplifying Scripture!  Who could do that but God?

Notice His great PERCEPTION!  His Discernment into the meaning of the Word of God!  He is skillfully wielding the Sword of the Spirit, isn't He?  I guess He can!  He wrote It!  He saw not only the letter of the Law ... but the Spirit behind it also! What "insight" He has, the omniscient Son of God!

Notice His great PURITY!  His holiness of life!  Never did He sin.  He not only expanded these commandments, He lived by them!  Flawlessly!

Then notice His great PREACHING!  His declaration of God's Word!  No one ever spoke like He did!  His pulpit ministry consisted of the exposition of God's Word for sure! 

Lastly see His great PASSION!  His desire to reach souls! He is doing all this (giving us God's way of life) because He loves men and women!  He longs to see sinners saved!  That's why He came!  (The Law shows us we're all sinners ... and desperately need a Saviour!)

Would you agree with me? These "antitheses" of our Lord sure tell us a lot about Him ... both as a Man and as a Preacher!

Glory to HIS Name!          

                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Bible in Exodus 20, after commanding us not to kill or commit adultery, then tells us not to steal.

There is of course a beautiful orderly progression in all these prohibitions.  (In fact, this is true with the whole number of the Ten Commandments!)

Just glance at these 3 ... but for the moment "in reverse."  We must have things (a home or a job ... to buy groceries) before we can have a wife!  (I still believe that old Bible precept that a man's duty is to care for his wife and family!)  Thus the "things issue" calls for the "no stealing" commandment.

Then ... successfully and faithfully having a wife demands that one not commit adultery.  Adultery of course would destroy that precious husband-wife relationship!

But why all this about the sanctity of marriage?  The Bible immediately tells us why.  Malachi states a critical reason for marriage: "That he might seek a godly seed."  (Malachi 2:15)  We marry to produce life (a child or children)!  That's life to be lived for God!

Hence ... do not kill!

I hope you see what I'm trying to say.

We definitely have linkage here.

Now, further into ... "Thou shalt not steal."  Exodus 20:15

That Hebrew verb (steal = "ganab") is used 39 times in Scripture.  Once in the King James Bible it is translated "carrieth away."  (Job 21:18) And that's the "root" idea the word conveys.  To take something (property) that belongs to another!

The old rabbis also tell us the word here has in it an element of "secrecy!" Taking by stealth!  In a sneaky manner!

However, Biblically the word is used in other ways too.  In 2 Samuel 15:6 Absalom (son of David) stole something other than property.  "So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel."  (But he even did this in a "secret" way!)

And of course, the New Testament repeats this command often!

For example, Ephesians 4:28 --- "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."

Paul has likely here recorded the "spirit" of the whole Eighth Commandment.

1. Do not rob from others.

2. Go get a job and earn some money with which to buy what you really need.

3. Then give to those who lack due to sickness or hard times!


                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 23 ... JANUARY 28, 2005:

If I take something that belongs to another (say a relative or my employer or even a total stranger), from whom have I stolen?

That seems like a silly question on the surface.

Preacher, you've stolen from the one (whoever he or she is) who owned that item!

Right answer.

At least as far as it goes, that's a right answer!

But what if I suggest that the "thief" has also stolen from God!

For in reality those cattle up on the hill, the ones belonging to the dairy farmer next door, belong to GOD too!

Now someone will need Bible proof for this statement!

Listen to our great God in Psalm 50:10 --- "For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills."

That's pretty clear!

And that land dealer who swindled the widow lady out of those acres, He too took from the Almighty God of the universe!

Here's Bible for that one: "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."  Psalm 24:1

I found five separate times in Scripture where this truth is taught!

Now ... these facts being so, what about the person who refuses to give the Lord a "tithe" (10%) of his income? 

Many would argue that whatever one does with his money is HIS business.

Yet God requires a portion of it.  Surely no one denies that fact!

The "tithe" is His!  "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD."  Leviticus 27:30

That's why Malachi quotes God as He charges Israel with robbery!  "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings."  Malachi 3:8 

This sure seems to place "stealing" into a higher category than simple pilfering!

All those "Ten Commandments" no doubt carry prohibitions that ultimately offend the righteousness of a Holy God, Whom we Christians are to serve and please day by day!

"Thou shalt not steal."  Exodus 20:15

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 24 ... JANUARY 29, 2005:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness!"

Thatís what Exodus 20:16 says.

The verb here is "sheqer" (in Hebrew) and means to lie or deceive or speak vanity (emptiness)!

And the parallel term in Deuteronomy 5:20 is "shav" which clearly means speaking lies, falsehoods or vain things! ("Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.")

