ONE LAW, NOT TEN.
These ten commandments are not ten different laws; they are one law. If I am being held up in the air by a chain with ten links and I break one of them, down I come, just as surely as if I break the whole ten. If I am forbidden to go out of an enclosure, it makes no difference at what point I break through the fence. "Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." "The golden chain of obedience is broken if one link is missing."
We sometimes hear people pray to be preserved from certain sins, as if they were in no danger of committing others. I firmly believe that if a man begins by wilfully breaking one of these commandments it is much easier for him to break the others. I know of a gentleman who had a confidential clerk, and insisted on his going down Sunday morning to work on his books. The young man had a good deal of principle, and at first refused, but he was anxious to keep in the good graces of his employer and finally yielded. He had not done that a great while before he speculated in stocks, and became a defaulter for [USD]120,000. The employer had him arrested and put in the penitentiary for ten years, but I believe he was just as guilty in the sight of God as that young man, for he led him to take the first step on the downward road. You remember the story of a soldier who was smuggled into a fortress in a load of hay, and opened the gates to his comrades. Every sin we commit opens the door for other sins.
ALL HAVE COME SHORT.
For fifteen hundred years man was under the law, and no one was equal to it. Christ came and showed that the commandments went beyond the mere letter; and can any one since say that he has been able to keep them in his own strength? As the plummet is held up, we see how much we are out of the perpendicular. As we measure ourselves by that holy standard, we find how much we are lacking. As a child said, when reproved by her mother and told that she ought to do right: "How can I do right when there is no 'right' in me?" All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, no, not one.
I do not say that all are equally guilty of gross violations of the commandments. It needs a certain amount of reckless courage openly to break a law, human or divine; but it is easy to crack them, as the child said. It has been remarked that the life of many professors of religion is full of fractures that result from little sins, little acts of temper and selfishness. It is possible to crack a costly vase so finely that it cannot be noticed by the observer; but let this be done again and again in different directions, and some day the vase will go to pieces at a touch. When we hear of some one who has had a lifelong reputation for good character and consistent living, suddenly falling into some shameful sin, we are shocked and puzzled. If we knew all, we would find that only the fall has been sudden, that he has been sliding toward it for years. Away back in his life we should find numerous cracked commandments. His exposure is only the falling of the vase to pieces.
Men have all sorts of weights that they think are going to satisfy, but they will find that they are altogether vanity, and lighter than vanity.
The moral man is as guilty as the rest. His morality cannot save him. "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. . . . Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." I have often heard good people say that our meetings were doing good, they were reaching the drunkards, and gamblers, and harlots; but they never realized that they needed the grace of God for themselves.
Nicodemus was probably one of the most moral men of his day. He was a teacher of the law. Yet Christ said to him: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." It is much easier to reach was a Lamb without spot or blemish, His atoning death is efficacious for you and me. He had no sin of His own to atone for, and so God accepted His sacrifice. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. We are righteous in God's sight because the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ is unto all and upon all them that believe.
If we had to live forever with our sins in the handwriting of God on the wall, it would be hell on earth. But thank God for the gospel we preach! If we repent, our sins will all be blotted out. "You, being dead in your sins, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all your trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross."
LOVE THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW.
If the love of God is shed abroad in your heart, you will be able to fulfil the law. Paul reduced the commandments to one: "Love is the fulfilling of the law." Some one has written the following:
"Love to God will admit no other God.
ARE YOU READY?
It is the height of madness to turn away and run the risk of being called by God to judgment and have no hope in Christ. Now is the day and hour to accept salvation, and then He will be with you. Do you step aside and say: "I'm not ready yet. I want a little more time to prepare, to turn the matter over in my mind?" Well, you have time, but bear in mind it is only the present; you do not know that you will have to-morrow. Wasn't Belshazzar cut off suddenly? Would he have believed that that was going to be his last night, that he would never see the light of another sun? That banquet of sin didn't close as he expected. As long as you delay you are in danger. If you don't enter into the kingdom of heaven by God's way, you cannot enter at all. You must accept Christ as your Savior, or you will never be fit to be weighed.
My friend, have you got Him? Will you remain as you are and be found wanting, or will you accept Christ and be ready for the summons? "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."
May God open your heart to receive His Son now!