Robert Jeffress - Esteem God Alone
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In every star that shines in the night sky and every flower that graces the earth, God's power and majesty are on display. Not only did God create the universe, he also wants to have a personal relationship with every one of us. And for these reasons and more, God is worthy of our praise. Today we're going to look at why these truths should compel us to obey the first commandment. As we begin a brand new series I'm calling "The 10, How to Live and Love in a World That's Lost Its Way". My message today is titled, "Esteem God Alone", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Pastor tim Keller has said that "Idolatry is the sin beneath every other sin". When I sin, I'm basically allowing some competing desire to take God God's rightful place in our life. If Keller's right and I think he is, if the root cause of every other sin is loving something or somebody more than we love God, then it's no surprise that the very first commandment God gave had to deal with rooting out idolatry from our lives. "You shall have no other Gods before me". How do we do that? If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to Exodus chapter 20. As we begin looking at the 10, how to live and love in a world that has lost its way and we're going to begin today with the first of those 10 commandments. "You shall have no other Gods before me".
You know, I have done wedding ceremonies for about 45 years, and I ask a couple to do a lot of things, to commit to a lot of things, but one thing I ask them to commit to is to love and cherish the other person, and forsaking all others to be faithful to that other person alone. What am I asking? I'm asking them to esteem one another, and that's really what the first commandment is about. It's about esteeming God alone. I want you to notice in these first three verses what God says. "Then God spoke all these words saying, I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other Gods before me".
Will you notice in verse two, he gives us four reasons that we are to have no other Gods before him. The reason is in verse two, the command is in verse three, four reasons to esteem God alone. Two have to do with who God is, the next two have to do with what God has done. First of all, we're to put God in first place because God is our Creator. He said, "I am the Lord". Colossians 1:15-17 says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creation. For by him Jesus, all things were created both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or rulers or dominions or authorities, all things have been created by him and for him".
Why do we esteem God alone? He is our Creator, not just of the universe, he is the Creator of you and me. Psalm 100:3 says "The Lord, he himself is God. It is he who made us and not we ourselves. For we are his people and we are the sheep of his pasture". God gives us another reason to put him in first place. Not only he's our Creator, he is our covenant maker. He is our covenant maker. God is not just some distant deity. He says to the Israelites and to us, "I am the Lord your God". I want a relationship with you. You know, I remember when I made my first move toward Amy. It was in the ninth grade, and I decided I didn't want her just to be somebody who sat in front of me in math class. I didn't want to just be her friend, I wanted to be something more. And so one day I screwed up the courage to ask her out on a date in the ninth grade.
Now, do you remember dating in the ninth grade? What it consisted of it would be parents taking you, and dropping you off at a restaurant, then picking you up and dropping you off at a movie. But I had it all planned out for that Friday night. First I had my parents drive us to el Phoenix at north park, and we had dinner while my parents sat at another table. Then we got into their car and they drove us to the esquire theater where we walked into the movie, and sat there through the movie and I realized I'd planned out the evening that I was only going to have a few minutes to talk to Amy by myself. So I'm sitting through that movie with her, and I'm starting to sweat profusely as I try to think up exactly what I'm going to try to say to lure her into a relationship with me.
The movie finally, finally comes to an end, the end and I knew, boy, this is it, buddy, you better go for it. This is your only chance. So we're walking out of the movie theater. My parents are waiting out in the station wagon, and I stop Amy in the foyer before we go through the doors and I said, Amy, could I talk to you about something? She said, sure. And I said, well, I've got a problem and I don't know what to do about it. And she's so kind and sympathetic, she looked real concerned. She said, oh, what's the problem? I said, well, I like this girl in our class, and I don't know how to tell her that I like her. And she said, well, who is it? And I said, her name is Amy. And she said, oh, Amy, and she named another girl in the class. I said, no, it's Amy Renard, it's you. Cue the vile. Everybody say, aww.
Now she could have at that moment, she could have as the country western song says, stomped on my aorta. She could have said, oh, Robert I like you too as a friend. Those are three words no adolescent boy ever wants to hear. No adolescent boy wants a friend, they want something more. But she didn't say that. She didn't say, I like you as a friend. You know what she said? It's none of your business. But trust me, she was interested in being more than a friend and she certainly has become much more than a friend. You know that was taking a risk to establish a relationship. I didn't know exactly how she was going to respond.
Now in a much more serious way, God has done that. He has set his affection on us. Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrated his love toward us and that while we were yet sinners," he made the first move, "He sent Christ to die for us". He is our covenant maker. Notice what he's done for us. Two things, he is our redeemer. We see this again in verse two of Exodus 21, God said, "I am the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery". God has released us from the prison house of slavery to sin and to Satan. Paul expressed it this way in Colossians 1:13-14, "For he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son in whom we have redemption for forgiveness of sins".
When I think about this idea of redemption, I think about the story of the little boy who spent weeks working on a model sailboat, a little red sailboat and the day came that he had finished the project and he was eager to test it out, so he took it down to the local pond, he put it into the water to see if it floated, a gust of wind came and caught the sails and took that sailboat far from him. The little boy was heartbroken, something he had spent so much time building was now lost forever. A few weeks later, he was walking down the street, and he saw in the window of the toy store his red sailboat. He couldn't believe it, he was overjoyed. He thought he would never see it again. And he went in and explained to the store owner that, that was his sailboat, and could he please have it back.