The third Commandment deals with respect for Godís Name! Now this ninth Commandment deals with proper respect for our brothersí and sistersí names! Proper talk TOWARD God and proper talk ABOUT our neighbor!

And the ninth Commandment ("No false witness") protects peopleís names and reputations just as the eighth Command ("No stealing") protects their property!

While Iíve never realized it this clearly before, this Commandment forbids gossip, slander and such talk altogether!

"Thou shalt not bear false witness!"

This Law is all about the truth!

Be truthful. Donít hedge on your words! Jesus said: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."  Matthew 5:37

In other words ... mean what you say and say what you mean!

Listen to Jeremiah talk about the sharp "tongues" of his day. "And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait. Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"  Jeremiah 9:3-9


Speaking of truth, the two major Bible words (one in Hebrew and one in Greek) are lovely! The New Testament uses "aletheia" which has the idea of not forgetting something! (Etymology: "a" means no or not ... and "letho" means to forget!) New Testament Truth is something that once seen ... cannot be forgotten! And the Old Testament uses "emunah" which means firmness or faithfulness! If something is true, you can lean upon it.  It will not fail you!

As Christians who have access to that kind of Truth, why would we ever want to bear false witness?

But is this sin so bad? Everyone tells a little white lie sometimes!

Yes, it is!  It is bad!

Liars are following the devil! "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."  John 8:44

Anyone who habitually lies ... is NOT saved!  "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."  Revelation 21:8

Lord, help us to speak the truth!

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




When the Lord says "Thou shalt not bear false witness," He frames that great Command in legal terms!

One main purpose for this Ninth Imperative from God is the integrity of the Jewish legal system.  For example, Deuteronomy 17:6 --- "At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death."  And the position of witness was so critical, that he (the witness) had to cast the first stone (in capital punishment cases)!  "The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you."  Deuteronomy 17:7

Once lying on the witness stand (perjury) is accepted by a society, its total disintegration is not far away!  And America is getting closer and closer!

And if you think bearing false witness had no consequences in Jewish courts, read this:  "And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you."  Deuteronomy 19:18-19  (In other words ... when involving capital cases ... they were to slay the false witness!)

Here are some other examples of "bearing false witness" too:

Just plain lying!  (Often called telling a little "white" lie!)  But Biblically there is no such thing!  A High School teacher I had once taught us:  "A lie in an intention to deceive!"  That definition covers a lot of territory!

Malicious lying!  This is saying things just to hurt someone!  Often in this process facts get terribly distorted!

Slander!  I wonder how many little "half-truths" have been edited and embellished to help kill someone's testimony or reputation! 

Backbiting!  (Simply talking critically about someone behind their back ... with the added condition of being "sloppy" with the truth!)

Talebearing!  (Just spreading what you have heard ... irregardless of whether it's accurate or not!)

Lying to God!  This is just not keeping your word to our Heavenly Father.  What did you promise Him at the altar Sunday before last?  Have you done it?   How about that vow you made years ago?  (To tithe or to witness or to read your Bible)

In reality not bearing false witness is more than what one does with his lips and tongue and mouth.  It becomes a lifestyle!

That's why Scripture says things like this:  "And (Hezekiah the King) said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight."  (Isaiah 38:3) Or to get a New Testament sample:  "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth."  3rd John 4

Let us as Paul admonished "speak the truth ...!"  (Ephesians 4:15)

                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The verse is found in Proverbs 25:18.   "A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow."

Most Preachers have been victims of some "false witness" in their years of service for the Lord.

A liar who frames his (or her) deadly talk as gossip or slander or "a prayer request" or just a "have-you-heard-the-latest" format ... is still just a false witness!

Our verse here reveals God's view of a sneaky lying tongue!  (The term "False Witness," in Hebrew, implies both thoughts ... deceit and untruthfulness.)

Such a person is like a "maul."  This is the first and the only time this word is used in all the Bible!  A "maul" in English is a hammer or a heavy weapon!  In Hebrew (the language of the Old Testament) the word is developed from a verb root that primarily means "to scatter."  False witnesses scatter the people who should be near us!  It also can mean "to shatter or break!"  Many a person has suffered a broken reputation via the lying lips of a false accuser!  And in some forms the verb also means "to overflow!"  Once a lying gossip begins ... it's hard stopping them!  Their deadly words seem to overflow needlessly.

The noun "sword" is just as bad too!  The word in Hebrew is spelled "chebub" and in the King James Bible is translated in the following ways:  sword (401 times), knife (3 times), dagger (3 times), axes (1 time), mattocks (1 time) and tool (1 time)!  These are bad things to have "after" you!  But they fit God's estimation of a false witness! 

