Q9: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

A: First, that we know and trust God as the only true and living God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry and do not worship God improperly. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works. (Crossway, 2017)

Scripture Reference:

Deuteronomy 6:13-14 – “It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you.” (ESV)

The Vertical Truth in Faith – What does this truth mean in my relationship with God?

The first three commandments carry great significance in our relationship with God. This is namely because they deal most directly with our relating to who God is, how God is to be worshipped, and how our living ought to honor who God truly is. The first three commandments actually provide us with the way to real satisfaction because such satisfaction is found only in the one, true God alone.

The first commandment reminds us that there is no other God besides the God that the Scripture describes. The second commandment flows out of the first, calling us to worship the one, true God in the way that He has designed for us to do so. We must not create God, or anything else…and worship God, or anything else…how we want God, or anything else, to be. To do so is to create an idol. We simply must worship God alone for who He says that He is, and how He desires. The way in which we worship the one, true God is through His Son, Jesus. Finally, the third commandment calls us to honor the one, true God in the way that we live because we represent His name. To speak or live in contradiction to who God is, is to take His name in vain.

  • Exodus 20:2-7“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
  • Isaiah 45:5a“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”
  • John 17:3And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The Horizontal Truth in Love – What does this truth mean in my relationship with humanity?

When we realize that the one, true God alone, through right acknowledgement and right worship, supplies our desire for satisfaction and purpose, we are free to abandon looking for satisfaction and purpose in the people and things around us. As a result, we can rightly love others. We can pour ourselves out in love for, compassion for, and service to others because we are fully satisfied by God. Fully satisfied people ought to overflow with love for others because of the all satisfying love they have received from the God they are satisfied by.

  • Psalm 16:11– “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
  • Psalm 107:9– “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Practical Truth in Action – How can I put this truth into action?

The first three commandments ought to prompt us to ask ourselves a few questions. One, “Am I worshipping God for who He is or who I want Him to be?” Two, “Are there things that I am looking to, outside of God, to provide purpose, satisfaction or worth?” Three, “Does my life, speech or action, misrepresent the Name of who I say I belong to?” To answer those questions, it may be helpful to pray the following verse,

  • Psalm 139:23-24– “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”