In this short article, we are going to study a few Scriptures that deal with and relate to the first Commandment which = love for God. Of course this is not the ONLY commandment that shows love to God, but I am taking these one at a time. In the book of Exodus and in chapter 20:1-3 we find the God of the OT saying these words; V.1 “And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you (speaking to Israel, as His chosen people—see **note below.) out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me.” (NKJ—throughout unless otherwise noted.)
(**The notation in verse two applies to any true Christians today, as they are Spiritually Children of God and are being brought out of bondage to sin. See Rom.6:17-18,1John 2:3-4 & 1John 5:1-4. The American Standard Version or ASV has this worded more accurately.)
Notice something that Christ said, when asked this question; (36) "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment.” (Matt 22:36-38)
If you notice the wording here, it does not indicate this is something one does on occasion, out of emotion of experiencing some blessing or even most of the time — no, the indication is that this becomes a part of our very nature, something worked at every day of our lives! When we look at it and apply it from that perspective, then there will be NO ROOM in the heart, mind or our very being for any other gods (Nothing deliberately allowed) to come first! We should be constantly monitoring our lives, looking for the subtle ways of Satan that will try and pull us into disobedience with this command, which takes effort. If not, then we ARE allowing other things to be first, which can become another god to us. Allowing this to happen will develop a wrong kind of character in us. So we should be able to see how important it is to be monitoring ourselves and keeping the first of the Ten Commandments as well as all others.
Another thing that should be noted is that Christ quoted this from the Old Testament, which He also used to teach all other doctrines, as well as the keeping of the Commandments. (Deut 6:5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”) So even though this was given to ancient Israel; by Christ’s own teachings it now also applies to everyone who desires to be a true Christian.
So what are some other things that we can do to put God first, being obedient to that first commandment of the ten, as well as keeping the first great command? Many things are found in the Scriptures but let us notice how this command from Christ relates.
Matt 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Out of all the physical things in life that a person needs, Christ said to do this one thing first—seek God and HIS righteousness—which is based on all the Commandments! (Ps.119:172) We should strive to keep this in mind all the time, not just once in a while or when it is convenient. Remember in the previous chapter, Christ also said this; "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48—the true intent is to “become” perfect, which takes a lot of effort at overcoming being less than perfect, which we all are. It is a whole new way of life that any true Christian will set him/herself to be living, from baptismal conversion on. When we see we have fallen short, we must repent and get back on track.)
However, God knows that we cannot perform this on our own strength and without His help. It becomes obvious that God and Christ have loved us first and far more than we can even understand. We see this in the often quoted passage; John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It is a sad thing that very few people really understand the intent of that verse and how it is applied with many other passages. Note this one; I Jn 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
Other passages tell us that all have sinned and come short of the glory of Christ; that it was given for man to die because of sin, which was also told to our first parents in the Garden—but that is the choices that mankind has made, which is a nature going the opposite way of love for God and putting Him first. That is the evil influence of Satan’s nature at work, mostly in unsuspecting humanity. He is the god of this world (2Cor.4:3-4) and the majority put him and his ways before the true God of the Bible, and are breaking the commandments. True Christians have been called out of this world and their minds are opened to see, which is how God is loving us all first and requires of us to learn to put Him first in our lives.
When Peter and the other apostles, on the day of Pentecost were asked; "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"—this is what was said. "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."
The same thing applies to humanity today and it all begins with seeking God and His ways first!
Paul stated this for the COG and its members in his day; “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor.5:18-21)
When human beings fall back into choosing sin, after the right way has been brought into their minds— if they have already been subject to these teachings of God’s word long enough to have learned we are to keep them—then those who choose sin instead of God’s way of righteousness are truly on dangerous ground, by putting another god before the one true God! We are given this warning about that.
Heb 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, (something we must constantly guard against doing) to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
Sin has to be repented of and gotten out quickly or it will lead to more sin and a further alienation from God (and those who are striving to be Godly)—it is not putting God first and breaks the first Commandment. This can cost use eternal life if done deliberately, by ignoring what is a right choice to following after the way and mindset of the world.
So as we conclude, this first Commandment is not just for the “Jews” or even ancient Israel and is not done away—but is now for the benefit of anyone desiring to be a true Christian and a follower of Christ. After all, when one considers this properly, we have all, even today, been brought out of the bondage to sin, as noted— those who are truly converted and have the Spirit of God dwelling in them. They will desire to follow where it leads, which is AWAY from any sin!
Ancient Egypt was just a type of this sinful world. That is why I made the notation in the beginning. Christ came to magnify the Law, which is make it enlarged and bring it into the Spiritual, for those who are striving to be Spiritual; by following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Nothing can come before obedience to God and His commandments—He must be put first and that is a matter of the heart and mind! God said this to Israel and it still applies to true Christians today; Deut. 4:9 "Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,”
When our children, or even grandchildren,- (that perhaps have come under our care and training in these physical lives or just see us enough to learn from the example they see)- and they cannot see any real diligence or commitment to obey God through tough circumstances or trials,—what are they learning from us? Most children learn from the examples of those they are closest to—if we lie or steal, failing to put God and His ways first by breaking those Commands, then they will learn to lie & steal also and that will become a god to them because it is put before obedience to God. (James 2:10-12) We must show the example that we are committed to truth in our lives in the hope they will follow suite!
Children should NOT see the willingness to compromise with God’s Law in us, or they will learn that first. Granted, some just want to go their own way and remain stubbornly bent on doing their own things in this life, but most whom God has called and chosen are not of that kind of mindset any longer.
So if we want to be blessed and have true Spiritual lives, we will be striving to put God first, by keeping the first Commandment, which includes the things we have seen herein and is recorded in many other passages of Scripture! This is how we are to be learning to Love God, by putting Him and His ways first in our lives. We must learn to be relying on God to guide us through life and it’s trials, by the power of His Spirit! To love God is to keep the first Commandment, as well as all the others.
(Editor for tcogmso)