Do you realize not one in a hundred knows what salvation is—how to get it—when you will receive it? Don't be too sure you do! Here, once for all, is the truth made so plain you will really understand it!
John Ritenbaugh asks us to reflect soberly upon what we have accepted as our authority for permitting ourselves to do or behave as we do— our value system, our code of ethics or code of morality. All law is nothing more than codified morality. Alarmingly, if one willingly rejects God's statutes and judgments, turning instead to his own ideas (or his political institution's ideas) about what constitutes right and wrong- he has become an idolater, subjecting himself to an alien body of law and morality, influenced by Satan, the god of this world. Whatever we choose to obey becomes automatically our sovereign lord. Throughout the relatively brief history of modern Israel, the source of law (or system of morality) has steadily and dramatically shifted away from biblical principles to human moralistic relativism — plunging our entire culture into reprobate debased idolatry- designating good as evil and evil as good. Displacing God's standards for morality with man's standards of morality is the root cause of idolatry.
John Ritenbaugh warns us that where our eyes are fixed upon (looking to for guidance and direction) determines how we will conduct our lives. Like our forebears in Ezekiel 20, we have also been influenced by our father's idols, placing us (ignorantly perhaps) in opposition to God's laws and judgments. Immorality is the natural cause-effect consequence of rejecting God's counsel, forcing one to embrace evil as good and reject good as evil, totally perverting standards of morality. Rejecting the true God automatically leads to idolatry, worshipping the god of this world, a being bent on our destruction. Idolatry constitutes the fountainhead from which all other sins flow, all of which amplify obsessive self-centeredness and self-indulgence. We need to educate our conscience to worship (cultivate a relationship with) the true God rather than misconceptions manufactured by our misguided imaginations.
John Ritenbaugh insists that the reprobate mind God consigned to nonbelievers (a mind incapable of moral judgment) constitutes the basis for the world's dubious standards of morality and idolatry. Discernment of right and wrong comes exclusively from doing the will of God. Idolatry derives from worshiping the work of our own hands or our own mental fabrications (imposing our own will against God's) rather than the true God (to be worshiped only in spirit and truth). Whatever consumes our thoughts and behavior (motivated by lust or covetousness for something forbidden by God's law) has become our god or our idol.
John Ritenbaugh, suggesting that the prohibition against taking God's name in vain is the least understood commandment, asserts that the names of God (more than 250 mentioned in the Scriptures, eight of them concentrated in Psalm 23) represent the multitudinous characteristics, traits, attributes, or the very character or nature of God Almighty. Through the life, words, and works of Jesus Christ (The Way), we can see God the Father revealed. If we faithfully follow His example (emulating His life), we will not only find the Father, but also bring respect for God's character by our conduct. Eternal life is to know God by emulating His Character- living life as God lives life. Our most valuable asset we have is God's family name. When we bear God's name (which we acquire through our calling and baptism) we are also obligated to bear His character and nature, and not dishonor or blaspheme His precious name through our conduct.
John Ritenbaugh reminds us that the Sabbath is a memorial to the awesome creative power of Almighty God, a period of time God purposefully sanctified and set apart for the benefit of mankind, a time God shifted His creative effort onto an even more awesome spiritual plane, the process of reproducing Himself. The seventh day is holy (sanctified, set apart as a perpetual covenant- a sign identifying His people), because God's presence makes it so- not because mankind has arbitrarily chosen this time. Only God can sanctify. God uses this appointed holy time to prepare His people with needed instruction to become like Him. Sabbath keeping binds us to God (and fellow members of the begotten family of God); Sabbath breaking cuts people off from God, leading automatically into idolatry.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that God gave the Sabbath (a sanctified, set- apart period of recurring time) to His people in order that they come to know Him intimately, learning to live as He lives. Idolatry, scattering, and captivity have always been the natural consequences of Sabbath breaking. Freedom from bondage and liberty are the natural consequences of Sabbath keeping. God gives relatively few broad principles concerning how the Sabbath is to be kept. Our Elder Brother has given us specific examples of how to use Sabbath time properly, having begun His redemptive liberating ministry on the Sabbath and ending it on a preparation day. Christ emphasized the liberating or redemptive intent (or burden- relieving aspect) of the Sabbath. Acts of liberation or release from bondage occur frequently on the Sabbath Day. We need to follow our Elder Brother's example of relieving burdens.
John Ritenbaugh again emphasizes the burden-relieving, liberating and redemptive aspect of the Sabbath, suggesting that the seemingly provocative healings that Jesus performed on the Sabbath stood in stark contrast to the oppressive bondage of the Pharisees' elaborate regulations.The ministry of Christ was a manifestation of the redemptive work of the Father. Some work ordinarily profane is permissible for priests in the temple in order to minister to the spiritual needs of the people. The many physical healings Christ performed served as a type of a future spiritual healing. The work required on the Sabbath is to prepare for the Kingdom of God, fellowshipping with our brethren, doing charitable works of service to those in need, and relieving their burdens.
