“Thou Shalt Worship the Lord Thy God”

The First Commandment in the Gospels

3 min

In a rocky, mountainous wilderness, the Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan shortly after His baptism. Because it was such a unique enticement, we will focus our attention for now upon the second of the three temptations as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time” (Luke 4:5).

“And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (verses 6–7).

Jesus answered Satan by quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 and referring to the vital importance of the first commandment. “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (verse 8).  

From this encounter with Satan, Christ reveals how the first commandment can be applied in our own lives: I am to love the Lord because He first loved me, worshipping Him only. 

What does it mean to worship, and why does the first commandment demand that my worship be given exclusively to the God of Heaven? The Greek word for worship in Luke 4:8 is the word προσκυνέω (proskuneo). This word comes from two primitive roots and literally means “to become prostrate before.” A similar Hebrew word is used throughout the Old Testament to speak of the worship that we owe wholly and only to God.

In Biblical times, to prostrate yourself before a king or a master was a token of humility and a show of allegiance. Such an act is an acknowledgement that we are in the presence of the One Who is worthy of our allegiance, our love, and our obedience. Servants prostrated themselves at the feet of their masters. Defeated enemies were forced to bow down to their conquerors. Obedient subjects knelt before the authority of the king. 

When Satan tempted the Lord Jesus and enticed Him to “worship me” (verse 7), he was seeking to turn God’s universe inside out and upside down. Just as Satan, also called Lucifer, had sought to be “like the most high” (Isaiah 14:12–14), so now he sought to dethrone Christ and enthrone himself as the lord of the nations. Jesus vanquished Satan with the Word of God. “Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (verse 8).

When we as men are tempted by Satan to turn our allegiance away from the Lord our God, we must defeat our enemy as Jesus did: with the power and authority of the Word of God. Some Scripture verses follow that describe the way that we as Christians are to worship the Lord our God.

  • Our worship should be holy and reverent. “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).
  • Our worship should be intentional and thankful. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2).
  • Our worship should be spiritual and sincere. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Worship is not merely a physical act. It is not a song service or the beginning of a Sunday meeting. Worship is an attitude of the heart that yields allegiance to God and His Word.

As husbands and fathers, our children benefit greatly as they observe us daily worshipping the Lord. We can lead our children in family worship by making Scripture the center of discussion in our homes. When we  take them regularly to the house of God, we are teaching them to worship corporately in God’s house. As our children see us acknowledging that we are under the authority of our Heavenly Father, it becomes much easier for them to acknowledge the authority of their earthly fathers.

We are bombarded every day with our own temptations from Satan in many subtle ways. He tempts us to turn away our time, our devotion, our energy, and our attention from Christ and His Word. Careers, sports, entertainment, worldly ambitions, riches, friendships, and possessions all vie for our allegiance. Temptations abound daily for us to compromise with the philosophies of the world in order to maintain the respect of our peers. But as Jesus warned His disciples, “No servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). On Thursday we will examine the life of a young millionaire who consistently gave his chief allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God give us the grace to experience daily the true victory over temptation. This victory comes when we affirm and obey the Scripture that Jesus quoted to Satan: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

This article is from our Matters of Life & Death teaching series.

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