Anyway...the First Commandment; WLC #103: Which is the first commandment?
A.: The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
There are four headings in this section relating to Promise, Presupposition, The Point, and Priority: Law and Covenant. Of the first, I didn't get any notes, so we'll start with Presupposition:
The presupposition of the first commandment—“You shall have no other gods before Me”—is that, regardless of the fact that man worships a vast array of idols he calls gods, other than the triune God of the Bible, no other gods exist. In fact, the Hebrew word for an idol literally means “a nothing,” “a non-entity.” (712)
"His forbidding us to have other gods means that we are not to give to another than himself what belongs to God… that we are to worship him alone; we are to rely upon him with complete faithfulness and hope; whatsoever is good and holy we are to recognize as received from him; and we are to direct all praise for goodness and holiness to him." 4 I. John Hesselink, Calvin’s First Catechism: A Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster/ John Knox Press, 1997), 11. (714)
God’s Law is covenant law; it defines the relationship between the Creator and His friends in Christ....We do not obey God’s Law in order to be redeemed or to enter the covenant (Gal. 3:24). When a person is rightly related to Jehovah through the sacrifice and intercession of the Mediator of the Covenant, obedience to Biblical Law by believers for Jesus’ sake enhances covenant life. (717)
A.: The duties required in the first commandment are, the knowing and acknowledging of
God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly, by
thinking, meditating, remembering, highly esteeming, honouring, adoring, choosing, loving, desiring, fearing of him; believing him; trusting, hoping, delighting, rejoicing in him; being zealous for him; calling upon him, giving all praise and thanks, and yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; being careful in all things to please him, and sorrowful when in any thing he is offended; and walking humbly with him.
The list above is subsequently gone through and broke into two sections, the first of which deals with knowing God as the only true God and our God, and secondly acknowledging this fact.
Since the God of the Bible is the only true and living God whom we are to serve with all our heart, we are obliged to know all we can know about Him from His written Word, and on the basis of that Word know Him personally as our God. (718)
This true knowledge of God is the foundation of all life, thought and behavior: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). (718)
...Packer brings out some helpful points regarding the knowledge of God:
(1) A person can know a great deal about God without knowing God.
(2) A person can know a great deal about living the Christian life without knowing God.
(3) Those who truly know God exert great energy for God: “the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Dan. 11:32). ...
(4) Those who truly know God have great thoughts of God which fill their minds. ...
(5) Those who truly know God show great boldness in serving and witnessing for God. ....
(6) Those who truly know God have great contentment in God. ...
(7) “Knowing God is a matter of personal dealing, as is all direct acquaintance with personal beings. Knowing God is more than knowing about Him; it is a matter of dealing with Him as He opens up to you, and being dealt with by Him as He takes knowledge of you.”11
(8) “Knowing God is a matter of personal involvement, in mind, will and feeling. Otherwise, it would not be a fully personal relationship. To get to know another person, you have to commit yourself to his company and interests, and be ready to identify yourself with his concerns.”12
(9) Knowing God is a matter of grace. It is a relationship in which the initiative throughout is with God—as it must be, since God is so completely above us and we have so completely forfeited all claim on His favour by our sins. We do not make
friends with God; God makes friends with us, bringing us to know Him by making His love known to us.13
(10) “What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that He knows me.… All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him, because He first knew me, and continues to know me.”14
