The First Commandment

Forerunner, "Bible Study," February 1997

The Bible reveals God not only as the Creator, but the one who sustains and rules His creation, intervening in the affairs of His servants to guide, bless and deliver us. Scripture gives us as complete a revelation of God and His nature as we need for salvation. Jesus instructs us in Matthew 4:4 to live by every word of God, for these words "are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). The written Word of God is the entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

Obeying their Master's command, the apostles lived by and referred to the only Scriptures they had—the books of the Old Testament. They frequently quoted or expounded upon the Ten Commandments in the writings they left for us. The first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me," (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7) presents the essence and basis of commandment keeping. God says, "If you love me keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

1. How does Jesus Christ summarize the spiritual intent of the first four commandments? Matthew 22:36-38; Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Comment: We must love God with all our being. Keeping the first four commandments shows love toward God. Keeping the last six shows love toward our fellow man.

2. Should we fear the Creator above all else? Psalm 96:4-5; 100:3.

Comment: Idolatry is an interwoven aspect of breaking the first commandment. Anything we hold as more important than God is an idol and a god other than the Eternal God.

3. Is what we serve our god? Romans 6:16; Galatians 4:7-9. Do we commit ourselves to what we value? Matthew 6:21; Romans 8:5. What should we seek first? Matthew 6:33.

Comment: We either delight in God and His Law and serve Him all day long, or else we serve and obey our own lusts. A fundamental part of keeping the first commandment is seeking first God's Kingdom and His righteousness.

4. Can we serve two masters? Luke 16:13. Can we please man and God? Galatians 1:10; I Thessalonians 2:4. Is worshipping God according to the traditions of men worshipping in vain? Mark 7:7.

Comment: Split or divided loyalty is no loyalty at all. We can be loyal to only one master at a time. We can be enslaved to career, car, home, spouse, children, medicine, hobbies, television, novels or many other things. In doing so, however, we please them or ourselves, and fail to give pure devotion to God.

5. Can we have other gods and still worship God in spirit and in truth? Joshua 24:14-24; Romans 1:25. To whose will should we submit? Luke 22:42.

Comment: Joshua reaffirmed the Israelites' commitment to God after they had spent years sporadically worshipping other gods. This wavering "commitment" is incompatible with the fear of God and serving Him in sincerity and truth. God desires unswerving devotion to Him alone.

6. Who originally broke the first commandment? Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:14-19. What was the first lie told to man? Genesis 3:4-5. When the Devil tried to tempt Jesus, how did He respond? Luke 4:6-8.

Comment: This great archangel broke the first commandment when he tried to usurp God's throne. He became his own god, worshipping himself rather than the true God, and for this, God cast him from heaven, renaming him Satan, "the Adversary." Later, taking advantage of human nature's proclivity for self-exaltation, he enticed Eve into sinning by lying to her, saying, "You will be like God." Satan tried the same trick on Jesus, who rebuked him for it. Jesus showed plainly that this commandment was and is still in effect. We are to serve and worship only God.

7. How did God punish the Israelites for repeatedly breaking the first commandment? Judges 2:11-15; Judges 10:6-14; I Samuel 12:10.

Comment: God causes calamity to come upon those who break the first commandment. When we break God's law, curses are inevitable. Israel continually suffered the effects of putting other gods before God.

8. How do we commit idolatry in, say, the area of healing? Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:2-3; 118:8.

Comment: Our society has been programmed to rely on and even revere the medical profession with their knives and drugs. Although trained medical specialists can do certain procedures without interfering with the natural workings of the body, true healing comes from God, our Creator and Sustainer. God inspired Isaiah to write, "Besides Me there is no God." (Isaiah 44:6). Do we completely rely on God for healing or is our faith in something else? Whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

By His example, Jesus Christ shows us what our attitude should be in obeying the first commandment. When God called upon Him to give His life, He placed total trust in God: "Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).

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