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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Large Catechism – part 55

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From the Word: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods before me.

In order that we may understand that God will not have this commandment cast into the winds, but will strictly enforce it, he has attached to it first, a terrible threat, and then, a beautiful, comforting promise. Both are to be emphasized and impressed upon young people so that they may take them to heart and retain them.

Explanation of the Appendix to the First Commandment

You shall not bow down to them, nor serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the guilt of ancestors on the children to the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing unwavering love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exod 20:5–6).

Pulling It Together: First, let us deal with the common misconception that because my father or mother sinned, I and my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will pay for their transgression. It is altogether simpler and more comforting. Here is the meaning of the passage. If you do not believe, the same guilt that fell upon your ancestors will be within you. The guiltiness of bowing down to false gods does not wear off as time moves on. So, teach your children well, so that they may believe.

However, if you do believe, if you do love God and keep his commandments, he will love you steadfastly. In addition, you may count on his faithful love for a thousand generations—in other words, forever and ever. Even in the explanation of the First Commandment, we see law and grace at work to bring all people to the care of our loving Father. In believing, we will be filled with joy, hope, and peace because of the power of God’s Spirit at work within us.

Prayer: Father, send your Spirit and Word into the minds of our children so that they may believe. Amen.

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