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Sermon - 8/23/09
No Other Gods - Exodus 20:3

Audio Sermon

No Other Gods

You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3)

We live in a time when the “Ten Commandments” seem to be fading from the world. Places exist on the planet where few have ever even heard of them. Strangely enough, in other places where they are well known, like Europe and the United States, there seems to be a concerted effort to get rid of them altogether. Before they are removed from the radar of our understanding it seems like a good idea to examine them and see how they affect our lives. And so, for the next ten weeks, we will look at one of them each week, and see for ourselves what relevance they may have for you and for me. Here are the Ten Commandments as I see them, in the order they are listed in Exodus Chapter 20:

1. Our Creator, our God is to be first in our life (Verse 3)
2. We are to have NO idols of any kind (Verses 4-5)
3. God’s name is never to be used profanely (V. 7)
4. The Sabbath is our time for rest and worship (V. 8-11)
5. We honor our parents, now and when they are old (V. 12)
6. We never will commit murder (V. 13)
7. Committing adultery is not part of our lives (V. 14)
8. We will not steal from others (V. 15)
9. We don’t lie about other people (V. 16)
10. Don’t even think about taking what others have (V. 17)

Today we will focus on what may be called “the first and greatest commandment.” in relation to, “You shall have no other gods before Me” in Exodus 20:3. The phrase, “thegreatest commandment,” consists of words used by Jesus in Matthew 22:38, which was His response to the question, “What is the greatest commandment in the Law?” His answer included: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5, and when you think about it, if you love God with everything you’ve got, the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me,” is utterly satisfied. You please God when you love the Lord.

But many people don’t WANT to “Love the Lord your God with all (their) heart(s) and with all (their) soul(s) and with all (their) mind(s).” And they DO want to have “other gods before (Him),” because they want to be the chief “god” in their own lives. If He is in charge, you aren’t, and you might lose control of what’s happening in your life. But to say that Almighty God is not your Creator, King, and Leader is a form of “denial,” much like the heavy drinker who says he or she is not an alcoholic. Many “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” as it says in Romans 1:18, but the evidence that God is exactly who and what Scripture says about Him is – everywhere.

When Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), we should note that the earth has been perfectly made for us. The force of gravity is just right and the atmosphere is 50 miles in depth; precisely sustaining our lives. Our planet, earth, is exactly the right distance from the sun and the moon. The moon’s gravity creates ocean tides so the waters do not become stagnant and yet the oceans don’t rage across the land. God created the water that we drink in order to live, which is correctly called a “universal solvent,” carrying minerals and nutrients throughout our bodies. He designed and built the human brain, which processes more than a million messages a second, filtering out the unimportant and focusing on what we need to know. The brain interprets colors, touch, handles emotions, contains memories, monitors breathing, reveals hunger and controls muscle movement. Your eyes can distinguish seven million colors, they focus automatically and can process millions of objects simultaneously (from Marilyn Adamson at www.everystudent.com). You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). You really are.

In other words, the reason you can read these words or listen to them, the reason you can understand what it all means, the decisions you make about whether you like what is said, your ability to feel the plastic on your keyboard, the breaths you are taking right now – it’s all from God, your Creator. When He created the first humans, you were genetically inside of them. He planned you from before the beginning and you are His. The name you have, the body you think is yours, the parents, the relatives you may or may not like, the country you were born in – it’s His plan for you. Life is not about being rich or famous, though that is part of His plan for some - it’s about trusting in the Lord; placing your faith in Him. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3) means that He is first in your life.

These days, most people owe a lot of money to creditors. Jobs have been lost, houses are being foreclosed upon, reputations are being ruined and the economy of nations is in jeopardy. What’s happening to individuals is reflective of our standing before God. He is our Creator and we owe Him – everything. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). He has lavished His love upon us and what He asks in return is simply that we will have faith in Him, a component of love. He has given us more than we have ever realized. We owe Him our very lives and are indebted to Him. It is a debt we can never repay, but we take a step in the right direction when we decide to respond to His command: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

We all need to discover how we can avoid having “other gods” and then make Him our priority in response. Sadly, it is very difficult to actually do it. Paul the Apostle struggled to keep the Law, but that honest man observed, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Romans 7:18). We may want to “have no other gods before” our Lord, but a need for money, for security, concerns about our children, anxiety about our reputation, worries about our jobs and health, can subtly become like annoying little “gods” that rule us through our own emotions. We wish, we hope and pray, knowing that God should be first in our lives, but as Paul noted, “the doing of the good” eludes us.

To have these subtle little “gods” high on our priority list is indeed “sin,” but the Lord understands because He bore those sins on the cross. Scripture reveals that, “if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But it blessedly continues, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We are to “confess.” It is the Lord who forgives and makes us clean. To “confess” is to trust, to have faith that God can and will do what we cannot.

And if we have just a little bit of faith; even the willingness to have faith, He hears our call and rescues us. As Jesus noted, we are all people of “little faith” (Matthew 6:30), and He continued, “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat… (or) drink… (or how shall we) clothe ourselves?... The Father knows you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious…” (Matthew 6:31-34). As you trust in Him, you begin to find that “Youhave no other gods before (Him)” (Exodus 20:3).  He will bring it to pass.

Lord, we confess our sin of idolatry, of being afraid instead of looking to You. Please forgive us and heal us. Thank You.  We trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)

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