Summary: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS– The Practice of Proper Worship

• Exodus 20:3-17 (NIV)

[3] You shall have no other gods before me.

[4] You shall not make for yourself an idol. . .

[7] You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. . .

[8] Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. . .

[12] Honor your father and your mother. . .

[13] You shall not murder.

[14] You shall not commit adultery.

[15] You shall not steal.

[16] You shall not give false testimony . . .

[17] You shall not covet.


How often have you heard, “Limited time offer” or “This offer won’t last long”? The idea is that if you don’t act soon you will miss out on this chance of a lifetime. The only problem is that sooner or later they are making the same offer all over again, or by chance you might even hear that now it is a better offer (unfortunately you are one of those who went and bought the previous limited time offer)!

I believe that Satan had a “Limited time offer” that he only made available one time. When this offer expired it was over, and this offer has never been made again. Do you know what it is? The devil met Jesus in the wilderness and showed Him all the kingdoms of this world with all their glory and power and said, “All of this is mine, but I will give it all to you if you bow down and worship me, but hurry this offer won’t last long!” Jesus said, “The Word says, ‘Worship God only and serve Him.’ No deal devil! Take your offer and get lost.”

Satan does continue to make similar offers to us. We bow down and worship for much less than what Jesus was offered. We will bow down for just a little power and prestige; we bow for money, fame, convenience. We will take the devil at his word and give our worship in exchange for temporary pleasures. The unfortunate reality is that all too often what the devil offers today in exchange for our worship he will take away tomorrow.

This morning we continue our study of the 10 commandments. Last week we saw that God established the PRIORITY of worship. “You shall have no other God’s before me.” Just one God so give your worship to the best. This morning we are going to look at commandment #2. It’s not a repeat of #1. The second commandment focuses on the PRACTICE of proper worship.

I. The practice of proper worship begins as we worship the right God.

1. You cannot keep the second commandment if you don’t start out by keeping the first. Worship God! Obedience to the commandments begins with number one.

a) If we are going to obey the commandments we need to understand them correctly. While the first two commandments seem similar they are not the same. The reason we sometimes think God is saying the same thing is because the second commandment is based upon the first. Don’t confuse the first two commandments because they are not saying the same thing.

a) Another way to thinking about the first commandment is when God says “You shall have no other gods before me,” the Lord is talking about his IDENTITY AS GOD. When you look around you can find lots of other things that will vie for the position of being your god, but all of these other so called gods are just IMPOSTERS.

 Imposter gods of false religions;

 The imposter god of power;

 The imposter god of fame;

 The imposter god of family—your ancestors or your kids;

 The imposter god of SELF;

 The imposter god of money.

• Mark 12:29 (NIV)

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: ’Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. [Quoting Deuteronomy 6:4]

b) With the second commandment God says, “Don’t give me the same kind of worship given to those imposter gods.” The first commandment established the priority of worship; “I alone am God so worship me.” The first commandment establishes the Lord’s identity as God.

The second commandment says practice proper worship. In other words the second commandment deals with our INDIVIDUAL RESPONSE TO GOD. Will we live out a life of worship that is pleasing to God? Or will our worship offend God and be unacceptable to the Lord? Look again at the second commandment:

• Exodus 20:4-5 (NIV)

[4] "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them. . .

c) Put simply God is telling us not to worship Him the same way the people around us worship their imposter gods. God had just delivered Israel from Egypt where on every corner they saw that the Egyptians had an idol set up to some god that they worshipped.

2. What is an idol?

a) We may be quick to think that an idol is a god. An idol is not a god; it is only the representation of a god.

ILLUSTRATION: When a pagan bow in worship before his idol and offers prayers to his imposter god, does he expect the idol to come to life and respond to his prayer? No! The prayer is being made to the spiritual power that is represented by the idol. When an Indian does a rain dance around a totem pole he is asking for a spirit to bring rain to the land. When a witchdoctor pulls out a skull, a feather, blood, dust, or anything else he may have in his bag of tricks he is asking for a spiritual power to answer his incantation for healing (or his curse of death).

• 1 Corinthians 10:19-20 (NLT)

[19] What am I trying to say? Am I saying that the idols to whom the pagans bring sacrifices are real gods and that these sacrifices are of some value? [20] No, not at all. What I am saying is that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God.

b) Paul makes it plain. Hiding behind every idol is a demon seeking to be worshipped. When we stop and understand that an idol is not a god but only represents the spiritual reality of a demonic imposter god then it can help us to see who the modern American gods are. I’ve brought some so called “idols” with me today so we can begin to understand who some of our imposter gods are today.

 “American Idol”: we worship celebrities and fame;

 A football or baseball bat: we worship gods with athletic ability;

 A Mirror: we can’t forget the god of self;

 A diploma: we worship education and those with higher education;

 The TV flipper: we worship the imposter god of entertainment;

 A trophy: we worship success and achievement;

 A family picture: we will worship our family and put our husband or wife—even the kids in the first place of our heart;

 A cross: we worship religion instead of worshipping God through Jesus Christ.

