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The Ten Commandments, Part 8

"Grace means nothing to a person who does not know he is sinful and that such sinfulness means he is separated from God and damned. It is therefore pointless to preach grace until the impossible demands of the Law and the reality of guilt before God are preached."

John MacArthur


In this lesson we will look at the Eighth Commandment: "You shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15). Most people don't think that God considers theft to be theft until the value of what is taken impresses Him. However, if I open your wallet and take just one dollar, I'm a thief, and the Bible says that thieves will not enter the kingdom of God. What would be worth stealing for the loss of your soul? Jesus asked, "What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

It is a sad testimony to the wickedness of the human heart when the world honors an honest person. Someone finds a wallet filled with money and returns it to the owner-and that makes national news. It is rare when a human being does what he should. Theft comes easily to us because our spiritual father is a thief. He came to steal, kill, and destroy, and his will we willingly do ... and love it. As a child I would use an eel spear connected to a piece of rope to spear apples in my neighbor's yard and pull them through the hedge onto our property. We had apples at home, but the stolen apples tasted sweeter.

We don't realize how sin crouches at the door of the human heart. Many would never consider theft until temptation arises. Take for instance the situation on May 14, 1993, in Chicago, when $600,000 fell out of an armored truck onto the interstate. Panic-stricken motorists screeched their vehicles to a halt and stuffed bills into their pockets. Motorcyclists were seen cramming their helmets with cash, and speeding off into the distance. Two paramedics handed police $120,000. They returned the cash only because they suspected it was drug money and therefore "marked." Around $450,000 is still missing.

Sinners will often dig deep into the realm of fantasy to try to justify theft. They will say, "Are you telling me that if a man steals a loaf of bread to feed his starving children that God calls that theft?" The answer is yes. It is theft and the Bible says that he should make restitution for his crime. If a man is hungry, he should beg before he steals. A sinner will often admit to stealing but say that it was just a bar of candy when he was young. Or he will say that he has stolen once, but has since reformed. He must be told that time doesn't forgive sin, and that God still sees the sins of yesterday as if they were committed today. Stop his mouth using the Law (Romans 3:19). Show him that the only way to escape the terrible consequences of his sin is the Door of the Savior. Let the hurricane of the wrath of the Law of God blow far from him the scanty leaves of self-righteousness. Have him admit his transgression by name-that he is a thief. Then point to (and have him read) 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.

Charles Finney said, "This Law, then, should be arrayed in all its majesty against selfishness and enmity of the sinner. All men know that they have sinned, but all are not convicted of the guilt and ill dessert of sin. But without this they cannot understand or appreciate the gospel method of salvation. Away with this milk-and-water preaching of a love of Christ that has no holiness or moral discrimination in it. Away with preaching a love of God that is not angry with sinners every day."[1]

[1] Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2004). The school of biblical evangelism: 101 lessons: How to share your faith simply, effectively, biblically-the way Jesus did (84-86). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.