Then comes the sharp arrow!  ("Sharp" means whetted or pricked!)  And the noun "arrow" (in Hebrew = "chetzs") means a dart or shaft for the archer to use!  Once in our Bible it is rendered "wound!"

Another Bible name for the "false witness" is the "talebearer!"

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD."  Leviticus 19:16

"A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter."  Proberbs 11:13

"The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."  Proverbs 18:8 and 26:22  (The very same words ... twice!)

"He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips."  Proverbs 19:20

"Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth."  Proverbs 26:20

Preachers, here's a "nugget!"

How does one deal with such false witnesses and talebearers?

Again, Proverbs tells us:  "The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue." (Proverbs 25:23)  Do not stand around smiling and nodding while you listen to that garbage!  Stop it!  Let's all go home and practice developing "an angry countenance" just for such occasions as this!

Preachers, next that wicked junk starts ... look 'em down!  Tell them with your countenance alone that you know they're lying!  Don't encourage them in any way at all!  That's Bible advice!

I just thought this might be helpful some day.

(Although, I hope not soon!)

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Quote the last of the Ten Commandments.

Can you do that?

Well, here it is:

"Thou shalt not covet!"

But that's just part of the whole verse in which it appears:

"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 any thing that is thy neighbour's."   Exodus 20:17

That verb "covet" in Hebrew is spelled "chamad" and means "to strongly desire."  It also means "to take pleasure in, to delight in, or to lust after!"

One scholar simply defined covetousness as "a yearning for something that belongs to someone else."

Hebrew teachers tell us that the verb "chamad" also includes the inner emotion that leads to an outer action! 

Now putting it all together ... the complete Bible definition ... for "covet" is (1) a strong DESIRE for someone or something (2) that belongs to somebody else and (3) accompanied by thinking and scheming on how to acquire that person or object!

If you don't think this is serious business, ask Achan who coveted some Babylonian "trinkets."  Or David who coveted another man's wife!  Or Ahab and Jezebel who coveted Naboth's vineyard!

Listen to Jesus warn about this sin in Luke 12:15 --- "And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."

And Paul, who further described what it is to "covet" in Colossians 3:5, preached: "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry."   (Notice those last few words!)  The Greek word for "covetousness" here is "pleonexia," which means "to hold on to"  ("echo" in Greek) plus "more, many or much" ("pleion" in Greek)!  To have a little bit more ...  and more! 

I just saw something in Paul's statement above.  He identifies covetousness with idolatry!  That being so ... the Ten Commandments begin with a warning about idolatry ("no other gods") ... and end with a warning against idolatry ("covetousness, which is idolatry")!   Wow!   This is called "inclusio" (a text that begins and ends with the same thought)!

But ... what's the solution to covetousness?

I believe Jesus is!

Paul says to the young preacher Timothy ... "But godliness with contentment is great gain."  1st Timothy 6:6  (Godliness only comes through the shed Blood of Jesus!)

He also adds (particularly to preachers ... for this warning is recorded in a "Pastoral Epistle") ... "And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."  1st Timothy 6:8

But Hebrews 13:5 may give us the "heart" of it all!  Again, Jesus is The Answer!  "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

Isn't it encouraging to know that we can even give our "desires" to Jesus?


                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




We today live in what many call a "consumer culture."

We are constantly being bombarded with advertisements!  They are everywhere!

Diving down the highway (billboards), checking the internet news (pop-ups), reading the local headlines (ads) or getting the radio traffic report (60 second "breaks") ... all subject us to the philosophy of the world at least in this one area ... increasing one's goods!

They say, "You need a bigger home!"  Or "your car isn't new any longer!"  Or "your wardrobe needs to be updated."

They yell, "More!  More!  More!"

And for the Christian, in reality, these "invitations to buy" are simply tempting us to violate the Tenth Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet!"  Exodus 20:17

While I realize that we occasionally will have to buy a new pair of shoes or even replace a worn-out old car, the "spirit" of the Bible is to "... Be content with such things as ye have."  Hebrews 13:5

Today's "ad" firms on Madison Avenue would not be able to thrive so ... in a truly Christian environment!  Can you imagine what such "advertisements" would have looked like in a New England Puritan village of the 1600's?  They would have been non-existent!

Years ago we sang a little song simply entitled "Christ is all I need!"

He is!

In fact, read Hebrews 13:5 again ... this time in its entirety:  "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  Scripture just said ... really Jesus just said:  "I AM WITH YOU" ... what else do you need?

Let's ask the Lord to let us ignore those ads (hundreds of them a day) and use each of them as a pointer to the Read Satisfaction of our lives ... the Lord Jesus Christ!


