When we prioritize anything over God, we have broken the first commandment. Breaking the first quickly leads to breaking other commandments.
Let’s consider an example. Many thirst for approval, and would lie and cheat to get others’ acceptance. In this case, approval has become an idol. Worshipping this idol can lead to breaking the ninth commandment. To illustrate, Mary speaks falsely of Joe’s character. Christine knows Mary is wrong, but Christine wants Mary to accept her, so she pretends to agree. Because Christine values Mary’s acceptance over honesty, Christine has lied against another’s character.
If the meaning of our life and our hope rest on something other than God, that thing will become our idol. Driven by the wrong thing would distort our life.
So, how do we get rid of our idols and improve permanently?
First, we need to agree that we have to change.
Second, we need to identify our idols, the earthly objects that we base our hope and happiness on.
Identifying the idol doesn’t mean we’ve removed it.
If we change because we are afraid of missing out on some earthly thing, such change won’t last. Or, if we change because we think we are better than others, such change also won’t last. As soon as it becomes more profitable to change back, we’ll flip. If we can get something more for smearing others, we would do it. In order to truly change, we need to be driven by the right force from within.
We change to follow God because He is so much wiser than we are.
We change to follow God because God loves us, which He demonstrated at the cross. Thus, it is rational for us to follow Him. It is rational for us to change.
Meditate on the love of God. Meditate on the Gospel. Even angels, who are much more intelligent than we are, “long to look into” it (1 Peter 1:12).
It is easy for us to revert back to our old habits, but if we continue to meditate on the cross, we will gradually improve. We will focus more and more on God. Then, one day we will see why Paul said the Gospel is the power of God (Romans 1:16).
Summarized from a Tim Keller’s sermon, titled, “Meditating on the Gospel Leads to Permanent Improvement”:
让我们举一个例子。 许多人渴望得到认可，会用欺骗的方法赢得他人的接受。此时，他人的认可成了偶像。崇拜这个偶像就导致违反第九条诫命。比如，玛丽诬陷亨利的品格。珍妮虽然知道玛丽错了，但因为希望玛丽的喜欢和接受，就支持她对亨利的攻击。 在珍妮的眼里，玛丽的接受比诚实更重要，所以就加入了说谎伤害他人的队伍。