Today we continue in our message series entitled “The Way of Love.” In this series, we’re looking at God’s commandments to His people in the Old Testament and how they apply to us today. Jesus taught us that all of God’s commands have to do with loving God and loving people, the way of love.
Today, our message is called “Worship God Alone.” As we study the Bible, the understanding of the meaning of words is very important. The meaning of words is essential to understanding God’s Word and in communicating God’s truth to other people. Let’s start today by looking at the word “God.” In the Bible, God refers to the Lord God, the one and only true God, the creator of the universe. The Lord God has revealed Himself to mankind in a number of ways.
Romans 1:20 (ESV) For his [God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
When we look at creation, the world and the universe, we learn about God’s power and nature through this general revelation. The Bible is full of examples where God directly reveals Himself to a person or a group of people, such as Abraham and the nation of Israel.
2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
God has revealed more about Himself through the special revelation of Scripture, God’s Word.
Hebrews 1:2 (ESV) but in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
God most full revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. All these revelations of God give us a very clear picture and understanding of who God is, how He acts and how He interacts with people.
Yet, there are many other religions that claim to also worship God. Do all religions therefore worship the same God, as some say? The answer from God’s Word and simple logic is absolutely not. Let’s look at a few other major religions in the world. Muslims worship Allah, but their writings show that Allah is completely different than the Lord God of the Bible, as is their understanding that Jesus is not God. Hindus worship Brahman through many gods and goddesses, nothing like the Lord God. Buddhists worship Buddha, his writings and other gods. Only Christians worship the Lord God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Secondly, let’s look at the meaning of the word “worship.” There are many aspects to worship, but I would define worship as surrendering yourself to the Lord God in every aspect of your life.
Romans 12:1 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
This verse defines spiritual worship as presenting our bodies, our entire being as a living sacrifice to God. Worship is loving God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. When God created man in His image, He created each person with the ability and need to worship. So everyone worships something or someone. As Christians, we worship the uncreated creator Lord God. Everyone else worships something or someone that God or man created. So, with that introduction, let’s see what the Bible says about worshipping God alone from the first verses of the ten commandments, the way of love.
Exodus 20:1-2 (ESV) And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated LORD is Yahweh, which is the name of God, setting Him apart from all the other gods worshipped. He had revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush and delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Now on Mount Sinai, God was revealing Himself to the entire nation through the ten commandments. The first commandment was to …
Exodus 20:3 (ESV) “You shall have no other gods before me.
This verse does not mean that the Lord God must be the first of many gods. It would be better translated as in the NLT “You must not have any other god but me.” To worship the Lord God, you cannot worship any other god. If you are worshipping another god, you cannot be worshipping the Lord God. Throughout their history, Israel often tried to worship other gods and the Lord God at the same time. God completely rejected this type of worship. True believers must have no other gods. The Lord God is a personal god and …
Deuteronomy 4:39-40 (ESV) … the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days …
In the verses before this passage, God speaks of His love for the nation of Israel. It was His love that motivated God to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt. These verses tell us that there is no other true gods, other than the Lord God, either in heaven or earth. As He is the one and only true God who created everything, He is the one that we must obey. Those who obey God’s commands will experience God’s blessing on their lives, their families throughout their days. Obedience to the Lord God brings blessing.
In these verses, we see that the Lord God demands absolute allegiance, because He is the only true God. This obedience is required of those whom God has rescued. In the Old Testament God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt. In the New Testament era in which we live, God rescues us from slavery to sin and brings us into a personal, loving relationship with Him. He wants to continue to reveal Himself to us. We honor Him by building our relationship with Him through worship. Worship includes obedience, prayer and everything we do in life that is dedicated to the Lord God. Now, let’s see how the next commandment helps us better understand how to worship God alone.
Exodus 20:4 (ESV) “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
In this verse, God forbids making images of created things, such as animals, people, the sun, the stars or the fish in the sea. The prohibition against making these images was that the people of the day worshipped these images as idols. God forbade not only the worship of images, but of real created things as well, such as the sun, the moon and the stars. The things that God created are incredible, but only the one who created them, the Lord God is uncreated and to be worshipped.