11. Packer, Knowing God, 34.
12. Packer, Knowing God, 35.
13. Packer, Knowing God, 36, emphasis added.
14. Packer, Knowing God, 37.
The command to “swear by His Name” is the command to confess our faith in God and to declare our total loyalty to Him. Swearing by God’s name is a confession of faith in the Old Testament, and our confession always includes the renewal of our vows and our devotion to our God. (721)
The one true and living God has commanded all His intelligent creatures to worship Him in sincerity and according to His Word, with all their heart and soul. (723)
In the broadest sense, worship is the giving of praise, honor, adoration, devotion and service to the one true and living God who is our God in Jesus Christ. (724)
The loyalty and devotion Almighty God demands of us is total and all encompassing, for “He will not share His glory with another.” (725)
The true worship of God is both internal and external. It is INTERNAL and INWARD in that, in essence, it consists in fearing, loving, praising, calling upon, trusting in and serving the Lord with all the heart, all of which show themselves in holiness of behavior. It is EXTERNAL and OUTWARD in that faith without works is dead. Adoring worship in the heart will manifest itself in the public worship of God according to the way He has commanded in His Word. (725)
The INWARD always expresses itself in the OUTWARD. The outward expression of worship is governed by several Biblical principles. (1) God accepts only that worship which is in accordance with what He has commanded in the Bible regarding how He is to be worshipped (Deut. 12:32). (2) God may not be worshipped with the help of visual representations of Him (Deut. 4:15, 16, 23). (3) God condemns the attempted worshipping of Him in any other way not prescribed
in the Bible (Matt. 15:9). In other words, in the worship of God, if it is not commanded, it is forbidden. (726)
Human beings exist to glorify God and to delight in the God of glory. Humankind
has been predestined to be the instrument of the Divine glory, to reflect that glory in their own consciousness and to enjoy God as the all-glorious One. In other words, glorifying God and enjoying God are inseparable. (727)
So then, we can say that honoring God or glorifying God involves appreciation, adoration, submission and witness.
First, APPRECIATION. We glorify God when we recognize God’s “impressiveness” in His self-revelation and have God-admiring thoughts about Him. Second, ADORATION. We glorify God when we praise Him and adore Him for His “impressiveness” as revealed in Christ, the Bible and creation. Third, SUBMISSION. We glorify God by submitting to the supremacy and finality of His revelation in total dependence and obedience. Fourth, WITNESS. We glorify God when we hold and give a good opinion of God by the witness of our lives and mouths to others. Therefore, “whether… you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). (727)
The worship of God is the conscious and deliberate glorifying and enjoying of God regulated by His Word. (728)
[1: Thinking of Him]
Among the evils that bring down God’s most severe judgment upon an individual or a people is not wanting and refusing to have God in all their thoughts. (729)
In stark contrast to the reprobate, the true believer in Jesus understands that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” and so in all his thinking he starts with God as the source of all life, truth and morality. To say that the fear of the Lord is the starting point and foundation for all wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs
1:7; 9:10) is to say that true knowledge is acquired, not rationalistically, existentially, or empirically, but revelationally; therefore to know anything from physics to theology, one must begin with God and His verbal revelation, as the only basis for knowledge and morality....If in our thinking we do not begin with God, we will never end with God. (730)
[2: Meditating on Him]
"Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God. It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God, and to let His truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart. It is a matter of talking to oneself about God and oneself; it is, indeed, often a matter of arguing with oneself, reasoning oneself out of moods of doubt and unbelief into a clear apprehension of God’s power and grace. Its effect is ever to humble us, as we contemplate God’s greatness and glory, and our own littleness and sinfulness, and to encourage and reassure us…as we contemplate the unsearchable riches of divine mercy displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ.… And it is as we enter more and more deeply into this experience of being humbled and exalted that our knowledge of God increases, and with it our peace, our strength, and our joy. 28 Packer, Knowing God, 18–19. (732-733)
[3: Remembering Him]
Time and again in the Bible we are urged not to forget the Lord, but to remember Him, whether we are enjoying prosperity or suffering poverty. ...
