I tried to find out how many laws there are in the United States. As you might guess, that number is nowhere to be found, and would instantly be outdated if it were findable. There are thousands upon thousands of laws on the books, and new ones are constantly being made. Seems to me, with so many laws floating around, the chances of any of us living without inadvertently breaking one now and then are pretty slim.
How about if we tackle the much shorter list of laws in Exodus 20? Although God, through Moses, gave the Israelites 615 distinct laws to follow (still an infinitesimal fraction of the number our government has imposed on us), the Ten Commandments are recognized far and wide as a good model to go by for living oneís life. Might even be useful to memorize a short version of each commandment, for handy reference. Wonder how Iíll score today on keeping the Big Ten?
1.I am God. Do not have any other gods besides Me. God with a small ďgĒ is an idol. Have I held anything up as god in place of Him today? My sleep, my free time, my husband, our children? What or who has absolute top importance in my life? If itís not God, Iíve broken the first commandment.
2.Do not make any idols to worship. Do I worship the creation rather than the Creator? Do I treat my TV like an idol, set up a whole room around it, and spend hours gazing worshipfully into its depths? Do I worship and crave success, wealth, fame? Bleck.
3.Do not misuse the name of God. There are other ways to express anger, amazement, disgust, disagreement, and surprise than saying our Saviorís name in various emotional tones, like the surfers who can have whole conversations using just ďdude.Ē Exodus 20:7 specifically warns that those who misuse His name will be punished. Personally, I wonder what He will have to say to me about how much profanity I listen to without protest.
4.Remember to dedicate the Sabbath to rest and worship. As Christians, we are resting in Christ every day, and are to live honoring and worshiping Him every day. Nevertheless, itís wise to also physically rest one day a week. Ask any doctor. Sometimes I donít bother to respect this.
5.Honor your father and mother. Have I spoken disrespectfully to or of my parents? I am ashamed to confess that I sometimes break this law most egregiously. I fail to give them the honor they deserve as my elders, as people who have given me life, loved me unconditionally and sacrificed much to provide for me. Guilty.
6.Do not murder. At last, one I can shrug off. Iíd never murder anyone! Except that Jesus says that everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Rats.
7.Donít commit adultery. Same deal. Iíd never do it, but Jesus says that if I look with lust at someone, I commit adultery with them in my heart. Guilty again.
8.Donít steal. I have done personal business at work, stealing my employerís time. Iíve neglected to return incorrect change given me, books loaned to me. Iíve wasted whole days of time given me to redeem. Guilty.
9.Donít lie. We donít need examples here, do we? Though I have vowed to God never to lie, untruths still slither to the tip of my tongue with appalling frequency, hoping to be let out. And truths that I should say get stuck in my cowardly craw, creating a lie by omission. Guilty.
10.Donít covet. But, there are shiny sparkly faster fancier newer toys in my neighborsí jewelry boxes and garages and living rooms and I want them in mine. Guilty, duh.
You may think that what Iíve confessed is laughable, not really bad. (Remember, I chose what to tell you!) But even if those were the worst things Iíd ever done, still I am guilty. Even if someone managed to break only one law one time, heíd still be guilty, right? His record would be blotched.
What does it mean that I have broken Godís law? Only this: I cannot be in His presence. He is HOLY. No sin at all is allowed in Heaven, for which I am extremely grateful. Imagine a Heaven where you could mostly trust people, but not for sure. Almost no one would litter, or cheat you, or lie about you. It would be pretty good, definitely an improvement over Earth. How horrible. I want my Heaven perfect, thank you very much, and thatís what God promises. But to be let in, I must be have my guilty slate wiped perfectly clean, and my Jesus has done that for me. The only person who never sinned at all gave Himself to pay for my wickedness, and He continues to intercede for me as I continue to miss the mark. I look forward with such intense yearning to the day when I will no longer have to confess my sins to Him and tell Him how sorry I am that in spite of my best efforts, I have failed Him yet again. One day I will be completely free of the ability, let alone the desire to sin, and that will be a burden rolled off, indeed; true freedom and true joy worth celebrating for a good long time, and full of possibilities for an adventurous eternity.