No Other Gods – Identity and the First Commandment
For some time I have been wanting to create a blog series, so for the next ten Mondays we will be looking at how the ten commandments relate to identity. It all starts with God’s words in Exodus 20:1 – 3…
And God spoke all these words: “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.”
Before God gave the commandments, he made a statement of significance, a statement that is thematic throughout the Bible, a statement regarding his relationship with the image bearers he created.
I am the Lord your God.
While it is not used here, there is a complementary statement that the Lord uses in other places where he states his desire to be their God (for instance, see Exodus 6:7 and Leviticus 26:12), yet it is logically implied even here – I am the Lord your God, hence you will be my people.
From the beginning, God has been concerned about our identity – the sense of self that we, as his image bearers possess.
Our identity was always intended to be from the reference point of being his people.
Our sense of significance was supposed to come from being the people of a God who was daily present with us.
Our security was supposed to come from being the people of a faithful God.
Our feeling of wholeness and love was supposed to come from being the people of a God who does not need anything from us.
The Bible is a story of a God who wants people to see themselves as his, and of people who want to seek their wholeness and identity apart from him.
So the first commandment is that we have no other gods before the One True God.
He is exclusive. Preeminent. The Lord has no competitors.
And this commandment is really for our benefit. God is stating that we should not place our identity anywhere else. We should not seek wholeness or significance in any lesser thing.
Our hearts are constantly tempted by lesser things. (see A Lesson on Performance)
This is idolatry. Seeking wholeness in something other than God. Gaining our identity from a standard of the world. (see When Numbers Are Not Enough)
Everything in the life of a Christ follower should be run through the lens of being one of his people.
Our sexuality. Our relationships. Our parenting. Our finances. Our purchases. Our career. Our family. Our ___________.
And I’m not talking about the lens of behavior, I am referring to continually asking our self the question – am I seeking to have my worth defined by this facet of my life? (see Adopting Roles or Identities)
Fortunately, when we are in Christ – when we have adopted the covering of being his people – God has a plan and direction for our faith. (see Author and Perfecter)
Our redeeming God is also a Restorer. All things will, in due time, be restored to the way the Lord originally intended.
Revelation 21:3 paints this picture…
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
It seems that, in the end, we will finally delight in being his people. In seeing the source of our identity as being his. Read that passage in its entirety. No more tears. No more crying. No more pain. Those things are part of the old order, the order of things dominated by the false self.
In the present, take time to delight in truth, and commit to having no other gods before the Lord, the One who defines who you are.