You cannot say, No, Lord, and mean both words; one annuls the other. If you say no to Him, then He is not your Lord.

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The Ten Commandments, Part 1

“You cannot say, ‘No, Lord,’ and mean both words; one annuls the other. If you say no to Him, then He is not your Lord.”

D. JAMES KENNEDY

Now we’re going to look at the Law of God to see how it serves as a schoolmaster to lead sinners to Christ. Any soldier who wants to be effective in warfare will become intimately familiar with his weapons.

Think of the Commandments as ten great cannons given to you by God, each with tremendous power to destroy self-righteousness. If we want to be effec- tive in reaching the lost, we must be intimately familiar with these great weapons that God has given us. As we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who opened up the spiritual nature of the Law when dealing with sinners, we will discover the key to genuine repentance.

QU E S T I O N S & OB J E C T I O N S

“The First Commandment says, ‘You shall have no other gods before Me.’

That proves He isn’t the only God!”

That’s true. Man has always made false gods. An old adage says, “God cre- ated man in His own image, and man has been returning the favor ever since.” Hindus have millions of gods. Sometimes gods are made of wood or stone; other times man makes up a god in his mind. Whatever the case,

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making a god to suit yourself is called “idolatry,” and it is a transgression of both the First and Second Commandments.

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In this lesson we will look at the First Commandment: “I am the LORD

your God, which has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2,3).

We are to have no other gods before (or “besides”) the one true God.

He is to be preeminent in our hearts. Jesus said that “the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29,30).

There is only One who can stand uncondemned regarding this Com- mandment. Jesus of Nazareth lived a life without sin; He was perfect in thought, word, and deed (see Hebrews 4:15). Everything He did pleased the Father absolutely. The cross not only revealed that He loved His Fa- ther with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength, but it proved that He loved His neighbor as much as He loved Himself.

Those who profess to keep this Commandment would do well to run their eyes over the Westminster Confession of Faith. This was penned by godly men in 1646, and expressed their thoughts (based on Scripture) about the essence of this Commandment:

The duties required in the First Commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of God to be the only true God and our God; and to worship and glorify Him accordingly, by thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honoring, adoring, choosing, lov- ing, desiring, fearing of Him, believing Him, trusting, hoping, de- lighting, rejoicing in Him, being zealous for Him, calling upon Him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submis- sion to Him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please Him, and sorrowful when in anything He is offended; and walking humbly with Him.

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Someone once said, “It is agreeable to reason that men who have their beings from God, and are upheld in them by him, and are followed with the bounties of Providence; and especially who are made new creatures, and are blessed by him with all spiritual blessings in Christ, that they should give up themselves to him, and cheerfully serve him in their day and generation.”

Sinful humans, however, don’t love God. They don’t delight to do His will. Instead, the Law of sin and death has written its bloody signature across the godless human breast (Romans 7:21–24). Our inborn cry is,

“Not Your will, but mine be done!” The devil is our father and his will we gladly do. The carnal mind is not subject to the Law or God, nor indeed can it be (Romans 8:7). See how the Law condemns us. We fail to love the God who gave us life.

The inevitable result is that sinful man will think that he himself is God. His pride takes over his brain, as shown in this quote by Jeremy Rifkin in his book Algeny:

We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of preexisting cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules.

We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.

QU E S T I O N S

1. Name the First of the Ten Commandments.

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2. Why do you think humanity has such a shallow understanding about what God requires of them? (See 2 Corinthians 4:3,4.)

3. What do you think could be the greatest sin of humanity?

4. In what ways have you transgressed this Commandment?

5. Using Psalm 14 and Romans 3:10–18, list the characteristics of human nature.

6. How did Jesus demonstrate that He kept this Commandment?

7. Why should we put God first?

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PR E A C H E RS PR O G R E S S

Alec Smart: “Hey, Christian. I want you to give me the ‘good’ test.”

Christian: “Are you sure?”

Alec Smart: “Yep.”

Christian: “Okay, then. Have you ever told a lie?”

Alec Smart: “Never.”

Christian: “Not once? Not a fib, white lie, half-truth, or an exaggeration?”

Alec Smart: “Never!”

Christian: “You have always spoken the truth, the whole truth, and noth- ing but the truth, so help you God?”

Alec Smart: “Yep.”

Christian: “Have you ever stolen anything?”

Alec Smart: “Never.”

Christian: “Not even a ballpoint pen?”

Alec Smart: “Never!”

Christian: “Okay. Have you kept the First of the Ten Commandments?”

Alec Smart: “Yep.”

Christian: “What is it?”

Alec Smart: “I don’t know.”

Christian: “It is to put God first in your life. Have you loved God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength?”

Alec Smart: “Yep.”

Christian: “The Bible says that there are none who seek after God. So one of you is lying—either you or God, and the Bible says that it’s impossible for God to lie. So you’ve broken the First of the Ten Commandments, and you’ve broken the Ninth by lying. You will be in big trouble on Judgment Day.”

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F E A T H E R S F O R A R R O W S

A father once purchased a TV for his kids to watch cartoons in the after- noon. When he arrived home that night, his kids didn’t come to greet him; they were busy watching TV. His homecoming had become a non- event. He walked over to the TV and turned it off, explaining to the chil- dren that he had purchased it for their pleasure, but if it came between him and their love for him, it was going. They were setting their affection on the gift, rather than on the giver. If we love anything more than God

—our spouse, child, car, sport, or even our own life—we are setting our affection on the gift, rather than on the Giver. Placing anything above God is a transgression of the First of the Ten Commandments.

Memory Verse

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength:

this is the first commandment.”

MARK12:30

Kurt Cobain (in his suicide note):

“Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your altar. Please keep going, Courtney, for Frances. For her life will be so much happier without me. I love you. I love you.”

L a s t W o r d s

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