Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
[[9th and 10th Commandments]]
INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: Our hearts are the problem.))
“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” You aren’t without, you don’t lack, you do want for anything when you’ve got the Lord. Yeah, right… Oh, it sounds great, and we want to believe it. (Lord, help our unbelief.) But day to day we don’t think that, don’t believe that, don’t act like it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t crave, desire, or want what we want. That’s what coveting is all about: craving or desiring what you don’t have, wanting what those around you have.
These two Commandments (Nine and Ten) tie in with the First Commandment. You can really study them together, take them together, they go hand in hand. Commandments Nine and Ten get us to the heart of the matter, the heart of our spiritual problem: our hearts!
((4. Ugh!: Our hearts are a craving mess.))
That’s a more than a little uncomfortable. We like to think of ourselves as self-sufficient, free, independent. We make choices. We’re at least neutral, right? God and heaven on one side; devil and hell on the other side—we stand in the middle. The Lord tells us that that’s not the case. That’s what the Ninth and Tenth Commandments are all about. The truth is our hearts are a craving mess.
We crave, want, and desire. Is there any choice in it? Our mind will rationalize the craving, the desire, the sin of our heart. Adam and Eve were created to desire the Lord and His Word, but then Eve desired the fruit. She desired to be like God; so did Adam who was with her. Then they desired to cover themselves. Desired to hide from God. Desired to blame God and other people. But the true culprit, the true guilty party is clearly seen: the human heart.
This is sinful human existence. The heart wants stuff, and the mind rationalizes it. Why do we talk about people “falling” in love? “Love” gets reduced to “desire” and it always comes before the rationalizing of “why.” But so many “whys” come flooding in with our screwed up desire. There are so many things that we just have to have. Why? No good reason, but, given enough time, we can come up with something.
We’re to fear, love, and trust in God above all things, and we’re to do it with our entire body, soul, mind, and heart. The heart desires, the mind rationalizes, the body does, and the soul is stained in God’s sight. That’s what James says, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Just look at Ahab and Jezebel with Naboth’s vineyard from our reading!
If we want a vacation, how quickly there are reasons of why skipping church is ok. If we crave something, how quickly we can rationalize not being generous to those around us, to the church, to those in need. We don’t want to help with the chores. We don’t love another to-do list. We don’t crave putting others (neighbor or God) first with our time, our energy, our money.
Me first. That’s the heart’s first and greatest creed. It wants what it wants. That’s how it works. Our neighbor? Well, I’ll decide when and what to give. The Lord God? Give as much as I think is appropriate. That’s just minds doing what they do. Rationalizing our heart’s desire, and it’s creed: “Me first.” It’s true: our hearts are a craving mess.
((3. Aha!: THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE US.))
That won’t do. Not any of it! The Lord’s the Lord, and we’re not. He isn’t just God. He makes Himself our God. Why would He do that? It’s not because we naturally desire Him. It’s not because we love Him with our entire body, soul, mind, and heart. It’s not even because we try so hard. No, He does it only because of His love and mercy in Jesus.
Our desires are all wrong, and in the saving department they don’t matter. They matter in the unsaving department. That’s what they earn us: our hearts, and desires. They earn us hell. No, it’s the Lord’s desire that matters. In spite of us, thanks be to God, that THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE US. THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE YOU. He wants to be your God and for you to be His child. He loves you. He craves to save you from you and your heart. Yes, THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE YOU.
((2. Whee!: That means He gives us new hearts!))
THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE US, and so He does. To do that He must create a new heart. That’s the only way. And so He does. He creates a new heart—for Himself! In the womb of the Blessed Virgin, the Lord knitted together a heart for Himself. God Himself became incarnate, the Son “became man.” He had a body, soul, mind, heart. He lived a perfect life. He always desired to do His Father’s will: cherish the Ten Commandments, love Him above all things, and carry the sinful desires your heart continually produces. He became the very sin that infects the heart to crave everything but God. He was crucified as sinner for sinners. He shed His blood, and finally, after He had given His life, His very heart was pierced to pay the penalty of our sin-infected, sin-broken hearts and desires.
THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE YOU, and so He does. To do that He must create a new heart. That’s the only way. And so He does. As Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” You are baptized into Jesus. There you have a new in-Jesus heart. When you are in Him, He creates in you a clean, new, contrite, and God-loving, neighbor-loving heart. The Spirit continually creates that “clean heart” by daily repentance worked by His Word. The Spirit “sprinkles your heart clean” with the blood of Jesus when you receive it with His body in the Supper.
((1. Yeah!: We really do have new hearts in Jesus.))
THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE YOU. So He does. In Jesus He does. And you really do have a new heart in Jesus. It’s only an in-Jesus sort of heart. Apart from Him, without Him, separated from Him and His Word and Gifts where He is and where the Spirit is—well, there you will only have your heart. The Lord will let you have that. Let you go off and desire and get whatever you want in this life. He will let you skip out on Him, His Word, His Gifts, His body and blood He shed for you.
Why would you do that? You really do have a new in-Jesus heart. He lives in you. He is within that you would desire and do according to His good will. Your new, clean, pure in-Jesus heart fears, loves, and trusts in Him and His Father before all things. That Spirit enlivened in-Jesus heart doesn’t desire, want, or crave anything except to love your neighbor. After all, what your neighbor has is a gift for them, and you have your own God-given gifts. Why would you want what they have? Your in-Jesus heart doesn’t.
But Your heart of flesh, which sticks around until the grave, does. It desires all sorts of things besides loving God and loving the people He put into your life. It only does that. So, thanks be to God, His desiring matters. Jesus died and rose. You’re baptized into that. The Spirit dies and rises you in the Word. You’re given Jesus’ body and blood—continual being in Jesus and Jesus in you. THE LORD DESIRES TO SAVE YOU. And so you are.
INI + AMEN.