This isn’t indifferent change. It’s hostile to God (Romans 8:7). It’s outright rebellion against the strictures of divine order. Satan fell first into this trap of spite. He wasted no time in convincing Adam to follow his example. Since that time, doubt, unbelief, anger, and mistrust have been etched onto our hearts. You might say that it defines the whole world’s attitude toward God who reveals himself in the Bible. ‘I can deal with any god but that one.’
Simply put, sin is destructive change, originating in rebellious unbelief, that leads to death.
On our own, we’re unable to cut through the noise of our own conflicted hearts to figure out the difference between God’s changeless gifts and the false gods of desire. That’s why God gave us the Ten Commandments. They teach us about the timeless and changeless gifts that uphold and bless life.
We’re used to thinking about the Commandments in terms of “shall” and “shall not” statements. But take a moment to think about what the commands and prohibitions are protecting.
You shall have no other gods.—The gift of God himself.
You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.—The gift and right use of God’s name.
Remember the Sabbath day.—The gift of church.
Honor your father and mother.—The gift of parents and other authorities.
You shall not murder.—The gift of your neighbor’s body and life.
You shall not commit adultery.—The gift of marriage and chastity.
You shall not steal.—The gift of personal property, yours and your neighbors.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.—The gift of reputation
9 & 10: You shall not covet.—The gift of contentment.
When human action attacks the gifts of order and life, when our words and thoughts imagine a world without government, family, and the church, we shouldn’t balk at calling it sin. It’s time for us to reclaim this word in our vocabulary. If a man attacks the true God through rejection of his Word, then the rest of God’s gifts are attacked as well. Unbelief results in both spiritual and bodily death.
From watching the news and participating in our society, you know that the world’s tastes and fashions are as fickle as the wind. Some of this change is inconsequential. With a mind and heart trained in the commandments, you’ll quickly see that other changes erode the foundations of the church, family, and society. You’ll begin to see the moral drift that’s taken hold of the public imagination. You’ll see the deadly results. Murder and violence are rampant in the headlines. Drugs, whose sole purpose is to intoxicate and addict, are wrecking families and communities. Men and women try to escape the facts of their bodies in search of their identities.
As the world falls deeper into its collective amnesia of the Ten Commandments and natural law, we shouldn’t be surprised that it struggles to find value in either the Christian’s message or why churches deserve tax breaks. They can’t see what the church adds to progressive direction of their imagined, ideal society. If the church preaches a morality that lasts, that resembles more a foundation to a house than a tattered sail on a directionless ship, then we shouldn’t be surprised by a changing world’s scorn.
If our desire as Christians is to remain relevant to the culture, to match their tastes and fashions in our preaching and worship, we wouldn’t find it too difficult. The resources exist to ease the fear of ‘change or die’ that grips many a timid heart. But trying to keep up with those changes is a never ending race. In the attempt, I think we would confuse appearances for what matters. We would forget that what the church sings, confesses, and looks like reflects the timeless and changeless character of Christ.
The church is founded on the Man who never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Though the world changes and continues its long decline towards death, our Lord’s love continues to lift sinners to life through his unchanging Word. And for that reason we have hope. Our hearts are fickle and given to vice. We forget and ignore our old confirmation promises, wedding vows, and solemn oaths. We forget and ignore in service to the insatiable god of our bellies, and to placate our self-serving fears. Though we are faithless, God is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). He never forgets his promise to redeem sinners whom the devil considers his prize. Generation after generation, the Stronger Man comes to rob this world’s strong man of his goods (Luke 11:22). He does it by exposing the devil’s chains for what they are under the unchanging light of the Ten Commandments. He does it by unlocking the prisoners from the chains of guilt by grace, for the sake of Christ’s sacrificed blood which is enough to satisfy God’s anger against the sin of the whole world.
Our sins will not destroy us. Death will not defeat us. The world may either hate or love the Christian church, but they cannot change who we are. The church is Jesus creation. He has instituted it with his forgiving Word. He has washed her and made her pure through his baptism. His body and blood nourish and strengthen her saving faith. If we remain in these unshakable foundations of spiritual and resurrected life, neither the world’s madness nor God’s wrath will consume us.
Both our Lutheran churches and schools are bastions of stability in a world gone mad. Jesus’ Word gives both meaning and purpose to our members, to the families that belong to our school, and to our neighborhoods. Remember the changeless things. Fight to keep them from getting mixed together with the garbage that’s here today and gone tomorrow.