John Ritenbaugh observes that in our modern fast-paced, hectic culture, we commit far too little time to God, depriving ourselves of the Holy Spirit and attenuating the faith required to draw close to God. The Sabbath was made to guarantee this needed time to establish our contact with God. We dare not pollute or profane this day by presumptuously doing our own thing, incrementally neglecting the hearing of sermons, fellowship, prayer, meditation, and Bible study. The Sabbath (a memorial of God's creation and a pre-figuration or promise of a future rest) provides the time for hearing God's word right now and doing good. God's presence has sanctified or set this recurring period of time apart as holy. During this time, we need to develop respect for instruction into God's way that will lead us into eternal life. We need to guard our thoughts, words, and behavior, making sure that we do not pollute this holy time.
John Ritenbaugh warns that benign neglect of the Sabbath covenant can incrementally lead us into idolatry, as it apparently led Solomon into idolatry. We are admonished to respect or treat this holy time as different from the other days of the week, forsaking our mundane concerns, but allowing God to perform intense spiritual work, redeeming us from spiritual bondage, increasing our faith, and working out salvation in us. The Sabbath provides us the necessary time to systematically inculcate God's Word into our inner beings, fellowshipping with God and other called-out brethren. We need to carefully prepare for the Sabbath, making careful use of this precious preparation time for future service in His Kingdom. The Sabbath typifies the time of full redemption of Salvation and the establishment of His Kingdom on this earth- a millennial rest for this creation.
John Ritenbaugh observes that the fifth commandment provides a bridge, connecting our relationships with God and the relationships with our fellow human beings. It is the pre-eminent commandment of the second set of commandments- serving as a twin center pillar with the Sabbath commandment. The honor and deferential respect accorded to Almighty God should transfer to our physical parents and ultimately to other authority figures in society. Because the family structure provides the basic building block or template for all government, including the Government of God, if the family is undermined, society and government is likewise undermined. Because parents stand in the place of God, parents (because they are the formulators of the child's character) must live a life worthy of reverence as well as taking a timely, active, " hands —on" approach to the child's education and upbringing. God demands that parents produce Godly seed.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that since a nation is, for the most part, a family grown large, respect for the fifth commandment constitutes the basis for all good government. The family provides the venue for someone to learn to be hospitable and to make sacrifices for one another, learning the rudiments of community relations. For the child, parents stand in the place of God in the family structure, as the child's creator, provider, and teacher. Successful parenting involves sacrifice and intense work. The quality of a child's relationship with his parent (as well as the quality of parenting) determines his relationship to the community as well as to God. Compliance to the fifth commandment brings about the built-in, promised blessing of a long quality life. Our obligation to honor and to take responsibility for the care for our parents (as well as those more elderly than we are) never ends.
John Ritenbaugh insists that, when it comes to the consequences of sin, "there ain't no free lunch" (likewise there is no such thing as a victimless crime.) Children (actually all of us) need to learn that we often suffer the consequences of other people's sins. Children, because of their failure to connect cause and effect or time connections, do not seem to comprehend the devastating long-range consequences of sin. Only the immature think they can escape the penalties of broken laws. God's Law is immutable and unchanging. Parents need to teach their children to consider the long-range consequences of current behaviors, chastening and disciplining them while there is hope. The historical testimony of the scriptures reveals that God's purpose or counsel cannot be altered and that His judgments are totally impartial. If we, as parents, realize these principles, we will rear our children to fear God and respect authority. Children must be taught the long- range as well as the short-range cause/effect relationships between sin (or law- breaking) and the deadly certain penalties that follow.
John Ritenbaugh, expounding upon the sixth commandment, focuses upon the curious aberration of 'holy wars,' killing in the name of religion, or the motivation for waging 'just' wars. God has never given mankind the prerogative to determine whether war is just or not. Because God has supreme sovereignty and authority over all government, we are subject to (the sanctions and penalties of) all governmental authority, but are obligated to obey the highest authority- namely God Almighty. God promised the children of Israel that if they would obey Him, He would fight their battles for them- driving their enemies out. Ancient Israel's choice to go to war was not sanctioned by God. Likewise, God has promised to protect us upon the condition of our unconditional obedience to our covenant with Him. We have the responsibility to trust God unconditionally.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that mankind does not have(nor ever had) the prerogative to determine standards of righteousness, including whether war is justified. God clearly demonstrated that He was willing to fight Israel's battles for them. Neither ancient Israel nor modern Israel has been authorized to wage war. God's purpose (as well as His promises to our patriarchs) will stand regardless of whether Israel presumptuously chooses to go to war or not. Many biblical examples illustrate that when the leader put his faith in God and submitted himself to God's rule, God supernaturally protected His people. As Jesus lived as a human, he modeled for us a life of restraint and non-violence. Ambassadors of a foreign power do not become involved in another nations politics or wars. When the Kingdom of God becomes a kingdom of this earth, Jesus Christ (along with His resurrected saints) will permanently put an end to all rebellion and conflict.
