I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God Ex 20:5
When we think of jealousy, we usually think of small-minded individuals. Thoughts along the lines of “I like what you’ve got, and I want it” spring to mind. So how is it that God can be jealous? Is it possible that human jealousy and godly jealousy are similar, or very different?
Looking at the commandment, it seems quite clear that God does not want us to have a knock-off copy of himself. The whole reason for forbidding the construction of idols is that we’d get to know the real God, and not some small, finite fantasy idea of him.
As such, God’s jealousy is a strong desire that we know the truth. He is zealous for us to know him and not some figment of our imagination. For God alone is worthy of all glory, and so his jealousy is righteous. If we were to seek to worship anything else, we would be neglecting not only God, but ourselves, for our chief end is his glory, and in so doing having joy. Any synthetic idea of God will ultimately lead to our destruction.
Just as the world, the flesh and the devil can cause us to sin, so when we sin, the world, the flesh and the devil will tempt us to despair, to doubt our calling. When we think about it though, what charge has anyone got against us? For we are not saved by what we do, nor what we are, but by the grace of God. It is God who justifies us freely through the sacrifice of himself in his Son. Of course, if we are saved purely by the grace of God, it can be tempting to think that if we increase sin, grace may increase.
This is not the case in the Christian though, for the Spirit works in the believer, slowly changing his/her nature to conform with Christ’s. This work of sanctification causes the believer to realise more and more their sinful state before God.
It is precisely this acknowledgement of sin which distinguishes a true believer. For if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, worse still, we make God out to be a liar. Yet, when we do sin, we have one who stands in our defence, who pleads with the Father on our behalf and ultimately bears the punishment due for our sin, so that we might have to. Not only is our sin taken from us, but his righteousness is imputed to us. This righteousness is bought at a cost, but is for out justification. So let us not doubt, but stand in his strength.