"Then let us mark, that the remembering means the reverencing of Him." 29. Calvin, Sermons on Deuteronomy, 284. (733)
[4: Highly Esteeming Him]
The Hebrew is that they “thought upon His name,” in the sense that they “esteemed” it and “prized” it, in contrast to those aroundthem who had come to “despise” that holy name. (734)
[5: Honoring Him]
We honor God when, in our hearts we know, recognize and love all the revealed perfections of God: His justice as well as His grace, His wrath as well as His mercy, His righteousness as well as His love, His sovereignty as well as His patience. (736)
[6: Adoring Him]
It manifests this loving reverence in verbal expressions in worship to him in whom these glorious perfections reside. The language of adoration is accompanied with praise, which arises from our consciousness of the delight we enjoy in the contemplation of these divine perfections. (738)
[7: Choosing Him]
A true Christian is not one who makes only one “decision for Jesus,” rather he is one who seeks to make “every decision for Jesus.” (739)
[8: Loving Him]
Choosing God means loving Him. (741)
What is it to LOVE God? Love is emotional, but it is more than emotion. Emotions cannot be ordered to act on command; but God commands us that we love Him with all our heart. This means that we must:
"see love as a choice. Because only Yahweh is God, Israel and we must choose for Him. To love means to stick with your choice. When a marriage gets into trouble, the only path to resolution is the choice to love. The emotional element in that love may be wholly or partially absent, but faithfulness must come out. Concretely, then, love means that husband and wife form no relationships with third parties, but maintain the choice they made for each other with their wedding vows. The same is true of our relationship with the Lord. He covenanted Himself to Israel, and Israel to Him. The first commandment demands a love that is faithful to the covenant. Here, too, no third party may come between them. Love cannot be shared between Yahweh and Baal, between God and Mammon.… To love is to stick with your choice, regardless of whether it feels good." 42 Douma, The Ten Commandments, 21. (741-742)
[9: Desiring Him]
For those who love the triune God, nothing they desire equals the intensity of the longing of their hearts for fellowship with the one true and living God, who is their God in Christ. (743)
Therefore, we will have no intense desire for God unless we have the following. (1) A thoroughly Biblical understanding of His being and perfections, including His self-sufficiency (Ps. 115:3). If we are convinced He favors us because He needs us, we will more highly esteem ourselves, and will not be overwhelmed with the greatness
and blessedness of His being. The believer loves God because of who He is and what He has revealed of Himself. (2) A thoroughly Biblical understanding of our total need for Him and His willingness, ability and generosity in meeting all our needs in Christ (Phil. 4:19). Until we recognize that in and of ourselves we lack everything that is good and honorable and pleasing to God, that we have no spiritual resources to live life the way God meant for it to be lived, we will not have any proper and intense desire for God, because we will not see or feel our total need of Him. (745)
[10: Fearing Him]
The source of the true worship of God is the fear of God....This fear of the Lord
is reverential awe, adoration and submission in the conscious presence of the triune God, which creates in us a deep and profound humility before God, without which no one can come to God and be accepted by Him. (745)
The fruit of the fear of God includes: (1) Faith and Repentance, without which it is absolutely impossible to do anything that pleases God (Heb. 11:6; Isa. 1:10–17). (2) Humble Submission to God, because the God we worship is the Lord God Almighty, the Sovereign of the universe. (3) Joyful Praise, in the celebration of redemption
God has given us in Christ. (4) Intense Delight, because in the worship of God our great and glorious God manifests Himself and His glory to us. (747)
[11: Believing Him]
Believing in God and believing God are inseparable. In fact, unless we believe God we will not believe in Him....True faith “believes in,” the Lord, i.e., trusts in and commits to the Lord (John 3:16) and it also “believes that,” God has spoken, persuaded by the Spirit that all He has spoken is true: “believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9). (747)
[12: Believing in Him]
Hence, believing IN God denotes “a steady, resting repose, reliance upon, and a fixedness of confidence in” God in Christ. (749)
[13. Trusting in Him]
To “trust” in the Lord involves renouncing all confidence in self or in any other human being, and relying solely upon the Lord alone for life and salvation. (749)
In faith the believer not only TRUSTS God in Christ for salvation, he also ENTRUSTS himself to Christ forever. He relies upon Him, rests and leans upon Him, and commits all he is, has, and ever will have to Christ. (750)
[14. Hoping in Him]
Those who trust in God hope in God, because they know that their God is a faithful God, and they are assured that He will fulfill all the great and glorious promises He has made in His Word, however, in His own time and schedule, which means that sometimes they have to wait in faith through many difficulties to see the promise
Hope has certainty in it. Because faith rests in the Promiser, hope waits confidently and expectantly for the promises. Faith hopes with anticipation and certainty regarding the blessings of God to the believer in the future because it knows that God has promised: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). (751)
(1) Salvation is oriented to hope; and (2) Hope produces perseverance.
First, salvation is oriented to hope....This refers to the fact that the salvation
bestowed in the past, the salvation now in possession of believers, is characterized by hope....In other words, possessed salvation cannot be separated from the certainty of its consummation. Salvation—past, present and future—is one salvation. ...
