The very first commandment etched in stone in the list of Ten Commandments that God gave Moses was: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” But the Bible also makes it clear that there is only one God that exists in the entire universe. So how is it possible to break this commandment? How can you put another god before the real God if no other gods exist?
Have scribes been wasting ink all these centuries by recopying a law that was impossible to break? Of course not. People break this law every day! How? Because anything that comes before God is your god. If anything or anyone else is the first love in your life, then it’s coming before God, and you’re not loving God the way we’re designed to love Him. If there’s something or someone in your life that is more important to you than God then you’re breaking this commandment by having another god before Him.
A few years ago there was a popular bumper sticker that said, “God is my co-pilot.” But isn’t there something wrong with that statement? Isn’t the co-pilot second in command to the pilot? Doesn’t the guy in the pilot seat make all the decisions? Often we trust Jesus enough to save us from our sins but we don’t trust Him enough to put Him first and make Him our Lord. We tell God we will accept His free gift of salvation, He can sit with us in the cockpit, He can look out the window and be there to help out if and when we might decide we need Him – but otherwise to keep His hands off the controls.
Hey, if God is your co-pilot, switch seats!
The truth is, not only is God the better pilot, but He owns the airplane, the airline, and all the airports. He wrote all the laws of physics that allow a wing to create lift. Thinking that we can pilot a plane better than He can is a good way to fly into a mountain.
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THE GUY WHO LEFT TOO SOON
I’ve always wanted to rename a certain story in the gospels. You’ve heard the story of “The Rich Young Ruler.” But I think a more appropriate name would be “The Guy Who Left Too Soon.” This man asked Jesus an important question: “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus gave the answer in two stages, and the first part was, “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Some people jump on this statement and claim that Jesus was saying that our good deeds get us to heaven. But that’s not the point Jesus was making. He was giving the man an honest answer to what this man could do to obtain eternal life; the man could obey each and every commandment his entire life and never sin, then he could be allowed into heaven.
Matthew records the man’s honest response after he was told to keep the commandments. “Then he said to Him, ‘Which ones?’” (Matthew 19:8) This was a subtle admission that he had not obeyed each and every commandment. Jesus rattled off a few of the big “Thou shalt nots” from the Ten Commandments, and I bet the man gave a big sigh of relief. The man hadn’t killed anybody or robbed any banks. (“Bearing false witness” might have been a bit iffy.) But Jesus knew that the man loved his riches more than he loved God. He was putting money first and God second, and was therefore breaking the very first in the list of Ten Commandments, “Have no other gods before me.” In the list of Ten Commandments, the first is to put God first.
Jesus knew the young man’s riches were his god and his first love. Riches had become a stumbling block, and had such a tight grip on his heart that he needed to get rid of them – not simply for the good of the poor people who would be receiving them, but for his own good.
Sadly, when Jesus told him to give everything away, that’s when the man left; and he left before getting the second half of Jesus’ answer to his original question, “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” The full answer is: Since you haven’t obeyed every single commandment your whole life, then you can’t do anything to obtain eternal life. For you, it’s impossible! Only God can do what needs to be done for you to obtain eternal life.
Fortunately the twelve disciples stuck around long enough to hear the rest of the answer and write it down for us: “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26) Salvation only comes from God. Through God, the impossible can be made possible and the guilty can be made innocent.