“The Moral Law” (A Dr. O Special) – Exodus 20:1-17

Preached by Roger McCay
10 October 2021
Sermon Passage: Exodus 20:1-17
Link to Audio Version
Link to Dr. O’s Preaching of the Sermon

This sermon was written by Dr. Robert J. Ostenson, and he originally preached it on 25 January 1976, at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery, AL. It is part one of a series of eleven sermons on the Ten Commandments. As a tribute to Dr. O, and due to the enduring value of these sermons, Dr. Roger McCay transcribed it from the original sermon tapes, preaching it on 10 October 2021, at Monroeville Presbyterian Church, Monroeville, AL. This series is wonderful and relevant to every generation. A pastor could take these sermons and preach them 100 or 1000 years from now and still speak truth to the lives of the hearers.

“The Moral Law”

This morning’s sermon is on the 10 Commandments. A study of this kind, I think, is timely, because the 10 Commandments have something to say to a deteriorating human society. The 10 Commandments have something to say to that person who is yet outside of Jesus Christ. And the 10 Commandments have something to say to the Christian. Now, it’s also important that we study the 10 Commandments because there is a great deal of confusion, even among Christians, as to the place and relationship of the 10 Commandments to the gospel of grace. There are many people today who are like the Galatians of old who predicate salvation not simply by grace through faith but faith plus the works of the law. There are other groups of believers who believe that because all pertaining to salvation is of grace, the 10 Commandments have no place in God’s economy for the Christian. Now, as to answer this last thing, to start a foundation for our study of the Commandments, we have chosen the subject before us this morning. And that is the relationship of the law and the gospel.

Now let me warn you right at the outset this morning, you are going to have to put on your thinking caps. I hate to say that, but you have to. I know a lot of people come to church on Sunday morning, and they’ve been busy and used their brains all week long. And they come, and they say, “Preacher, leave me alone.” This sermon is not designed to appeal to your aesthetic sense. This is designed for you to deal with the very spiritual cement and steel and timbers of your faith, which is necessary for committed Christian living. And it’s important for us, this morning, to put down a solid foundation, in order to build our study of the 10 Commandments. So, you’ve gotta put on your thinking caps. And I warn you, you’ll probably go away from this sanctuary this morning and say, “Uhhh!” But we’ve got to put down a foundation. And you’ve got to use your head a little bit this morning, rather than just your emotions.

First of all, let’s define terms. What do we mean by the moral law? We mean the expression of God’s eternal moral will—what the eternally righteous Creator and Lord of this universe has revealed concerning his desire and requirement of his creatures. It’s the divine declaration of God’s holy will, which is binding upon all men at all times and in all places.

Having said that, we immediately come to face the fact that there are certain basic facts that we either have to admit or we have to deny. And the first basic fact is this: that the God of creation, the Lord of this universe, is an absolutely perfect and righteous and just and holy God; and that this perfect God has created a moral universe in which he has revealed a moral law; and conformity to his moral law is right and nonconformity is wrong. In other words, God has created a universe in which there are moral absolutes. And there is such a thing as absolute right and absolute wrong.

Now, we shall not take the time to go into all the Scriptures, this morning, that declare this. But I don’t know whether you realize this or not, but this is really what’s at the root of the problem in our society today—this very thing. Paul says in Romans, “There is no fear of God before [men’s] eyes.”[1] And because men no longer believe that God is a moral God, and that he’s created a moral universe, and he’s revealed a moral law, men have come to the place that they think they can do anything that they want to and are not accountable to a holy God. So, this is the first basic fact that we have to face, that God is a perfectly righteous, just, and holy God, who has revealed a moral law and created a moral universe, in which there are some absolutes.