And God spoke all these words:
“I am the Lord your God,
who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
I know it goes on from here about punishing his children if they don’t obey, but this is what I believe about these three particular verses. The ‘punishment’ God talks about is a natural result of our failure to follow Him. Just looking at the outcome of going one’s own way will show you that.
Here’s what I believe….
Today this business about ‘other gods’ is a very tricky subject. Back then it was all about wood and stone – fairly obvious – but today it’s a lot more complicated than that. ‘Gods’ can refer to anything we run to to help us feel better instead of running to the one true God to help us feel better and increase wisdom and understanding regarding a life situation we’re in, or in just plain living life here. These ‘gods’ can include any substance or process addiction. Anything done to use and not to simply enjoy. Anything done above moderation. Anything.
There’s the obvious substances done to excess, to use as an escape; alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine, soda, foods (regular and junk) etc, etc. There’s the process addictions; pornography, sex, adultery, co-dependent and/or irrational relationships that continue to be maintained, shopping, computers and computer games, gambling, reading (even too much Bible reading can be an addiction instead of talking to God first hand), obsessive cleaning and constant tidying, arts and crafts, power and fame, acquiring wealth and prestige, excessive involvement with children and/or spouse to the exclusion of self, over fixation on a pet, over occupation with a talent or fascination, over-working and/or over-schooling/ studying, over-dependence on a counselor, excessive involvement in group activities, finger pointing and blame (no one can truly create another’s inner turmoil), excessive worry and self-problem-solving (instead of bringing the worry and problem to God), self-mutilation, appearance and plastic surgery, telephone and leaning too much on other humans to assuage emotional difficulties, going from one relationship to another, super-sexuality, compulsive masturbation, pornography, etc, etc. This list is a mile long. I’m sure you can come up with others yourself that I haven’t thought of. All of these things, when done to excess, are ‘other gods’. We use them to stay one step ahead of our emotional pain, heartache, and angst, instead of going to the one true God and having conversation with him, pleading for help with our case.
I believe that God didn’t give this ‘commandment’ as a command but more as a plea to us. He was pleading his case to us – his children – to listen to him…
“I took you out of the land of Egypt! It was ME ! Not any of those other ‘gods’ – ME. I took you out of the miserable situation you were in. I did it. So come to ME. Don’t go to any of those other ‘gods’ who did nothing to rescue you. Come to ME because only I can help you get out of your misery. Please! Come to ME !
So this is what I am currently doing now. I have a sugar and white flour addiction and use these substances as another god. I haven’t actually been ‘bingeing’ on my substances for several years now and I’ve been rescued from a lot of misery and gained a lot of wisdom and understanding as a result of my not turning to this god but turning to God instead. However, lately I’ve backed off my abstinence a bit and have been eating junk a little bit for a while ‘to take the sharp edges off of life’ if you will. And I’ve noticed a slowing down of my recovery as a result of my turning back to my other god. Now I call myself ‘back on the road again’ in that I’m trudging the road to recovery again. I am off all junk foods for good. I still have some things that need cleaning up in my psyche and I need what only God can do for me. And to get that freedom from the land of misery I need to turn to the only One who can rescue me. The one true God. One one else, and nothing else, can do it.
So, you’ve tried it and now say to yourself after a week or a month of ‘abstinence’, “God’s not answering me. This doesn’t work. I’m going back to doing (blank)”. For those in this mindset I would ask you, before you give up, to please read this first.