The Exclusivity of Worship
Reverend Anthony R. Locke
November 13th, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
Ten Commandments Sermon Series 03
Exodus 20:3 English Standard Version
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
If the Lord is with you then He will incline your heart to obey His commandments.
And the more we obey God’s commands, He fills our soul and life with His glory just like the Temple was filled with the glory of the promised Messiah. AMEN!
In the Ten Commandments God uses strong language to direct our feet into the paths of peace that we might find the Lord of Peace, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And these commands are the fastest ten step program any self-help guru could offer to remove from your life anxiety, anger, insecurity and fear. For God speaks these words saying, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. And within that opening promise contains the continuing promise that the soul that lives by these commands will continue to be delivered from the monotony of a meaningless existence.
God lifted your soul out of sin and misery for a purpose, for a heavenly prize to claim and an eternal treasure to gain.
And the first step into this resurrected life is learning to live for the glory of God and enjoy Him every day.
There is no greater victory for the Christian than Living for Jesus a life that is true; striving to please him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free, this is the pathway of blessing for me.
In John 3:30 John the Baptist said a parallel thought, He must increase, but I must decrease. Our souls must echo these words of John.
Our testimony must be, “This life is not about me, I live for Jesus. It’s not about what I want, it’s about what He wants.”
Our opinions are not good enough to guide our life. We must trust God’s words. Our desires are not infused with heavenly wisdom to lead us into the paths of peace. We must trust the God of all peace to lead us in quiet waters.
We are not the object of our worship. We should be living for Jesus. He should be the center piece, the one passion, the one love of our heart.
Colossians 1:15-18 JESUS is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Jesus must be number one in our thoughts. His glory should be number one in our goals. We search for His opinions within the Bible like we are searching for hidden treasure. We should never take our own counsel without cross examination from God’s word.
How do we know that God’s commands are this important?
Because God has personally spoken these words. They were engraved in stone just in case our grandparents forgot them. God said You shall have no other gods before me.
Jesus spoke the same principle in Matthew 6:24. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
I WANT TO TESTIFY THIS MORNING.
I want to stand up and testify that the greatest blessing I have ever known is to live for the glory of God.
Watching my son enter this world was amazing and a great blessing, but not as great as the day God took out my heart of stone of rebellion to His commandments, and replaced my heart of resistance with a heart of agreeability and love for His Laws.
Living for the glory of God has changed my life. Living for God’s glory has brought more joy than I ever imagined was possible for a human being. Seeking His glory and not my own has changed my life for the better in ways I still don’t fully appreciate.
And the meaning of the first commandment is this issue. We must live for Jesus every day.
This is first and foremost. It is number one on God’s Top Ten list. We must not live for any other priority or idol of our heart. God must be first in our life.
We should have no other gods before Him.
Well, what does it mean to have something before God?
A few years ago my family visited the Pantheon in Rome. It is the temple for the Greek gods. It is the oldest free standing concrete dome in the world. It was built during the time of Christ and dedicated to the gods.
In this temple they honored the strength of Mars, the seductress beauty of Venus, the worldly wisdom of Minerva. Work alcoholics honored Vulcan and Diana. Others worshipped the party spirit of Bacchus. Many worshipped the gods Juno and Ceres for their promise of financial prosperity.
We do the same thing today. We let the goal of earthly pursuits rule our life instead of our love for God and His commandments.
To have other gods before the Lord doesn’t mean that we place a god above the God of the Bible. No.
To have other gods before the Lord is to place other interests on the same level of influence as the Lord. If we set earthly goals and values as equal influencing powers in our life, then we have set other gods in the same space that God has declared to be His temple.
We literally turn our souls into the Pantheon when we place before the one living and true God our gods of pleasure, beauty, work, play and the pursuit of family life and earthly success.
This is what happened to Adam and Eve. They set other idols of the heart on an equal footing with the One True God. So when Adam and Eve were being tempted, they had to make a decision between competing influences. They had to decide if god, or God, was going to rule their actions.
Genesis 3:6 They saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise. So the yearnings of their flesh, the coveting of their eyes, and their ego to live independent from God were all competing for their obedience and allegiance against the clear commands of God.
And every day in our life these three gods try to push their way into the same space that the Lord has declared to be His temple. They try to be more convincing and more influencing over our loyalties. And if we allow these idols of the heart to control our actions then we also will fall into sin.
1 John 2:16 For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.
Adam and Eve obeyed these idols of the heart instead of the clear command of their Creator. They converted their heart into a Pantheon. They worshipped other gods.
But the allegiance and loyalty of our hearts are not open for negotiation.
God said, 1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? Your heart and soul is sacred space.
God owns the whole building. Remember He said I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
God bought us from the slave market. We were slaves to sin and God bought us with His own blood. God owns us.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We have no right to renovate the space of our heart into a Pantheon. Our life should be lived in pursuit of Christ and the glory of God, not the glory of less noble pursuits.
A few Bible examples.
Samson was known for his strength. He sought his own glory and not the glory of Israel. God used Delilah to remove his strength. He died a suicide’s death still seeking his own glory.
Jezebel sought her own glory through power. She was cruel and evil. God ended her pursuit of power when dogs ate her alive. Only her head and hands were left.
Lot’s wife was so connected to the gods of Sodom that she was unable to keep her eyes on Jesus and the promise of salvation. She turned around to longingly stare at the idols of her heart that she left behind in Sodom. God turned her into a pillar of salt.
King Saul was a people pleaser instead of a God pleaser. He didn’t obey God’s commands.
Cain killed his only brother because he followed his anger instead of the Lord.
Judas betrayed our Lord for money and the hope of worldly power. He died trying to commit suicide.
And to keep us from repeating these terrible choices, God uses forceful language to steer our life into the paths of peace. This first command is a comprehensive commandment You shall have no other gods before me.
The only worship we are allowed to live is in the pursuit of the glory of God. We should seek to live in the enjoyment of God above all else.
This is our one and only noble pursuit.
Don’t forget, our God is a jealous God. If we set our heart to worship other priorities then we have created idols in our heart and we have set other gods before the God of the Bible.
Our life must be lived exclusively for the glory of God. No other goal is worthy.
Only Jesus is worthy. Only Jesus deserves the full and undivided attention of your appetites and desires.
The Bible reminds us what happens when people don’t seek the Lord, but turn to other worldly sources for their blessing.
Elijah battled the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
The prophets of Baal started early in the morning. They prayed and pleaded with Baal to accept their worship by sending fire down from heaven and burning up their sacrifice. But Baal never responded with a blessing.
1 Kings 18:27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.
Finally, Elijah stood up and prayed, 1 Kings 18:37-38 O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
There is only one God who can set your life on fire for Jesus. There is only one God who can accept the worship of your life that is lived for His glory.
And what becomes of the other gods and their worshippers? They are destroyed, just like the prophets of Baal.
There are many false idols in our world that will promise you many things. Listen to Psalm 40:4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!
To trust in anything but God is to set a false idol in our heart and break this first and most important commandment.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
May our heart be reserved for Jesus alone. May we live for His glory every day. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.