 A lottery ticked or IRA statement: we worship the imposter god of money.

c) Do you know how to tell if you are worshipping at the altar of any of these or other American imposter gods? Answer these four questions honestly and you will find out who or what your God is.

1. How do you spend you money? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words how you use your money will reveal your god. Worship a god requires offering your treasure.

2. How do I use my time? Take an honest look at your calendar. Where do you spend most of your time or more importantly, what do you enjoy doing with your time. Worship a god will require giving your time to it.

3. What do you talk about the most? You won’t keep your god a secret. You will make known who your god is by what you say because worship of any god requires that you make a declaration of your god. You will express yourself freely about your god.

4. What fills your secret thoughts? Your god will always find its way into your mind and fill your imagination. You might say, “Money isn’t my god because I don’t have any.” You don’t have to have a lot to make it your god. If you daydream about what it would be like to have millions, or if you play the lottery in hopes of hitting it big money is probably your god because it has filled your thoughts.

3. We are to make a practice of proper worship. Proper worship begins with knowing who your God is. Don’t worship an imposter god.

II. Proper worship is made in spirit and in truth.

• John 4:24 (NIV)

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

1. Why does God command us not to create any graven images or idols and use them in our worship?

a) God is Spirit! Because God is spirit and not bound to a physical form:

— God is eternal, we know God is uncreated, and will never die.

— God is omnipresent; God is everywhere and not bound by time and space.

— God is omnipotent; God is not confined to a body that will grow tired or lack strength.

— God is transcendent; the Lord is magnificent and totally unlike anything that He has created. He alone is God.

b) Man could never make an adequate representation of God. The Lord said, "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” Search all creation and you will never find anything that will compare to the greatness and glory of our God; nothing is His equal.

• Isaiah 40:25-26 (NIV)

[25] "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. [26] Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these?

— An idol humanizes God; anything we make to try to represent God makes him less than what He really is. All we can do is try to make God in our image and thus he becomes weak and frail.

— Idols deify man; look what I have made; it is a holy, sacred thing. If I made it, then at some point it will click in my mind and I will realize that I am greater than what I have made because it is my creation and I am the creator.

c) God is jealous for our affection and worship.

• Exodus 20:5 (NIV)

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.

Worship is all that I can give to God. I have been created in the image of God which means God has created me with the capacity of worship. Worship is an expression of love and God is love. Thus when I worship I express my love and adoration to God and God says reserve this expression of love for me. Worship me; worship what is the very best.

God is jealous for our love. We often think of jealousy in a negative way, to be envious or suspicious, to demand loyalty. But God says His name is Jealous. God is protective and watchful over those He loves. God is not a green eyed monster full of envy. God loves us. The jealousy of God shows that He is passionate about His love for us and desires our complete love and affection in return.

ILLUSTRATION: Susie and I are sneaking up on our 25th anniversary this August. Our love for each other has grown deeper with each passing year. She has never done anything to be unfaithful to me; she has shown her commitment and devotion to me. While she has remained true to her promise to forsake all others, I’m still jealous for her affection. I don’t want her love for me to be divided. My jealousy for her is a good thing; I’m protective and watchful over our love for each other. Furthermore, my jealousy for Susie motivates me to remain faithful and true to her in return. My jealousy keeps her as the center of my affection while at the same time desires her undivided love. And the fact of the matter is that she is jealous for my love too, and that makes me feel pretty good. I know she loves me! That’s just a small taste of what it’s like for God to love us with a jealous love. Our response is to love the One who loves us!

d) Making an idol and choosing to worship anything other than God makes us a fool! I’ll let God speak for Himself:

• Isaiah 44:6-20 (MsgB)

[6] God, King of Israel, your Redeemer, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: "I’m first, I’m last, and everything in between. I’m the only God there is. [7] Who compares with me? Speak up. See if you measure up. . . [8] There’s no Rock like me that I know of. . . [10] Who would bother making gods that can’t do anything, that can’t "god"?

. . . [12] The blacksmith makes his no-god, works it over in his forge, hammering it on his anvil—such hard work! He works away, fatigued with hunger and thirst.

[13] The woodworker draws up plans for his no-god. . . [14] He first cuts down a cedar, or maybe picks out a pine or oak, and lets it grow strong in the forest, nourished by the rain. [15] Then it can serve a double purpose: Part he uses as firewood for keeping warm and baking bread; from the other part he makes a god that he worships—carves it into a god shape and prays before it. [16] With half he makes a fire to warm himself and barbecue his supper. . . [17] And he still has half left for a god, made to his personal design—a handy, convenient no-god to worship whenever so inclined. Whenever the need strikes him he prays to it, "Save me. You’re my god."

