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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Eighth Commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Steal

Exodus 20:15, NRSV
Ephesians 4:28, NRSV


If 10 percent of the bid rigging, if 10 percent of the fraud, if 10 percent of the price gouging, if 10 percent of the wasted time by employees, if 10 percent of the breaking in, or if 10 percent of the stealing that was going on in New York City was gone, if 10 percent of the people of this city had an experience of God in such a way they got convicted and their consciences started to screw down better and they began to stop stealing, there would be billions pumped into the economy.
Whenever you ever read anything about how much it costs to live or to produce things in New York, you have to stick at least a 25 percent tax on top of it. It’s an imaginary tax. It’s called the corruption tax. It’s because of the way things are done. It’s because of the bribes. It’s because of the kickbacks. It’s because of the bid rigging. It’s because of the outright corruption. It’s because of the subtle corruption. It’s because of the unpaid taxes. It’s because of all the cheating. It’s because it’s a cash-based economy where nobody tries to pay his or her taxes. It’s because of all that stuff.
The entire superstructure, as great as it is in a place like New York City, is eroding and is going to come down, because four words (“Thou shalt not steal.”) aren’t being taken seriously.

– Tim Keller
in a sermon preached in New York City, June 1994

  • One word to describe feelings of a theft victim: violated
  • Why do I not let my desire run wild?
  • Not only we are commanded not to steal, but also to work
  • Work is one main purpose of being human
  • But when there is stealing, between human to human, country to country, corporation to people, world becomes chaotic
  • Father to son on working: Do you want to eat?

  • Responsibility of “Right-keeping”
  • Work honestly, “as to have something to share with the needy.” (v28)
  • Work as hard as possible, so that you can give it away
  • God owns everything, it’s all His
  • We are the steward of all things
  • As a Christian, just because we can spend money on things, we can choose not to; we can choose to share the wealth
  • We might think we earn it all, but it was really God who gives us every living breathe
  • Without God’s intervention in our lives, we let our desire run wild

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Seventh Commandment:
Freedom and Sex

Exodus 20:14, NRSV
Matthew 5:27-30, NRSV


I am not advocating a return to the days of hiding… sexuality, but I am noting that the power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time…

– Naomi Wolf
from “The Porn Myth,” in New York Magazine

  • Modern take of seven deadly sins: Sinning Boldly article on a book series by Oxford University Press
  • Catholics believe you destroy your freedom by sin
  • Modern readers think you gain freedom that way

  • Many believes Christian sexual ethics is to destroy freedom, to be restrictive, to be prohibitive
  • But the scripture we read is not meant to suffocate us, but to liberate us from lust, and free us to love
  • Bible doesn’t say sexual desire is bad
  • Lust is not same as sexual desire
  • Lust is sexual desire of pleasure only, without any kind of love and care
  • Sexual desire is not just bodily function
  • The liberal view of sex in the west has no mystery

  • 3 invitations from words of Moses and Jesus
  • To Heal
    • from being sexual sinners
    • no scar and wound is too deep for Jesus
  • To transformation
    • v28: not just to behave properly, but also in intention and thinking
  • To taste God’s Love
    • promise making, promise keeping
    • God’s vow to us, in Jesus

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Fifth Commandment:
Honoring Father and Mother

Exodus 20:12, NRSV
Ephesians 6:1-4, NRSV


In one sense the modern world began as Freud’s attempt to kill his father ended in the killing of God. Freud taught us to believe that we ought to hate the ones who produced us, to render ourselves into our own creators through therapy. We so want to be gods unto ourselves. Yet nothing is quite as ontologically revealing as our belly button. This is only one of the teachings of [this] commandment. By nothing that we are creatures, creations of mothers and fathers, the Decalogue tells us that we have life as a gift. We are begotten, not manufactured. Someone even changed our diapers, our first hint of what grace must be like. No wonder some of us despite our parents, for they are visible, ever-present reminder that we were created, that the significance of our lives is not exclusively self-derived.