John Ritenbaugh focuses upon a singular disaster to befall modern Israel, involving captivity-largely as a result of its shameless toleration of rising violent crime. God ordained capital punishment, but because of the flawed legal system, with the exceptions for insanity, youth, and police mistakes, the deterrent value has been rendered ineffective in modern Israel. The prison system, actually producing academies for learning crime, is pitifully inferior to God's system of justice. Nevertheless, resisting civil governmental authority (a buffer against chaos) is tantamount to resisting God's authority. People who reinforce in themselves the habit of rebellion (resisting God's as well as man's authority) will be mercifully terminated in a lake of fire. Jesus, by emphasizing the spirit of the law, places deterrents on the motive- preventing the actual murderous deed from ever taking place. Brooding anger, bitterness, resentment, revenge, and scorn constitute the activating motives for actual murder. We need to develop the maturity and faith to allow God to take vengeance rather than presumptuously taking this prerogative upon ourselves. Christ teaches that we also need to learn to (with the help of God's Holy Spirit) proactively promote peace by attending to the physical needs of our 'enemies,' responding as Christ would respond.
John Ritenbaugh reveals that modern Israel's national sins consist of fraud, deceit and faithlessness- reflected in sexual immorality and idolatry (spiritual adultery or spiritual harlotry). Modern Israel has proved to be faithless in her covenant with Almighty God, boldly, shamelessly, and lustfully pursuing her lovers, showing fickleness toward God's standards of morality, turning instead to a syncretistic mixture of rank paganism with a thin veneer of God's truth. Israel, whose loyalty is unstable like quicksilver) has trouble being faithful to anything; this disgusting unreliable behavior—emanating from Satan's nature—seems to be in the genes. It is absolutely impossible for lust (or perverted taste based upon lust) to bring about any kind of satisfaction. Adultery cannot be entered into without irrevocably damaging relationships.
John Ritenbaugh reveals that God intended land to be the basis for all wealth, desiring that families should own and retain property. The Jubilee Laws indicate that God never intended any kind of state collective (or corporate) ownership of property, but that families should retain what has been given to them. The Federal Government, through confiscatory taxes has blatantly violated the commandment against stealing- modeling shameless theft for society at large. Beside predatory street crime (dramatically on the increase), blue collar and white-collar theft have even more dramatically contributed (and continue to contribute) to the demise or failure of many large businesses and to the economic woes of our country in general- literally stealing from (the inheritance of) future generations. In modern Israel, we are drowning in thievery, forcing the land to vomit us out. Wealth accumulated by honest work and diligence will be blessed, but hastily acquired by any kind of theft or dishonesty will be cursed.
John Ritenbaugh indicts Modern Israel for its blatant hypocrisy, perennially playing games with God's truth. A community can only be established upon a foundation of stability and truth. The two most influential persons in any community are the preacher and king — roles that our Elder Brother Jesus has rightfully assumed by virtue of His inherent embodiment of truth. The Ninth Commandment carries some striking harmonic parallels with the Third Commandment, the latter regulating the quality of our relationships with other human beings as the former regulates the quality of our relationship with God. God wants our relationship with other men to be based upon His Truth, establishing a solid reputation for honesty, faithfulness, and reliability. Conversion (and being a good witness) hinges upon recognizing, submitting to, and embracing truth, totally uncovering and displacing any deceptive shameful hidden things in our lives
John Ritenbaugh studies the "Get way" or the "Keep up with the Joneses" (lust or coveting) principle with which advertisers and politicians shamelessly (and successfully) manipulate us. A commentator once remarked, "All public crime would cease if this [Tenth] Commandment were kept." Jesus taught that all outward sin stems from inner inordinate desire. What we desire or lust after automatically becomes our idol. If our imaginations are fed "dirt", our minds will become "dirty." We desperately need to learn to radically "amputate" or "mortify" the self-centered lusts and desires that will inevitably (if followed to completion) lead us to the lake of fire. The Tenth Commandment (like the First) serves as a "control" or "regulator," enabling us to successfully keep all the other commandments. Ardently desiring the Word of God and His Kingdom (realizing that happiness and joy come only from spirituality) serves as the most effective antidote to lust and covetousness.
John Ritenbaugh reveals that taking God's name in vain is far more serious than swearing or profanity. To appropriate the name of God means to represent His attributes, character and nature. God's names are the signposts or revelators of His nature and descriptors of His activities. The glory of God was revealed through Christ by what He said and did- His entire repertoire of behavior. Our daily behavior, likewise, must imitate Christ just as Christ's behavior revealed God the Father. Behaving in a Godly manner enables us to know God and live a quality life. The third commandment has to do with the quality of our personal witness to everything the name we bear implies. Profaning or blaspheming God's name implies living in a manner inconsistent with God's name.
John Ritenbaugh stresses that the Sabbath is the major means by which He protects His investment, the spiritual creation of His family. The Sabbath, far from being the least of the commandments, is a special creation, a very specific period of holy time (only God can set apart something as holy) given to all of mankind, reminding us that God does not stop creating, but elevates His attention to spiritual creation, providing us with unified instruction designed to free us from sin, celebrate life, develop a special relationship with Him, providing a major tool for our conversion, sanctification, and ultimate glorification. No other commandment so specifically defines God's purpose. Breaking the Sabbath is tantamount to idolatry.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that the two major purposes for the Sabbath are to (1) remind us that God is Creator and (2) to remind us that we were once in abject bondage and slavery to sin. Christ, in His role of Law magnifier (Isaiah 42:21) magnified the spiritual intent of the Sabbath as a time of blessing, deliverance, liberty, and redemption. From the beginning of His ministry Luke 4:16 to His death, Jesus used the Sabbath to set people free from physical and spiritual bondage. If we reject the Sabbath or keep it carelessly, we are begging to be put back in bondage to Satan and sin.
