22 February 2004
1 Chronicles 28:9 & Psalm 44:20
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 48. What are we especially taught by these words, ‘before me’, in the first commandment?
A. These words, ‘before me’, in the first commandment, teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.48. What are we specifically taught in the first commandment by the words ‘before me’?
A. The words ‘before me’ in the first commandment teach us that God, who sees everything, notices and is very offended by the sin of having any other god.
1. How is it possible for God to see all things?
It is possible for God is everywhere present and has infinite understanding. The Bible says, “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24) He is omniscient (knowing everything) as well as omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time) - Psalm 139. He knows us with perfect knowledge.
2. How can Christians commit the sin of having other gods?
Christians can commit this sin by allowing their interest and their affections to be set upon other things and by allowing those things to hold first place in their thoughts and activities.
3. Why is God so displeased with this sin?
God is displeased with this sin because He is a jealous and a holy God. The Bible teaches, “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Isa. 42:8).
4. Should not the fact that He is a jealous and a holy God influence our every action?
Yes, our every action should be influenced by this fact. It should keep us from sin; it should give us a hatred of the very thought of sin; it should quicken us moment by moment to make the prayer as stated in the hymn:
I want a principle within of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, a pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.
- Charles Wesley