How To Interpret The Ten Commandments

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

— Exodus 20:3

A class of college students had the assignment of ranking the Ten Commandments in order of importance as they saw them. The students ended up reversing the order. At the bottom of the list, they placed the command “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

Where would you have ranked this commandment?

Many people today utterly forget their Creator. They offer Him no praise or thanks. They don’t even give Him a second thought.

When God says we must have no other gods before Him, He doesn’t give us free license to have other gods as long as we place Him in front of the line. God didn’t want the Israelites— or us—to have any other gods at all. The Hebrew people lived in the midst of a society that worshiped the gods Moloch, Baal, and Mammon. Moloch was the god of cruelty who demanded child sacrifices. Baal was the god of lust. Mammon was the god of money. Many today still worship these three gods, although not by the same names.

The First Commandment covers a multitude of actions we should avoid. Some of the sins forbidden by the First Commandment are: atheism (denying or not having a God); idolatry (worshiping any other god instead of the one true God); not standing up for God; neglect of anything due or required by Him; hatred of God; self-love and self-seeking (putting self above God); anything that takes our mind off God completely or in part, such as unbelief, heresy, distrust, despair, hardness of heart, and pride; tempting God; lukewarmness; consulting with the Devil; slighting and despising God; resisting and grieving His Spirit; and accusing God falsely.

After reviewing such a list, who can possibly claim not to have violated this commandment? But, thankfully, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Do you need to put away any behaviors that hinder you from honoring God first and completely?

“Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be
of Thee, let my first impulse be to worship Thee . . . let
my first action be to kneel before Thee in prayer.”
John Baillie