In this series, CCC Discover delves into each of the Ten Commandments, exploring a commandment’s meaning, the ways people fail to keep it, and the ways Jesus obeyed it on our behalf.
Today, we will explore three ways we break the second commandment and three ways Christ obeyed the second commandment in our place. In the book of Exodus, God issues the following command:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exod. 20:4–6)
3 Ways We Break the Second Commandment
1. We have made idols and images of God. Although very few people in western societies make physical idols, all of us have served the creature rather than the Creator (Jer. 25:6; Rom. 1:18–2). We often take the really good things of life and make them ultimate. We create an idol whenever we look to something or someone to give us ultimate satisfaction, happiness, or joy. God alone is the supreme fulfillment of our desires (Ps. 36).
2. We have fashioned God after our own hearts. Another way we make images of God and bow before them is by fashioning God in our own image (2 Tim. 3:1–9). We tweak and change the God we find in Scripture into something much easier for us to digest, and therefore easier for us to use for our own ends. If we do not like something we read in the Bible, it is very easy for us to rationalize it away to make God fit our own vision (Jer. 6:14 and 23:17–32; 1 Thess. 5:3).
3. We have not fulfilled what it means to be the image of God. As creatures made in the image of God as male and female, we have failed to do everything God has called us to do (Gen. 1:27–28; Matt. 19:4; Lev. 18:5). We have failed to see all things as flowing from God and to him (James 1:16–18). We have fallen from God’s glory in all we say or do by failing to praise him as the cause and highest end of our very life (Rom. 3:23; Ps. 119:169–76).
3 Ways Christ Kept the Second Commandment in Our Place
1. Christ has become the true image of God in his incarnation. God in his great mercy and love sent his eternal Son to become a man (Gal. 4:4–7; Heb. 2:14–18). He became the true human image of God that focuses our gaze back upon the living God as we look to him in faith (John 14:6–14; Col. 1:15–20; Heb. 1:1–4).
2. Christ has cast down the idols of our hands and hearts. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil and smash the idols we have put in his holy temple, gently lifting our eyes to the heavens from where our help comes (1 John 3:8; Ps. 121). He sees that we are enslaved to our desires and pleasures (Eph. 2:1–10). He breaks the control of the idols that have captured our hearts and brings us to true freedom and love that are found in him (Micah 5:3; Isa. 2:8; 1 John 4:7–12).
3. Christ did not bow to any idols but fulfilled what it means to be the image of God. Christ has broken the power of the idols by fulfilling what it means to be the image of God. He did not bow like Adam did before Satan’s lies but responded with the words of his Father (Matt. 4:1–11; John 4:34; 6:32–44). Christ has imaged back to the Father the perfect obedience required of man, taking the curse we deserved for breaking this command (Matt. 5:48; Heb. 10:6–7). He is the fulfillment of what humanity should have been, giving God the glory. The pleasure of the Father rests upon his children whom he will conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:26–30).
For more in this series, please check out The Ten Commandments, Part 1: “No Other Gods.”