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the dual purpose for the Sabbath consists of (1) a memorial of God's physical creation and (2) a memorial of our redemption from bondage. Bondage is the consequence of rejecting or neglecting the Sabbath. Far from doing away with the Sabbath, Jesus magnified the Sabbath, giving us principles enabling us to judge our activities. On the seven occasions where the Sabbath is the issue, Jesus emphasized some form of redemption, indicating that the purpose of the Sabbath is to free. While God rested from physical creation, spiritual creation continued, creating sons in His image. The Messiah's lawful work consisted of healing, redeeming, forgiving, and doing good. Our lawful Sabbath work consists of emulating Christ and committing ourselves to God's purpose.
John Ritenbaugh warns us that because of our close proximity to a materialistic world filled with man's works, our faith cannot take root. The Sabbath is the day consecrated by God for building faith, energizing our minds for fellowship with God. We dare not defile, profane, offer blemished sacrifices, or put to common use this holy time. Our approach to the Sabbath needs to be quality, whole-hearted, aimed at perfection rather than slipshod, lackadaisical, or "Dutching" it just to get by. The Sabbath contains three principal themes or motifs, focusing upon the past (creation), the present (redemption) and the future (prefiguring the Kingdom of God). We must diligently strive to enter this rest.
John Ritenbaugh emphasizes that the reason for refraining from work or pleasure on the Sabbath is not labor or muscular energy, but the overall motivation for expending this energy. Proper preparation for the Sabbath frees us from customary distractions, allowing our words and fellowship to focus on God's purpose for our lives. The Sabbath is 1) a memorial of creation; 2) a recurring period of God's presence; 3) associated with liberty and redemption; 4) a time in which how it is kept looms more important than merely keeping or observing it; 5) represents a shift in emphasis from communal to individual responsibility, prefiguring the rest of God; 6) a time when not working becomes secondary to fellowship with God; and 7) requires a preparation day to clear away mundane activities, enabling total commitment to God.
John Ritenbaugh reminds us that God has commanded the book of Deuteronomy to be reviewed every seven years, at the time of release. Deuteronomy, the reiteration of God's Law given in preparation for entering the Promised Land contains the testimony written in stone by the finger of God, serving as the basis for both justice and mercy. The Book of the Law (Deuteronomy) was placed along side the Tablets of the Law as a perpetual testimony and a witness. Deuteronomy could be considered the New Testament of the Old Testament, serving as an elaborate commentary on the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy gives vision (a summary) for critical times (the narrow difficult path ahead involving a multitude of choices), preparing us for living (eternally as God lives) in the Promised Land (Kingdom of God).
John Ritenbaugh reiterates that the subtle changes made by the Worldwide Church of God have contaminated and corrupted virtually every doctrine we have lived by. Alterations in 'the package' affect the whole of what is produced. Proponents of these doctrines fail to see that God is doing more than merely saving people; He is producing sons in His image. Naively thinking that grace was something unique to the New Covenant and law unique to the Old Covenant, these misguided proponents of the 'do away with the law' mentality fail to see that the difference between the two covenants was in the quality of the the faith. The obligation in both covenants consisted of commandment-keeping. Justification denotes alignment with God's Law- not an excuse to break it.
Some think Galatians 3:19 means that God's law has been done away. Earl Henn explains how certain misunderstandings have led people astray on this verse.
Many Protestant denominations teach that God's law is done away. Earl Henn proves that II Corinthians 3:7 does not support this.
God's Ten Commandments are the divine law and standard that regulate human conduct. As our world testifies, they are still very much needed today!
The Ten Commandments open with the most important, the one puts our relationship with God in its proper perspective. John Ritenbaugh explains this simple but vital command.
Many fail to perceive the difference between the first and second commandments. John Ritenbaugh explains that the second defines the way we are to worship the true God.
The first commandment reveals our first priority in every area of life: God. Anything we place ahead of Him becomes an idol!
Many people think the third commandment deals only with euphemisms and swearing, but it actually goes much deeper than that! John Ritenbaugh explains that this commandment regulates the quality of our worship and involves glorifying God in every aspect of life.
A Bible study on idolatry, concentrating on the subject of the second commandment: the way we worship.
The fourth commandment is the one that most people think is least important, but in reality it may be one of the most important! John Ritenbaugh explains the Sabbath commandment and its vital teaching.
The third commandment, contemplating God's name, may be the most misunderstood of all. This commandment covers the quality of our worship.
Most are not aware that in the Gospels, questions about the Sabbath center on how to keep it, not whether it should be kept. John Ritenbaugh explains how Jesus approached the Sabbath as an example to us.
