We’ve finally arrived at number 1: ‘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.’
When thinking of the 10 Commandments we often miss out the first sentence, but to do that destroys its context and weakens the very basis for our obedience. These 10 Commandments were given to God’s people after he rescued them from slavery in Egypt, not before. That’s vitally important.
Firstly, we see who these commands are for: For God’s people then, and for us now, obedience comes after salvation, not as a means to it. God didn’t save the Israelites because they were a holy people. He saved them, then called them to live differently. The same is true for us. It was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us. So whilst these commands (the moral ones at least) might be admired by many people who are not Christians, these commands, along with all of the teaching of the Bible, are there to show us how we need to live once God has saved us. The right response of those saved by God’s grace is to live holy lives, under his rightful rule.
Secondly, we see why we should obey. In Romans 12, Paul tells Christians to offer God their lives, souls and bodies as living sacrifices, dedicating themselves to him because of his great mercy. We’re to have no other gods before the LORD because HE is the one who has saved us! Through faith in Christ, God has set us free. Not from slavery in Egypt, but from slavery to sin, death and judgement. And since God has shown his love and grace to us through Jesus, so we must not let other gods (money, comfort, position, family, power etc) rule our lives. That position belongs to the Lord alone.