The First Commandment

Heidelberg Catechism - Question 94: What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

Answer: That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry, magic, superstitious rites, and prayer to saints or to other creatures. That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust Him alone, look to Him for every good thing humbly and patiently, love Him, fear Him, and honour Him with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against His will in any way.

Observations: The Ten Commandments are a summary of God’s Law. They are broken up into two parts, the first four describe our relationship with God, and the last six what we owe our neighbour (Q&A 93). The first commandment is ‘You shall have no other gods before me. (Ex 20:3)’ Even though the Ten Commandments are all prohibitions i.e. they tell us what we should NOT do, the Heidelberg Catechism rightly describes what they then implies the things we ought to do. The issue of how we relate to God is a salvation issue. In ignoring this command we ‘endanger our very salvation.’ To reject all ‘other gods’ means to ‘avoid and shun all idolatry, magic, superstitious rites, and prayer to saints or to other creatures.’ Q&A 95 describes idolatry as trusting anything instead of, or alongside of God. The inclusion of the phrase ‘prayer to saints,’ is a direct criticism of Roman Catholic practices. On the positive side to put God first means that we ‘sincerely acknowledge the only true God, trust Him alone, look to Him for every good thing humbly and patiently, love Him, fear Him, and honour Him with all our hearts.’

Application: The truth is that it is only in acknowledging God as ‘the only true God,’ or we have broken the first commandment. We trust God alone or we trust in something else. We either look to God or we look to something else. We either love God or we love something else. We either fear God or we fear something else. We either honour God or we honour something else. Whatever is first in our lives is our god. Is the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible first in your life?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that You alone are God Almighty, and that there is no god above You and no gods beside You. And Lord, I desire to put You first in my life, to trust in You alone, to look to You for all that I need, to love You and fear You above all things. Lord, I desire to honour You with all my heart, soul and strength. Lord, forgive me when other things crowd You out of my life. Fill me with Your Spirit that You might become more and I might become less. In the name of Jesus, who has made it possible for me to live my life for You I pray. Amen.

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