God Says, “Serve Me Only” — A Sermon on the First Commandment

11 June 2012 by Wes Bredenhof

Bill spent most of his spare time in worship.  He put in his eight hours a day at his job – he would come home and then worship.  But even in his spare moments at work Bill would be worshipping.  Sometimes he would even take time away from his work to worship.  His boss was not very clued into these sorts of things, so Bill got away with it.  Hours and hours every week were spent at home and work devoted to the one thing that gave Bill pleasure and relief from the stresses he faced.  Bill was an avid worshipper of pornography.

Then there was Sue.  She was also a worshipper.  She too had something in her life that absorbed her heart and captivated her attention.  She had something she loved more than anything else in the world.  It was something that gave her comfort and hope from day to day.  It gave her life meaning and made her feel secure.  If she would lose it, it would have stripped her life of all purpose.  Like Bill, she devoted hours to her worship.  Sue was an avid worshipper of her self-image.  She spent hours devoted to diet, exercise, and her appearance.

Now those are just two examples – and, by the way, they are interchangeable.  I could have described Sue as the worshipper of pornography and Bill as the worshipper of self-image.  They’re not exclusively male or female things.  And we could add all kinds of other objects of worship:  money, sports, music, other people, pride, your children, your job, alcohol, drugs, the list is endless.

What I want you to realize is that human beings are always worshippers.  When we were created, we were designed to serve and worship our Creator.  It was in our DNA, so to speak.  But with the fall into sin, the drive to worship became distorted.  Rather than serving the Creator, human beings turned into idol factories.  After the fall, everyone still worships, but not everyone worships the true God and him only.  And even those who only worship the true God in principle, they don’t always worship him alone in practice.  As Christians too, we easily devise idols, things that take the place of God in our lives.

We are very clever and inventive when it comes to our idols.  We can take anything created in this world and turn it into an idol.  Things that were created good by God become the objects of our devotion in place of him.  Want an example?  Take food.  Food is a good thing.  We need food to live.  We can even enjoy food and find pleasure in it.  All the different varieties of food that are out there are there for our enjoyment.  But food can become an idol.  People can take food and easily, without even thinking, mould it into an object of worship.  You don’t have to be overweight to do this.  People can be gluttonous idolaters while staying well within their BMI.  That’s how deceptive sin is, that’s how idolatry captivates us and corrupts our thinking and lives.

We are worshippers and we always will be.  As long as we live here on this earth, there will always be something enticing us away from the worship of the one true God.  That’s why we need to heed the call of God’s law.  As a whole, God’s law calls us to love him and him only.  But then the first commandment sharpens this further.  This commandment recognizes that we are worshippers, but we need to direct our worship and devotion to the one true God.

Click here to continue reading this sermon on the first commandment.