The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 49. Which is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Q. 50. What is required in the second commandment?
A. The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.49. What is the second commandment?
A. The second commandment is: You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand (generations) of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Q. 50. What does the second commandment require?
A. The second commandment requires us to receive, respectfully perform, and preserve completely and purely all the regulations for religion and worship that God has established in His word.
1. Both the first and second commandments have to do with worship. In what way do they differ?
The first commandment has to do with the object of worship, the true and living God; the second commandment has to do with the means of worship; and the manner in which we worship Him.
2. What are these means of worship?
The means of worship are the ordinances which God has appointed in His word.
3. What are these ordinances?
The Larger Catechism lists these as "prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing to Him." (Q. 108)
4. How are we as Christians to receive these ordinances?
We are to receive them by approving them and embracing them; observing them by doing what is required in them; keeping them pure and entire by keeping them from corruption.
5. What does it mean by not making any graven image?
It means that we are not to attempt to represent God through material objects nor to worship Him through the use of such imagery.