In this series of bulletin articles, we’ve been examining the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Lately we’ve been looking at the first commandment of the ten commandments: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We saw the duties of the first commandment and then began to reflect on the sins forbidden by the commandment.

The first commandment also forbids loving carnal/fleshly delights and joys more than God.

There are many pleasures that we enjoy with our bodies. We take delight in certain sights such as magnificent buildings and fine paintings. We relish the tastes of different foods and drinks. We listen to many kinds of beautiful music. We like to hug those we love. We enjoy the smell of sweet fragrances.

But these experiences of our flesh, our bodies, can quickly dominate our lives. We can start to love such pleasures over and above our God who graciously gives them. And as soon as we do that, we’ve broken the first commandment.

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul warns against those who love pleasure rather than God: ‘But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth– men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone’ (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

Similarly, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul says: ‘For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’ (Philippians 3:18-21).

Has your God been your stomach? What about your eyes? Or your ears? Do you prefer tickling your senses than listening to the one who made your senses? Sadly, we’re all guilty of worshipping the pleasures of this world at the expense of our worship for God. And so we all deserve the destruction Paul speaks about in his letters.

But thankfully, through Christ, God offers us forgiveness. If we repent of being lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, he draws us back into his arms. And there he shows us pleasures that we couldn’t even dream about before! Joel Radford.