Observing the Sabbath day is a vital key that this world's Christianity has lost. It opens up whole vistas of God's way and purpose!
The fifth commandment begins the section of six commands regarding our relationships with other people. God begins with the family, the foundation of society, where children should learn proper honor and respect.
The fifth commandment bridges the two sections of love toward God and love toward man. We begin learning righteous conduct at home, with our parents.
Our society is becoming increasingly violent. John Ritenbaugh shows how the sixth commandment covers crime, capital punishment, murder, hatred, revenge and war.
The commandment against murder is the one most universally followed by man. But Jesus shows there is much more behind it than merely taking another's life.
A reason lies behind the devastating wars that have plagued mankind since the beginning. John Ritenbaugh gives the uncomplicated solution: Men have broken the sixth commandment!
The seventh commandment protects family relationships from a sexual standpoint. This study delves into why sexual sins are so destructive and why God wants His children to be chaste and pure.
For the past 40 years sexual sins have topped the list of social issues in America. Divorce is at an all-time high. John Ritenbaugh examines the seventh commandment, the penalties paid for breaking it and how to become faithful to God in the keeping of it.
There is more to the eighth commandment than the physical act of stealing. This Bible Study explores other ways of stealing and how to avoid Satan's way of get.
A Bible study into the meaning of the Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
In this article on the Eighth Commandment, John Ritenbaugh discusses stealing and the devastating effect it has on our society.
The Ninth Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness.
A biblical survey of coveting: what it is, what it produces and what a Christian should be doing.
The Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet
Just what are the oracles of God mentioned in Romans 3:2? Charles Whitaker delves into both Testaments to show that they are the revelation of God to mankind. These oracles are the message that gives us instruction for salvation.
Martin Collins contends that the effectiveness of a law is found in its purpose and intent rather than the letter. The blind spots to God's Law unfortunately are found in the spiritual application or principle rather than a specific motor behavior. Christ taught that the righteousness of the Pharisees was not enough to fulfill the law's requirements. Love and mercy constitute the essence of the spiritual fulfillment of the Law. God's Holy Spirit enables us to carry out the spiritual intent of the Law. By continually using God's Spirit, we gradually or incrementally take on God's nature in our innermost beings. As we judge other people, we must realize that the things that offend us mirror our own (hidden from us but transparent to others) faults.
Martin G. Collins: For weeks now debate has raged over whether the Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama courthouse should be removed. ...
It is a given that works cannot earn us salvation. However, they play many vital roles in our Christian walk toward the Kingdom of God. In this concluding article, John Ritenbaugh gives specific reasons for doing good works, showing their close relationship with holiness.
Idolatry is probably the sin that the Bible most often warns us against. John Ritenbaugh explains the first commandment, showing that we worship the source of our values and standards. God, of course, wants our values and standards to come from Him and Him only, for there is no higher Source in all the universe!
At creation, God sanctified only one day, the seventh, as a day of rest. At Sinai, He once again sanctified it as a holy day, connecting it with creation and freedom. John Ritenbaugh expands on these concepts, showing that God wants us to keep the Sabbath to support our continuing spiritual creation and freedom.
Most people consider the second commandment to deal with making or falling down before a pagan idol, but it has far greater scope. John Ritenbaugh shows that it covers all aspects of the way we worship, including setting ourselves up in God's place by becoming enslaved to our own desires.
The third commandment seems greatly overshadowed by "bigger" ones like the first, second, and fourth. Yet, despite the common understanding that it merely prohibits profane speech, John Ritenbaugh contends that it is far more—to the point that it regulates the purity and quality of our worship of the great God.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that idolatry is the most frequently committed sin, with five of the Ten Commandments dealing directly with covetousness and idolatry, emanating from an excessive concern with self. Our individual system or body of beliefs from where we regulate our lives and derive our ethical code is just that,—our own unique system of ethics, morality, and worship that seems right to us. Each of us is technically the god of our own system of beliefs. God challenges us to either defend our body of beliefs or drop them in favor of His. Since every system of law (secular and religious) is a system of ethics and morality, every system of law is in itself a religion with the object of adoration a "god," as was the case of Caesar and will be with the future Beast. Human government is a religious organization, the worship of the state, a worship of secularism, in which Christianity is becoming rapidly irrelevant. If we make a covenant with God, we must stay loyal, obeying God rather than man. Character is forged in making the choice between God and the world, creating a perpetual war within our minds. In the current secular progressive climate, God is disregarded, and His Laws have been watered down to situation ethics, with compromise and pragmatism determining moral decisions. If we revere God, we will extricate ourselves from the world"s systems and follow Him only. Our goal and spiritual motivation should emanate from God"s Laws, statutes, precepts, testimonies, and ways.
