15 February 2004
Psalm 14:1 & Romans 1:20
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshipping and glorifying the true God, as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.47. What does the first commandment forbid?
A. The first commandment forbids denying God or not worshipping and glorifying Him as the true God and our God. It also forbids giving worship and glory, which He alone deserves, to anyone or anything else.
1. What are the two sins forbidden in the first commandment?
The two sins forbidden are atheism and idolatry.
2. What is atheism?
In its strictest definition, atheism means the denial of the existence of any god of any kind. Paul uses it in Ephesians 2:12 to refer to people who are without God before their conversion.
3. Is there such a person as a true atheist?
It is difficult to come to a conclusion regarding this. It would seem difficult to believe that such exists as one wonders how any man could consistently and persistently throughout his life never have the least fear of God or doubt that there is no God.
4. Is it possible for a Christian to practice atheism?
It is not possible for a Christian to practice atheism in its strictest definition but there is a practical type that a Christian is guilty of practical atheism when he slights or neglects God, even when he knows God through Christ.
5. What is idolatry?
Idolatry in its strictest sense is the religious worship of idols, that is images or pictures. In its wider sense, it is all religious worship other than that offered to the true God.
6. How many ways can a person be guilty of idolatry?
A person can be guilty of idolatry by (1) Having and worshipping other gods beside the one true God in an outward way such as when he worships heathen gods, or angels or saints, or when he seeks to worship God through visible representations. (2) Giving honour and respect to anything in this world that is only due God in an inward way. This would be heart idolatry and would be in opposition to Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself ... ”