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Lesson 8: Loyalties *

Introduction: Have you ever thought of applying for a position and then asked yourself, "What does this position require?" If you want to be a Christian, if you want to serve God, what does that require of you? What does God ask of those who want to follow Him? Obedience? Loyalty? Let's jump into our lesson and find out what the Bible says on that subject!

  1. First Commandment

    1. Read Exodus 20:2-3. What is the first commandment that God gave to us?

      1. On what was that commandment premised? (That God had just brought them out of slavery in Egypt.)

      2. Are the Ten Commandments something a Christian should follow today?

        1. If you answered, "yes," what does the first commandment have to do with us today? Anything? You and I were never in slavery in Egypt. (Consider the audience. God had just shown His superiority to the gods of the strongest nation on earth - Egypt. God was giving His people a point of reference for His claims. He saved them over the objections of these other gods, therefore He is superior. Today God continues to make the same claim - that He is all powerful and can release each one of us who choose Him from the slavery of sin and death.)

    2. While Moses was up on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from God, which contained the First Commandment we just discussed, what were the people saying down at the bottom of the mountain? (Read Exodus 32:1. They were looking for "gods who will go before us.")

      1. What did they do as a result of that desire? (Read Exodus 32:2-4. They made a golden calf to which they gave the credit for saving them from slavery in Egypt.)

    3. Why do you think God made the "no other gods before Me" requirement the First Commandment? (This is a great irony. God demanded their loyalty at the same time they were being disloyal.)

      1. How do you account for the decision of the people to worship something they had made with their hands out of their own jewelry? Put yourself in their place. What were they thinking?

      2. What is your reaction to their thinking?

      3. As you consider the logic of the people, what do you consider to be their greatest logical flaw? (They forgot or ignored the fact that God, not some calf they made, had just rescued them from slavery. Moses absence allowed them to discount what God had done for them in the past.)

        1. Do they seem forgetful, stupid, disloyal or all three?

        2. How do we act when we think that God is not currently helping us? What do we think when He seems to be "gone" from our lives?

    4. Read Exodus 32:8-9. What is God's analysis of the people? (They have been quick to turn away from Him because they are "stiff-necked.")

      1. What do you think "stiff-necked" means? (The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says it means "stubborn." The illusion is to a yoke for oxen who do not cooperate. These people are "like rebellious oxen ... [who] turned quickly from the Lord's service.")

      2. What did these people have to be stubborn about? Why not be loyal to the true God, the God who just saved them? (There is something within us that does not want to trust God. We prefer to take matters into our own hands.)

  2. First Obligation

    1. Read Matthew 19:16. What does this man want? (Eternal life. He wants to know the answer to the questions I asked in the introduction to our lesson - what does he need to do to serve God.)

      1. Do you agree with the premise of his question, that there is some good thing that can be done to enter heaven?

    2. Read Matthew 19:17-19. What do you think about Jesus' answer? Is this what you would have expected?

      1. What is significant about the commandments that Jesus lists? (They are in the group that concern our obligations to others - not our obligations to God.)

    3. Read Matthew 19:20. If the young man had done what Jesus said was necessary, why would he think he was still lacking something? (At the end of the day, relying on our works alone leaves a void in our soul.)

    4. Read Matthew 19:21-22. Is what Jesus said part of the Ten Commandments?

      1. If you say, "yes," is this a commandment that applies to you?

      2. We started off with the story of God's people turning away from Him and turning to a golden calf just after God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt. No doubt you said, "What stupid, disloyal people. I would never do that!" Now we turn to this rich young man and the loyalty test placed on him. Is this still an easy, obvious decision in your opinion?

      3. What was Jesus really asking of this rich young man? Was Jesus continuing with the point of helping others -- give away money to help others? (I don't think so. I think Jesus has now turned to that part of the Ten Commandments that deal with our relationship to God. The young man trusted in his money. Jesus is telling him that he must now trust in God.)

    5. Read Matthew 19:23-24. Why is it so hard for a rich man to enter heaven? (Because a rich man is inclined to trust his money - what he has made with his own hands, instead of trusting God.)

      1. What parallel do you see between the "rich man" and God's people who were making and worshiping the calf while Moses was on the mountain with God? (It is the same thing - trusting in what you have made with your hands, rather than trusting God.)

    6. Read Matthew 19:25-27. Had the disciples done what was asked of the rich young man? (Peter says that he "left" his stuff. However, John 21:1-3 suggests that Peter did not sell his stuff - he still had his boat. John, another disciple, apparently did not sell his home. See John 19:26-27.)

      1. Why should this rich young man be asked to do things that were not asked of the disciples? (The New Bible Commentary quotes R.H. Gundry as saying "That Jesus did not command His followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom He would issue that command." Ouch!)

  3. First Decision

    1. Read Matthew 6:24. In the United States we have Republicans, Democrats and Independents - those who claim to vote for Republicans sometimes and Democrats sometimes. Why is Jesus' statement true? Can't we be "independents" when it comes to God and money?

      1. What do you think it means to "serve money?"

      2. Let's go back to our rich young man a minute. Does the Bible anywhere say that if we sell everything we have and give it to the poor we have salvation? (No, unless the story of the rich young ruler is read that way.)

        1. Read Romans 3:20. By giving the rich young ruler the "sell" command, what was Jesus doing? (Keeping God's commandments does not save us. It merely reveals our sins to us. Jesus asked the young man to do something he would not agree to do.)

        2. What does Matthew 6:24 teach us about why Jesus gave the "sell" order to the rich young ruler? (Like the point made in Romans 3:20, Jesus was revealing to this young man the nature of his sin. Selling his stuff would not save him. However, his sin was trusting his stuff instead of trusting God. If he truly trusted and served God, instead of money, he would not have had a problem with selling his stuff.)

    2. Friend, how about you? Are you loyal to God or do you think you an independent? Are you loyal to what you have made with your hands? Loyal to what you can do in your own power? Loyal to your money and possessions? God calls on us to give Him our loyalty.

  4. Next week: Reverence
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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