The First Two Commandments

I used to work with incarcerated youth.  The first time I’d meet with them, I’d explain the gospel message, beginning with the Bible’s teaching that we are all sinners in need of a Savior—and there is only One.  But sometimes inmates don’t even know what sin is!

So I’d take them through the Ten Commandments, found in both Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5.   Sadly, many young people today are unchurched and have never even heard of the Ten Commandments!  Those who have will usually be able to quote two or three:  Thou shalt not steal, commit adultery or kill—that’s it!

One teen said, “I know the second one: “The right to bear arms!”

I’d explain that the first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six deal with our relationship with people.  If I make a list of instructions to be followed, I will put the most important at the top. Near the bottom I might say, “If you have time, do this as well.”

I don’t know if God’s Commandments are in the order of importance, but I suspect they may be. I do believe that if we could just follow the first four—those that deal with God—the others would be a piece of cake. Yet the first four are those that inmates usually don’t know.

The First Commandment is basically this: “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” God clearly wants to be #1 in our lives. Yet I know I personally have trouble keeping this commandment, because I have a tendency to put myself first before God every day.

The Second Commandment is similar.  It’s almost as if God is saying, “Just in case you don’t get it, I’m going to tell you again using different words: “Don’t worship idols or bow down to them, for I am a jealous God.” Again, God wants to be # 1 in our lives. Why is that?  I believe God created us in such a way, that when we put Him first, we are the most content and the most at peace.

In our western culture, not many people actually bow down to idols.  If I’d ask inmates, “What would you consider an idol today? They’d know! They’d give me such answers as “money, drugs, women or cars.”  I could also add, “your children, sports, fitness.” It’s whatever you put first in your life before God.

Someone said, “Whatever you talk about or think about the most, that is what is most important to you. That is your god.”  I’d say most of us break the first two commandments daily.

  • for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.    Romans 3:23
  • I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.     Deuteronomy 5:6-7
  •  You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.     Deuteronomy 5:8-10
  • SONG: I LOVE THE LORD by Kathleen


    [This life is temporary. This life is short.  When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever.  Where will the “real you” live?  Will you live for all eternity separated from God?  Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven?   Learn more so you can make your most important decision:  and

    [To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]


About Kathleen

God delights in working through His people as they submit to Him. Jesus said to go into all the world and preach the good news to everyone (Mark 16:15). No matter where we live on this planet, people are separated from God because of sin. We ALL need a Savior, and there’s only ONE. It brings me great joy to share Christ with the lost and lonely. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal while facilitating Bible studies. I’ve found myself on college and university campuses, the beach, the streets, the hospital, the jail and the juvenile facility for incarcerated teens sharing God’s message of love. I also serve as an online missionary with Global Media Outreach. I’ve seen countless lives transformed when people turn away from sin and turn to Jesus. The changes God makes are real and lasting. These are some of my experiences. NOTE: My stories have been altered, removing any and all identifying factors. This includes names and other particulars in order to protect confidentiality and anonymity.
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4 Responses to The First Two Commandments

  1. Kristy says:

    Thank you for a great message, Kathleen!!

    God Bless you!

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