I've been thinking (yes, again)! (I do that.)
It seems to me that the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3) isn’t really a commandment at all.
The commandment in question says simply, “You will have no other gods before me.” There’s no command in that verse. It doesn’t say “Don’t do it.” There is no “Thou shalt not…” in this. There’s actually no command in the first commandment.
What there is, however, is a threat.
It’s like this: “You ain’t ever gonna have other gods before me. If you set one up, I will knock it down. It will not succeed.”
This isn’t so much about what we must or must do. This doesn’t appear to be about us exercising our will power. This appears to be us being aware of God’s nature. If you enter into relationship with God, then God will be the big deal in your life.
I wonder if this might be why some folks get into trouble? I wonder if sometimes, other folks – and they themselves may not even know about it – put them on a pedestal, perhaps because they are open to being treated with reverence or with the kind of honor that really only belongs to One.
If I set up somebody as the authority in my life – maybe my pastor, maybe a famous author or conference speaker or maybe a godly broadcaster – if I listen to them for what I ought to believe, and how much money I should give and to whom, for the directions or limitations in my life, then I’ve set them up as a god in my life. Before the Lord.
And the threat is ready to be applied. God will need to remove them from the “before me” part of my life.
Now the real question applies: this is clearly an Old Testament / Old Covenant threat. Does this principle apply in the New Covenant?