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Jen Wilkin: Why the Ten Commandments Matter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 26, 2022 3:00 am

Jen Wilkin: Why the Ten Commandments Matter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 26, 2022 3:00 am

Could restoring your alignment with God's law be life-giving all over again? Author Jen Wilkin digs into the wisdom of the ten commandments.

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Okay, I'm not going to put you on the spot, but if you had to recite the Ten Commandments right here, right now, could you do it?

Not word for word, but would you get them right? Um, I think I'd come close. I know that you could, because you've preached on a lot. Let's hear it. No, I'm not going to do it. Oh, you're putting me on the spot.

I was reading this book recently that quoted about the Ten Commandments and quoted that Americans were asked this and they could name the ingredients of a Big Mac better than they could remember the Ten Commandments. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. I could not do a Big Mac. You have to remember this song. I have no idea besides two special patties.

Two all-beach patties special sauce, lettuce cheese pickles, onions on sesame buds. There you go. And by the way, that was Jen Wilkin over there. She's in the studio family.

She's making her debut as a singer. And you wrote a book on the Ten Commandments, but you actually know the ingredients of a Big Mac too. I do. I actually know the Ten Commandments too, but it's because I learned some really great hand signals, which is too bad it's a radio program, because I can't show them to you.

Let's do it. I want to see if it helps me. Did you learn those a long time ago?

I learned them when I was teaching through the Book of Exodus for my women's Bible study. So you came up with them. There should be no other guys but me? What's that look like? Yeah. So you just hold up your first finger.

There's only one God, right? Okay. Number two, don't make a graven image.

Look, he looks like him, but he's not. Don't do that. Three, it's a W for words, although as we just talked about, it's more than words. Uh-huh. Four, do you see the little guy lying down taking a nap? Your thumb is taking a nap.

The thumb is not calling. This is easy. Five, I swear that I will honor my father and mother.

Okay. And then six, take that finger and kapow. You just... Do not murder. Mm-hmm, do not murder.

Boom. Seven, take your two fingers and set them on your hand like a bride and groom standing at the altar. So that's don't commit adultery.

Don't commit adultery. Right? And then eight, hold up four fingers on each hand and put them in front of your face like you're in jail. I don't know. Steal?

Yeah, steal, that's right. The next one's false witness. And then nine, this guy over here, your thumb, he's talking to these guys about these guys. Oh, false witness. Don't bear false witness. False witness.

And then 10, turn your hands around. Give me all your stuff. Do not covet.

Do not covet, that's right. Oh, that's good. That's a good way to remember it. Oh, yeah, let's see if you can do it. I can.

No, but if I did it a couple times, I could. One, like, three, W, yeah, that works. Playing down. Yeah, it's pretty easy.

Honor, what was the honor? Yeah, remembering them is not so hard. It's the doing part. Yes.

Of living down. We've talked about one, two, three, and four. Yes. Mm-hmm. We're going to skip five for now. Okay.

No, no, no, we're not skipping five. Well, let's say... It's the honor of your father and mother. It feels important, doesn't it? We're going to talk about what that looks like. Jen Wilkin is back talking about her book, Ten Words to Live By.

The subtitle is Delighting In and Doing What God Commands. Oh, you just had to get that in there, didn't you? I wanted to because people are going to want to buy this book. Yeah, they need to buy this book.

Yeah, especially if we don't cover all the Ten Commandments. And we've already talked through several of them, but today... Yeah, so honor your father and mother. Mm-hmm. Obviously, we're mom and dad, so we're like, yeah, we love that one. Uh-huh, uh-huh.

But what does that really, really mean? Yeah, most of us have thrown this one out to small children when things are not going well. And I have this distinct memory of my mother saying, now, you're going to want to honor me if you want to live a long time.

Do you want to live a long time? Because there is a promise attached to it. It says that your days may be long upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

And so I'll crack up when I remember that. Because actually, Carmen Joy Eimes has pointed this out so beautifully in her book on the Ten Commandments. First of all, it's important for us to remember that the Ten Commandments are not actually given to an audience of children.

They're giving to an audience of adults. And so when we think about honoring our father and mother, we should think as an adult child, how do I show honor to my father and mother? But what Carmen points out is that your days being long upon the land is a promise to the community, not to the individual. It's saying that if you show honor to your elders, then God will bless the community for as many years as you are in the land.

