17 May, 2020 – Berlin Immanuel Church continued studying the Ten Commandments this Sunday. The First Commandment in Exodus 20:3 exhorts us to examine our hearts and acknowledge that there is no other god (Deut 4:39) in our life but the Lord who loved us in Christ Jesus. There were many gods in Egypt that Moses could name, but the purpose of the Commandment is not to give us a list of false gods. There is only one God who created the heaven and earth, and only one God who gave His Son for our sins, there simply is no other. So our highest devotion must belong to Him only. God uses revelation to make Himself know to us – Deut 4:32-34. Not that He needs to prove Himself – Deut 4:35 – but that we may know Him. The Commandment thus exposes the false ‘gods’ in our life, things that are our highest goal, things we give our highest devotion to before God. If God is not at the highest place in our life, we end up replacing Him with other ‘gods’ and we break the First Commandment.
So since our main concern is to be for God to be God in all aspects of our life, the list of false gods is not necessary, nevertheless the Bible gives us plenty of examples of the kind of things that commonly compete with God in our lives. The most common one is the desire for possessions and earthly security in them. Jesus taught us to “store up treasures in heaven” instead of on earth – Mt 6:19-21. We cannot serve two masters, either God is in the highest place or the possessions, they can’t both be in the same place, because they are not equal – Mt 6:24. In the Parable of the Rich Fool, in Luke 12:13-21, Jesus taught us that “man’s life does not consists in the abundance of possessions”. The rich fool used the possessions as if they were the goal and purpose in life, making himself abundant beyond what is necessary. But our earthly life is not the end and when we stand before God, if our goal in life was rich towards ourselves and not towards God, we will stand before Him empty handed in the end – Luke 12:21. The rich young man who came to Jesus to enquire about inheriting eternal life left sad because even though the kept the Commandment of loving his neighbor, he broke the First Commandment. He wasn’t able to follow the Messiah because he loved his possessions before God. So that is a clear sign that we break the First Commandment, when God asks us to follow him but we have something more important to do first. Our response to God’s calling shows where our heart truly. Those who are gripped by greed must repent and those who are overcome with worry must learn to trust the Lord, for when we follow Him and seek His Kingdom first, he will graciously provide all things – Mat 6:25-33. For if we have God who did not spare His own Son, how will He not give us all things – Rom 8:32.
For most people, and most Christians, our own happiness becomes the highest purpose and goal in life. If this god of happiness takes God’s place in our life, we treat God as a means to our happiness, God is here to help us to get what we desire. Of course God loves us and wants us to be happy, but to be happy is not the purpose of our life. We experience the fulness of joy in life when we rejoice in the Lord, when God is our goal, our joy is true and lasting. The self-centered pursuit of happiness of man is a false god. The purpose and commandment for man since Adam, through Noah, Abraham and Moses is to be a blessing to many. It is this outgoing sacrificial agape love shown to us fully in Christ that moves the believers since the time of apostles until God’s Kingdom is fulfilled to go to the ends of the earth and be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, being a blessing to many and serving in the love of God. Our life is to be a living sacrifice – Rom 12:1, not a self-serving pursuit of my own happiness and comfort. Only when we unite with Christ and His life, we can experience the joy of the gospel-like life and be truly fulfilled.