The Ten Commandments

FIRST COMMANDMENT

NO ROOM FOR OTHER GODS

“Thou shalt have no other goods before me.”Exo.20:3.

This is the first commandment that God gave to Moses to be passed on to his people. This implies that God hates idolatry – the belief and worship of other goods. In Africa and the Greek world, there are so many gods believed to be playing special role in men’s affairs. Sango is believed to be the god of thunder invoked for vengeance. As it is in Africa and the Greek world, so it was, and is in every other country of the world. There is no part of the world that has not once practiced idolatry.

God hates idolatry because there are no other goods that are worthy to be worshiped, but Him. The Bible says that in the beginning God made the heavens and the earth. He fixed everything in its position. It was by his command that the earth was made. He formed the rocks that man uses for building and road construction and made rives and oceans as food store and means of transportation. He is the same God who created the forest, animals and insects and he created man in His own image and gave him tremendous power to govern everything He created.

God’s intention was that everything that He created should be subject to man and not the other way round. Surprisingly, man belittled himself, moved by the sheer size and awesomeness of the sea, the trees, the animals and the skies, substituted the creations for the Creator. God is therefore not happy with man, not only because he refuses to give honour unto whom honour is due but also for demoting himself by allowing things created for his enjoyment to be god over him.

These gods that man worship have no life in them. They remain ordinary objects except for the demons that inhabit them giving false impression to worshipers as to the true nature of the gods. Satan and his hosts are enemies of God and God will not allow the works of His hands to be used to rob Him of His due honour.

This is what the bible says about the gods:

“They have mouths but they speak not, eyes have they, but they see not. They have ears but they hear not, noses have they but they smell not. They have hands but handle not, feet have they, but they walk not, neither speak they through their throats”. Ps. 115: 4-7

These gods are very easy to create. You can even create one now on your table by kneeling before it and calling it your maker. Demons are always around to support such venture since they know that you are disobeying God.

God made man to praise and give glory, honour and adoration to His holy Name. He wants to be worshipped. The gods also want to be worshipped. One must give way for the other. Jesus said that it is impossible to serve two masters. Joshua also told the children of Israel to choose between God and devil. It is a terrible sin to have another god before the invisible and the living God.

But you may say that idol worshippers also recognize the sovereignty of God and believe Him to be the creator of heaven and earth. No, they don’t. In the Greek and African society, there are several gods associated with sinecure roles in the cosmic affairs. There are gods of harvest, rain, peace, children, beauty, nemesis etc. Whenever there is increase in farm produce, glory is not given to God but to the gods of harvest. Anytime God pours rain on earth, idol worshipper wrongly ascribe this to the handiwork of the gods of rain. This amounts to sharing God’s glory with another and He will not condone such ‘daylight robbery’. Our God is a jealous God.

However, there are other gods not made of gold, silver, clay or wood but are made in the human mind. Whatever a man loves and pays more attention to more than God is an idol to him, whether he knows it or not. If fewer men are guilty of the first form of idolatry, many are guilty of the second-the idolatry of the mind.

As we traverse this transient world, there are so many things (physical and spiritual) trying very hard to win our love and attention. Some of these things are recreational activities in all its ramifications, ambitions (ordinate and inordinate), power of the physical and spiritual, self preservation, family attachment, the devil and, of course God.

Recreation is good especially when it is not sinful, because it provides opportunity for body exercise and casting off our minds from our from our day to day activities. It can however metamorphose into small goods when it is given priority at God’s expense. For example, forgoing Sunday service in order to cheer your team to victory could mean that greater priority is given to sports than God.

God made man ambitious to achieve certain goals and objectives, yet this ambition has to be tinged with godliness. Ambition had led man to achieve many successes in many fields but then even as good as achievement is, it should not make worshippers out of us. Gradually, human inventions are becoming gods over their creators.

Many people idolize their own personal safety to the extent that they will never lend a helping hand to the perishing, physically or spiritually. Jesus had a mother, brother and sister who required His attention, yet He was quite uncomfortable at the throng of people heading towards hell. He had to leave his immediate family in order to reach the whole world. He not only gave the gospel (spiritual food to the thong), He also fed them with natural food. A white woman missionary, Mary Slessor came to Nigeria, settled in Calabar where she suffered hardship, just to put to an end a cruel tradition that was claiming thousands of children who were born twins. Once the principle of self-preservation is attending in the way of giving assistance to the less privileged and wretched society, it has become our god.

Like, Paul, we should be saying, ‘But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the Excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ’ – (Phil. 3: 7-8).

Family attachment could also become gods. It is true that the bible enjoins us to take good care of our families; especially the aged ones but it must never hinder us from his service.

When I read one of the letters written by one of the missionaries that established the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), he told his mother what his plan for her was before the call of God took him to Africa which he knew will consume most of his lifetime. Now ECWA church is a testimony to his and others efforts. The church has now formed a big taproot in Nigeria more especially the ferocious northern part where many ‘city churches’ fear to tread. Jesus knew that all these could be difficult but He promised:

“And everyone that had forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or fathers, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’ sake shall receive an hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life”. (Matt. 19:28)

We should be grateful to God and seize the opportunity of scientific and technological development of our age to reach out to those that are yet to receive the gospel in the nook and crannies of this world and still communicate to our loved ones. Family attachment should not be gods to us anymore.

Food and drinks have also taken the place of God in some people. Many would have loved to attend the Bible Studies during the week and also Sunday service if not for their stomach. Many would have been good Christians today if not for the inability to drop alcohol and cigarette. Many would have done exploits if not for the fear of fasting. Whatever habits a man finds difficult to say ‘no’ to at the appropriate time has become his god. Now, consider this:

“All things are lawful unto me but all things are not expedient, all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly and the belly for the meats, but God shall destroy both of them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body”. (1Cor.6: 12-13).

I did not know how terrible ‘food gods’ could be until I met a lady who said she couldn’t do without biscuits. Whenever she is an urge came upon her, she would get up and buy it, even if it is during the church service. It could be as terrible as that.

The newest among these goods is the audio-visual gods. I know so many families could not think of missing evening family prayer meeting until they bought television and video machine. That pleasant time they used to have in the evenings and weekends for fellowship with God and Bible Studies have now become history. Television is taking the place of God and is also indoctrinating many on how to behave contrary to God’s will through the ungodly tapes and pictures shown on it.

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