And I love that so much. Jen, why did God include that? Why is that so important to him, do you think? Well, I think you can see even in our culture that we honor youth and we worship it. Not all cultures have, but ours certainly does. I think everyone has a tendency to see people's value in terms of contribution. And the older that we get, our contributions become less about producing tangible things and more about giving wisdom to those who are doing the producing.

And in a culture like ours, you become increasingly invisible, the older that you get. And what's being talked about here is in terms of your actual family, making sure that those who are older receive the care and the dignity that they deserve as they age, that we listen to the things that they know and have learned. But the Puritans would say that this expands beyond our understanding of just our immediate family to anyone who is in authority over us, either by virtue of wisdom or age or their position.

And so I always love this because there are so many people who have a hard time picking a mother's day card or a father's day card because they have a difficult story with a parent. And what the fifth command is telling us is that we should be at no loss to be able to honor fathers and mothers. They may be spiritual fathers and mothers, but that is a beautiful and important piece of fulfilling this command as well. You can feel the Ten Commandments are now shifting. We've had that we are to show honor to God, and now we're seeing show honor to earthly authorities over us. And then they will pivot from there and say, now here's how you can love your neighbor as you love yourself. So they are in order. They are. Yeah.

Yeah, there's a progression. I know, you know, there's a history here with Family Life, the founder and president Dennis Rainey wrote a book on this commandment called The Tribute. And all he was saying was, Jack, what you said, Jen, I don't know if you ever heard about this, but he said one of the ways you could do that is write a tribute to your mom or your dad or both. And often it was written by us adult children to a parent that we didn't honor, you know, that we hadn't forgiven. I remember writing one to my mom and she hung it on the wall and I mean, it was the greatest gift I'd ever get, forget the Mother's Day cards and the flowers. That meant so much for her son to honor her.

I know that when I... And it changed our relationship because of me choosing to obey that commandment. When my parents had their 60th wedding anniversary, I asked all my siblings to write a tribute. Basically, I put a scrapbook together and I said, just tell mom and then separately tell dad the things that you have loved and the ways that they have impacted you. And I'm telling you, I can still, my parents are gone now, they just passed away, both of them in the last few years, they'd been married 70 years, but I can still picture them sitting on the couch, opening this book and crying.

They read it out loud, all their grandkids, some of the great grandkids were around them. And to see the joy that that brought them, there's something so beautiful about legacy too, and for all the grandkids, 12 grandsons, and even the great grandkids who were then super little, but it was so beautiful to watch that. And I thought, this is right, this is good.

And it feels like it honors God as we honor them. Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. I thought we're only going to get two today.

We're going to get at least three. Okay. Okay.

Great. So the next one, do not murder. It's just, well, you explain it because you explained it so well, you call it honor life.

That's right. All of the 10 commandments are dealing with some aspect of honor. And when we come to the one on do not murder, that's where a lot of us are like, oh, thank goodness.

I finally have one. I definitely have not done that, right? And that's when you really don't want to go to the New Testament and read Jesus words and the sermon on the Mount, because he links this particular command to sinful anger and contempt like there's a terrible progression that he points out. When he talks about, you know, calling your brother a fool or saying Raka, and that's an incremental increase in your contempt for someone the way that he plays it out. And the point that he's making is basically at that moment, he is surrounded by some listeners who pride themselves on not having broken this command. And he's saying not that it is equally bad to be angry with someone as it is to murder someone, but do you know how you avoid having murder at all by not letting your anger devolve into sin and into contempt?

Because the second that you're able to say Raka, which is the equivalent of saying someone is worthless, the second that you devalued someone, you're on a path to being able to say, and since you're worthless, what will it matter if I take your life? When we understand murder as the end result of contempt, and that contempt is the baby of anger that goes uncontrolled, now, you know, anger is not a sin in and of itself, it's a negative emotion, but we all know that within a nanosecond, we can take it to a sinful place. So he's basically warning them, if you're not aware of how murder happens in the first place, then don't consider yourself above the law, you're breaking the law, you're breaking the law in your heart before your hands actually pick up a knife and stab someone. Yeah, it's interesting, you even mentioned that we are called to be our brother's keeper.

