A homily on the Second Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image – nor bow down to them nor serve them.”
We’re continuing in the Westminster Larger Catechism’s biblical exposition of the Ten Commandments. The psalmist says that God’s commandment is exceedingly broad (Ps 119:96) – meaning perfectly comprehensive. And Westminster does its best to show that from Scripture.
Question 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him: as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship; and, according to each one’s place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.
This week, let’s simply consider some general observations from this exposition of the Second Commandment. Clearly: The worship of God is serious business. Flippant, thoughtless worship is sinful. To speak of our own preferences in worship is exceedingly arrogant. Worship is not about us, and OUR will. Worship is about God and HIS will, revealed in His Word. Worship is a God-given duty – which is to be exercised with due diligence. We are to search God’s Word, to receive, observe, and keep pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God has instituted in His Word.
Why is God so particular about His worship? Because He knows our idolatrous hearts. And in His GOODNESS, He wants to protect us from our own self-destructive superstitions. God is jealous for His own glory – and more specifically, He is jealous for the glory of His grace to us as sinners. Biblical worship not only puts God in HIS proper place – it puts us in our proper place: as sinful creatures before our holy and merciful Creator and Redeemer. As beggars who come to receive from the King of grace, at His gracious invitation, to feast on His bountiful Gospel.
Biblical worship saves us, and sanctifies us, and so extols God’s grace to us in Christ. So let us repent of our flippant, thoughtless worship; of our tendency to elevate ourselves, and our preferences in worship; of making worship about us – instead of God, and His grace to us in Christ. And let us receive His Word of grace, His Gospel, which saves us, enlivens us, justifies us, sanctifies us – and is at the heart of all true worship.