John Ritenbaugh, reiterating the apostle Paul's warning in Romans 1:28, affirms that when mankind turns its back on God Almighty, God allows man to degenerate into carnality, acquiring a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind is totally devoid of proper judgment, not even aware of the deadly nature of its own murderous carnality. Likewise, it is almost impossible for the carnal mind to see the relationship between idolatry and Sabbath breaking, and the punishment that follows. Breaking the First Commandment automatically leads to the breaking of the other nine commandments. We dare not compare God to anything else in creation, idea, concept, or material object. The natural mind craves something physical to "remind" us of God, "helping" us to worship Him. No matter what we conceive, the concept will fall infinitely short of the reality. God's attributes cannot possibly be encapsulated in our puny imaginations. In the last days, religions appropriating the name of God will carry around idolatrous false concepts, limiting their minds, denying God's power, preventing its adherents to worship God the way He demands. God, concerned both with "what" we worship and the "way" we worship, demands that we worship Him in spirit and truth-without any physical "reminders" whatsoever.
John Ritenbaugh focuses on the Third Commandment, exploring the quality of our worship in addition to what we worship and the way we worship. As God's called-out ones, we must diligently study God's attributes, qualities, character, mind, and nature. A name, in the context of the Third Commandment, describes the character, attributes, reputation, and nature. In our glorified state, we will be given new names, designating our nature, conduct, or character-mirroring the nature of God. Certain commentaries have identified over 364 names of God. Psalm 8 alone offers eight names identifying separate attributes of God, such as shepherd, provider, healer, banner, peace, or righteousness. The attributes of God"s character or glory expressed through His names cannot be learned or comprehended in one lifetime. Jesus Christ, as the first begotten Son and the very embodiment of Truth, has (through His life, His works, and His Words) served as the Revelator of God's attributes and nature. If we appropriate His name, we must appropriate His image and His character-all the fullness of the nature and character of God. The family name of God, hallowed or profaned by our personal conduct, is undoubtedly our most important asset. In order to see God, we have to be like Him, glorifying and hallowing His name through our righteous and godly conduct.
John Ritenbaugh reflects on a Catholic Priest's answer to a question about why the Sabbath was allegedly changed from Saturday to Sunday. The priest, in his reasoning was 99% wrong. God has determined what and how we worship. The world's religions, in this context, can be considered an outright curse, because they have exchanged the truth of God for the lie. We cannot exchange anything God has given to us for something else, or it becomes idolatry. While the first three commandments focus on what, how, and the quality of our worship, the fourth commandment was provided for mankind as a means of unified instruction to initiate a spiritual creation. God Almighty, not man, created, sanctified and memorialized the seventh day Sabbath from the time of creation, intending that man use this holy time to worship God. The Sabbath is the very crown of the creation week, when God shifted from a physical to a spiritual mode of creation, a time when God commenced reproducing Himself. Mankind cannot make the Sabbath holy, but man can keep the Sabbath holy. If we want to be in God's presence, we must meet at the time God has appointed. The Sabbath must be kept in the manner God has prescribed in order for this day to be properly sanctified. God uses the Sabbath to educate His children in His ways. To use the Sabbath in any other way is an abomination to God. Sabbath breaking and idolatry go hand in hand; the best protection against idolatry is to keep God's Sabbath.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on Deuteronomy 4:39, affirms that a direct correlation exists between keeping the commandments and well-being, and that the breaking of one commandment begins a chain reaction of breaking the rest. The first commandment emphasizes what we worship, the second emphasizes the way we worship, the third emphasizes the quality of our witness in bearing God's name, and the fourth commandment emphasizes the means of knowing truth. The fifth commandment emphasizes a life-long responsibility to give high regard, respect, reverence, and esteem to our parents and all other authority figures, guaranteeing a long prosperous life. Because the family structure is the basic building block of all government, the breakdown of the family is the gateway to anarchy and chaos in the community at large. The family structure is the only form of government that will transcend the physical into the spiritual; God is a family and parents are God's agents, ensuring godly seed (directly translated from Elohim, Malachi 2:15), thoroughly cultivated in holiness, ready for potential conversion. The impending demise of America and Britain can be traced to derelict child rearing practices. God admonishes fathers to metaphorically bend the twig thoughtfully lest it break, frustrating the child and breaking self-esteem. Parents are to nurture and educate their offspring in Christian character, admonishing them for their safety.
John Ritenbaugh asserts that the immediate penalty can more quickly be seen in the violation of the Sixth Commandment than for any other commandment. The startling annual statistics of suicide, murder, and abortion reported in the United States dwarf into insignificance the cumulative military deaths in the entire Iraq War. The prohibition against killing in Exodus 21 refers to pre-meditated murder. Cities of refuge were allowed for accidental killings, serving as jails or house arrest. False witnesses in a capital murder trial would forfeit their lives. Ancient Israel had a supreme court (in the office of the High Priest) to decide murder, injury, and damage cases, with the punishment matching the gravity of the damages. Jesus magnifies the Law in Matthew 5, moving beyond the behavior into the motivating thought behind the deed, warning that we do not retaliate in kind, arrogating God"s prerogative for revenge to ourselves. In this context, there can be no such thing as a "just" war. Consequently, the Christian is not permitted to engage in mass homicide on behalf of the state. We must remember that the Bible is not written for the world at large, but for God's called-out ones (John 6:44), the Israel of God, the Family of God, or a Holy Nation, equipped to understand the truths of scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit, opening the mind to divine knowledge, transforming the fleshly heart to a spiritual heart. Because our citizenship is in heaven, we are ambassadors forbidden to fight in the conflicts of the countries in which we have our embassies, taking our marching orders only from Jesus Christ.
