New City Catechism 9.1

This week we come to Question 9 of the New City Catechism, found in Part 1 (questions 1-20), which focuses on God, creation and the fall, and the law.

Question 9: What does God require in the first, second, and third commandments?

Answer: First, that we know and trust God as the only true and living God. Second, that we avoid all idolatry and do not worship God improperly. Third, that we treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works.

The Ten Commandments have long been used for moral instruction, not only with respect to what they explicitly forbid, but also with respect to what the implicitly demand. For example, where the first commandment tells us not to have any other gods in the presence of the one true God, the implicit demand of that commandment is, as the catechism states, that “we know and trust God as the only true and living God.” Having no idols is the negative side of knowing and trusting the true and living God. The catechism does the same for the third commandment in this answer. Whereas the commandment is stated in the negative (“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God”), the positive demand of that commandment is that we instead “treat God’s name with fear and reverence, honoring also his Word and works.”

When you meditate on the law of God, do not think only about what it forbids explicitly, but about what it affirms implicitly.

Suggested passage for family or personal reading: Deuteronomy 6:4-9. What does this passage teach us about our obligation toward God? How is that supposed to be communicated in our day-to-day lives with our families?


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