[18] Pretty stupid, wouldn’t you say? Don’t they have eyes in their heads? Are their brains working at all? [19] Doesn’t it occur to them to say, "Half of this tree I used for firewood: I baked bread, roasted meat, and enjoyed a good meal. And now I’ve used the rest to make an abominable no-god. Here I am praying to a stick of wood!"

[20] This lover of emptiness, of nothing, is so out of touch with reality, so far gone, that he can’t even look at what he’s doing, can’t even look at the no-god stick of wood in his hand and say, "This is crazy."

2. If we worships an idol, an imposter God, we take from God the only gift that we can truly give to the Lord. What else can you give to God that He has not first given to you?

a) God gave you life. Apart from God you have nothing; you are nothing. When I choose to worship God I take from myself and give it back to God, an act of love in response to all that He has done for me.

b) Is God pleased with the gift of worship we offer to Him or is our worship nothing more than lip service. Are we giving God our first and best, or does God get nothing more than the leftovers of our lives?

• Isaiah 29:13 (NIV)

The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.

c) What would God say about how we worship Him? Is our worship acceptable to the Lord or is it an offence?

3. We need to be careful to set our affections upon God and worship Him alone.

a) It’s easy to confuse God with our “religious symbols” or tradition, and before long these things take God’s rightful place in our hearts. The symbol or tradition becomes more important than God. WE CANNOT SUBSTITUTE THINGS FOR GOD.

b) In Numbers 21 venomous snakes were among the people of Israel; many people were bitten and died. God told Moses to make a snake and put it on a pole and then if anyone is bitten they can look to it and be healed and it worked! When people were bitten and looked at the serpent Moses had made they did not die. Hundreds of years later Moses’ bronze serpent became a stumbling block to Israel’s worship.

• 2 Kings 18:4 (NIV)

[Hezekiah] removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)

c) We have lots of symbols that we use to express our faith. The cross is one of our favorite symbols. We wear them on gold chains and put them on the wall, but no cross is a substitute for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who died that our sins might be forgiven.

ILLUSTRATION: The Psalmist talks about how God will cover us with his feathers and wings, but none of us go around wearing golden chickens as a reminder of God’s covering and protection in our lives!

ILLUSTRATION: We are thankful for the “We Believe” paintings that we have added to our sanctuary. They are visual reminders of what we believe about Jesus. But if the day ever comes that we take them down from the wall and put them in a closet; will there be some of us who think that we have sinned by removing these ‘sacred objects’ from the sanctuary? Would we dare let them take God’s place? WE CANNOT SUBSTITUTE THINGS FOR GOD.

d) The practice of proper worship begins as we identify the Lord as the only true God. The practice of proper worship must be done in spirit and in truth. And finally:

III. The practice of proper worship brings God’s blessing, but improper worship results in a curse.

• Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV)

[4] "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. [5] You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, [6] but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

1. The blessing is greater than the curse!

2. The curse for improper worship can be seen in the kings of Israel and Judah.

a) Think about David, Solomon and Rehoboam. We know David as a man after God’s own heart. He loved the Lord and wrote many of the Psalms. Yet David’s worship—that is his life offered to the Lord was not always pleasing. David was a womanizer. You all remember Bathsheba don’t you? Solomon followed in his father’s footsteps and served the Lord, but like his father Solomon too was lead astray from the Lord because of his infatuation with his many foreign wives. When Solomon’s son Rehoboam took the throne he did not act wisely or honor the Lord. As a result the kingdom of Israel was divided between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.

b) Or think about Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz. (See 2 Chronicles 26-28) Uzziah served the Lord and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but later pride filled his heart and he entered the temple to burn incense before the Lord. The Lord struck Uzziah with leprosy for this foolish act of improper worship. Jotham follow Uzziah and did what was right in the eyes of the Lord except for two things that stand out in what is said about his reign. First the people continued in their corrupt practices and Jotham did nothing to stop them. Second, Jotham unlike his father did not enter the temple of the Lord. The Message bible says Jotham did not desecrated the temple of the Lord as his father had done with improper worship. But I tend to think there is something more to it than that especially when you look at his son Ahaz. Jotham honored the Lord and did what was right, but he didn’t want anything to do with going to church—I believe Jotham kept his worship private. Thus when Ahaz became king he wanted nothing to do with the Lord; in fact Ahaz did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Ahaz continued to be unfaithful to the Lord and did all kinds of wickedness. How did Ahaz get to be like that? His fathers did not worship the Lord properly.

c) If you miss church once a month, just because you have other things to do, then maybe your kids will come to church once a month and your grand children won’t come at all. Your children are watching and learning how to worship the Lord from you.

• Psalm 95:6 (MsgB)

So come, let us worship: bow before him, on your knees before God, who made us!