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, ignoring and forgetting God. But what other sins are forbidden?
You can also break the first commandment when you misapprehend God and have false opinions of him.
When you claim to have no other gods before God, you must be very careful to worship God as he really is – not how you would like him to be. If you have a false opinion of God, you are in effect constructing a false god in your mind who is really no god at all. Thus any worship you offer to such a figment of your imagination is a breaking of the first commandment.
The importance of thinking rightly about God is shown by the Apostle Paul when he visited Athens. Luke records Paul’s speech to the Greeks: ‘2 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone– an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead”’ (Acts 17:22-31).
Paul clearly teaches that the Greeks must know the God who made them. It’s not good enough to have an altar to him and known nothing about him. God will not overlook such ignorance about him and commands people to repent.
Sadly, we have all misapprehended God and had false opinions about him. But thankfully, the blood of Christ cleanses us from such thoughts if we trust in him.
So I encourage you, learn about the true God by reading his Word. Then you will apprehend him rightly and have right opinions of him. And then you will worship him correctly.