God and God Alone

We began our mini-series on the Ten Commandments this morning by looking at Exodus 20:1-6.  This blog post is intended as a reminder of some of the points we discussed.  If you missed the message, you can listen to it on our site

Exodus 20 begins in a fearful scene: Mt. Sinai is ablaze with the fire, thunder and lightning of the Lord.  As God begins to speak directly, not just to Moses but to all the people, they tremble with fear (see 19:16-20 and 20:18-21).  They have had first-hand experience of God’s saving power, and every day they receive the miraculous bread from heaven.  They know God is for them, yet they fear.  They fear because the Lord is greatly to be feared, and because the giving of His holy Law is an awesome event.

I Am The Lord

The Lord’s first utterance is His self-disclosure: “I am The LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.”  God’s self-disclosure is not as Creator, Master, or King, even though He is all of those.  He is Deliverer.  The context of the Law being given is salvation.  God calls a people unto Himself, delivers them out of slavery by His own hand, and then gives them the rules of His covenant.

What this shows us is that the Ten Commandments are not simply an ethical code of conduct to follow.  No, they are grounded in the eternal God.  They are the absolute standard of righteousness.

No Other Gods

God’s first demand is in the strongest possible terms: God is to be number one on a list of one.  Nothing else should be close in terms of our priorities and affections.  When a husband and wife say “yes” to each other, they implicitly say “no” to all others.  So it is to be with all who say “yes” to God.  We say “no” to all other objects that would compete for our affection and joy.

The Lord continues with a prohibition of idols and images set up for the purpose of worship.  There is a prescribed way to worship God, and there are prohibited ways.  Exodus 32 and Judges 17 are examples of people worshipping the Lord… using idols!  Their worship is not acceptable.  Those who would worship God must worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Modern Idolatry

There are many idols and false religions extant in our world today.  But for those who’ve accepted Jesus Christ, is idolatry an issue?  I found it interesting to look at some of the Canaanite gods: there’s Astarte, god of love and sex; Ba’al, god of power.  We hear about those.  There’s also Eshmun the god of healing and Sydyk the god of justice.  I know that many, many people today would prioritise their desire for love, power, justice or healing above the One True God.

What about us?

My challenge for you this morning was to take some quiet time before the Lord.  With pen and paper at the ready, ask yourself these four questions:

What is competing for your attention?  What are you giving your time to?  What’s the thing you keep returning to in your mind?  What do I consider to be important?
What is competing for your affection?  What do you love, what gets you impassioned and excited?
Where is your money going?  After bills are covered, what happens to the rest?  Is it going exclusively on you?  What does your bank statement or credit card bill say you worship?
What do you need to feel secure?  What is your source of trust and stability?  Where do you run when things are tough?

For each thing you write down, ask the Lord: am I putting this ahead of You?  Have I elevated this thing to be “before you?”

Walk by The Spirit

So what do we do if the Lord convicts us?  Well, I think our calling is always to focus on the Lord, not on the sin.  Paul says in Galatians 5:16

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

That is, when we focus our attention on God, through worship, prayer and service, this will cause our desires to shift.  The things this world has to offer become weaker and less attractive, and the fruit of the Spirit will grow up in us.  As Paul says, “against such things, there is no law.”

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