The First Commandment
"Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
Is there anyone "wrong" or distasteful to a Christian to engage only in monotheism; to avoid bowing down before pagan deities, grotesque idols, figments of the imagination of demented and perverted pagans who "imagined," in their ignorance, all sorts of "gods" to whom they ascribed carnal human lusts?
Since God is the divine Creator, since He made the universe, the heavens and the earth, and since He made man; since He is the Designer, Creator, Sustainer and Ruler of our whole universe, is it somehow "wrong" of Him to demand that we recognize Him, and Him ONLY?
This is a rather logical commandment, wouldn't you think?
What would the whole world be like if it acknowledged only the one true God?
First, the religions of India, most of Africa, most of Asia and, for that matter, the false religions of much of the Western professing Christian world, would be totally altered if they understood the truth about the one true God!
If they understood who God is, what is His nature and character, why He has created man and placed him upon this earth, and where humanity is headed, they would be living their lives according to the divinely revealed Word of that God in awe and fear of Him, instead of living their lives in abject ignorance of the true God, worshipping demons, the "host of the heavens" or Satan the devil himself.
Consider the nation of India. Here, polytheism, the belief in "Vishnu," and the spirit worship of the Hindu religion holds one of the largest nations on the face of this earth in its superstitious grip!
Here is a protein-deficient nation!
It is asserted there are more cattle in India than in any other countries. But, because of their religion, revering the cow as "sacred," the Indians will not eat their cattle, which the one God placed on this earth as food and to provide clothing and even shelter for mankind, thus bringing upon themselves the horrifying curse of malnutrition.
Ponder what you know of the world's so-called "great" religions for a few moments. What have the religions of the major nations really done for them? It seems almost axiomatic that, when one finds the most degenerate, squalid, disease-ridden areas on earth, one will also find pagan, polytheistic religions.
Even though the so-called professing "Christian" world, divided up into more than 400 differing denominations, does not really know the true God as they should, it seems that the mere fact that at the very least they are monotheistic, believing in one God, has produced comparatively greater prosperity and physical health.
In many ways, the First Commandment is the greatest commandment of them all!
In summarizing the Ten Commandments, Jesus Christ said man is to love the Eternal our God with all our hearts, all our minds and all our being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Thus, Jesus summarized the first four commandments, showing they tell us how to love God, and summarized the last six by showing us how to love our neighbors.
Remember what you read in Romans the first chapter?
We may come to understand much more of the "invisible things" of the great Creator God by looking at the things which He has made.
Whether you study the incredible complexity of the tiniest of our insects, or learn about the marvelous symbiotic relationship between the great whales and plankton; whether you study the migratory patterns of the arctic tern, or learn of the marvelously intricate and law-abiding properties of minerals, you are studying only the tiniest portion of the marvels the great mind of God has thought out, planned, designed and then produced.
From the vastness of our limitless universe to our own solar system, and to all of the beautifully harmonious, intricately complex, interdependent and symbiotic life forms in our ecosystem, you are looking at the handiwork of God.
The greatest possible intelligence you can come to know through the five senses; the most superb collection of sensory perceptions, knowledge, wisdom and understanding in our material universe of which you can come to know through the sense of smell, touch, feel, sight and hearing is yourself that of man.
Man stands at the very top of the "food chain." Man reigns supreme on the physical earth, able to force all other creatures, including huge elephants and giant whales, to do his bidding.
Consider man. Consider yourself. Who gave mankind the capacity for love? What is a laugh? What is a sneeze? What is "feeling"? Since our bodies desperately need salt to survive, what mindless selection process determined that salt tastes good to us?
Why are sunsets beautiful? Why is beautiful music pleasing to our senses? Why, when we are hungry, is a beautifully prepared, nutritious meal so savory, tasteful and enjoyable?
While the nations of mankind are utterly ignorant of the fact, and while most professing Christians go about their daily lives seldom confessing it, even your ability to touch, taste, feel, experience comes from your Creator - comes from God!