Deuteronomy 4:15-16 (ESV) “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
No image can possibly represent God, so nothing must be made that would serve as an item of worship or an idol. As mankind has been created to worship, it has always been easier to worship something that you can see with your eyes, rather than worship the invisible creator God. In America today, we say that we do not have idols, but we really do. An idol is any created thing that we worship other than God for some perceived benefit. We do not have so many carved images today, but we have an infinite number of digital images, where people worship sex through pornography. Any person addicted to any sin, worships that sin as an idol. People worship pleasure, money, power, family, hobbies, themselves, alcohol, drugs, other people and the list of idols could go on and on.
Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV) And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
The awesome things that God created in the universe have been worshipped from ancient times. People still worship them today. Some think their horoscopes dictate their future. More and more people worship the earth or nature. Some worship Gaia (jee-uh), the ancient Greek goddess of the earth. Although we are to be stewards of the earth, the elevation of the earth as something to be worshipped is a form of idolatry seen in extreme forms of environmentalism. The earth is not our mother. The Lord God is our Father and creator. Each of these idols is a false god and must not be worshipped.
In the Old Testament we learn much of the sin of idolatry. The pagan nations around Israel worshipped various kinds of idols, such as Baal, Molech and Asherah. The worship of these idols involved human sacrifice and many types of sexual perversion. Israel was tempted to worship idols when they had close contact with or intermarried with the pagans around them. Generally, Israel tried to keep on worshipping the Lord God and the idols of the surrounding nations at the same time. Trying to have the best of both worlds. Yet, God over and over condemns any worship of idols. The Lord God must be worshipped alone. If you also worship an idol, you are not worshipping the Lord God.
What power do idols have? 1 Cor. 10:30 tells us that when people worship inanimate idols, they are in fact worshipping demons. The supernatural power behind idols and all other religions is demonic power. Demons can give benefits to those who worship idols, but will ultimately enslave and destroy those who worship them. We must not worship false gods. Let’s look more closely at God’s response to idols.
Exodus 20:5-6 (ESV) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
The problem with idols is that people worship and serve them, rather than the Lord God. God commands us not to worship idols for it is sin or iniquity. Those who worship idols hate the Lord God and their sin brings a curse of their children through the generations. If we love God and show our love by keeping His commands, then God will show His love and blessing to us through thousands of generations.
Deuteronomy 4:24-26 (ESV) For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. … if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, so as to provoke him to anger … you will soon utterly perish from the land …
God is jealous of His people. Oftentimes we think of jealousy as a negative attribute. However, jealousy also has a good side. God wants His people to love and worship Him alone and not turn away to worship idols. Just as a husband is jealous of his wife’s love. He does not want her love to go to any other man, He desires their love to be exclusive. In the Bible, the worship of idols is often referred to as spiritual adultery or unfaithfulness to the Lord God. The results of being unfaithful to the Lord God and worshipping idols is that in His anger, God will cause the sinner to utterly perish. Yet, God is not only jealous, but …
Deuteronomy 4:30-31 (ESV) When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
This whole passage in Deuteronomy 4 speaks of what will happen to the Israelites when they turn from the Lord to worship idols. The Lord promises that the Israelites will be driven from their land into exile, where they will worship and serve idols. However, when they repent, when they return to the Lord God and again obey and worship Him alone, God will be merciful. He will forgive them and remember to show His love for them, as He did to their forefathers who worshipped Him in the past.
The Lord God is our father. When we disobey our Father and do not worship Him alone, He brings punishment into our lives in the form of curses. The curses are a natural result of the worship of demonic idols. Even when a person is under the curse of God for their sin, the door is always open to receive God’s forgiveness when a person repents of their sin and puts their faith in Jesus Christ. God is merciful and forgiving. But the best path is to obey the Lord God and worship Him alone. Not only do we then avoid the curses of disobedience and the slavery to demonic power, we enjoy the blessings of God in our lives and in our families throughout the generations.
God encourages us today to worship Him alone. To worship Him is to totally surrender your life to Him and love Him with all of your heart, soul and mind. Total surrender to God as a living sacrifice leaves no room for serving other gods or idols. We must eliminate idols from our lives through the Spirit’s power. A life of worshipping God alone involves all of our lives. We worship through prayer, reading God’s Word, singing, working, our families and relationships, our church, our serving, our witnessing, our giving and our loving others. May each of us grow in worshipping the Lord God alone.