And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:1-3
Here are a few things about the 10 Commandments you need to know:
God is the foundation of the 10 commandments.
God doesn’t begin with rules, He begins with Himself. So the 10 Commandments are based on who God is and what God has done. Here are four truths from the sentence before the commandments:
- God speaks. This means God defines right and wrong; not us.
- God is LORD. He alone rules over the world, and we only rule under Him.
- God is personal. He says to Israel I am “Your God”. Both Father and Friend.
- God is redeemer. First comes rescue, then comes law. In that order.
The proper order of grace and law.
God didn’t give Israel the 10 Commandments in Egypt and say, “if you can keep these rules, then I will come save you and make you my people.” Instead, God rescued Israel and made them His people (grace), and then God gave them the law so they would know how to live as God’s people.
So grace and redemption come before law and obedience. We don’t obey God to merit salvation or become His people. Rather our obedience to God is only the result of His grace and rescue long before we ever obeyed Him.
The 10 commands do at least 4 things:
- Show us what’s right. The law is God’s righteous standard.
- Show us we’re wrong. We have broken God’s laws.
- Lead us to the cross of Christ. Jesus is the only one who didn’t break God’s laws, and He offers us His righteousness through faith.
- In Christ, we are made right to do right. We have been rescued by God apart from works of the law, but our rescue now gives us the power “in Christ” to obey God’s law.
First Command: “You shall have no other gods before me”.
This command forbids substituting “other gods” for the real God. God alone is God, and only God deserves the place of God in your life.
The problem with having “other gods”.
You kill them, and they kill you. Here’s how it works. Whenever you set someone or something as God in your life, you end up killing it because it can’t handle the pressure you put on it. If you put a relationship as God, you will seek ultimate identity, joy, significance. etc. from that person and they will surely let you down, because they are not ultimate. So you will end up putting too much pressure on them and destroy the relationship, and in the process you will be destroyed because the relationship was your life.
That’s why God tells us to have no “other gods” before Him, because He knows “other gods” will not do. He alone can withstand the pressures your soul put on Him to make you forever happy, and nothing else can. Only God can hold the pressure of your ultimate hopes, joys, and fears, because only He is ultimate and lives forever. Every “other god” will surely die, and God doesn’t want you to die with it.
So have no other gods before God. For His glory, and for your good.