Puritan Catechism Question #43 - What is required in the first commandment?
Answer - The first commandment requires us to know (1 Chron. 28:9) and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God (Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify him accordingly (Matt. 4:10).
Devotional Thoughts We are learning how to live as is fitting for saints. How should His "holy ones" present themselves? How should they think, talk, and act? So far we have seen that saints should not live a life of fornication (immorality), uncleanness (impurity or unholiness), or a life driven by covetousness (greed). We have also seen that saints should not think, talk, or act in a vulgar, profane, obscene, or improper manner. Our heart is revealed in our words and our thoughts influence behavior.
Moving on to verse 5 we see that if we are to truly live like what we are then we should live as an inheritor, not an idolater. And idolater is unredeemed. He worships another god, a false god, usually the god of self will. The idolater wants what he wants and will do whatever he has to do to fulfill his desires. He worships himself and his own desires and lust.
This is the picture we have been given that stands in contrast to the life of a saint. A "holy one" then lives in an opposite manner to the unholy. The unholy idolater lives and thinks only for self, fulfilling his desires for pleasure in any way that he is able. Whether it be fornication, impurity, or covetousness, the idolater will sacrifice everything for just a little more pleasure and a little more sin.
But the text is clear. "For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." The idolater is not saved, he is not part of the kingdom of God, he is not a believer in Christ - no matter how good a show he puts on.
This is the danger of the self help, self esteem, seeker sensitive movement. They teach you how to get what you want right now - at little to no cost to self. They teach you how to worship an idol! Of course they use Christian words and even read passages from the Bible, but they are blind leaders who lead the blind. They give people what they want, not what they need. And this verse says that if we live as idolaters then we are not going to inherit the kingdom, we will not have eternal life with Christ!
Why? Those who worship at the altar of self prove that they are unregenerate. A saved person cannot and will not live like this, participating in these sins habitually.
The Word of God tells us plainly that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. How is "unrighteous" defined?
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Cor 6:9-11
If we are saved we are different than this. We do not live bound in these sins. We have freedom from sin! While we are free we know that there is a battle raging. If we are following Christ then our flesh will protest. There will be a war between our flesh and spirit. The idolater has no such war, he simply does what he wants without conflict. But if we are saved our spirit resists sin. Our flesh wants its way. It wants to bear bad fruit. It wants us to live in the "works of the flesh". And these are evident - and what they make evident is that a person who lives in these works is an idolater:
For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. - Gal 5:17-21
The issue becomes even more clear when we read 1 John 3:4-10. Here we see the line i the sand. Who is an idolater?
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
Now don't be confused. This does not mean that a saint never sins. It means that a person who has truly and savingly trusted Christ will not live the life of an idolater. Saints are not controlled, driven, and ruled by their sin. They do not habitually live a life of rebellion to the Word and Ways of God. If we practice righteousness, that is, live it day in and day out, then we prove that we belong to Christ. If on the other hand if we practice sin, being bound in it and unable to overcome it then we prove that we are mere pretenders and are at heart idolaters, having no inheritance in the kingdom of God.
And here we see that the opposite of idolatry is love! While the world and the flesh and the devil offers lust, self-fulfillment, and the ability to get our own way we see that the true opposite of that is the Fruit of the Spirit produced in us, namely love. Love is the opposite of lust. Love gives, lust wants to get. Love forgives, lust is vengeful. Love sacrifices, lust is greedy. Love is the mark of one who is imitating God, lust is the mark of one who is following the devil.
So are we idolaters or inheritors? What does our way of living, speaking, and thinking say about our allegiance? Are we whole heartedly devoted to loving God, or to loving self?
What is it that we inherit if we forsake idolatry? We prove that we are kingdom citizens, members of the family of God, adopted into the realm of the redeemed. In Christ we inherit life, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Bible says that there are no laws against such things.
The idolater on the other hand is always living, speaking, and thinking in violation of the Law of God. And who we serve reveals our allegiance. Our “god” is proved by whether we obey or disobey the Word of God! Does our life evidence that we are redeemed or that we serve self in every situation?. Is our life all about us – pleasing ourselves, being happy and content? Or is it about God – serving and pleasing Him by being obedient to His Word?
The Bible is clear. There are things that if we do them, think about them, and are driven by them prove that we are idolaters. And no one who worships a false god, no matter his name, will be saved! For salvation comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the only Way. And to be an idolater is to fail to worship or love Him as we ought. If our lives and our mouths, and our hearts prove that we do not love Jesus, then what right do we have to expect anything good from God?
Today, what does our life say about our allegiance? Are we living, speaking, thinking, and loving like an idolater or an inheritor? Give this some thought. Eternity depends upon it!
Links for Further Study (links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)