No other ‘gods’ – Exodus 20:3

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

In the Hebrew language, this commandment from the Decalogue unveils serious implications. The phrase `al-panaya (“before/besides me”) is often used in context of hostility toward something. In its literal utilization it is akin to Isaiah 42:8

I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”

John Calvin once wrote that man is an idol factory. We give our hearts to everything and anything rather than the unseen God. The basis of the first four commandments reflect God’s call to worship Him and Him alone. Why is 40% of the commandments related to this area of our lives? Simple, God knew we would do exactly that. We would run after and prostitute ourselves to everything rather than loving our Creator. Idolatry or the serving of other ‘gods’ has not reduced in two millennium. On the contrary; it has compounded just as sin has.

Worshiping other gods does not relate solely to visiting the nearest temple and bowing down to a brazen image. Idols are far more subtle than that. They are whatever our hearts cling to (Ezekiel 20:16).

Here is the West’s top ten;

1. Television
2. Money
3. Food
4. Sex
5. Sport
6. Technology/Internet
7. Drugs & Alcohol
8. Self Image
9. Career
10. Fame

 

No other Gods

Take a spiritual inventory of your life. Ask yourself truthfully, then ask God – are any of these more important to me than God? Do they fill my thoughts more than God does? Take more of my time? If they do – they are idols. Idols sap your spiritual energy and separate your connection from a God who is spirit.

When you read any of the pillars of the faith you find nothing competing for their love, intellect or dedication. Mother Teresa did not waste her God given time watching Discovery Channel. She had already made the greatest discovery – Jesus. William Carey was not interested in self image as he tirelessly translated Scripture in to the Hindu language. George Muller’s primary concern was for the godly upbringing of two thousand orphans. During such commitment he read the Bible two hundred times (on his knees). God did not have to compete with their ipods or Face Book accounts.

Jesus tells us the two greatest commandments. The first is Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your body and strength. This command summarizes the first section of the Decalogue. No other gods. None. Israel discovered the folly of not obeying this. The genocide wrought by the Babylonians was the direct result of idolatry. Serving other ‘gods’ whilst confessing Jesus is not the Father’s will.

If you want more of God then test yourself against the first commandment. Jesus confronts us; if we loved Him – we would keep His commandments (Jn 14:21).

Ridding ourselves of idols is not easy. King Josiah learnt this – his campaign against idolatry is worthy of study (2 Kings 21-23). Every drug addict who finds freedom in the Lord also experiences the struggle of resisting idols and the temptation to return to them. However, to God, anything our heart clings to – is an idol.

Be as ruthless as Josiah toward your other gods; as you suffer to give them up, remember this – God rewards those who do. The reward is HIM. Not more idols.

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