The store owner said he didn't know anything about that, all he knew was he had paid for the boat himself. And if the little boy wanted it, it would cost him, it was $14. So the boy reached into his pocket, pulled out a sweaty wad of dollar bills, counted out $14, gave it to the man, and he took that sailboat and he held it close to his chest, and as he walked down the sidewalk, he said, you're mine twice now. Once because I made you and now because I bought you. That's what God says to us. You belong to me first because I made you. But even though the winds of sin carried you away far from me, I never gave up hope and I purchased you. I bought you not with dollar bills, I bought you with the blood of my son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
That's why Paul says in 1 Corinthians six, "Do you not know you're not your own? You've been bought with a price". That's why we worship God alone because he made us and he redeemed us, he bought us. And finally we're to esteem God alone because he is our rewarder. In verse 12 of Exodus 20, he tells us that he not only delivered us out of the house of slavery, but he's delivered us into the land which the Lord your God gives you. He's rewarding us with a promise of heaven one day, that eternal dwelling place that we'll enjoy with God forever. What does it mean to esteem God alone? What does that mean exactly?
I want you to notice in verse three two components to this command, this most basic command. "You shall have no other Gods before me," first of all shall have. Let's break it down, shall have. When I have a couple repeat the vows at a wedding ceremony, they say to have and to hold from this day forward. What does it mean to have somebody? Well, it means to possess them, to possess something of them exclusively. For example, I have a car. You heard about my car last week, I have a car. Nobody has a right to drive that car, except me without my permission it is my car. I have a house, it's my house. Nobody has a right to wander in, or wander out of it without my permission. It is my possession, it is my house. I have a wife now, Amy, nobody has a right to her affection except me, she is my wife. And the same is true for me. Nobody has a right to my affection except her.
When we say we are to have no other Gods, we are to have God and God exclusively. He said, I want to be the sole focus of your affection. You see, the problem with the Israelites, this is important to understand was they never abandoned the true God, they just added to the true God with many false Gods. God said, nope, doesn't work that way. Either you love me and serve me exclusively, or you don't have me at all. That's what it means to have. And then the second phrase, "No other Gods before me". You're to have no other Gods before me.
You know, the Israelites had spent 430 years in Egyptian slavery and they had developed a habit of worshiping false Gods. And during those 10 plagues right before the Exodus, God showed how he was superior to all the other Egyptian Gods which the Israelites had been become accustomed to and even began to worship. But there was a second reason they faced an even greater temptation, it was because of the false Gods powerful appeal. These new false Gods they would face in Canaan would have much more appeal than the Egyptian Gods and that same truth is for us today.
We're living in a land in which there are many appealing substitutes for God, but God says, my most primary command to you is to worship me, esteem me and me alone, why? Because I am your Creator, your covenant maker, your redeemer and your rewarder. But let's get real practical for a moment. How do you know if God really has first place? He's sitting in that first chair in your life, and a little book called "Laws that liberate," one writer suggests three questions to ask yourself to know if God has first place in your life. Let me elaborate on these for just a moment.
Question number one, this is so simple. What do you think about most often? That will tell you what your God is. And those quiet moments while you're driving, or standing in a checkout line, or maybe drifting off to sleep at night, where do your thoughts naturally turn? You know how a compass works. You can shake up a compass and the needle bounces around, but very quickly it goes to true north, doesn't it? When your thoughts finally settle down where are they directed? Money, pleasure, a relationship, or do your thoughts naturally go to God? Who has given you all of those blessings? What do you think about most often?
Second question to ask yourself, whom are you trying to impress? Let's be honest. All of us are trying to impress somebody, maybe a mate, maybe a friend, and maybe a work associate. You may be trying to impress yourself that you can climb the ladder and reach the pinnacle of success. During the great reformation, the battle cry was Coram Deo. Latin four before the eyes of God. Martin Luther and the great reformers were willing to give their life because they knew ultimately they were living their life for an audience of one.
In the end, all really that mattered is pleasing God, impressing God. That's not an original thought. Paul voiced it 1500 years before the reformation. In 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 he said, "For we have as our ambition," our goal, "Whether here or absent to be pleasing to God. For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each one of us may be rewarded for what we've done in the body, whether it be good or worthless". What do you think about most often? Whom are you trying to impress?
And the final question, what are you living for? What are you living for? Remember the old soap opera "One life to live"? Never watched it, but I thought the title was intriguing. "One life to live," that's an important truth. We all only have one life to live. What is your ultimate goal in life? Again, is it measured in possessions, or pleasures or relationships? If God truly has first place in your life, you're living for one thing to discover God's will for your life and then do it with all of your heart.
The Christian mystic, Madam Guyon said, "There are really only two principles, competing principles that govern this universe". One principle is the one that has me at the center of my universe. The other is the one that has God at the center of the universe. It's one or the other, it can't be both. A person who has God at the center of his universe will have thoughts that turn to him naturally, will be living to impress him and him alone and will seek to do his will whatever the cost.