Explain that. Well, you know, this is the chilling part about the command not to murder is that you have the whole story in Genesis 3, where the serpent shows up and Adam and Eve sin, and they are told now, instead of being co-laborers, you're going to be competitors with one another. And then the very next story that we see is a story about murder, that within the first generation that follows Adam and Eve, we hear come true the promise that the serpent said would not be, the serpent says, you will not surely die. And yet surely, surely, surely we see death play out in the story of humankind immediately, and in the first two offspring of Adam and Eve, we see Cain take Abel's life, and he asks this terrible piercing question that should hover with us for the rest of the Bible.

Am I my brother's keeper? Which is answered at the cross in Christ with a resounding yes, he sees himself as our keeper. Hebrews says that the blood of Christ speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The blood of Abel cried out for justice and the blood of Christ calls out for mercy and grace. So, when we read the sixth commandment, we should ask, am I my brother's keeper? And not be content to answer the question with, oh yes, so I should not kill him. We should answer it with, how might I be a means of life for him? How might I assist him in his flourishing?

How might I draw him into a better and more beautiful way of living? It's not simply that we don't kill, it's that we become preservers and protectors of life. Yeah, I love how you write, this doesn't mean we merely refrain from taking life, but run toward it, giving life, life protectors, esteem givers, peacemakers. And when I read that in the book, because you write it so beautifully, I thought that's Jesus. Yeah, it is. He ran to the cross. Yeah.

He was not dragged to the cross, he ran because it's our life. That's right. Okay, we gotta go to this one. All right.

Here's a big one, we're a marriage and family show, whether we were or not. We still need to talk about commandment number seven. Many people want to skip over it, but it's do not commit adultery.

Yeah, that's right. And so again, Jesus is helpful to us here. We don't have to wonder about the implications of this command. And we've said already that the order of the commands is important. Commit adultery comes after commit murder. And this is because both adultery and murder are expressions of contempt. People tend to mischaracterize the sin of adultery as, oh, they had a romantic entanglement and ended up having an affair. But what adultery is, is to adulterate something that was pure. And we only adulterate something that is pure if we hold it in contempt. And so if I look at your marriage and decide that I'm going to adulterate it, it is because I hold your marriage in contempt. Or if I do that to my own marriage, because I hold my marriage in contempt. I would also just note that when Jesus addresses adultery, he's almost always it seems like addressing husbands. And that's because obviously in the time in which he's speaking, the husband's held a great deal more power when it came to the way that a marriage was going to play out than women did. And so for a husband to hold a wife in contempt had a far greater damaging societal impact than it did if a wife were to hold a husband in contempt.

They're sobering words. It is bad for the community when marriages don't stay healthy. That's bad for the community. It's not just bad for the family.

It's bad for everyone that is around the family as well, because responsibilities have to be shifted around in the community to care for a family unit that doesn't function the way that it was before it was adulterated. But as Jesus points out in the Sermon on the Mount, adultery doesn't start with adultery. Adultery starts with lust. And we live in a lust saturated culture. So whereas the sixth command says that you cannot eliminate your neighbor, the seventh command says you cannot consume your neighbor.

Your neighbor is not consumable. Don't ever think that someone who is committing adultery is expressing love toward that person. Adultery is an act of contempt. It's an act of contempt toward the person and it's an act of contempt toward the community as a whole.

Wow. It's not often you think of it like that. No, I was going to say, you know, a man, I'll just speak for men who's struggling with lust, sexual lust, because lust, ephemeris, strong desires, not naturally bad.

But if you take that desire in the wrong way, I would, you know, most men, almost all men would say, I feel no contempt toward my wife or toward my marriage. But you're saying at the heart of that, the 10 commandments they're getting at, this is deeper than you think, right? Well, that's what Jesus says, right? He says that looks at a woman and then what he's communicating is that desire to take her. And if you think about really even the story of King David, what did Samuel say?

He said, you don't want to king over you because you know what it'll do? He will take, he will take, he will take, he will take. And we see Saul take and take and take and take.

And then even David, who takes Bathsheba from Uriah, he acquires her. Those are contemptuous acts. Those are acts where you're saying, this is mine, this is mine, this is mine, this is mine. Lust is, you know, like everything else, it's something in its immediate form. It's not necessarily a sinful thing, but when it is something that you meditate on, when you allow it to have a foothold, that's when it immediately becomes about self-gratification. It's about self-gratification.

It's about the consuming of another person for my own desires. I'm curious, Jen, you teach and you're among thousands of women all the time, based on what you know about this, and as a woman comes to you and she says, my husband has been unfaithful to me. How do you encourage her? I'm sure you don't say, well, he has absolute contempt for you in your marriage in that point.

