“No other Gods!”
First Presbyterian Church of Blackwood
21 E. Church Street
Blackwood, NJ 08012
Sermon Notes (Sunday ~ September 25, 2022)
Rev. Dr. Mouris A. Yousef, Pastor
“No other Gods!”
Exodus 20:1-3; Revelation 4:8-11
This morning we continue our 10-week sermon series reflecting on the Ten Commandments. “The Ten Commandments for Today,” is the title that I’ve given to this series of messages. Why did God give the Law? Why do we need to reflect on it today? I truly believe it’s extremely important to take some time today to study the Ten Commandments because it’s God’s moral law. Last week I offered three reasons why the Law was given. (1) The Law reveals the holiness of God. (2) The Law reveals the wickedness of the human heart. (3) The Law reveals our need for God’s grace.
Before we dive into the first commandment this morning and explore what God has for us, I want to offer a couple introductory observations. First: in the Hebrew Bible, these laws are called the aseret ha’devarim, the “Ten Words” as we see in Exodus 34:28, Deuteronomy 4:13 and 10:4. The Bible calls the “Ten Commandments” the “Ten Words.” It’s true that they enshrine commandments, but they also contain a word of promise and grace, a word of mercy and compassion.
The second introductory observation is the foundation upon which God claims His authority to give His people the Law. Listen to these words in Exodus 20:1-2, “Then God spoke all these words, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” This is a double claim: a claim by creation and a claim by salvation, “I am the LORD “Yahweh” your God “Elohim.” Yahweh” is a name that signifies sovereignty and “Elohim” is a name that signifies God’s majesty and power and points back to creation where God created the world. But there is another claim here, claim by salvation. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. He has also delivered us from slavery to sin.
Having laid down the foundation, God being the Creator and the Savior of Israel, He gives His people words of mercy and grace. The First Commandment is found in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Two observations for us this morning:
First: Beware of False God
As I pointed out last week, Moses and the Israelites lived in a polytheistic world, a world where most cultures believed in many gods. They lived in a world full of idols. They lived among the gods of the Egyptians. When they finally made it to the promised land, they were surrounded by many nations that worshipped many other gods. Like ancient Israel, we are surrounded by our own idols and false gods today.
The first of the Ten Commandments is a warning against false gods. “You shall have no other gods before me,” said God to His people. Often times we think of idolatry as an ancient practice, and we tend to miss the idols of our own life. Today’s idols are not made out of stone and wood. They are anything we elevate above the one true God. It’s anything that stands in competition to the living God. Sports could be a false god. Family could be a false god. Entertainment could be a false god. Money could be a false god. Success could be a false god. That which you love, you serve, you desire, you long after, you aim for, you strive for, and think of the most is your god. “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Second: Complete Loyalty to the One True God
The first commandment is also a call to complete loyalty and full allegiance. Canadian theologian, J. I. Packer (1926 – 2020) wrote, “Your god is what you love, seek, worship, serve, and allow to control you.” In other words, your “god” is defined according to your loyalty and allegiance. Whatever you value supremely becomes your god. The first commandment forbids us from valuing anything more than the one true God. It forbids us from being loyal to anything more than the one true God.
The bottom line when it comes to the first commandment is complete loyalty and full allegiance. There is only one true God, and He demands your absolute loyalty and undying love. We are to make that choice every day. I like how British theologian Stuart Briscoe puts it in his book on the Ten Commandments: “At the end of each day, ask yourself: Was Jesus Christ my Lord today? Did I serve Him faithfully today? Did I love Him deeply? Did I worship Him exclusively?”
Friends, the first commandment calls us to have no other gods before the ONE true God. This command reaches far deeper than merely closing the door on an atheistic worldview. Rather, it calls us to a complete loyalty to the living God. The apostle John in Revelation 4:11 tells us of this cry in heaven, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.” The first commandment is the foundation for our keeping of the whole of the Ten Commandments. It is the most basic reorientation from a life directed toward ourselves to a life directed toward God. It’s the doorway into the whole life of faith. It sets our feet on the right path and orients us in the right direction for all that follows. “You shall have no other god before me.” In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!
 J. I. Packer, Keeping the Ten Commandments (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2007), 31.
 Stuart Briscoe, The Ten Commandments: Playing by the Rules (London: Shawn Books, 2000), 14.
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