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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
Preached At:
Title:What Does God Require of You?
Text:LD 34 Exodus 20:1-21, Romans 1:0 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God's Law is Good

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

Psalter 265 - The Majesty and Holiness of God
TH 563 - What Kind of Man Can Live in the World
TH 470 - How Vast the Benefits Divine

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

What Does God Require of You?

HC LD 34, Exodus 20:1-21, Romans 1:16-2:16

A requirement is a condition to fulfill. And when we talk about fulfilling requirements, we talk about reciprocity. We fulfill something, we get something in return. Or we receive something, and we reciprocate. How can you require me to do something unless there’s something in return? You do a favor for someone, they snub you and insult you. You give them a valuable gift, but not only do they not express gratefulness, they reciprocate by smashing it up. But when they fall into trouble, they call to you for help. Wouldn’t you start to question if you should help? How come they didn’t reciprocate? After all, it’s not only decency; it’s expected.

This is what we want to talk about today. What does God require of you? He’s the creator, the sustainer, the one who gives you life. And while he does it again and again, people disregard him. What are the consequences? This evening, we learn 3 truths. Firstly, God requires absolute obedience, secondly, God requires absolute obedience of everyone, and thirdly, the consequences of disobedience and obedience are extreme.

Firstly, God requires absolute obedience. He gave these 10 commandments. What are they? In short, thou shalt have no other gods but me, before no idol bow thy knee, take not the name of God in vain, nor dare the Sabbath day profane. Give both thy parents honor due, take heed that thou no murder do, abstain from thoughts, words, deeds unclean, nor steal though thou art poor and lean, and do not lie but always say what is true, and covet not the things that don’t belong to you.

And these commandments are divided into 2 parts. As the catechism says, “The first teaches us how to live in relation to God; the second, what duties we owe our neighbor or our fellow man.” Jesus also said this (Matthew 22:37-40) - “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The first four commandments have to do with loving God, and the last 6 have to do with loving our fellow man.

Now, why must we love God? He’s God. He’s not a tyrant. He’s our creator. He’s the one the sustains us. He’s the reason why we have breath. Why we live another day. He gives the sun and the rain upon the godly and the ungodly. And so in response to his goodness, we reciprocate - by loving him and obeying him. The first 4 commandments have to do with the object of worship, the manner of worship, the reputation of him we worship, and the day of worship. 

God commands us to love him, to worship him. Thou shalt have no other gods but me. It’s natural and right that parents receive the respect, honor, and loving obedience from children they created, sustained, and nourished. It’s expected we reciprocate gratitude and respect and obedience. Likewise, God created, sustained, and nourished; he ought to receive the worship and obedience of his creatures. And this God is not just any god. Question 94 says that he is the true God. Exodus 20:1 identifies him as the LORD - the only living and true God.

But how he is to be worshiped matters. He’s not one of his creations. To make an image of a man or animal and call it god is an insult to him and them. His creation was not made to be worshiped. Sometimes man even combines man and beast to worship - like a half man and half animal. But there is a way God wants to be worshiped. 

And the reason for that is because he has a reputation - a name. To take him for granted, to dishonor his reputation, to give honor to others for things he has done, to speak lightly of him, is to dishonor him. This is why he has reserved a time for us to worship him - a day to rest from other activities legitimate on other days, to worship him and to nourish ourselves spiritually. These are his commands - as creator and God, he has given this to mankind. And he requires absolute obedience. Notice that Exodus 20:7 says that God will not hold a man guiltless who dishonors his reputation. If we downplay his laws, treat them loosely, do not obey absolutely, God holds us guilty. Reciprocity. We must not forget that this loving God is also a holy God.

God doesn’t only command us to love and worship him. He commands us to love our fellow human beings - the ones created to love and obey God. And these laws cover comprehensively, the different aspects of life - authority, life, marriage, work, truth, and satisfaction. We honor those that God has put above and under us. All authority has been placed by God. And all those in authority must care for those under them. But often, there is a hatred for authority and a lack of love for subordinates. 

God is concerned with life. He has created life. Therefore he commands that life is to be preserved, that all murder and hate against those to whom God has given life, and desire for vengeance is not love. Who are we to take away life unjustly from those that God has created? 

God governs marriage and sex as well. God instituted marriage. He instituted it for companionship, for intimacy, and as he wills, for the procreation of children. Intimacy is good in marriage alone. To look on others as sex objects is not to love them; neither is it loving to deny your spouse of your faithfulness and warm affection. 

God requires us to work, not to steal. He takes care of us and calls us to cultivate the earth - to make it into something. But often, man does not trust God to supply but trusts work to provide his needs and wants. Instead of work becoming a life goal; work becomes a means to an end. And when work does not provide, man resorts to theft - in various ways and means - even relying on luck and numbers. Not to work, not to trust God for provision, but to take it from others whom God has supplied, is not love. To scam others and plunder others, rather than to care for them is not love. 