– William H. Willimon & Stanley Hauerwas
The Truth About God

  • The Commandments are Good News for people living with God
  • “Honor” as in being serious about the relationship with your parents
  • Don’t dishonor, don’t insult, don’t disrespect
  • C.S. Lewis’ wife, Joy Davidman, wrote in her book “Smoke on the Mountain”, about a story of mistreating elder parents
  • New Testament expands this commandment: Honor everyone
  • Not part of commandment:
    • affection and feeling
    • absolute obedience
  • “Obey your parents in the Lord”
  • We need to forgive our parents, to make things right with relationships of others

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Sixth Commandment:
Sacred Life, Sacred Love

Exodus 20:13, NRSV
Matthew 5:21-24, NRSV
Romans 13:8-10, NRSV


An ambassador is the official representative of her government; in a sense she bears the image of her nation. Now imagine that a foreign government seizes the ambassador and kills her. That wouldn’t simply be murder of a single human being; it would also be an act of war against the government the ambassador represents. In a similar way, one person’s murdering another person is an act of war against God. It is an attempt to murder God by killing one who bears his image.

– Timothy Peck

  • SF City Hall Wednesdays 9:30pm Violence Prevention

  • “Life after Murder” by Nancy Mullane at City Arts & Lectures
  • Murderers at the lecture
    • learn to dignify their victims
    • remorseful, repentant
    • their lives with victims are interlocked forever

  • Grace and redemption for Moses, and to have him to deliver the commandments

  • David Brooks’ NYT article: When the Good do Bad
  • Students at University of Texas writing essays about their murder fantasy
  • We are have rage/anger with murderous thoughts
  • We dehumanize others, as is the case in WWII calling Jews rats, in Rwandan Genocide Tutsi cockroaches
  • We kill one another with hatred

  • You know are you in faith community when we hurt each other, knowingly or not, but we also reconcile with each other

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Fourth Commandment: Rest for the Restless

Hebrews 4:1-11, NRSV
Exodus 20:8-11, NRSV


Sabbath is the cornerstone of faithful freedom. Such faithful practice of work stoppage is an act of resistance. It declares in bodily ways that we will not participate in the anxiety system that pervades our social environment. We will not be defined by busyness and by acquisitiveness and by pursuit of more, in either our economics or our personal relations or anywhere in our lives. Because our life does not consist in commodity.

– Walter Brueggermann

  • Breath-taking speed/pace in the cities, in technology
  • People likes to talk about how busy the are
  • Anxiety-driven society

  • Our relationship with work and rest
    • need for rest
    • picture of rest
    • invitation to live in rest
  • We believe everything is up to us
  • We harm ourselves, do violence to ourselves when we don’t rest; just as bad as harming others
  • God rest because He is satisfied, not because He is tired
  • Not working does not mean rest
  • Where do you find rest? Find God’s delight, picture of rest

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Third Commandment: Entrusted with God’s Name

Exodus 3:11-17, NRSV
Exodus 20:2, 7, NRSV


If it doesn’t look like love, if it’s not beautiful, if it doesn’t promote peace, let it go, it doesn’t flow from God.

– Brian Zahnd

  • Commandments are like Israelites’ constitutions
  • Don’t misused God’s name, not to take it in vain, to make something sacred to be voided
  • Names in ancient times are closely guarded, names of persons, cities
  • It is significant when God’s name is given to Moses
  • Our strategy to our lives in this world, our view of the world, usually that’s how we see God
  • God that would be name of our God, God of Peace, God of Justice, God of the wise, God of Perfection. We usually identify with one name of God more than others
  • Essentially God’s name is Love

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The Second Commandment: God is Revealed, Not Created

Exodus 20:4, NRSV
Colossians 1:15-23, NRSV


God says to us in the 2nd Commandment, “If you stop trying to make me into your likeness, I can start making you into my likeness. If you only will let me stretch your imagination instead of you confining me to your imagination, I can make you into something beyond your wildest imagination.”

– Tim Keller

  • Often times we have low expectation with God
  • One way to get to know God is by looking at Jesus
  • Second commandment is a little more specific than other commandments
  • With idolatry, we won’t get ourselves right, we won’t get God right, we won’t get others/love right
  • With idolatry, we try to get the god we prefer, rather than the God that’s been revealed, through Jesus Christ

  • Getting ourselves right
  • John Calvin – Knowledge of God and knowledge of self is interconnected
  • We construct our own image of self as we grow up; we all have our own strategy to cope with the world without God
  • Some of the life strategies we come up with: isolation, perfection, fact-finding, fear
  • But none of them can deal with the fullness and completeness of ourselves
  • None of them has to do with the love of God

