THE 1ST COMMANDMENT – A BRIEF EXPLANATION
You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3)
The concern of the 1st Commandment is with the object of our worship --- who we worship. It forbids us from worshipping false gods, but calls us to worship the right God instead. This 1st Commandment can be divided into two parts:
(i) We must take Jehovah to be our God
(ii) We must take only Jehovah to be our God.
We must take Jehovah to be our God
First of all, this means to know and acknowledge Jehovah to be God, the only true and living God (i.e. there is none others!) Next, we know and acknowledge Jehovah to be our God. In simple words, we choose Him to be our God.
What does it mean to choose Jehovah to be our God? It means to put Him in the highest place in our life, and then to respond by worshipping and glorifying Him. In practical, day-to-day terms, this means:
We think and meditate and remember Him
We highly esteem Him over all else, including ourselves
We adore and love and desire Him more than anything or anyone else
We fear (reverence) Him
We believe and trust and hope in Him, rather than in our own abilities, intelligence, expertise . . .
We are zealous for Him and His name
We give all praise and thanks to Him for every achievement.
We submit to Him in every affliction.
We are very careful to please Him and equally careful not to offend Him
We walk with Him
To use the words of Jesus, it is to love Jehovah!
We must take only Jehovah to be our God
The choice that confronts us in this commandment is a radical one, an either-or. It is not Jehovah-and-XXX but Jehovah alone! It is a call to love Jehovah with an undivided heart! To do otherwise is to be guilty of idolatry!
Idols are not just Baal and Guan-Yin and Ganesha, but anything we put in the place of God. Some trust in their strength (Habakkuk 1:11), others in their gold and money (Job 31:24, Matthew 6:24). Some live for their appetites / desires (Philippians 3:19). To identify the idols in our life, consider this question:
If only I have __________, then I will really be happy / satisfied / contented.
What would you write in the blank line above? That’s your real (functional) god!
John Calvin says that our heart is a perpetual idol factory. This is to say that all of us constantly struggle with the 1st Commandment. To take Jehovah and only Jehovah to be our God is a daily battle for every one of us. Can we triumph? Only in the Gospel, for “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12)
QUESTION TO PONDER . . .
Why did the apostle John end his 1st epistle with a call to the Christians to guard against idolatry? (1 John 5:21)
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