The Ten Commandments and Examination of Conscience

This is a “sermon” I preached on Lent 2, March 10, 2019 using the framework of the Ten Commandments as an examination of conscience.

You know the 10 Commandments? From the time of the Reformation until the early 20th century, our church said, “Read the Ten Commandments every time you celebrate the Eucharist.”

The strength of that was we all knew what they were – we could recite them readily and they do provide a fundamental framework for faithful Christian living. The drawback with making them so front and center is that we can think that they contain all the really important moral teaching in their direct meaning. But think about it: Anyone here commit murder this past week?

If I answer, “No, I only broke both his legs.” then I don’t think that qualifies me as either an upright citizen or a loving Christian. In fact, the Church’s centuries long teaching is that the Ten Commandments provide headings, under which the Church gathers her ethical and moral teaching AND we understand these commandments as Jesus has interpreted and applied them.

So one of the commandments says, “You shall do no murder.” The Church teaches us that this includes physical injury and depriving people of what they need in order to survive and thrive. Jesus himself takes this commandment in the Sermon on the Mount and applies it like this: ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire.’ (Matthew 5:21-22) Oops! Anyone here commit murder this past week?

Used in this way, the Ten Commandments become a framework to guide our Christian living and they help us to examine our conscience and make a good confession. What I would like to do with you now is go through the Ten Commandments on page 317 in the Prayer Book. I will read each commandment, develop it in the way Christ and the Church have done and we will use it as our confession.

When I say, “Forgive us, Lord.” we sing the response with the cantor/choir.

And we remember that God calls us to see ourselves as we really are, not to discourage us but in order to heal us, restore us and build us up into his image.

Let us pray.
Lord, show us how we have disobeyed your commandments and give us grace to repent and amend our lives.

God spake these words, and said:
I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of
Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none
other gods but me.

For putting our families or work before you;
For establishing political loyalties without reference to you;
For dabbling in the occult, consulting horoscopes, for honoring pagan forces in any way;
For being ashamed of being a Christian, for keeping it a secret from family, co-workers and neighbors;
For failing to speak of you to others, or to acknowledge your lordship in our lives;
For keeping compartments of our lives outside your control;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image,
nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above,
or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth;
thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them.

For participating in unchristian worship; for holding or serving a false view of you; for imposing upon you our own prejudices and shortcomings;
For failing to correct our false images; for neglecting to study and know the Christian faith; for remaining superficial in our prayer;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

For using your name to curse and condemn; for using religious language frivolously or for tolerating such use;
For lying to others, to ourselves and to you; by breaking explicit promises, by misleading others, by failing to speak the truth;
For missing opportunities to speak your name lovingly, in worship or in witness; for failing to glorify your name by how we live;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.

For missing Church on Sundays and holy days without good reason; for participating in worship without love or attention; for using Sunday as any other day – for work or study;
For lack of gratitude for this day of rest; for failing to commend its value by word and deed; for failing to protect it in our own lives and in our community;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Honor thy father and thy mother.

For disobeying our parents; for speaking harshly to them or about them; for making their lives a burden;
For neglecting them; for not staying in touch; for taking away their dignity in their old age.
As parents ourselves –
For neglecting our children, giving them material things instead of our love;
for abusing them physically, sexually, verbally or emotionally; for trying to make them mirror images of ourselves;
For failing to share our best with them, above all our faith in you;
For disobeying or disregarding those in legitimate authority over us – at work, in government, in the Church;
For failing to pray for them and encourage them;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt do no murder.

For killing or injuring others by direct action or by neglect or apathy;
For tolerating political and economic policies that endanger the well-being of others;
For gossiping, lying and undermining the good name of others; for being angry and insulting others; for treating others with contempt and ignoring them, especially in your name;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not commit adultery.

For sexual relations outside of marriage, for desiring and seeking them;
For selling, buying or using pornography and for tolerating it around us;
For using sexuality to gain power and influence, to sell products or to gain popularity;
For denying the goodness of sexuality; for not valuing its role in human relationships; for excessive repression;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not steal.

For stealing, shoplifting, defrauding others; for keeping what does not belong to us; for evading taxes and duties;
For grasping more than we reasonably need; for allowing others to be in want when we have enough and more; for our part in corporate and national practices which keep the poor poor;
For robbing you by not paying our tithe; for being ungenerous; for not giving to charity when we could;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

For testifying falsely under oath; for lying, for concealing the truth; for misrepresenting the actions and motives of others either to ourselves or to other people;
For believing and spreading lies about others and for delighting in scandal;
For speaking thoughtlessly and for giving unnecessary offense;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and incline our hearts to keep this law.

God said, Thou shalt not covet.

For longing for what belongs to others; for trying to take it;
For allowing our wants to be formed by what others have;
For regarding our desires for luxuries as needs for essentials;
For being jealous of the appearance, ability, prosperity or good name of others;
For seeking our own well-being at the cost of others or in disobedience to you, O Lord;
Forgive us, Lord.
Lord, have mercy upon us,
and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.

Lord, I did not realize how much of my life I keep out of your control. Thank you for showing me the ways I fail to love you and other people. It hurts me to see this but I know it hurts you even more.
Father, I thank you that you love me, sinner though I am. Thank you for offering me forgiveness and a new life.
I pray for a clear recognition of the weight of my sins – I do not want to pretend that they do not matter. Give me real sorrow for committing them and a firm resolve to do better.
I come to you with my confession, contrition and repentance to ask for your pardon for the past and your grace for the future.
Forgive us, heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus. AMEN

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

2019-03-23T17:02:11+00:00