                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Concerning the last of the Ten Words (Commandments), let me just add this thought.  (That's what the Hebrew vocabulary of Deuteronomy 4:13 and 10:4 calls them ... Ten Words!)

"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 any thing that is thy neighbour's." Exodus 20:17

Examine this verse with me carefully and you will see that it flows naturally in three areas.

From BIG things to little things!  A HOUSE down to anything that is thy neighbor's!  See the progression from expensive to less expensive!  God wants to to control our longings for big and small possessions!  To lust after someone's set of hubcaps can be as wrong as wanting his whole back account!  God looks on the heart!

From PEOPLE to things!  Do not covet thy neighbor's wife!  Or his servant!  Then to his ox!  Or even to his plow that his ox pulls ("anything")!  While one would assume wanting a man's wife (adultery) would weigh heavier on God's scales of Justice than even taking his wheat crop ... both are wrong!  Do not lust after people ... do not long after things!  God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, can satisfy all those "needs!"

From MALE to female!  In the expression "thy neighbor's house" ...  "neighbor" is a masculine gender noun.  HE owns it.  The we go to the WIFE!  She's female!  Then back to manservant ... and on to maidservant (male to female)!  As I noticed that I wondered:  "Do you suppose man's wants differ from woman's wants?"  I suspect they do.  Fundamentally so!  Men. be careful with your strong desires for that hunting trip or fishing boat or new shotgun!  You could covet them! (Or those season tickets!)  And ladies, do not lust after diamond rings or new furniture or most recent hairstyles either!  This "covet" thing crosses gender boundaries  for sure!

How very inclusive!

And how very carefully we have been warned!

Now ... I am not saying that all strong desires are wrong!

Listen to the great Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 12:31 --- "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."  The he goes into the great love chapter!  It's all right to covet godliness!

Again ... in 1st Corinthians 14:31 --- "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy."  Wow!  Paul certainly considered preaching the Word of God superior to any of the other spiritual gifts!

In fact, in one reading of James 4:5 (correctly so I believe) the Spirit of God is said to "lust" after us Christians ... longing for us to be totally dedicated to Jesus!  The Spirit "covets" all of you for the glory of God!

It's not simple the fact of strong desire ... but rather WHAT that desire seeks!


God's Ten Commandments leave no stones unturned!

                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Here are a few little "gems" I gleaned while studying and doing the research for this series of Lessons on the Ten Commandments.

*  God requires a day of rest ... because He is REST!  He IS The Festival!  On the Lord's Day we should be living Jesus, Who is the Rest Giver!  (Matthew 11:28-30)

*  True "Rest" then is simply anticipation of our future life in Heaven!  (And of the thousand year reign here on earth too!)

*  Every negative command (Thou shalt not do "x") presupposes an equally positive command (Thou shalt do "not x")!  For example:  No other gods ... also means focus on and worship The One True God!

*  God begins the Commandments at the end of man's duty!  (He always follows that order.  He did so in the Tabernacle too!)  Man begins at number 10 and progresses to number 1.  God does the very opposite!

*  The old church fathers always applied the first three Commandments to the Trinity!  "No other gods" --- emphasizes God the Father!  "No graven image" --- emphasizes the Son, Who IS the Image of God the Father!  And "Honour God's Name" --- emphasizes the Holy Spirit Who places that Name upon us at salvation!  (He IS God too!)

*  Some of the old preachers saw a parallel between the Commandments and the Lord's Prayer! Each have two divisions!  Each gives preeminence to the Lord first ... then to man! The first Command and the first petition of the Lord's prayer both speak of God alone!  Then we have "do not take His Name in vain" compared to "Hallowed by Thy Name!"  And the true "Sabbath Day Rest" will occur when God's "kingdom comes!"  Then the rest of the Lord's Prayer can be epitomized as "Thy Will be done on earth as in Heaven" ... which is a simple way of summarizing the last 7 Commandments!

*  One old Puritan, describing God's attitude toward sin ... says this:  "There are six major word pictures of sin in the Bible ... a hog's slop and mud-hole, an all consuming deadly fire ... a casket full of dead men's bones ... dog vomit ... the poison of venomous snakes ... and a fatal spreading disease!"  No wonder we have been given God's Ten Commandments!

*  The first model of a great sermon in the Bible is when God spoke the Ten Commandments! And what a sermon it is!  (God is quite The Preacher!)  Listen to how the Commandments chapter opens:  "And God spake all these words, saying ...."  What preaching!

*  And with all these 30 Lessons, we have yet to really "begin!"  That's because we are dealing with a living Book, the precious Word of God!

                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell





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