John Ritenbaugh suggests that adultery in all its manifestations has become a seething snake pit, with the incessant attack on the marriage institution threatening to destroy our culture. In the prophecy of Amos characterizing modern Israel's national sins, faithlessness and sexual immorality loom the most prominent. The Israelitish peoples are so faithless they cannot keep their word or their covenants on macro and micro levels, metaphorically described as a prostitute chasing after lovers. The spirit of harlotry (faithlessness and deceit) permeates the entire culture of modern Israel. Whoredom, deceit, and idolatry takes away the heart, becoming incrementally addictive like wine or strong spirits, making people abject slaves, destroying discretion and understanding. Pleasing the self becomes more important than pleasing God. Israel has trouble being faithful to anything — mate, boss, government, contracts, let alone God Almighty. Reliability, faithfulness, consistency, and dependability have seriously deteriorated in modern Israel. The most common deterrents to adultery fail to incorporate yielding to God's Law. We need to make sure that faithlessness and deterioration of morals do not occur in the Israel of God.
John Ritenbaugh, expounding on the eighth commandment, affirms that possession of property and the right to own property is a blessing given by God, a principle taught extensively throughout the scripture. The Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9) taught that land which a family had lost through carelessness would be restored on the fiftieth year, enabling a family to gain wealth. When the Israelites clamored for a king (patterned after Gentile form of government), they sought a government that would "legally" steal through confiscatory taxes and eminent domain. American corporations and industries are stolen blind by 'faithful' employees who do not think the company will miss the items they steal. In the past 50 years, the theft related crimes such as burglary, larceny, robbery, embezzlement, and motor vehicle theft have more than doubled. In America, the annual collective cost for automobile theft is over $8.6 billion. Surprisingly however, white collar crime dwarfs these figures into insignificance, with employee theft exceeding $50 billion. Internet scams have leached $40 billion annually. Though God Almighty has indicted Gentile nations for violent crimes, He has indicted modern Israel for its gross lack of trustworthiness and its eager tendency to defraud or misrepresent. Inflation is the net or cumulative effect of businesses and corporations stealing legally. Property and possessions are to be gained only by honest labor or hard work, enabling the individual to generously give to those less fortunate. Our Elder Brother Jesus became poor in order to make us rich. To steal is an affront to God's family name.
John Ritenbaugh, focusing on the Ninth Commandment, reiterates that the breaking of God's Commandments has destroyed trust within the national and local communities of modern Israel. The guilelessness, attributed to Nathaniel, apparently was a rarity in Israel, while deceitfulness was something passed through the genes from father Jacob. Many of our former presidents have lied in press conferences. Israel's national shame derives from its disgusting proclivity for deceit and hypocrisy. In stark contrast to Israel's faithlessness, our God is a God of truth, faithfulness and light. It is the responsibility of the preacher to safeguard the morals of the community. Our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, put truth into a visible concrete form, leaving us an example to follow. Unfortunately, most of modern Israel has rejected this example. Jesus desires that God the Father would sanctify the Israel of God into His truth or reality. In our preparation to become Kings and Priests, we must embody truth as had our Elder Brother Jesus Christ, absolutely refusing to bear false witness in our words, our behavior, and our cumulative reputation. We dare not resist the truth, succumbing to self-deception, or blaming others for our shortcomings, trying to cover up our inadequacies. When we lie, we are vainly attempting to control (or spin) something, producing an escalation of harmful falsehoods, digging a pit into which we will ultimately fall. The heart is deceitful, faithless, insincere, tricky, cunning, double-dealing, treacherous, incurable, and desperately wicked, hopelessly addicted to lying, tuned into the prince and power of the air. We must steadfastly choose to speak the truth, even if it will hurt us in the short run, realizing that truthfulness will enable us to enter into God's presence.
John Ritenbaugh, giving three paraphrases of coveting, observes that coveting begins as a desire emanating from both without and within. The breaking of every other commandment emanates from the breaking of this commandment. Our nation's current economic woes derive from widespread covetousness and greed motivated by advertising urging us to conform and keep up with the Joneses, hedonistically living the luxurious good life. Credit, over the long run, slows down business. Accumulated interest (usury) makes it increasingly impossible to pay back the principal. Because of corruption, greed, and covetousness, modern Israel has made itself the economic slaves of Gentile nations. Following our conversion, we must mortify the old man and put on the new man, following the example of our Elder Brother Jesus Christ, walking in love in selfless concern for others. We must be willing to face some realities: human nature cannot be satisfied, nothing physical can satisfy covetousness, and joy does not derive from materialism. We must seek God first through studying, praying, meditating, and fasting. In our prayers we must concentrate on interceding for others and praising God. We need to adopt true values about what we think about ourselves and other, living soberly, righteously and godly, allowing God's grace to polish our character, knowing that right thoughts produce right conduct.
