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I am the Lord your God (2 of 6)

Shane Willard

Page 3 of 8
Essentially, the Ten Commandments start with this: I've done this for you. What are you going to do about it? How will you respond?

The essential question for us is: understanding that God wants to be ‘in me’ - despite me; that God wants to marry me - leaven and all.

To understand that is one thing; to respond to it is a totally different thing. How will we respond?

Here are some myths we have to deal with, about the Ten Commandments. These are things that are not true:

1) God is proposing conditions for His love. No way! You don't propose to someone that you don't already love - this is a marriage proposal. God is proposing conditions to His love? No, He's not.

2) God is trying to make us good. Wait a minute, good compared to who? Him? No way! God's not trying to make us Good. God is trying to make us Free. His whole goal in this was to free people from slavery - to free people what bound them up.

3) God is offering a list of how to ensure that we are ‘in’. That's another myth. This is not a list of things that you do, in order to make sure you get to heaven one day. This has nothing to do with any of that. It's not a list of things you do, to make sure you're in.

He kind of covers that base with the last one: “Thou shalt not Covet”. In other words, don't ever want to do any of the other nine ones.

So where did the idea come from that ‘God is good’, and ‘we are bad’; and then we get to ‘impress God by doing good’? Why do we think that our Behaviour is linked to our Acceptance with God? Where did that come from - the idea that: God listens to my prayer more, if I'm a good boy; and He shuts His ears to me if I'm a bad boy?

This idea is worldwide - through all major religions. It's just in us. Where do we get the idea that God will listen to our prayers more, if I'm behaving? This way of thinking has done more to alienate people from God, than it has done to connect them with God, and this is why:

Guilt is always a temporary motivator.

There are two big-time temporary motivators: Fear; and Guilt. Those are very temporary motivators, fear and guilt. You'll do a lot of things when you get afraid, that you won't do under normal circumstances; and you'll do a lot of things when you get afraid, that you can never maintain.

Guilt's the same way. Am I the only person in the room that's ever made a promise to God at an altar, because of guilt, that I couldn't keep? Come on. I remember being at camp one time, and they told us we'd go to hell if we didn't pray for 30 minutes a day; so I got scared, and I got guilty, and I promised God that I'd get up at five o'clock every morning and pray for an hour. The first day I was excited about it, I got up, I prayed, read my Bible, and I opened my eye after praying, and it was 5.05am! I thought: what am I going to do now? I was only 13 years old. Fear and guilt are horrible motivators.

God's not trying to establish a relationship with fear and guilt. That would be the same as saying: “you have to marry me”.

Whether you love me or not, you have to marry me? No, no, no. God wants to create a relationship out of freedom. The message of God is exactly the opposite. God's laws, and His rules, are not condition for relationship; they're confirmation that He wants us to have the best life.

Let me make two observations about that:

1) You could tell a lot about a person, by the rules they establish. You actually train people how to treat you. You do; you set boundaries. One of the Hebraic definitions of hell is: a boundary-less place. If we're living in a circumstance where someone can treat me any way they want - and with no repercussion - that's called hell. That's called hell; it's a boundary-less place.