In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments and started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We’ve seen that the first commandment requires that you acknowledge and worship God by remembering, esteeming and honouring him. But how else can you worship God?
If God is your God, then you should love him. After the ten commandments are given in Deuteronomy, Moses announces to the people: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Thus Moses calls you to love God with your whole self. There is no place for dividing yourself up and withholding part of your life from him. You are to love God utterly and completely.
Similarly, the first commandment requires that you should desire God. There are many things in this world that compete for your affections, but God should reign supreme in your heart. You should say with the Psalmist: ‘Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever’ (Psalm 73:25-26).
The apostle Paul also shows the desire for God that should be reflected in the life of the Christian. When Paul writes to the church in Philippi, Paul speaks of his longing to die to be in God’s presence: ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body’ (Philippians 1:21-24).
Also, if God is your God, then you should fear him. The prophet Isaiah says: ‘The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall’ (Isaiah 8:13-14).
Initially, you should fear God as a judge of your sin and ask for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. But even after you know you have God’s forgiveness, you should always have a reverential fear toward your God as your Heavenly Father. The author of Hebrews reminds his readers that even believers should have this fear: ‘Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire”’ (Hebrews 12:28-29).
So once again, as you consider the first commandment you should see how much you have failed to keep it. Which should drive you once more to Christ for his atoning sacrifice to cover your transgression of the commandment. And then you should call upon him for strength to love, desire and fear God as you should.
So have you trusted in Christ’s work for your failure to worship rightly? Have you asked for help in your worship of him?