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The First Commandment - Do not worship other gods

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The First Commandment - Do not worship other gods

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Should you drink beer at the party or stick with soft drinks? Should you look at the test answers on the teacher’s desk while she is out of the room if you have the opportunity or focus your attention elsewhere? Should you take, as your own, the Walkman that another student left in the auditorium or should you return it to its owner? Should you have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend or should you wait until marriage? Should you play basketball for the school team on Friday evening or observe the Sabbath? These are just a few of the challenges a young person may face during his or her teen years. Each situation forces a person to make a choice.

Is there a right choice? If so, what is the right choice? If there is there is a right choice, why is it the right choice? There are right answers to each of the questions above and the reason that they are the right answers is related to the first commandment. This commandment is found in Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
American King James Version×
and reads “You shall have no other gods before me.”

In this study, we will seek to better understand the first commandment because it is crucial to our choices and the entire course of our lives.

Who Should Be God?

Exodus 20:1 Exodus 20:1And God spoke all these words, saying,
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I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

1. This verse immediately precedes the Ten Commandments. Describe God. What are His attributes? Do you think He is qualified to give mankind commands and instructions? Why?

2. What kind of relationship does He want with you and all people?

Exodus 20:3 Exodus 20:3You shall have no other gods before me.
American King James Version×
“You shall have no other gods before me.”

3. In this modern age, what gods do people worship?

4. How could other gods come before the true God?

5. How might people profess to worship God and yet have other gods?

6. What would it mean to love the world? Consider 1 John2:15-16 and then reply.

7. Why would friends of the world be enemies of God? Read James 4:4 James 4:4You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
American King James Version×

8. Why can’t a man serve two masters? Read Matthew 6:24 Matthew 6:24No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
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and comment.

Comment: These last three questions and verses show it is impossible for man to serve both God and other gods. A person caught in this situation will inevitably come to hate one and love the other.

9. Why did God command that man have no other gods before Him? What negative outcomes might there be to not keeping this commandment? Consider Psalms 106:36-39 Psalms 106:36-39 [36] And they served their idols: which were a snare to them. [37] Yes, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to devils, [38] And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. [39] Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions.
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and Romans 1:20-25 Romans 1:20-25 [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. [24] Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
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10. An atheist is also confronted with choices. How would he or she determine what is the right or wrong choice? How could such an individual be certain that he or she made the right choice?

Comment: The atheist would have to rely completely upon himself or herself. The Bible addresses the atheistic point of view which implies a total reliance upon one’s self.

Why would it be foolish to live as if there is no God? Psalms 53:1 Psalms 53:1The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that does good.
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Why can’t man direct his own steps? Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
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; Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
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Where do evil ideas and actions come from? Mark 7:21-23 Mark 7:21-23 [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
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What is the end result of relying upon one’s self? Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
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Putting First Things First

1. Why do you think God began the Ten Commandments by saying, “You shall have no other God’s before me?” Could it be a matter of putting first things first? What does it mean to put first things first?

Comment: Consider this: many teens today are extremely busy. They have school, extracurricular activities, teams, clubs, student government, athletics, part-time jobs, plus helping with chores at home. At times, it seems young people can be pulled in every possible direction.

How do you juggle tests in algebra and biology on Tuesday with an away baseball game tonight that will get you home late accompanied by the pressure of finishing up your term paper on Friday? To get everything done on time with the best performance possible, it is important to put first things first. As you prioritize your time, activities, and projects you can get more done and do it well. As you analyze what must be done, you must choose where to begin. God did the same thing as He revealed His most basic instructions for mankind’s conduct. He asked, “Where do we begin?” He then instructs us that our top priority is to place God first.

Proverbs 1:7 Proverbs 1:7The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 9:10 Proverbs 9:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
American King James Version×
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

2. Why is “the fear of the Lord” the beginning of knowledge and wisdom?

Comment: Acknowledging God is wise means that we turn to Him for guidance in the everyday decisions we make at home, in school, and as we have fun with our friends.

3. How would placing God first in our lives, which is the essence of the First Commandment, relate to the other nine commandments? If we had other gods would we keep the commandments? Why or why not?


1. Does our society believe and teach the importance of the First Commandment?

2. What are the benefits of accepting and living by the First Commandment?

3. What are the curses of failing to live by the First Commandment?

Comment: The First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” is the beginning point from which everything else flows.

It establishes that there is a God in heaven who created all and rules over all. It is to Him and Him alone that we should bow in worship. It is to Him that we can come and seek answers to life’s difficult questions and challenges.

What decision should we make in a particular situation? As we acknowledge God, we can know the right decision and be assured that the result of our choice will be positive. As we acknowledge God as first in our lives, we can be assured that he will direct our paths and provide us those things that we need.

We began this study with decisions that can confront us. The question now is how we will respond to the First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

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