Second, hope produces perseverance. Hope has a two-fold effect on the believer. (1) It makes him wait on God in patient, eager and joyful expectation: “we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2). (2) It gives him patience, endurance and constancy while he is waiting in faith for God to fulfill His promises: “and not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint” (Rom. 5:3–5). (751-752)
Here is a picture of a Christian person: he is a person of hope, who can combine eagerness and patience at one and the same time. He is neither impulsive nor phlegmatic. Therefore he is stable and reliable. (752)
[15: Delighting in Him]
For those who know God loves them in Christ, there is profound delight in the enjoyment of His love. We delight in the character of Him whom we love. (753)
[16: Rejoicing in Him]
The Bible abounds with references to joy and rejoicing. It speaks of gladness, contentment, satisfaction, mirth, cheerfulness, peace, serenity, the joy of faith and rejoicing in hope....From a study of...Old Testament words, we can learn several things about joy. (1) Shouting is associated with joy: “shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart” (Ps. 32:11b). (2) Over against paganism, joy is coupled with righteousness: “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones” (Ps. 32:11a). (3) Joy has God as its source and object. Psalm 32:11 calls upon us to “be glad IN
THE LORD” (emphasis added). (4) God is a joyful God: “Let the LORD be glad in His works” (Ps. 104:31). (5) “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). “True joy is based on knowledge of and submission to God’s Word.”66 (6) In God’s presence is “fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). (754-755)
The New Testament has about six words for joy and rejoicing. (1) It refers to joy as a gift of God to His children: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22). (2) It is the response of the believer to the gospel of Christ: “And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’” (Luke 2:10–11).67 (3) It is future-oriented for perfected joy and is a feature of life in the consummated universe: “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of
many things, enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21). (4) The joy of Christians is the joy of Christ, who said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11)....(5) This joy is unknown to the unbelieving world—“A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14). (6) The believer can rejoice in afflictions and sufferings with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (Acts 5:4; 2 Cor. 6:10; 1 Pet. 1:6, 8; 4:13). (755-756)
[17: Being Zealous for Him]
One who loves God will be zealous for God, because “zeal is the fire of love, active for duty, burning as it flies.” What is zeal? It is “an ardour of mind, a fervent affection for some person or thing; with an indignation against everything supposed to be pernicious and hurtful to it.” 72 John Gill, Body of Divinity (Atlanta, GA: Turner Lasseter, 1965), 824. (757)
True zeal is “a zeal for God.”...Because true zeal has as its object the true God and His honor, it also has as its object the worship of God and the Word of God, including all the truths contained therein. (758)
Moreover, the cause of Christ is also the object of true zeal. Those who are possessed with the zeal of love for God, seek not their own things, but the things of Christ (Phil. 2:21). They are intensely concerned for the welfare of Christ’s churches, for the advance of the gospel of Christ in the world and for the faithful administration of the ordinances of Christ in His church, along with the loving practice of church discipline. (758)
[18: Depending on Him]
God is independent of His creation, and at the same time He has made His creation and everything in it totally dependent upon Him for its continued existence. (760)
The conscious recognition of our total dependence upon God is highlighted in Jesus’ statement: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:15). In this call to discipleship, Jesus demands of those who enter His kingdom that they realize their total helplessness in their relationship to His
Philippians 4:6 presupposes our dependence upon God and instructs us on how that sense of dependence will manifest itself in our lives. (1) It excludes worry and anxiety, knowing that God cares for us, that He will not let anyone hurt one hair on our head without His will, and that He causes everything that happens to us to happen for our good and His glory (Rom. 8:28). (2) It moves us to live by prayer, by consciously and continuously petitioning God to give what we need according to His will, believing that He is willing and able to do so: “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). (3) It moves us to be thankful to God in everything that happens to us, knowing that He does all things well, and therefore that everything that happens to us has purpose and meaning. (4) It means the trusting of God to guide, protect and provide for us, as we seek to serve Him in all we do, resting in the knowledge of His providential care and governance of us: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11b). (5) Depending upon Him, knowing that He will not fail us, produces in us “the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension” (Phil. 4:7), so that we can “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4), even in the midst of hardships and tragedy. (761)
Continuing more on-track, the following element (Obeying and Submitting to God), is one of those with the sub-breakouts. (Wait. Did you just see that? Providential placement of an off-topic line of thought!) It basically has three headings: What Obedience Is, What Obedience is Like, and Pleasing God.
