Luther's sermon on the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Creed begins by expounding upon each of the commandments.
His reflections on the First Commandment struck me as having particular application to many contemporary/charismatic churches. However, before I unpack that, let's look at what Luther says first.
The First Commandment defined by Luther
"The First Commandment teaches how man shall treat God inwardly, in the heart, that is, how he ought always to remember Him and think of Him and esteem Him. To Him, as to a Father and good Friend, man is to look at all times for all good things, in all trust and faith and love, with fear; he is not to offend Him, but trust Him as a child its father. For nature teaches us that there is one God, Who gives all good and helps against all evil, as even the heathen show us by their worshiping of idols. This commandment is, THOU SHALT HAVE NO OTHER GODS."
The First Commandment Applied by Luther
"He who seeks by charms and incantations to protect himself, his cattle, his house, his children and all his property against wolves, iron, fire and water. He who blames his misfortunes and tribulations on the devil or on wicked men, and does not accept them with praise and love, as good and evil which come from God alone, and who does not ascribe them to God with thanksgiving and willing patience."
Luther's outworking of the First Commandment applied today
At a first glance, it is obvious that the First Commandment, and Luther's application applies to superstition, paganism and witchcraft. However, it is also clear, that it applies to a number of 'Christian' teachings and practices.
Let's look at the violation of the First Commandment, as defined by Luther, once again:
"He who blames his misfortunes and tribulations on the devil or on wicked men, and does not accept them with praise and love, as good and evil which come from God alone, and who does not ascribe them to God with thanksgiving and willing patience."
Now, what section of the church teaches that the bad things we experience have nothing to do with God, but come from the Devil? Which part of the church teaches that it is not God's will that we suffer? What doctrine does the First Commandment condemn? The doctrine of the prosperity gospel!
Further, how does the prosperity doctrine teach that believers should deal with adversity? The prosperity doctrine says that we should confess our way to victory. It claims we should declare blessings over our lives. It teaches that we should come against misfortune by declaring certain phrases against the Devil and evil spirits. In other words, the propserity gospel teaches Christians to use incantations. Luther again shows how this violates the first Commandment.
"He who seeks by charms and incantations to protect himself, his cattle, his house, his children and all his property against wolves, iron, fire and water."
I recognised a number of years ago that the prosperity gospel had more in common with paganism, than true biblical Christianity. However, I never fully realised that it was a full-blown violation of the First Commandment.
Isn't it ironic, that Luther was used of God to reform the church at a time when it was full of corruption and superstition, yet his writings today actually reveal that the church is just as full of superstition and corruption as it was prior to the reformation?
If we have embraced the god of the prosperity gospel, even to the smallest degree, we have exchanged the true and living God for a false God. We have rejected the sovereign God, and swapped him for a god who has less power than demoms and men. We have chosen to not look to the true God for help and provision and instead looked to the power of our own confessions and declarations to secure our provision and blessing. How can we fix this? We must humble ourselves before the true God, confess our idolatry and realign our thinking with the truth of God as revealed in the scriptures.