The First Commandment is a most logical, simple, easy-to-understand commandment.
Since the very divine Creator, who gives us every beat of our hearts, every breath we breathe, and the very abilities to experience lift, EXISTS; since our life is in practical fact the tiniest extension of His life, in that He is our Designer, Beginner, Lifegiver and Sustainer, isn't it the most logical commandment you could ever imagine that this great Supreme Being commands we place no other "gods" in front of Him?
What are "other gods"?
The most obvious infraction of this First Commandment seems to be, at first glance, pagans bowing before man-made idols of wood and stone. The Bible contains veritable chapters condemning this heathen practice.
But the apostle Paul reveals that "covetousness is idolatry." Many of the Ten Commandments overlap. All of them are interdependent, each one an integral part of the other. However, in a unique way, the first and the last commandments are closely intertwined.
Anything you so lust for, anything you covet, is something which gets between you and the true God!
And what do people truly covet today?
First, look at the greedy materialism in the world today
. Millions spend their lives on the altar of covetousness; frantically pursuing such will-o'-the-wisp goals as more money, fame, importance, useless ego trips, the approbation and approval of others, homes, automobiles, electronic toys, glamorous trips and a dizzying array of manufactured commodities which represent the sole purpose in living to millions of human beings!
Thus, millions of professing "Christians," as they pursue daily after more of everything, are indeed guilty of covetousness.
False goals can become false gods.
If you are yearning, wishing, hoping, desperately craving for some particular goal in life other then the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, then you have placed this temporal goal between you and your God, and are unknowingly guilty of the sin of idolatry!
What "drives" you? What "motivates" you? What is it you are really working for? What are your personal hopes, aspirations and dreams? If everything could break your way, if your fondest hopes, dreams and desires could somehow "come true," what would the fulfillment of these dreams represent?
The answer to these questions may, in fact, be describing your idol.
Without consciously realizing it, millions of professing Christians worship other people. The most blatant form of this is the obvious adoration heaped upon motion picture stars, television personalities, political figures, beauty queens or even religious leaders.
There is perhaps only a subtle difference between the feelings many people express toward such famous personalities and actual worship.
Carried to its ultimate extremes, such forms of idolatry can become a true sickness of the mind, leading to an amazing number of mental and emotional problems.
Countless numbers of human beings gobble up every bit of gossipy, juicy information they can find about motion picture and television stars, desiring to learn the most intimate things of their private lives, wanting to be like them, to mimic, imitate and emulate them, and, above all, to see them in the flesh, to touch them, be with them, talk to them and get to know them on a personal basis!
Strangely, perhaps one of the most common forms of idolatry of all is self-worship! Millions of professing Christian human beings do not recognize the fact, but they worship themselves. When you put self ahead of everyone and everything else; when self-pursuits, self-goals, self-interests, self-desires, self-gratification and self-fulfillment are placed before Almighty God; put first before Bible study, prayer and deep thought about the Creator God, His soon-coming Kingdom and His great purpose in human life, then, believe it or not, even the SELF can become an idol!
In every way, we can easily see why Almighty God placed the First Commandment FIRST!
It is the most common of all sins It is the most "natural" for human beings to commit, one of the easiest to commit, almost as if it is an innate part of human nature, and is the most rampant and widespread sin of all!
As we have seen, however, the whole world would be a dramatically different place if everyone kept the First Commandment!
Think about it for a moment!
What do you really have to give up by keeping the First Commandment? Do you have to move, change jobs, go back to school, give away all your material goods, go through rigorous training, deprive yourself of food, shelter or clothing, or "do" anything else which is harsh, unreasoning, rigorous or which places you in bondage?
All you have to do is recognize the greatness of your Creator! You must learn to love, honor and worship Him; to stand in deep awe and respect of Him, and to place your Creator first in your life!
This removes from you an enormous number of curses, and brings with it an automatic number of blessings.
Now, let's consider the Second Commandment: