Have you loved the world more than God?
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. We started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We saw the duties of the first commandment and then began to examine the sins forbidden by the commandment, such as atheism, self-seeking, ignoring God, forgetting God and hating God. But what other sins are forbidden?
If you have no other gods before God, then you must not love the things of this world over and above God.
The apostle John warns about the dangers of loving the world: ‘Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever’ (1 John 2:15-17).
Paul also encourages setting your mind on things above, not on earthly things: ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God’ (Colossians 3:1).
An example of people loving the world in opposition to God is given by the priest Eli’s sons in the Old Testament. We read of their behaviour in 1 Samuel 2: ‘Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD. Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” If the man said to him, “Let the fat be burned up first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would then answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt’ (1 Samuel 2:12-17). So God pronounces judgement upon the sons of Eli and Eli himself for valuing food more than God. God says to Eli: ‘Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’ (1 Samuel 2:29). Eli’s sons loved the taste of fat more than God.
So the question for you is, ‘What have you valued in this world over God?’ To our shame, we must answer that many things have caught our attention more than God. So we should be punished for violating the first commandment.
However, if you trust in Christ’s sacrifice for your sin, you can be forgiven of loving the world more than God. Put your faith in him now! Joel Radford