We live in a world based on the "get" principle; everyone is out to acquire as much as possible for himself. The tenth commandment, however, is intended to govern this proclivity of human nature, striking at man's heart. John Ritenbaugh exposes the essence of covetousness and its marked link to the first commandment.
The world is so full of lying and other forms of deceit that "bearing false witness" has become a way of life for the vast majority of humanity. In discussing the ninth commandment, John Ritenbaugh reveals the relationship between telling the truth and faithfulness, virtues that are necessary parts of an effective witness.
Of all of the Ten Commandments, the seventh, "You shall not commit adultery," most clearly covers the subject of faithfulness. The prophet Amos exposes Israel as a people who have a particular problem with this sin and with faithfulness in general. John Ritenbaugh reveals how unfaithfulness in marriage and other areas of life devastates family and society.
The sixth commandment, forbidding murder, is rare among the Ten Commandments in that a clear and short line can be drawn between its commission and its horrible consequences. Yet, as John Ritenbaugh shows, some people—even nominal Christians—find ways to justify killing their fellow human beings, as well as themselves.
The fifth commandment stands at the head of the second tablet of the Decalogue, the section defining our relationships with other people. John Ritenbaugh examines why this commandment is so necessary for our families, for our societies, and even ultimately for our and our children's relationships with God Himself.
The eighth commandment seems so simple: "You shall not steal." Yet, it seems that just about everyone on earth has his hand in someone else's pocket! John Ritenbaugh documents the ubiquity of thievery, particularly in the U.S., explaining that the solution is equally simple: honest, hard work.
Martin Collins explores the response of Joseph's brothers to his benevolence to show how we also should respond to God's benevolence and grace. Human nature is inherently selfish, suspicious, and ungrateful. God demonstrates His love to us long before we are properly equipped to reciprocate. Every physical and spiritual gift comes from God. At times, God has to ignite our conscience and disable or de-stabilize our self-confidence in order to get our attention in a similar fashion as he did to Joseph's brothers. If we have residual guilt, we cannot possibly grow spiritually. Like Joseph's brothers, we all have concealed lies, but want others to think we have sterling integrity. If we want forgiveness for our sins, we must jettison our self-righteousness and forsake our buried and secret sins, enabling a transformation with God. Like Joseph's brothers, we must abandon our own efforts to guide the outcome of matters to suit our liking, and turn control over to God, allowing His spiritual radar to penetrate the depths of our hearts. God will always uncover our sins; it is to our advantage to repent early. We should not want to talk about our accomplishments, but what God has chosen to accomplish in our lives. God will deal with us until we relate to Him sincerely and forthrightly, just as Judah learned to do as God soundly destroyed all his props of self-confidence. As Judah, Moses, and Paul emerged to a willingness to give up their lives for their brethren, we too must be willing to sacrifice the ultimate for our fellow man, motivated by the power of God's Holy Spirit. Through His Spirit, we love one another by listening to one another, sharing our experiences with one another, and serving one another.
John Ritenbaugh, illustrating the tragic state of pastor's withdrawing from their responsibility of preaching God's unadulterated word, plays a recording of a spoof from an Australian comedy show, mocking the politically correct pastors who may water down the Ten Commandments to "the Ten Negotiating Principles," or perhaps "Ten Helpful Suggestions." When pastors have abandoned their responsibility to uphold God's Law, government has historically stepped in to fill the gap, basing their decisions on humanistic preferences rather than biblically-based morality. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, although crafted by men of nominal Christian persuasions (some of them having roots in the Separatist and Puritan experience of desiring religious liberty and even a kind of theocracy) and Deists (believing in God by inferring it from design and order in nature), did not establish the Constitution as a covenant with Almighty God, but did build into it common sense checks and balances so that if a moral populace lived by it, our people should be governed with the least amount of friction. Sadly, the populace has drifted from an ethical and moral climate into a relativistic, secular humanist point of view. Morality now consists of toleration for mass infanticide (termed abortion) and homosexual sodomy (called gay rights), enforced by a government voted in by people with a narcissistic, agnostic, or atheistic humanistic mindset (virulent secular humanism) which has totally displaced Christianity (real or nominal) as the dominant religion of our land, marginalizing anyone who insists on basic human ethics, let alone God's 'pesky' (because it is intolerant of sin) commandments.
Martin Collins continues to expose disingenuous members of the archeological scientific community who do not want to deviate from their curious agenda of suppressing evidence of any Western Hemispheric explorations before Columbus, especially evidence to corroborate the existence of any Semitic settlement in what eventually became the American Southwest nearly 3000 years ago. The Las Lunas New Mexico Decalogue Inscription is actually an abridged version of the Ten Commandments carved into a flat boulder by a clan of commandment-keeping Semitic peoples thousands of years before Columbus set foot in the Western Hemisphere. These discoveries are a perpetual source of embarrassment for the secular progressive, anti-God humanists who mistakenly think they are the 'gate-keepers' of scientific knowledge. The very stones of the earth cry out against these pseudo-scientists who profess themselves to be wise, but in reality they are hopelessly debased fools given over to reprobate minds for refusing to acknowledge even the possibility of a sovereign Creator. Well did Paul speak of these as folk who have left God out of their knowledge.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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