Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
That’s simple enough and very straightforward. God gave this Commandment, along with nine others to Moses on Mt. Sinai and we need to pay attention. Most of us flatter ourselves by thinking that we are above such things as serving another god, but are we?
We snicker to think that anyone could possibly have ever worshipped Zeus, and we shudder to think anyone would sacrifice their children to the satanic god Molek, but stop and ask yourself what serves as your god. A god is what you worship and there are many gods we put before God Almighty. What god rules in your heart?
Putting other gods before God Almighty is as old as time itself. Satan lied to Eve when he said:
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).
Satan tempts all of us and just like Eve we fall for his lies and run after false gods. God’s Word is true and His ways are perfect; we need to listen to Him, not Satan. Eve listened to Satan and ate the fruit, then learned about evil right from the mouth of Satan. Temptation will always cross our path and that’s when we need to stop, read God’s Word, and turn from the abomination of false gods and only worship God Almighty.
When a person accepts the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ a transformation takes place. The Holy Spirit is sealed within us and we become new creatures in Christ.
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and He is sealed within you, me, and every Christian. That fact alone should humble each one of us and make us very aware of every word we say and every action we take. When we choose to put another god before our Lord and Savior we are allowing a false god to sit on the altar of our heart and we take God with us into our sin.
Christians need to always put Jesus first. Anything that is put ahead of Him is a false god. That can include a job as well as other seemingly harmless activities. Working on Sunday isn’t a sin, but each of us needs a day to rest and every day should include time devoted to God. When we move away from fellowship with other Christians or put off the study of God’s Word it is easy to allow false gods to enter our life and we begin to put that god ahead of the Lord God Almighty.
Even religion can become a god to us. Jesus spent much of His ministry on earth opposing the Pharisees and they are the epitome of self-righteousness. They were devoted to their religion, but were mostly devoid of God’s love. They allowed false gods on the altar of their hearts and those gods didn’t allow them to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. They saw Him as a threat to their religion. Luke tells of a dinner which a Pharisee invited Jesus to.
This Jewish Pharisee had no desire to worship Jesus; he only wanted Him there for show. Does that sound like us? We want Jesus there, but we don’t want to serve Him and honor Him. A woman showed up at the dinner and this woman was a sinner. Unlike the holier than thou Pharisee, this woman worshipped Jesus openly and with all her heart.
“And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment” (Luke 7:37-38).
Christians need to truly understand the debt Jesus paid for us and that we are all sinners saved by grace. Like that sinful woman we need to worship Him and praise Him openly, even when we are in the home of a Pharisee. The Pharisee, of course, smugly thought to himself that if Jesus only knew what kind of woman she was He would have pushed her away.
Jesus knew what this Pharisee was thinking and took him to task. The question we must ask our self is are we like the Pharisee who had the god of self-righteousness and religion ahead of God, or are we like the sinful woman who worshipped the true God?
The Jews had to have the Temple in order to worship God as He instructed them. Sacrifices were offered daily with special offerings at specific times during the year. The Temple was a place to worship and also was important to the Jews’ daily life. Solomon built the first Temple, which was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Eventually the Temple was rebuilt and the Jews once again were able to worship God as He had instructed them.
This second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and ever since that time the Jews have not been able to worship God properly; the required sacrifices cannot be offered. Had they accepted their Messiah when He walked among them they would understand that they only need Him.
“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
When we accept Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and we need no more sacrifices offered in an external Temple. Christ was the once for all sacrifice. When we accept Him we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, He is sealed within us, and our body is His Temple. Whatever we do He is with us.
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:15-16).
A Christian must not put any idols on the altar of our heart. Fellowshipping with non-believers can only pull us away from Jesus. Since we are the temple of God, if we put jobs, friendships, television, music, religion or anything else ahead of God—we are defiling the temple within us.
When you place a false idol in your life you are serving Belial (Satan). We are told many times in the New Testament that we are the Temple of God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That isn’t something to take lightly. That fact should lead us to serve Christ wholeheartedly, just like the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Corinth was a very pagan city and the Corinthian Christians wanted to hold onto their pagan ways. The problem is the same today. We accept Christ but love the world. The Holy Spirit lives inside of you so don’t allow idols of sin to crowd in.
Your sins are forgiven, but that is not a license to continue sinning. Do you have sexual relations outside of a one man/one woman marriage? You have placed an idol in the Temple. Do you tell “little white lies?” That too is an idol. Don’t defile the Temple within you with abominations.
Most of us have heard that “money is the root of all evil.” This is misquoted often by those who just repeat what they have heard. The proper quote is:
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Money is not evil, but the love of it causes it to become an idol. Those who love and idolize money will do anything to get it. The verse just prior to this one says “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).
It isn’t the money that causes the problem but the worship of money places a false god in your Temple.
Jesus encountered a man who loved money. This rich man ran to Jesus to ask what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Perhaps he thought he could sacrifice more sheep or put more money in the offering. When Jesus asked him about various Commandments, such as not committing adultery or killing, the young man replied that he had kept the Commandments since his youth. Religion was a god to this man, but so was his money.
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).
The man couldn’t do it. He loved his money more than he desired eternal life. It wasn’t the money that held him captive, but the love of it. The tabloids are filled with sad stories of famous people who love money so much that they will do anything to get more…anything except follow Jesus. How about you? Are you willing to take up the cross and follow Jesus?
We can lust after the pleasures of this life and place those pleasures ahead of our love for Jesus, but what have we gained? When Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem for the last time He began to tell His disciples what would happen there. He would suffer greatly at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders and be crucified.
This is the ultimate love…sacrificial love. God allowed Himself to be abused and crucified for a sinner such as me. His love is perfect love. The disciples tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem, but He knew He had to go.
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
That is a question each of us needs to answer. Remember what Christ has done for you and don’t allow any false gods to enter your temple. Have no other gods before Him.
This life we travel through is short and only what we do for God will last through eternity. You are the temple of the living God and only the Holy Spirit should sit on the altar of your heart. Are you so filled with religious rites that you forget to allow His love to flow through you? You cannot say enough Hail Mary’s to save your soul, nor can you buy your way into eternity.
Salvation comes only by accepting the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Once you have made that commitment it is time to clean out all of the false gods that weigh you down and come ahead of serving Jesus.
What sits on the altar of your Temple? Is it an idol or is it the true God? It’s time to be sure that you only serve the one true God.
God bless you all,