Monday, March 23, 2009

March 23- First Commandment and Introduction

Rembrandt 1659
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

3/23- First Commandment
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, our of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1,2)

Calvin’s Catechism:
M. And what does he require under this first head?
S. That we maintain his honor entire and for himself alone, not transferring any part of it elsewhere.
M. What is the honor peculiar to him which it is unlawful to transfer elsewhere!
S. To adore him, to put our confidence in him, to call upon him, in short to pay him all
the deference suitable to his majesty.

For Calvin, the law of God is written on our hearts and into the very structure of existence. He placed his study of the commandments under book II- the Redemption of God, for he saw law as having redeeming value as our guide in life. The law was “God’s gracious intention for the world.” It is given by a loving God to guide us on the right path and steer us into doing what we were made to do, and being the kind of people we were made to be. Jesus Christ doesn’t deliver us from the law itself, but from the “rigor” of the law- the eternal consequences of disobedience, and the problem and guilt of perfectionism.
There are three principles Calvin used in interpreting the ten commandments we need to think about:
1) They are not just about outward actions but inward spiritual righteousness.
So Jesus said lusting is the same as adultery.
2) They always contain more than just words.
For example, every negative prohibition has a positive obligation (do not lie also means
be honest and forthright).
3) The division into two tables is important.
It points out that law keeping begins with belief in a law-giver.
The first commandment then, is a reminder that God created us and freed us from slavery and bondage. For Calvin, we are all in bondage spiritually to sin, and we need to be set free. Part of our bondage is worshipping false Gods with great superstition. Last week we had a missionary speak at our church. He told of one of his trips to India where a native told him that a lady and her husband had faced terrible economic troubles. The Brahman told them to sacrifice to the gods. They did, but still had desperate troubles. The Brahman suggested they sacrifice their two year old daughter to “Mother Ganges.” When the native missionary got to them, it was sadly too late for the daughter, but not too late for them. Superstition is an evil master that has no end of requirements for us. The martyrs of 911 are not to be admired but to be looked upon with sadness and as a warning of how the worship of other gods can steer us astray. In our pluralistic society, it is very easy to say that our choice of faith doesn’t matter. Postmodernism tells us that what matters is not our choice but our sincerity and tolerance of others. If we were in heaven that would be alright, but we are not- and people make bad choices and create evil gods. Atheism is another choice. While atheists say they are not a religion, I have not seen many atheists who do not uphold their belief in non-belief without a great deal of rigor. If you look on the internet these days, there are a lot of very, very angry unbelievers who really need peace with God. We all need peace with God- the true God. True peace comes from the true God. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Thee.”

Prayer: Help us, O God to see your truth and not be ashamed to follow it. Help us to follow you truly, but also with humility. We recognize there is nothing in us that enables us to follow you. We also recognize we need to tell others of your grace and love. Thank you for the commandments that point us into your will for us.

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