Furthermore, God requires truth between people. Because he is a God of truth, in our communication, whether we speak or write, it is to uphold truth. God is concerned for the transmission and reception of the truth. And therefore, gossip, slander, misrepresentation, and the listening to the same - libel, fake news, and the reading or watching of untruth does not honor others. 

God also requires satisfaction in life. If God is creator and is good to his creation, then we ought to believe that he alone gives satisfaction. But if, when we do not worship him, we begrudge our situation, dissatisfaction sets in, we think God is not good, and we can’t be happy unless we have what others have or what we want to have. We envy rather than be happy for their situation in life. That’s not love towards God or others.

God requires absolute obedience. Why? Because he is our good, creating, and sustaining God. This is our reciprocity to him. And this is why many don’t want to believe in a God. Because without deity there is no responsibility. But at the same time, people want a God of their imagination - that nothing bad therefore can ever happen to their lives. That God must be at their bidding to do their will, like a genie - rather than a God to be feared and submitted to. And if something bad happens, we automatically think that God must be the one that hasn’t kept his end of the bargain - because it can’t ever be that we were disobedient to him. Not only do we dishonor him by such a thought, but it shows that there’s idolatry in our heart. We read in the Heidelberg that idolatry is having or inventing something in which to put our trust instead of, or in addition to, the only true God who has revealed Himself in His Word. We have made a good and ideal life our idol instead of God. God requires absolute obedience. And he requires it absolutely of everyone. That’s the second truth. 

Now, if these laws are required of everyone, then those who are not Christian, who do not love or worship the LORD, transgress these laws. But how do all men know they’re supposed to worship the LORD? How’re they supposed to know these 10 commandments? There are 2 ways they know. 

Firstly, Romans 1:18-20 says that God is angry with all men for breaking his laws - which they know. God has revealed these laws to man. In the design of nature, they see in his creation, how wise he is; in the vastness of the universe - his power in creating the galaxies. And in terrible calamities, they perceive his holiness and judgment. These visible things instruct man about the invisible things of God. And man is without excuse. This is why, the world over, people worship. They know innately there’s a creator by looking at creation - they see the stars, the moon, the mountains, cattle, and all of God’s creation. They know there’s judgment. We see hints of this in all world views. But as verse 19 says, they suppress that truth in unrighteousness. Rather than worshiping the creator of the stars, moon, and cow; they consult the stars, and worship moon and the cow. They worship gods shaped like men, half-man-half-animals, they worship ancestors; and honor trees. They have suppressed the knowledge of the one living and true God. Even judgment. There’s an innate knowledge of coming judgment. We’ve all heard about the 18 levels of hell, the idea of karma and judgment - reincarnation into lower life forms. They’ve suppressed the knowledge of an eternal lasting judgment. There’s even knowledge of a day of worship. And even the whole idea of 1 day out of 7, this law was not only known to God’s people, but to all men. The world over, most ancient people had a 7 day week. There’s an innate understanding. Even the Chinese use the term ??? - the day of worship.

Secondly, we’re told in Romans 2:14-15 that those who did not have this law, by nature, do the things required by the law. While they don’t know Exodus 20, they show that the law is written on their hearts. Their conscience knows right from wrong. They’re able to accuse - determine what is wrong; and excuse - determine what is right. Everyone knows respect is given to superiors and subordinates; that it’s wrong to murder, wrong to commit adultery, wrong to steal and not work, wrong to lie, and wrong to be greedy. In fact, there are laws and systems in place to upkeep these moral codes in all countries. Why? Because they are written on our hearts. In Singapore, there’s a parental maintenance law. And not just that, companies have HR departments to prevent abuse by bosses and to set KPIs to monitor employees. Why? Because we know we can’t be trusted to be moral. There are strict penalties on murder and theft. And divorce law once favored the innocent party of adultery. And while it is not legally wrong to be greedy, there’s social stigma. Singapore society makes fun of it - kiasi, kiasu, tamjiak, kiajiakbo, FOMO. This is why, as Romans 2:1 says - all are inexcusable. Sure, non-Christians may not know the first 4 commandments, but they certainly know the last 6. By conscience they know what is wrong, but they do it anyway. 

But not only are these commandments required of all people, they are especially required of God’s people. Exodus 20:2 says - “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” It’s because God had rescued them that they owe to God their gratitude in obeying him. It was not some other God that rescued them - it was the LORD. There’s a obligation toward a loving savior, and not just a good creator. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says, “for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” God’s people belong to God, having been rescued by him. It is the obligation of love. 

