“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:1-6 (ESV)
The first lesson in the Catechism is on the First Commandment:
Thou shalt have no other gods.
What does this mean?–Answer. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Martin Luther, Small Catechism
There is a God- and He ain’t you….or me.
This simple truth seems so painfully obvious, but the First Commandment shows us the sin of the Fall, the root of all sin.
We want to be God. We want to be the center of our own universe. We want things to go our way, according to our will. We don’t want to pray that hardest petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done.” We don’t trust God. We aren’t able to.
Intellectually we get it- sort of- that God is the Creator, but every one of us has that screaming toddler inside who wants his or her own way. We want to trust ourselves, but we aren’t fit to be trusted. Left to our own devices we are still those toddlers who would throw tantrums in the middle of Kroger’s and demand M&Ms and ice cream for every meal. When we try to live by “my will be done,” it doesn’t end well.
Historically the church has referred to our inability to obey God as “original sin,” which the apostle Paul discusses here: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh, and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” – Ephesians 2:1-3 (NIV)
Paul does not mince words here. We aren’t “kinda good.” We are no good through and through. The theologian John Calvin would describe our state before God (apart from Jesus) as the total depravity of man.
God demands we put Him first, yet we are constantly distracted and chasing after everything but God.
Apart from Jesus, apart from being covered by Him in baptism, apart from being covered by Him because He died to save us from sin, we are completely incapable of putting God first or obeying any of His laws. We are not able to be perfectly good like God requires. We aren’t even “sorta good.”
Thank you, Lord for the faith you give us as a free gift, the faith in Jesus that saves, the faith that counts us righteous in your sight for Jesus’ sake. Forgive us for all the times we fall and forget to trust You alone.