The Second Commandment [ Westminster Shorter Catechism Q 49-51]

Love, Obedience and the Nature of God

Second Commandment (Pt. 1)

What is the standard for worshiping God? Certainly, there must be one! Is it how I feel about it that is most important; what makes me comfortable? Is it what others are doing or have done throughout the ages? God is explicit about what His worship is supposed to look like, though fallen and sinful men corrupt it and have corrupted it throughout all of history.

Question 49-51 – LESSON AUDIO

The Moral Commands of God as given in Exodus 20 (10 Commandments) are a binding expression of God’s holiness and the duty of those who name His name for all time. They are also the standard by which sin is determined.

Exodus 20:4-6  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.  5  You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,  6  but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The Apostle John writes to the Christians of his day saying;

1 John 3:4  Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. (lawlessness is living without the Law, God’s Law) This is not an attempt to put people under a legalistic bondage in order to gain God’s favor, but the proper response to a heart that has been created and redeemed by a loving God. That response is loving obedience.

Even in the case of Ancient Israel, these were given as the response to God’s covenant faithfulness after He had redeemed them, and not as a way to get to Him. God had already redeemed His people and now this was their “code of ethics.” Basically, it’s like God is saying, “I have made you and then I redeemed you after you rejected me and went off on your own.  Since I have done this for you, now you need to live in the way that I created you to live.” As God’s redeemed, once and for all in Christ, we should seek to live for the things He loves and avoid the things that He hates. Yet, we often fall short and even get into routines that take us farther from Him rather than drawing us near. That is why (one reason anyway) He has given us written revelation of His will. He has instructed His people as to how we should live in light of His mercy.  We have begun to look at the Commandments

Love, Obedience and the Nature of God  – Introduction to the 10 Commandments

Worshiping God for Who He is   – The First Commandment

Now we are looking at the Second Commandment. The first requires us to worship, only the True God. The Second deals with How We Worship Him.  Images of Him or of any other, so-called, deity are forbidden. Thomas Watson informs us;

[1] To make a true image of God is impossible. God is a spiritual essence and, being a Spirit, he is invisible. John 4: 24. ‘Ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake with you out of the midst of the fire.’ Deuteronomy 4: 15. How can any paint the Deity? Can they make an image of that which they never saw? “There is no depicting the invisible.” Ambrose. ‘Ye saw no similitude.’ It is impossible to make a picture of the soul, or to paint the angels, because they are of a spiritual nature; much less can we paint God by an image, who is an infinite, untreated Spirit.

[2] To worship God by an image, is both absurd and unlawful. (The Ten Commandments)

I encourage you to dig in a little here and see how you line up. Because we all fall short in many ways, we need to recognize our failings and guard ourselves against them. If we know Christ in truth, we will, “put to death the deeds of the flesh” (Colossians 3:5). We will seek to conform our worship to God’s standard and let go of the traditions that we have embraced in our weakness and through the commonness of their use.  We should pray with Thomas Watson,

“Lord, let me neither mistake my way for want of light, nor leave the true way for want of courage.”

Read Watson’s teaching on it above; listen to the audio of our lesson as we studied it,  then ask the Lord to reveal to you anywhere that you allow His worship to be corrupted and  seek the grace and the courage to set it right.
Question 49-51 – LESSON AUDIO

 

In Christ!

Kevin

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