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Sabbath School Lessons on The Promise - God's Everlasting Covenant
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: Covenant Law *
Introduction: How many times do you have to tell your children
something before it sinks in? An old adage is that you have to say
something three times before it will be remembered. Our lesson
quarterly is working on the premise you must say things four times,
because the quarterly's lesson this week looks a lot like our lessons
for the last three weeks. I am going to give you a break, and go on a
little different course this week, while still trying to stay with
our topic of the covenant. Let's jump into our study!
- Jesus' Test
- Let's read Matthew 22:34-36. Does verse 34 sound like a
sports contest? The Sadducees' team lost a round to Jesus,
so the Pharisees' team huddled to see if they could do any
better. Is that what is happening here? (Yes, actually.)
- The Pharisees have a top lawyer present Jesus with
the question found in verse 36. Assume you have never
heard Jesus' answer before, and you were deciding
which of the Ten Commandments was the greatest. Which
would you choose?
- Read Matthew 22:37-38. Wait a minute! Which of the Ten
Commandments is this? Is this even one of the Ten
Commandments? (It is not.)
- Is Jesus cheating? This is not a commandment. It
doesn't even sound like one of the commandments. How
do you explain His answer? (The first four
commandments ( Exodus 20:3-11) have to do with our
obligations to God. Jesus took those four and
summarized them as requiring total love for God.)
- Read Matthew 22:39. Is this one of the commandments? (No.)
- On what basis can Jesus give this answer? (Jesus is
summarizing the last six ( Exodus 20:12-17)of the Ten
- Is this a fair summary? Do those six
commandments say anything about love?
- How does "You Shall Not" get translated into
"Love?" Are we using the wrong Bible
translation? Was Jesus using the wrong
- Love for God
- Let's look at Matthew 22:37 in more detail. What does it
mean to love God with "all your heart?" (Read Exodus 20:3.
To love God with all your heart is to give Him first place
in your affections. Adam Clarke's Commentary says, "He
loves God with all his heart who loves nothing in
comparison of Him.")
- What does it mean to love God "with all your soul?" (The
Greek word "psuchee" that is translated "soul" means
"breath." I think this means our love for God is so great
we are willing to give up our life (our breath)for Him.)
- Read Exodus 20:4-5 and tell me how you think this
fits (if at all) the instruction to love God "with
all your soul?" (If we are to love God so much we are
willing to give up our life for Him, then clearly the
days of our life should not be given to another god.
We should not spend our life worshiping other gods.)
- Going back to Matthew 22:37: What does it mean to love God
"with all your mind?" (This Greek word, "dianoia"
literally means "understanding." Our intellect should be
fully committed to God.)
- Read Exodus 20:7. Can you relate this to loving God
with all our mind? (When I was growing up I was
taught this text meant I should not swear using God's
name. It no doubt means at least that. However, I
think it means a great deal more. When we falsely
claim God's authority for our selfish projects, when
we take advantage of others in God's name, then we
have misused His name. To love God with all our mind
requires an intellectual honesty in dealing with
others in matters of faith.)
- How is loving God with "all your heart" different than
loving Him with "all your soul?"
- How is this different than loving God "with all your
mind?" (While we have tried to dissect these three,
the obvious message is that God wants us to love Him
with our entire being!)
- Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life," at page 70 says
this: "learning to love God and be loved by Him should be
the greatest objective of your life. Nothing else comes
close in importance." Warren says, "God longs for you to
know Him and spend time with Him." Id. That is what we do
in these lessons: spend time with God.
- Love for Man
- Let's look at Matthew 22:39 again. One of Martin Cruz
Smith's books mentions a Japanese man whose only son was
going to fight in World War II. About the father Cruz
wrote "the son was the measure of his love." I was so
struck by that language. The father loved his son as much
as he was capable of loving. What does God tell us should
be the measure of love for those around us? (Our love for
our self should be the measure of our love for others.)
- What does this mean? When we get a new car, we buy
one for our neighbor too? We buy a car for the
starving children in nation X?
- Let's look at Exodus 20:13-17. Is this a practical
explanation about what Jesus meant about loving our
neighbor? (This is certainly a part of the definition. If
you asked me "Would you want other people to refrain from
doing these things to you?" I would say, "Yes!")
- Would you summarize these six commandments the same
way Jesus summarized them? (No. I would summarize
them by saying "Don't harm your neighbor.")
- How does "you shall not" get translated by Jesus
into "love your neighbor" (and, by the way, the
measure of the required love is the extent of
your love for yourself)?
- In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked "who is my neighbor"
just after He said "love your neighbor as yourself." Scan
Luke 10:29-37. Did the first two travelers, the priest and
the Levite, do anything in violation of the last six
- If you agree with me, how does Jesus get from the
last six commandments to this story about the Good
- If you disagree with me, tell me which of the last
six commandments the priest and the Levite violated?
- Let's look at another story that illustrates Jesus' view
of the last six commandments. Read Matthew 5:27-28. How
does Jesus get from "No adultery" to lustful looks? (It is
obvious that Jesus treats the "don't harm" commandments as
positive commands for our lives. The seeds of this are
actually in the last six commandments. If you look at
Exodus 20:17, the last commandment tells us to be careful
of our mental attitude. If you do not covet your
neighbor's things (including his wife or her husband) you
are not going to be stealing it or committing adultery
with "it." Instead of focusing on the actual violation
(stealing, killing, adultery) the last commandment tells
us how to avoid getting close to the violation.)
- New Covenant
- We have seen that Jesus has, at least on the face of
things, radically expanded what is required under the Ten
Commandments (the Sinai Covenant). When I hear people talk
about the "New Covenant," some are making the point that
we no longer have to worry about "keeping the law." We can
pretty well ignore sin in our lives. How can that be
squared with the idea that Jesus seems to be making the
commandments a lot harder to keep?
- Read Hebrews 8:8-10. What does it mean to put the law in
our mind and write it on our heart?
- Does this remind you of Matthew 22:37?
- How does the idea that the commandments, under the
"New Covenant," are written in our hearts fit with
Jesus' expanded definition of what the commandments
require? (Logically, this fits perfectly. Jesus
teaches us that the simple "do not commit adultery"
is not the goal of the law. The law, instead, is
intended to reach our mental attitude. If we would
commit adultery, if we had the opportunity, then only
our opportunity determines whether we sin. This says
nothing about our heart. Under the "New Covenant,"
Jesus says that He will change our attitudes so that
we want to do His will. Under the "New Covenant"
attitudes and not actions are most important.)
- What do you think, did Jesus actually expand our
obligations under the "New Covenant," or was a change in
attitude what God had in mind all along? (Read Deuteronomy
6:6. The context of this is the Ten Commandments and it
shows us that God has always had in mind our attitude
instead of "you shall not." That is why I write "New
Covenant" in quotation marks. The God's goal with His law
has not changed. What makes the "New Covenant" really new
is that Jesus fulfilled its obligations on our behalf. I
am convinced, however, that Jesus' fabulous work on our
behalf does not alter one whit God's deep desire that our
attitudes should be in accord with His when it comes to
sin. Instead of negating the law, Jesus' sacrifice on our
behalf shows how deadly serious He is about His law.)
- Friend, God's covenant law is intended to promote love for
God and love for our fellow humans. Will you make it your
highest priority to deepen your love relationship with
- Next week: The Covenant Sign
* 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.