Character Determines Environment
Deuteronomy 5:21-33
Neither shall you desire your neighbor's wife, neither shall you covet your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant…

I. THE STORMY ELEMENTS OF NATURE SERVE AT TIMES AS THE FITTING ROBES OF DEITY. All natural objects are the projections in space of his creative voice. He spake and they appeared. He is still behind all phenomena - the only real substance. Since he is all-wise, the sole fount of knowledge, the true Revealer of secrets, he is properly said to be appareled with light. The rainbow is his diadem, the morning sun is his radiant face, the thundercloud his chariot. To human eyes, he can only be visible in such forms as these. His holiness can be visibly expressed in no other form than fire. The profound inscrutable ness of his will is best made manifest by the "thick darkness." His insufferable glory is attempered by a cloud. His kingly power is betokened by a "great voice." Such is his fitting environment.

II. THE NEAR APPROACH OF GOD IS INTOLERABLE TO SINFUL MEN. The unrenewed man shrinks from contact with absolute purity. He is in an uncongenial atmosphere - like a fish out of its native element. What tremendous losses foolish man submits to rather than abandon sin - losses of privilege, friendship, joy! So Peter prayed, when the vision of Christ's wondrous power dawned on him, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." But the renewed man yearns and pants for a nearer, and yet nearer, approach to God. "I pray thee, show me thy glory!" This is his joy - to be near God, to grow like him. And yet, how often do we shrink from the passage of death, the passage by which we penetrate into the inner palace of Deity! Whatever brings us into nearer fellowship with God ought to be welcomed.

III. A SIGHT OF GOD KILLS EITHER THE SIN OR THE SINNER. There is no question that God intends the former, but if the guilty man will not part with his sin - identifies himself with it - then he too dies. To know God, and his redeeming Son, is tantamount to eternal life. But to know God only in his judicial character, to have defective acquaintance with him, alarms and kills. The love of sin perverts the judgment, and destroys good logic. These Hebrews said, "We have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth;" and then they inconsistently add, "Therefore why should we die?" In presence of that mystic flame, they promise loyal obedience. If only life may be spared, and God's commands be conveyed in a less alarming manner, they pledge themselves to be his liege servants. Alas! men little know their own weaknesses! So men still say that if they had such a revelation as they wished - such in degree, and such in kind - they would yield compliance! Yet the real difficulty arises not from defects in the external revelation, but from the internal disposition.

IV. GOD'S APPORTIONMENT OF HONOR AND DISHONOR APPROVED BY MEN. HOW different his language to different persons! To some, "Go, get you into your tents again;" to another, "Stand thou here by me." To dwell near to God, and to enjoy his revelations of light and love - this is really man's crowning privilege, this his heaven. Yet the bulk of men are blind to their own good, dead to noblest joy. To possess any pleasure, their environment must be suited to their character; the external must correspond with the internal. "Depart from me!" says man to his Maker. "Depart from me!" responds our God. "Out of our own mouths we are judged."

V. OBSERVE GOD'S INTENSE LONGING FOR MAN'S GOOD. How pathetic are such ejaculations as these, "Oh that there were such a heart in them, to fear me always!"

1. Religion must be a matter of the heart.

2. Religion is not a compulsory, but voluntary, service.

3. Religion commands the allegiance of the whole man - his reverence, submission, and practical service; and that not spasmodic, but continuous.

4. Religion brings largest benefit to ourselves and to our children. Even bad men have, at times, desires after a better life - fitful moods of regret and aspiration. God, in his wondrous patience, smiles on these - approves a passing thought or a transient feeling-and says, in his paternal love, "Would that this frame of feeling continued!" These are the openings of opportunity's golden door.

VI. THE WORLD'S OBEDIENCE IS DEPENDENT ON HUMAN MINISTRIES, The majority of men will not listen to God unless he speak to them through human agencies. Men will only read God's Word as it is written, in large capitals, in saintly lives. Thus God commanded Moses: "I will speak unto thee... thou shalt teach them, that they may do." The pardoned man becomes God's interpreter to the world. "Speak thou to us," they say, "and we will hear." "As Christ was, so we are to be in the world" - light-bearers. The heathen nations learn only through the Church the redeeming work of God. - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

WEB: "Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife; neither shall you desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."

The Remedy Against Evil Speaking
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