How do you counsel and help them? Well, I think one of the first things that I've seen play out a lot in churches is we say, let's get the two of you in a room. But I think that what we've seen to be a more effective strategy in our own ministry settings has been, let's get you some help. Because a lot of times there's been so much hurt that's built up to that point that we don't necessarily have the clear picture right out of the gate. It would take a lot of meetings for me to know what I would say to that woman. Because we kind of have a saying around our church when it comes to those situations when you've seen one, you've seen one. There can be a lot of reasons that someone finds themselves in that setting. I think we have often been too hasty to say, you know what, you need to forgive him.

You just need to understand this is how men are. The Bible doesn't say that. And I would say that we know that it's not limited to men, that women have lust issues as well. I mean, it's Eve that we see in the garden who sees and finds desirous and takes. The eyes are the lamp of the body.

And so they're what allow light or darkness in. Even if it's not sexual lust that a woman might feel herself consumed with, none of us is free from lust. It shows up in various forms. And so, I would say I would want to tread carefully on giving a blanket statement on how I would respond. I like that though too, because it's always, when I hear that, I usually pull women aside too. And I want to hear the whole story because it's so deep. It's so intricate.

And there's probably a lot that I have no idea and nobody does really. But I also like the idea of getting that person away individually at first too. That's helpful.

There's a time for counseling to happen together, but there's a real need for... Yeah. Yeah, that's wise. That's good wisdom.

And I was just thinking of the guy listening, the husband, who we often go, oh, I'm good with number seven. I've never done that. I'm never going to do that. But if you're playing with temptation in whatever area, whether it's pornography or visual or some woman, I would just say, heed Jesus' words. Be very, very careful. Playing with temptation leads to devastation.

I mean, it's just like you're on a path. And Dave, this is true for women as well. Like for sure. We can't really talk about guys. I don't know about women. Yeah. Absolutely.

It's true for women too. You know what? Let's try it really quick. I don't know if it's possible, but do not steal. Do not bear false witness and do not covet. Is there any way you can sort of massage those three in the next three or four minutes?

Yeah. They're all about showing honor, showing honor to other people's stuff, showing honor to other people's reputation, and showing honor to personhood. The last one, you shall not covet. You know, it's like if you've kind of been like, okay, I'm fine, I haven't done those things with my hands.

And then the last one is, oh, well, it's actually not just your hands. It's your underlying motive for all these other things, right? And you can think about how covetousness shapes all of the other ones in the list.

I think the first one and the last one are pointing toward all of the others in so many ways. But in the New Testament, you hear the admonition to outdo one another in showing honor. And if we did that, we would be obeying all of the Ten Commandments. And wouldn't the people be flocking to our churches as we demonstrate that in our lives?

Well, I mean, that's exactly it, isn't it? If you want a compelling witness in the world today, obey. Obey the Lord. The things that He has said are good, that are for His glory and for your good. Do those things, and you will look like Christ.

If the church did that, we might actually be a city on a hill. Last thought from you would be, so when I fail, I don't measure up to the law of God. And I'm close to giving up because I continue to fail.

What would you say to that person? First, remember that when God saves us, He does so with all knowledge of every sin that we will ever commit. And so though your latest failure is news to you, it is not news to Him. And your sin is the product of a finite person. You only have, as Psalm 90 tells us, 70 or 80 years to work in as many sins as you can, or as much obedience as you can. But you will only sin so much.

Grace originates in the heart of God and is infinite. And so you will not reach the end of it and you will not surprise Him any time during your lifetime with another sin. On the other hand, I would say, pay attention to the sins that you keep committing because you will not turn from a sin that you do not hate. You probably are still doing that same thing because it still feels more natural to you than righteousness and you don't yet recognize just how dangerous it is. And so ask the Lord to help you hate that sin. Think of any sin that you commit with less frequency than you used to or that you have stopped committing altogether, that sanctification, right, is an increasing period of time between committing the same sin and a decreasing time between the sin and the repentance. That's so often how sanctification plays out. But the reason that you're turning from that sin and perhaps haven't from this one you've committed again is because you understand clearly just how bad that sin is for you.

This one you may just not be there yet. So ask the Lord to help you to measure the impact of that sin, not just on you, but on those around you and on your relationship with the Lord. And then ask Him, Lord, I'm going to say it again, keep creating in me a clean heart. Keep renewing a right spirit in me.

