Saturday, March 8, 2014
The First Commandment of the Law of God.
I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me.
The first commandment of the Lord God asserts His existence and admonishes us to honor Him, the One true God. We must not render divine homage to anyone but Him. That is, we must study what is written by God and about Him, or theology.
Theology is the highest branch of knowledge. It is our first and most important obligation. All scholarly human knowledge loses its true meaning, its underlying idea and purpose, if it is not illumined by the light of theology. Instead of good, such knowledge leads to a life of much evil.
In order to acquire knowledge of the true God, we must:
1. Read and thoroughly study the Holy Scriptures, which convey to us true and most perfect knowledge of God.
2. Read the works of the Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, which is necessary in order to understand the Holy Scriptures rightly and to guard oneself from incorrect interpretations and thinking.
3. Frequently attend church, because in the church services are contained lessons about God and His works.
4. Listen to the sermons of the priest and read books of religious and moral content.
5. Study the works of God — nature, as well as the story of the race of man, which reveal to us God’s marvelous plan.
This commandment imposes on us definite obligations of worship. We must:
1. Believe in God, that is, have the most sincere and firm conviction of His existence.
2. Walk before the Lord, that is, always be conscious of God and do everything as before the eyes of God (behave carefully), and always remember that God sees not only our deeds but also our thoughts.
3. Place our hope in God, love God, and obey God. Always be ready to do what He commands and not grumble when He does not do for us as we ourselves would like. In fact, only God knows when and what to give to us, and what is profitable and what is harmful to us.
The highest form of love of God is respect, or fear of God — fear to become estranged from God because of our sins.
4. Do homage to God, glorify and give thanks to the Lord God, our Creator, Provider and Saviour, remembering all His gifts and mercy to us.
5. Fearlessly confess God before all. Acknowledge that He is our God, and do not abandon the faith even though this confession might bring suffering and even death.
Sins against the first commandment are:
1. Atheism — when people completely reject the existence of God. Such people the Prophet David calls fools. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God (Ps.l3:l).
2. Polytheism — when instead of the One true God, people acknowledge many imaginary gods.
3. Unbelief — when people, while acknowledging the existence of God, do not believe in His Divine Providence and Revelation. This unbelief often comes from incorrect education and upbringing, from pride and conceit, from enthusiasm for evil examples, from careless regard for the guidance of the Church, and from a sinful life.
4. Heresy — when people imagine or invent teachings contrary to God’s truth, or stubbornly and intentionally distort the truth of God.
5. Schism — self-willed deviation from the union of Divine worship, from union with the Orthodox Church.
6. Apostasy — when people disavow the true faith, fearing such things as persecution and mockery; or from enthusiasm for false teachings.
7. Despair — when people, forgetting the endless mercy of God, do not hope to receive from God help and salvation. Horrible examples of despair occur in cases of suicide.
8. Sorcery (witchery) — when people, abandoning faith in the power of God, turn to various occult and evil powers.
9. Superstition — when people believe in some ordinary thing or occurrence, attributing supernatural powers to it.
10. Laziness in prayer and in all pious deeds.
11. Love for creatures, including people, more than for God.
12. Flattery — when people care more about pleasing other people than pleasing God.
13. Self-sufficiency — when people hope more in themselves or in other people than in the mercy and help of God.
The commandment of God does not contradict our obligation to venerate angels and saints of God and to pray to them. We honor them not as God Himself, but as faithful servants of God, who are obedient and who lead God-pleasing lives. The angels and saints of God are close to God and are able to intercede on our behalf. We must ask their help and defense in firm trust that the Lord, for their sake, quickly hears our sinful prayers. The Word of God says, Pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him (Luke 20:38).