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The First Commandment: God’s Right to Exclusive Allegiance




Psalm 1:1–3 (KJV)

1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.


·        Meditating in the law, caused spiritual benefit.

o   What was one of the benefits

o   The law was a written description of how to walk in love toward God and man

·        Look at what Jesus said about this.


Matthew 22:34–40 (ESV)

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


·        Note the lawyer asked which was the greatest commandment

o   Jesus answered it out of Deut. 6:5 by quoting the Shema.


Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (ESV)

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.


·        Shema is Hebrew for ‘hear’ the first word of Deut. 6:4

o   “The Shema” became a designation for the entire commandment

·        The Shema was a scripture based prayer prayed by ever Jewish boy at night before they went to bed. 

·        It was also quoted during every synagogue service.

·        Every Jewish person knew the Shema.

o   These verses were one of the cornerstone verses of Judaism.

o   Rabbi’s taught that if you quoted the Shema twice a day, morning and evening, you would fulfill Joshua 1:8


Joshua 1:8 (ESV)

8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.


·        Look at the setup here. The lawyer, asking the question ‘Which is the great commandment in the law’ already knew the answer to the question!

·        What was the lawyer trying to do? He was endeavoring to discredit Jesus through controversy.

·        Maybe Jesus wouldn’t agree with the importance of the Shema.

·        But Jesus turned the tables.

·        He agreed with the Shema. He quoted it back to the lawyer. But then He turned the tables on the lawyer and on religion in general.

·        He added an additional part that the Jews never saw.

·        He added Lev. 19:18 ‘And the second is like unto it…’


Leviticus 19:18 (ESV)

18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.


·        What the Jews kept as separate – loving God and loving your neighbor – Jesus put together.

·        And added that the purpose of the Law (Mosaic Covenant rested squarely on these 2 areas).


·        DEFINITION: ‘depend’ – means ‘hang’. The law hung on the principle of love


·        Jesus broke the entire Old Testament law (613 laws) down to two commandments.

o   Love God

o   Love man

§  The entire law hung on these two points

§  So if you keep these two commandments, you can discard the other 613 of which the Ten Commandments are a representation

·        The New Testament version of this is found in Romans 13.


Romans 13:8 (ESV)

8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.


·        When you understand the fact that the 10 commandments were a written description of how to walk in love towards God and towards man and not a way to establish righteousness, you are on your way to knowing God a bit better.



Exodus 20:3 (ESV)

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.


·        ‘You’ makes this personal. This is something you have to work out with God.

·        Rephrasing this commandment, into 21st century language (for the purpose of application…

o   “I come first in your life”

o   “You shall depend on no one but me”

o   “I have exclusive rights to your allegiance”


·        It is not like the person in the following illustration.

o   A contagious Christian handed me a lovely piece of white wood about the size of a half dollar which he frequently gives to confused individuals. On the front is printed in red letters TUIT. On the back is this statement: “I will put God first in my life when I get a round tuit.”[1]


·        An interesting thought – God gave Israel the 10 commandments and the first two commandments are the ones that Israel broke the most.

·        Think on this thought.

o   Order is an important thing in the Bible. There is a reason why some things are first in any given Bible list.

o   Do you think that God specifically put these first two commandments as one and two because He knew this was going to be Israel’s major challenge?

·        After considering that question contemplate this next one.

o   Can we, who are no longer under the law, get a clue from God’s ordering of these commandments?

·        Next,

o   Do you think that Commandment One is a major challenge for humans on planet earth in general and that is why its number one?

·        Lastly,

o   Do you think that the principle of Commandment One should then occupy a top spot in your thinking and be a cornerstone of your life?


·        When we say, God has exclusive rights to you, what words pop up here?

o   Loyalty

o   Commitment

o   Adherence

o   Faithfulness

o   Fidelity


·        Can we rephrase the commandment this way do you think?

o   You shall be loyal to Me.

o   You shall be committed to Me.

o   You shall adhere to Me fully.

o   You shall be faithful to Me.

o   You shall be trustworthy and devoted to Me.

·        Now let us relook at Matthew 22:37


Matthew 22:37 (ESV)

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.


·        The first commandment (of the Ten Commandments) is found in the word ‘all’.

o   So again, ask yourself have you given God your ALL?

o   So ask yourself the question, is there any part of your life where you are not loyal, not dedicated, or not faithful to Him?

o   “Is there any part of your heart that you are sharing with another god?”

o   How would I know if I am doing that?


Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


·        Matt. 6:33 is the New Testament version of the first commandment. Whatever you put first in your life ahead of God is definitely a good candidate for a little ‘G’ god.

o   Remember the comment about what order a thing is in. Order is important. This is the ‘first principle’.

o   Your life should be a “CONTINUAL” demonstration to God of the first commandment (or Matthew 6:33).

o   No, it is not like that with the Lord. In other words, you should look at the various areas of your life and you ask yourself the question, ‘Am I loyal to God in this area or have a gone astray? Am I devoted to God in this area or have a let something creep in? Is there any other thing that is calling for my attention more than God is? Have I gotten some things out of order?

o   When you find those areas, you make adjustments.


Hebrews 2:1 (ESV)

1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.



o   Mark this down any ‘Achievement that does not put God first will leave you frustrated’.

§  Ask Solomon about this and he will testify to you


Ecclesiastes 2:11 (ESV)

11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.


o   If you do not put God first, the thing you achieved you will not enjoy.

o   Now there is an another side to this (and I have been on this side too) in that there are some things that you are putting God first in and yet you seem to be not achieving. You seem to be stagnant and you are again ‘frustrated’.



·        God’s exclusive rights to you can be likened unto the sacredness of the marriage relationship.

·        There are certain parts of marriage relationship that are sacred and holy. There are areas in that bond of sacredness that should never be shared with anyone.

·        This sacredness does not just extend to physical body parts. There are parts of your soul that you share with your spouse and your spouse alone. Only your spouse has an exclusive right to those areas. These precious things should never be shared with others. To do so is a violation of intimacy.

·        Doesn’t our spiritual life mirror the marriage union?


1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (ESV)

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body


o   Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost and He has exclusive rights to your body.

o   It matters to God what you do with your body.

§  It matters to Him where you take your body

§  It matters to Him how you take care of your body

§  It matters to Him what activities you engage in with your body.

§  It surely matters to Him if you involve your body with a little g god!


Galatians 4:8 (ESV)

8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.



·        What are some of these little g gods that people involve their bodies with? Here is a few from the Bible.

o   The money god


Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.


o   The self-reliance god


Habakkuk 1:11 (ESV)

11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!”


o   The stomach god


Philippians 3:19 (ESV)

19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.



Let us sum up the matter.

Daniel was very bold about this issue of little g gods and made this declaration. You should make it your declaration; make it your anthem.


Daniel 3:18 (ESV)

18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”




[1] Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (357). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.