[19: Obeying and Submitting to God]
1) What Obedience is:
The obedience and submission that pleases God is the obedience and submission that grow out of faith in Him as Lord and Savior. Such obedient submission consists in acknowledging in adoration the majesty and infinite worth of Him who is to be obeyed; in the joy of subjecting ourselves to His righteous and kind government; with the willingness to do and be whatever He is pleased to command, and to seek His counsel and His will in every decision and situation of life; motivated by gratitude to God in Christ for saving us from sin; and depending upon the Spirit of Christ to enable us to do whatever He has commanded. (762)
2) What Obedience is Like:
The obedience to God which the first commandment demands of us is a yielding of all obedience and submission to Him with the whole man. Four truths should be observed in this statement. (1) This obedience is demanded of all those who know and acknowledge the Triune God to be their God and who glorify Him as God. (2) We are to yield all obedience to God. (3) We are to yield all submission to God. (4) We are to yield all obedience and submission to God with the whole man. (763)
3) Pleasing God:
The believer in Jesus lives for the pleasure of God....From the moment He gives us new hearts in regeneration, He gives us the desire and the ability to live in a way that is pleasing to Him....These are not two different things: obedience to God’s commandments and pleasing the Lord. Rather they are one and the same responsibility and privilege of the Christian: he lives for the pleasure of the Lord by doing what He commands from the heart, thus pleasing Him.
Our obedience to God for Jesus’ sake really does please God. (766)
[20: Grieving at Offending God]
A believer in Jesus has a tender conscience. When he sins his conscience smites him, and so he grieves over offending the God that loves him. This godly grief moves him to go to Jesus for continued forgiveness and cleansing, to confess his sins to God, to hate his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments (WCF, XV, ii). He grieves over his sins because of their filthiness and odiousness in the sight of God, because they are contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God. (768)
The difference between “sorrow according to the will of God and the sorrow of the world” is an important one. The former is a grief for sin because of the heinousness of sin as an offense and rebellion against the living God. The latter is the experience of sorrow “because of the painful and unwelcome consequences of sin. Self is its central point; and self is also the central point of sin. (770)
[21: Daily Commnuing with God]
Because the believer has been brought into saving, vital union with Jesus Christ, he communes (fellowships) with the triune God daily as friend with Friend... (771)
(1) We are to “do justice” (mishpat), i.e., to govern all our decisions, evaluations, thoughts and expressions by the perfect standard of righteousness, justice, and judgment in the written Word of God. (2) We are to “love kindness” (hesed), i.e., to love and cherish faithfulness to God and loving loyalty to the bond of God’s covenant. (3) We are to “walk humbly with our God.” (772)
Our “daily walk” is our daily lives day by day and week by week. In the Bible we are told that Christians walk “after” God in imitation of His character as revealed in His Word. We walk “before” God, conscious of the protection and care of His Face and providence. We walk “under” God in glad submission to His sovereignty over us. We walk “with” God in daily conscious fellowship with Him as friend with Friend. (773)
How may we walk with God everyday? (1) We walk WITH God when we walk BEFORE God and AFTER God, i.e., when we make as our goal to please our Father who is in Heaven, and when we follow wherever He leads us in the Bible. (2) We walk WITH God when we walk WITH God, i.e., when we communicate freely with Him and meditate on His self-communication to us in Christ and the Bible, and pray for His enlightenment of our hearts with His Spirit and His presence. (3) We walk WITH God as we REST in Christ alone for salvation. One’s walk with God does not begin until he puts his faith in Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior. Our motive and power to walk daily with God is sustained by faith in Christ. If we do not believe ourselves to be reconciled to God in Christ, our walk with God will be interrupted by our guilt. (4) We walk WITH God when we raise our children to walk WITH God. (5) We walk WITH God when we bear witness to others about judgment and salvation in Christ. (777)
Supper's a-waitin'! Praise the Lord for His good provision of food! (I'm hungry if you can't tell...)