No Other God


Exodus 20:1

You must not have any other god but Me (v.3).

In his fascinating book, Modes of Faith, Theodore Ziolkowski reviews the lives of 19th-century European writers who had lost faith in God. What Ziolkowski finds is this: While these authors had dismissed the God of the Bible, another ‘god’ had soon taken His place.

Ziolkowski found five “gods” to be most attractive to these men and their readers. Art was raised to godlike status by some, pilgrimage was an exotic god for others, and politics—particularly socialism and communism—became another god. Tragically some hoped Nazism would fill the void, and still others hoped a future utopia would fulfill their spiritual dreams. These writers hadn’t suddenly believed in nothing upon their loss of faith. They had needed a surrogate faith to replace God.

And so it is with us. Our god, as pastor and author Tim Keller puts it, is “anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.” Today the gods of success, money, status, beauty, fame, sex and family claim much allegiance.

“You must not have any other god but Me,” says the true God (Exodus 20:3). We’re not to replace Him with anything in this world (v.4). The reasons are clear. There is no other God but Him (Deuteronomy 4:35). Only He can save us (Exodus 20:2). If we’re made to live in relationship with this God (Genesis 1:26), and will die without Him (Genesis 1:26), then nothing else is as important as who or what we worship.“[In] the final analysis,” Ziolkowski concludes, “all the surrogates turned out to be inadequate.”

You must not have any other god but Me.Perhaps that’s not just because the true God is worth ultimate allegiance, but because any other god will ultimately break our hearts.

—Sheridan Voysey



Read Romans 1:20 to see how we become like our idols, and chapters 12 and 13 to see how worshipping God makes us like Him.



Are you falling for any surrogate gods? How can we stop good things from becoming idols in our lives?


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