  • Getting God right
  • The god we prefer is a distorted image of God
  • God could seem too harsh or too soft when the image doesn’t match our distortion
  • Mystery of nailing on a cross: there is a difference between thinking it as a problem being solved by God, and thinking it as God’s revelation of His character

  • Getting others (or love for others) right
  • “The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image.” — from the book “The Way of Chuang Tzu” (莊子), by Thomas Merton, American Catholic writer, a keen proponent of interfaith understanding
  • From marriage counseling: What you hope is you are marrying a good block of marble, not a statue. Not so you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making.
  • Demanding others to fit into our ideal, can only lead to anger, disappointment, cynicism
  • All of us were made in God’s image, with just as much complexity
  • Love others in a different way; not trying to control and fit into our idea

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Series: The Ten Commandments
The First Commandment: No Other Gods

Exodus 20:1-3, NRSV
Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV


Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. [It] has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought… [It] is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” There are many ways to describe that kind of relationship to something, but perhaps the best one is worship.

– Tim Keller
Counterfeit Gods

  • We have so many gods to please, to serve, in our lives
  • The more we try to please, to serve, we get so little back in return
  • How the Israelites tried to please and serve the Pharaoh in Egypt during the time of famine, and ended up being slaves in Egypt
  • The First Commandment is to establish God’s identity, identity of God’s people

  • Sometimes we think the misery we know is better than the mystery we don’t know
  • Sometimes we stop short of exploring and knowing more about God, once we hear something we like or not like about God

  • God exposes other counterfeit gods, that they are needy, that it is a dead god until you start serving it
  • “If I give you this, I’ll get what I need from you”

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Series: The Ten Commandments
Introduction: Pathway to Freedom

Exodus 19:1-6, 20:1-17, NRSV


The truth is that life simply works better when we live in tune with the designs of its Creator. God’s commands are not hammers over our heads to get us to shape up. Rather, they are his loving instructions for how to do what is right and good.

– Marva Dawn
Is It a Lost Cause?

  • One of best lessons a child could learn, is that he/she has been so loved
  • Torah, the commandments, as loving instructions from God, although few think of them that way

  • Laws guide us to freedom
  • v3: God has already rescued the Israelites, they were then asked to obey His commandments
  • Common misconception is that if we obey the laws, we are blessed
  • Commandments is not the way to make right with God; God has made it right already

  • Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America by Chris Hedges
  • Purpose of commandments is to check our impulses, our dark intention that leads to terrible consequences
  • The commandments prevent us from being a slave
  • Our success in certain area in life might lead us to think we are wise in all things, doing things our way
  • We enjoy this city as our playground, we change our lifestyle to fit into the city, to enterain ourselves, with our money, our resources, our body
  • Our laws ask us to turn around, so that we wouldn’t be lost, we wouldn’t forget who we are
  • This is how we live free, even though misconception is that freedom is without constraints, doing whatever we want
  • Constraints that lead to ultimate freedom

  • v6: We shall live a Holy nation, within current condition on earth
  • An alternate society that would go into the world, being a kingdom of priests, being transformative agents, to bring people into presence of God, convince people God’s love
  • Roman’s empire was transformed this way

  • Trying to follow the commandments without the Gospel or without Grace, you will be either crushed, or be convinced you are so good at it, you become judgmental and smugged
  • Exodus 24: Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, ‘See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’
  • Blood covenant that ends up being repaid by Jesus much later

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Promised Power

Acts 2:1-21, NRSV


kind of
fire, and
new speech
brought to voice:
words that are flames
through walls that divide;
language that’s praise sung
in harmonies of the Spirit;
inclusive vocabulary of love.
Drink deep the new wine of
freedom, all slaves. Dream
as equals, world’s sons and
daughters. See the visions
of the kingdom of peace.
Wherever wind blows
the Spirit will flow:
the fire that
God’s love.

– Andrew King
Pentecost Fire (Acts 2: 1-21)

  • Sermon Note: this is the end of story that started 9 months ago, a journey through the biblical story that moves from Creation through the early Christian church

  • But the end is really the beginning
  • Committed followers at crossroad, after the end of time for Jesus on earth
  • Then the start of God working in them

  • Beginning of our lives with Christ in us
  • We receive power of God, only when we admit our weakness
  • We may face the strugle of control, to allow God and the Holy Spirit to work in us

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