How To Understand the First Four Commandments

Understanding the First Tablet of the Law

The first stone tablet that God gave Moses had four commandments on it. These commandments focus on a Christian's relationship to God. Therefore it is very important for Christians to understand these four laws.

Step 1

The first commandment says, "You shall have no other gods before me."

This commandment demands that God's children trust in God for everything and that they never look to anything or anyone else to meet their needs. If Christians do not trust in God and rely on others or themselves instead, they risk losing their salvation.

This commandment is the first commandment because it helps God's children prioritize their life. It puts God first.

Step 2

The second commandment says, "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."

This commandment instructs Christians not to make images of God. An image of God can be made into many forms. Pictures, sculptures, and imaginary images in one's head are all idols. The danger in an idol can be seen in two ways.

  • First, the person who creates the idol is limited; they are finite beings trying to imagine an infinite God. The only way a finite person can do that is by limiting God to something that can fit inside his head. It limits God to their own understanding, making Him man's creation and thus useless.
  • Second, a person who doesn't know God could look at an image and develop an inadequate and inaccurate picture of God.

Step 3

The third commandment says, "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD, your God."

This commandment stresses the importance of always using God's name with respect and honor. Of course, the most obvious way that people break this command is by swearing, cursing, or telling bad jokes using the name of God. However, saying that one is a Christian is very much like wearing a label. It tells people about what matters to a person and everything a person does is a reflection of that. If Christians are selfish, rude, disrespectful, greedy, etc., they diminish the name of God to those around them.

Step 4

The fourth commandment says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."

The Bible goes on to explain that God worked at creating the world for six days and rested on the seventh. Because He blessed the seventh day and made it Holy, His children are to rest on the Sabbath and avoid unnecessary work. It is a day for Christians to put aside the demands of living and to rest in God.

The first four commandments can be easily understood if one applies the overarching principle that links them together. "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment." Matthew 22: 37-38 NKJV. If you live life loving God completely, the execution of the first four commandments will be easy for you.


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