And here, we come to the third truth. The extreme consequences of obedience and disobedience. What if there is no reciprocity from those that God has created and sustained? That they consistently refuse to acknowledge him? But worship their idols and themselves? That they in their conscience do what they know to be wrong even though they had not received these exact 10 commandments from him? What if they dishonor, hate, covet in their hearts, think evil, gossip, have unclean thoughts, words, and actions? What if they freely stir trouble anonymously online? Using harsh and unkind words, being selfish, and indulging in bitterness of heart? 

We see that God rightly reciprocates. He judges. Romans 1:18 - God is angry against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Romans 1:28 - God chooses not to restrain them - he lets them do what should never be done. And even though they know it’s wrong and even though they innately know there’s judgment, they continue to do it. Romans 1:32 - “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Romans 2:2 says that God, in his justice, will rightly punish anyone who does such things. This is only right. It’s reciprocation. And Romans 2:6 says, that he will give to every man according to his deeds - to those who do well, he will give them glory, honor, and eternal life; for those who do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness - God will give him, verse 8 - “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil.” Is this right? I don’t think any of us will deny that even a gracious God will one day stop returning good for disobedience. 

And that awaits each of us, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Sure, we say we have not murdered or committed adultery or stolen big things. But God requires absolute obedience - that even the thought of murder or bitterness or hatred, any unclean thought, is sin to him. Reciprocity. It is extreme. God said in Ezekiel 18:4 - “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

But this is the Christian message here. This is what makes Christianity unique. God knows that we cannot keep, neither do we want to keep all his commandments. We are sinful at heart. We have the law of God in us - we know what’s right and wrong. We even have our own standards and we judge others for not meeting those standards. But we break our own standards. We don’t only not do what God requires of us, we also don’t do what we require of others. 

So while this rightly should receive judgment, yet so that we won’t be condemned, God himself came down to be a man to keep all of his commandments perfectly. What he required us to do, he did. He did good to all, he loved, he honored God. In all of his life, Jesus Christ never broke one of God’s commandments - as God himself, he was obedient and perfect - fulfilling every one of God’s requirement perfectly. He did what no other man could do. The Bible states this - “at the right time, God sent his Son, to be born, subject to the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that God might adopt us as his very children.” He fulfilled the obligation to God on behalf of sinners. When the people who heard the law of God, and they rightly perceived the holiness of God, they could not bear it. They had Moses, their leader, represent them to God. And Moses went to God and faced God alone. While Moses represented the people to receive the law for them, Jesus presented his people and kept the law for them. 

And he did what no other man would want to do. He gave his life to be punished by God for our lack of obedience. What others should have faced, he took on himself. That indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that does evil - Jesus, who was innocent - bore when he was executed. The Bible says - for there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a payment for the sins of all kinds of people.

And what was the consequence of his obedience? He purchased salvation and mercy instead of judgment. He purchased obedience - so that we need not obey perfectly to be saved. Jesus said in John 5:24 - “Truly I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not be condemned; but is passed from death unto life.” This is why Romans 1:16 says that this good news is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes - to the one who has the law but can’t keep it, and to the one who does not have the law, but can’t even keep his conscience.

Dear friends, God commands your absolute obedience. And while he’s patient now, his patience will run out - and he will repay. But God is over abundantly good. He has provided a way out. If you think this is unfair and man should work for his salvation, then by all means try. Then, if you can’t, expect reciprocity on God’s behalf. Romans 2:4-5 say - if you despise God’s goodness, forbearance, patience; if you don’t repent and believe after hearing this goodness of God, then you get fairness - the judgment and wrath of God. God calls you to believe. He calls upon you to accept that gift of salvation. What is required of you? Say you can’t keep the law and you have sinned. Believe that God has abundantly gone beyond and provided a savior in Jesus. And you believe that he has kept the law for you and been punished in your stead.

As the Heidelberg says, “come to know the only true God, trust in Him alone, submit to Him with all humility and patience, expect all good from Him only, and love, fear, and honor Him with all my heart. In short, that I forsake all creatures rather than do the least thing against His will.”

And that’s why for those who have - dear Christians, we remember that God came in the flesh. Jesus died for us to save us. God did for us what we could never have done for God. When we refused to obey, despite his goodness and kindness, he went further, to purchase our obedience and salvation. Let us serve him. That is our obligation. To be thankful, and obedient to God. To love and fear and honor him with all of your heart. As Romans 1:17 says, “that the just shall live by faith.” 

Sermon Outline:

1. God Requires Absolute Obedience

    A. Obedience in Loving God 

    B. Obedience in Loving Man 

2. God Requires Absolute Obedience of Everyone

    A. All men (written on their hearts) 

    B. His redeemed people

3. The Consequences of (Dis)Obedience Are Extreme

    A. Punishment and judgment (idolatry)

    B. Salvation and mercy by Christ’s obedience

    C. Thankfulness and obedience by Christ’s people

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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