Articles That Matter

Here are two articles that I think you should read. Both are related to the Ten Commandments. Far too many just punt the Ten Commandments for our lives, but as believers, we should be drawn to them because they point us to God’s holiness and what He has publicly decreed for our lives.

The Second Commandment and the Son of God Movie — This one is truly helpful when it comes to watching movies about Jesus. Garrett Kell helps us see that this is an issue that Christians need to pay attention to. Far too many want to use their freedom with these things even though these things could be damaging to our spiritual growth. Kell writes:

#3 – These images of Jesus could lead me to think wrongly of Jesus.

This is the heart of the issue as I see it. As with all things, there is no neutral ground with visual depictions of Jesus.  The most well-intended artists will have to take artistic liberty that will knowingly fall short of presenting Jesus accurately. And the more realistic a portrayal of Jesus becomes, the more potentially dangerous the threat becomes that someone might receive what that Jesus does or says as being true.

I realize we are all likely to imagine what Jesus said or how he said it as we read the bible, but when God gave the second command He specifically spoke against the making of images of Him for a reason. Our natural sinful nature tends to make God into our own imaginative image. But as J.I. Packer said in Keeping the Ten Commandments “I like to think of God as…” should never be trusted. An imagined God will always be an imaginary God.”

He also has a very helpful link sections on the subject. I’m planning on getting J.I. Packer’s Keeping the Ten Commandments when I get a few dollars more. Here are the links:

For further study on how the second commandment applies today check out:

This Ligonier article, this Tim Keller audio clip about the heart behind the 2nd commandment, this excellent Mark Dever Sermon where he preaches on the 2nd commandment in Dubai (the last 10 minutes deal with images of Jesus), this John Murray article entitled The Second Commandment and Images of Christ, the Westminster Shorter Catechism – Question #51 and the Larger Catechism – Question #109.

For a few other good resources on the 10 Commandments check out these:

How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments – Edmund P. Clowney

The Law and the Gospel – Ernest C. Reisinger

Keeping the Ten Commandments – J.I. Packer

His Loving Law, Our Lasting Legacy – Jani Ortlund (for teaching children)

The Third and Principal Use of the Law — This was a link in Garrett’s story above, but well worth pointing out. So many think because of Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law but under grace,  that the Law has no place in the life of the believer. This is not true.

As Kevin DeYoung points out in the article linked above:

Christians are free from the law in the sense that we are not under the curse of the law–Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4)–nor is the law a nationalized covenant for us like it was for Israel.  But the law in general, and the Ten Commandments in particular, still give us the principles which instruct us how to live.

He concludes:

We obey the commandments, therefore, not in order to merit God’s favor but because we have already experienced his favor.  The Decalogue was given to Israel after God delivered them from Egypt.  The law was a response to redemption not a cause of it. In one sense, the law shows us our sin and leads us to the gospel. But in another sense, law ought to follow the gospel just as the giving of the Decalogue followed salvation from Egypt. We obey God’s words not because we cower under threat of judgment, but because we stand confidently with our Deliverer and gladly accept his good rule for our life.

The point is that the Law still plays a part for our lives today. We don’t come to the Law in order to earn righteousness, but out of hearts grateful for what the LORD has done for us. Therefore we don’t make images of Him, or profane the LORD’s Day. We keep Him and His day holy because He is holy and has made us holy for that purpose.
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4 thoughts on “Articles That Matter

  1. I have no dog in this fight, so to speak. I have no wish to see the movie. I won’t defend it. Not going to try. I’m only asking a question. Some people who point to the Second Commandment (against images) understand it to mean “No images.” These would argue that any images (paintings, sculptures, whatever) are a violation of this command and those who have any images (especially, of course, of religious issues, but it can easily be taken to include all images) are … what was your phrase … punting the Ten Commandments. Others (R.C. Sproul springs to mind) argue that the prohibition isn’t against images, but against worship of anything or anyone other than the true God. They would say, then, that obedience to the commandment (not “punting”) would require that any images not be used for worship, but may be used for art, for instance, or decoration. It appears as if you are leaning toward the first category. Would that be an accurate understanding of your position?

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    1. Hi Stan,
      Yes, I lean toward the first position because if you read the full first article, there are those who when they pray to Jesus, think of Jim Caviziel in their prayers, giving Christ the image of a fallen man. As J.I. Packer pointed out, any image we have of Jesus is insufficient and does not render Him the glory He is due, even if the work of art is very well done. Also, according to Packer, if we do give a portrayal of Jesus which meets the requirements of a Holy King, then we would be tempted to worship the image we have created… violating the Second Commandment.

      The other big issue for me is when people use movies, like The Jesus Film, to share the gospel instead of preaching Christ crucified. They are being lazy and disobedient so they can illicit an emotional response.

      Does that help?

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