And He will. He took a deep dive into this. And I think any time we go really deep in God's Word, it changes us, like we make discoveries, we see things.

How has this changed you? I think we all either tend to be good rule followers or good rule breakers, like we're either the legalist or the licentious person left to our own devices. And for me, I'm the, oh, I can do it. I'd be the person who's still standing after the day. I would, I'd be that guy in the New Testament who's like, all these things I have done, you know, what else was I do?

That totally would be me. And Jesus would tell me the parable of good Samaritan and just crush me like a bug. And I think that's what the 10 commandments do. They crush us in the best way because Christ is the embodiment of the law and He's the stone that we either fall over or that we're crushed by.

We want it to be a stumbling stone for us. We want it to make us fall again before Him and cry out for mercy. That's the ongoing process of the Christian life.

And that's what I need. I need the law to get bigger and bigger and bigger so that I can know, as the disciples say at one point, who then is equal to these things. And is that what you would hope for our listeners, for those that read your book?

Yes. And that we would say, no one, no one is. No one can do these things apart from the Lord and to which Jesus responds, ask, seek, and knock. And suddenly we're not asking for a new car or a better job or we're not seeking for, you know, which house to live in or what town to move to. Instead we're asking that the Lord would grant us steadfastness and courage and repentance and kindness and generosity and that He would grow character in us.

So I think that is my prayer for anyone who spends time with the law that is written on our hearts meditating on it day and night would be that rather than be carvers of graven images, we would ask the Lord to carve us into the image of Christ by His word, which is living in active and sharper than any two-edged sword. That's David Ann Wilson with Jen Wilkin on Family Life Today. Stay with us. Dave's got a suggestion for your family coming up and he might be kidding or he might be serious. You decide.

That's in just a second. I have the president of Family Life with me here, David Robbins. And David, you've been encouraged by some of the feedback we've been getting lately. You know, often at the end of these episodes, we ask you that if this helped you to leave a comment, to go to your favorite podcast app, because those comments help another person know that, okay, this is something I want to check out and it exposes more people to God's word and God's truth. And as we've talked about God's word today, I love all the things that we do at Family Life from our conferences to our content teams, contributions to the podcasts and radio programs you hear.

Well, one of the more recent comments we've had left was a young mom who told us this. I have read a few Bible plans by Family Life in the YouVersion Bible app. And by the way, if you didn't know those were available, our team consistently puts out amazing Bible plans to help you grow with your family through the YouVersion Bible app.

Okay. Continuing the quote here. My content stood out to me, so I was thrilled to find this podcast and their other resources. She continues, I'm a mom with elementary age kids and these episodes give me so much encouragement as well as practical biblical advice for my life, marriage, and kids. Thank you, Family Life. Thank you for those of you who engage with us and tell us what's helpful.

Tell us what you want to hear and what you want to keep growing in. It is such a great privilege to us to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. Yeah, it really encourages me to know that this is the kind of feedback we're getting when it comes to the things we're working on.

And that's one of the reasons why I love being with Family Life. We authentically believe that following God's word and God's ways advance the gospel. And when you partner with us, you're literally helping to advance the gospel as well. So would you consider partnering with us at Family Life to see the gospel move out into this world and revive marriages and families everywhere? When you do, we'd love to send you a copy of Jen Wilkins' book, it's called 10 Words to Live By. It's our way of saying thank you to you when you partner financially today with us. You can give online at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, here's Dave with a suggestion for your family. Maybe he's being serious, but maybe he's not. You tell me. So often, husbands, wives, moms, dads will say, I want to have a great family, I want to have a great marriage.

Listening to you the last couple of days, I thought, you know what you should do? Take the Ten Commandments, post them up on your kitchen wall, which again, we laugh because it's like, I don't want those there, it's going to be a burden. But if we delighted in doing what God commands, that's your subtitle, the relationships that matter most, which are in our home, would be literally transformed if we just allow God's power to enable us to live that out. Marriage would be better, family would be better, honor would look, it would just be a beautiful, it would be, it's why God gave it to us. It isn't to be burdensome, it's to set us free to live the life that he wants us to flourish in. You know, porn can be a weakness for a lot of people.

It can lead to a lot of damage. Well, tomorrow on Family Life Today, John Fobert joins David A. Wilson to talk about what some are calling a porn epidemic that's coming up tomorrow. On behalf of David A. Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-06 02:47:25 / 2022-11-06 02:54:47 / 7

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