Commandment One: Worship the One True God
I am the Lord your God . . . Do not worship any other gods besides me. -Exodus 20:2-3 (NLT)
These Ten Commandments, and the balance of the legal code that followed it, comprised without question the most exalted legal code for human conduct in the ancient world. Nothing in the history of that time has been found to equal it. The wisdom and the practicality of the Ten Commandments attest to their divine origins. As wise as Moses was, nothing in the record supports the premise that he was wise enough to draft the Mosaic Code on his own.
The Ten Commandments fit together as a unified whole. Each commandment can do much good, but the rationale for all the commandments flows from the First Commandment: "I am [Jehovah] your God . . . Do not worship any other gods besides me." (Exodus 20:3)
On the surface, it seems that America has become a nation that runs after many other gods. But the truth is, in America we worship ourselves. To worship something means to hold it in high esteem, to respect it as sacred. If we were truly a people who worshipped God, we would hold Him and His commandments in a place higher than ourselves. But that is often not the case. For some time, a major shift has been taking place in our culture. Where we once worshipped and held in high esteem the God of the Bible and His laws, we now worship another god-that is, the individual. We worship us.
Anyone who speaks against the worship of other gods besides Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is going to rankle his fellow Americans. We are a nation that prizes religious tolerance. In fact, tolerance has become one of the most popular words in our culture. We believe, as a nation where free speech and the right of expression prevail, that every viewpoint and belief should be represented without hindrance.
On the surface, tolerance is indeed a good social stance. We do not want America to become a nation where minority opinions and beliefs are repressed, or where individuals are brutalized for beliefs that run counter to the mainstream.
But tolerance has an extremely unhealthy aspect as well. What we have meant by "tolerance" is a weakening of the lines between good and evil, right and wrong.
Do not make idols of any kind . . . You must never worship or bow down to them. -Exodus 20:4-5 (NLT)
Having successfully muzzled the truth in our universities and the media, the high priests and high priestesses of political correctness have opened the doors in once-Christian America to the onslaught and veneration of Hindu deities, Buddhist monks, Indian Shamans, Satanism, black magic, and occultism. Those who protest are labeled right-wing, fundamentalist, narrow-minded bigots. It is now considered un-American to criticize anyone's religion.
While it seems that God is surrendering the United States and Europe to "shameful desires," His truth is spreading like wildfire in those countries once gripped by idolatry. Christianity is the world's fastest growing religion and is on the way to three billion adherents worldwide. Only in societies where the cultural elites have deliberately suppressed the excellence of the Christian gospel to transform lives has Christianity failed to have explosive growth.
Commandment Three: Honor God's Name
Do not misuse the name of [Jehovah] your God. [Jehovah] will not let you go unpinished if you misuse His name. -Exodus 20:7 (NLT)
It offends many Americans to be confronted about their casual cursing of others in God's name. Ours is a God with whom people do not like to deal, because His very name calls them to account for the wrong they have done and the good they have failed to do. People do not like to have their consciences stirred. If you confront people about using the name of Jesus as an expletive, they will likely consider you "a religious fanatics" or "one of those holier-than-thou Christians."
At the root of their offense lies this fact: Americans do not like to have anyone point out their lack of self-control as they vent their anger, jealousy or frustration in ugly and inappropriate ways. They resent having their consciences stirred by someone who holds a greater respect for God and for His Son.
Recently, the Episcopal Church has shown a particular disinterest in honoring the holy name of God by approving the appointment of its first openly gay bishop-even though God, in many places throughout the Bible, expressly forbids the practice of homosexuality. By going against God's commands, the Episcopal Church has said, in essence, "We take upon ourselves the name and authority of the church of Jesus Christ, in the place of God and place our approval upon an evil thing." . . . In the name of God, they are telling their congregations that it is all right to go against God's express commands.