Chapter 25. First Commandment: Believe in the True God • 343
God has given us the virtue of hope. Hope fills us with the confidence
that God accompanies us on our journey through life and guides us to
eternal life with him. If we refuse this gift of hope, we stray into pre-
sumption or its opposite, despair. In the sin of presumption, we think
we will be saved without any personal commitment to the moral life. In
the sin of despair, we lose hope in God’s mercy and believe we cannot
Finally, God has given us the virtue of love, the very love that he has
for us. Our Lord asks us to accept this love and respond to him with it.
Jesus made the love of God the first of the two greatest Commandments:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your
soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). We sin against this call to love
by indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness, spiritual sloth, and hatred of
God (cf. CCC, no. 2094).
ISSUES RELATED TO THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
The First Commandment prohibits idolatry, the worship of false gods.
In ancient times, people worshiped created things such as the sun, moon,
stars, trees, bulls, eagles, and serpents. In some cases, emperors and kings
were considered divine, and worship of them was expected.
Israel was forbidden to make images of God: Do not “degrade your-
selves by fashioning an idol to represent any figure” (Dt 4:16). This
injunction against “graven images” was based on the conviction that
God is greater and more mysterious than any artistic representation of
him. It also restrained Israel from carving idols like the pagans and laps-
ing into idolatry. But the people of Israel could make images that sym-
bolically pointed toward salvation by the Messiah, such as the bronze
serpent, the Ark of the Covenant, and the cherubim (cf. CCC, no. 2130).