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Devotion for February 03, 2006


Last June the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Texas could continue to display the Ten Commandments on the capital grounds in Austin. In a separate ruling the court ordered that two other displays be removed from courthouses in Kentucky because they were intended to emphasize religion. The justices determined that the Texas display did not violate the Constitution’s establishment clause, even though it was adorned with Jewish and Christian symbols, because it was part of a larger group of exhibits that depicted the state’s legal history. Interestingly, the display was originally part of a public relations campaign for Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 Hollywood epic about the Exodus starring Charlton Heston as Moses.

If we believe God’s Word, then we must  conclude that the key to moral transformation in society does not lie in merely posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses and school rooms, but in the proclamation of the gospel. Today’s passage underscores this by emphasizing that hearing the law is not enough. True righteousness is reflected in obedience that comes from the heart.

When the Day of Judgment comes, those who knew God’s law will not find that they have any advantage over those who did not. Likewise, those who never received the law will not be exempt from God’s judgment because of their ignorance but will realize that God’s moral law was stamped on their conscience all along. Those who know the law and those who do not will both find that they come short of God’s standard. God will judge everyone by their actions and the actions of all will condemn them, unless they have experienced the transforming grace and forgiveness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. Mere knowledge of God’s commandments cannot compel us to do what sin has robbed us of the power to do. They can show us how far we have fallen, and prepare us to see our need for Jesus Christ.

Apply the Word

Quiz yourself to see if you know the Ten Commandments. You can check by comparing your answer to Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. After you have done this, read Jesus’ commentary on the true meaning of God’s Law in Matthew 5:17-48. Which of the commandments does He specifically address? What does He say was lacking in the way the religious leaders of His day approached God’s Law?

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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