I'd better not see any

other Gods.

Exodus 20:1-3 (NKJV)

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 bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This passage makes more sense in Hebrew. It literally says, “You shall have no other gods in my face.”

The English translation sounds more like the LORD wants to be first among gods. Actually, the commandment is more like when a parent says, “I’d better not see any …”

This commandment has to be first. Without this solid foundation, the other commandments don’t have a point of reference. Since all other gods aren’t real, they have no significance other than evidence of overactive imaginations.

Someone who views the LORD as just one among many gods is too confused to understand anything else.

Jesus made an important extension.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” – Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)

So, with silly statue worship pretty much a thing of the past, other gods in Exodus 20:3 now refers to anything that controls you – money, exercise, golf, etc.

Most of these are normal. It’s good to manage your money wisely. There’s nothing wrong with exercising or playing golf. Healthy activities are great; just don’t obsess on them.

Unfortunately, our fallen nature makes us naturally obsessive. We act like we don’t want the LORD to control our entire lives; yet we let other things control us. Isn’t that what the word “Lord” is about?

Thus our battle with sin isn’t just about the bad things we do. We need to check on the good things to see if they have become sinful obsessions.

And the frightening thing is, obsessing over some good thing can be worse than the things we normally think of as sinful. This is tricky stuff. Anything can be twisted by our sinful nature into a problem. Everyone has something they are really “into.” Is that sinful?

No. The question is, “Do you control it, or does it control you?” For example, do you exercise when you’re sick and you probably shouldn’t be exercising? Do you play golf when the weather makes it no fun? Do you check your investments constantly? Whatever it is, can you take a break from it for a while to do other things without that stressing you out? Is “your thing” fun or necessary?

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and root out other gods.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.