Vince Lombardi was one of the greatest football coaches who ever lived. In 1961 the Green Bay Packers squandered a lead late in the fourth quarter and lost the NFL Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles. That was the last time Lombardi lost in the playoffs. The Packers won five NFL Championships in seven years- including three in a row. He never coached a team with a losing record.
After losing to the Eagles Lombardi opened training camp by focusing on the fundamentals. He held up a pigskin and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football!” Max McGee, the All Pro wide receiver said, “Slow down, coach, you’re going too fast!” Great coaches- Lombardi, John Wooden and Bill Belichick- always focus on the fundamentals.
Last weekend brought another series of horrific shootings in America. Death and carnage took place in Texas and Ohio. Maybe it is time for us to go back to the fundamentals? Maybe we need a nationwide stand down or time out to review the fundamentals… Perhaps we should go back to the basics.
Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 list the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are a great foundation for society. The Ten Commandments are the very beginning of the Mosaic Law. We don’t live under the Mosaic Law today. The Old Testament pointed to the coming Messiah. We live today under something much better- the Law of Christ. However, there are great lessons we can learn from the Ten Commandments.
The first commandment is, “You shall have no other gods before Me…” (Exodus 20:3). There is only one God. Romans 1 says that creation teaches God exists and He is very powerful. When we look at the mountains and rivers and the clouds and salmon and moose, we can know that God exists and He is very powerful.
Have we as a nation observed this very basic command? Unfortunately, the answer is no. A common verse in the Book of Judges is, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25). Knowing God is not a buffet line or a smorgasbord. We can’t just pick and choose. He is Yahweh the God of the Bible.
The second commandment is a prohibition against all idols. An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. It is anything that is more important than God. An idol is making a god out of something that isn’t actually God.
Are there idols in America today? Our idols are often reflected in the media. Violence, pleasure, power and popularity are at the top of the list. Very few people can honestly say, “My relationship with God is the most important part of my life.”
The third commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exodus 20:7). The emphasis is upon protecting God’s name. Has anyone watched a movie lately? Our God’s name is not a four letter word. God is to be honored and respected and worshiped.
The fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). The Sabbath was part of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant today does not mandate the Sabbath. The Sabbath was not primarily a day of worship- it was a day of rest. The first day of the week was to be a time of rest. Do we rest today in America? It seems life gets busier and busier.
The fifth commandment says, “Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). The first four commands focus on our relationship with God. The last six commands focus on our fellow human beings. The family is the building block of society. As the family goes, so goes the nation.
Children must be taught to respect and obey their parents. As children obey their parents they learn to be productive citizens. One person told me, “It used to be that the teachers and staff were running our schools. Then the parents were running the schools. Now the children are running them.” A safe school begins at home.
Another commandment says, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Life is sacred. We are made in the image of God. Life is to be cherished and protected. Life is so precious Jesus became one of us. He became the God-Man to give us ultimate life- eternal life.
The list goes on. “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Marriage is sacred. The sexual revolution of the 1960’s has not produced a better society. We have sown the wind and are reaping the whirlwind. God’s plan is one man and one woman for a lifetime. Marriage is not easy but marriage is good.
Exodus 20:15 says, “You shall not steal.” Property is sacred. The Bible does not teach communism or socialism. James, the half brother of Jesus said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). We are not to steal even time from our employers.
Another command reads, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Truth is sacred. The spiritual battle is won or lost in the mind. We either believe lies or we believe the truth. Meditating and acting on the truth begins with speaking truth.
The final commandment forbids coveting. Coveting is an inordinate desire for something God has not given us. There is nothing wrong with setting goals and working and desiring something. Coveting says, “I cannot be happy without this.”
Full disclosure- I am a Green Bay Packer fan. The 1970’s were a tough time for the Packers because we got away from the basics. Tough times are coming to America. God uses tough times to make us stronger. May the hard times remind us of the good times and drive us to our knees and the best foundation for our lives.
Pastor Ethan Hansen
Faith Bible Fellowship Big Lake, AK