The Insidiousness of Idolatry

November 28, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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An idol is dependent on man for its supposed deity, thereby making the man who worships it the actual false deity. Idolatry is the ultimate deception, delusion, and diabolical activity: self-worship.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;

Jeremiah 11:1-2 (emphasis added)

By “this covenant” he meant the Mosaic, or “deuteronomic” Covenant, which, if it had to be described in a few short words, could be summarized as: DO NOT COMMIT IDOLATRY.

And say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,

Jeremiah 11:3

Jeremiah preached this message over and over, even during the days of King Josiah’s reform, because the reform was only outward. It did not reach the hearts of the people.

Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:

Jeremiah 11:4

The iron furnace of suffering was compared to the land of milk and honey. How much would you have to love sin in order to decide to jump back into the furnace and reject beauty, peace, and joy?

That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O Lord.

Jeremiah 11:5

Jeremiah was the only one with the right response: “So be it; amen.”

Now God revealed to Jeremiah a secret plot that was going on in Judah. It was a conspiracy against Josiah’s reforms. Corrupt priests and leaders who had a vested interest in the worship of Baal in the groves did not want these legal declarations about turning back to Yahweh’s law to catch on.

And the Lord said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

Jeremiah 11:9-10

Idolatry is a sin that will entice men, seduce them, entangle them, and cause them to foolishly fight on behalf of their idols against reform and even revival.

A Body of Idolatry

June 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Romans 12:1 commands us to present our bodies as living sacrifices. If we take this literally, and I think we should, then it will remind us that all our limbs and sensory organs are to be dedicated to serving and glorifying God. If we ignore this command we run the risk of living like idolaters.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

Psalm 115:4-7

A material idol, designed to act as, or represent, a false god, has a mouth that can’t talk, eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear, a nose that can’t smell, hands that can’t pick up anything, feet that can’t walk, and a throat with no sound. And then comes the kicker:

They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 115:8

These idols are made by the very people who are worshiping them! How can they be so self-deluded?! Imagine praying for deliverance to a little figure that needed you to even carve it into existence. Can people really believe that a god would be dependent upon its own “creator?”

It’s not as far-fetched as it seems. Logic, apart from the wisdom that comes only from the True and Living God, is not our strong suit. In fact, if we do not keep our hearts diligently focused on God, we will quickly fall into delusion and all sorts of idolatry.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23

Then, pretty soon, we will usurp the use of the mouths that God has given us, and start speaking disrespectfully, rebelliously, and deceitfully.

Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.

Proverbs 4:24

Next we’ll stop looking for God’s beauty in His creation, and we’ll studiously avoid looking for people who are genuinely needy or who make us feel uncomfortable, and we’ll instead use God’s gift of vision for peeking at forbidden and ugly-but-seductive things.

Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Proverbs 4:25

Before we know it, our idolatrous feet will follow our idolatrous eyes and hearts right off of God’s safe path and into the world’s bramble of unfulfillment, heartache, addiction, danger, and desolation.

Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:26-27

We are poor identifiers of our own idolatry. Most of us think that our common sense would kick in somewhere around the time we started placing offerings into the hands (hands that we ourselves had fashioned!) of idols that could not hold the very things we were trying to give them. But, no, here we are, hopefully knowing somewhere deep down that we – and all of the complex creation around us – were made by Someone infinitely greater than us, yet still trying to give our time, talents, and treasure to man-made idols, such as political parties, houses, cars, electronic devices, investment portfolios, clothes, and entertainment. What a contradictory race of creatures we are, to desire to be “blessed,” but to want to dictate, design, and direct our own trivial blessings, while our Supreme Maker and true source of all true blessings, is relegated to the sidelines of our lives and largely ignored.

Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield. The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great. The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children. Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

Psalm 115:11-16

What the Knows Ought to Know about Conscience

June 2, 2017 at 10:53 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 5 Comments
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This may sound obvious, but it bears mentioning: As Knows (Christians), we ought to know that we don’t know everything.

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

I Corinthians 8:1

Clearly the Corinthian Christians were forbidden from practicing idolatry, but it was difficult, in those days and in that place, to purchase from a market, or to consume, meat that had not been offered to a false idol. Usually, in ancient times, sacrifices were divided – with some being burned, some being eaten at a temple, and some going to the priest. The priests sold their leftovers to markets. The Knows at Corinth “knew” this – and they “knew” about avoiding idolatrous worship practices – but knowledge by itself tends to swell a person with pride. We expect humility to be the great deflater, but here the Bible teaches us that love (“charity”) fills people up (“edifies”) in a good way – not with puffy vanity, but with wholesome nourishment that builds us up.

And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

I Corinthians 8:2

Humility is self-defeating when we are proud of being humble, so knowledge apart from love, while puffing us up, makes us ignorant.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

We might ask, “Known of him by whom?” Known by others? Known by himself? Or known by God? All three would apply. Our testimony of love for God should be evident. Because it is a “given” knowledge, it humbles us, but it is still knowledge – awareness of the truth – so that we can KNOW we belong to God. And certainly God knows those who belong to Him. False professors will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

A willingness to examine our practices in light of Scripture, even when it come to things as mundane as eating, and a willingness to examine our consciences, can be a convincing sign to others and to ourselves that we have a real relationship with God – that He inhabits every area of our lives as He should – and that we understand our moment-by-moment existence as “coram Deo” – before the face of God.

The Knows also ought to know that not everyone knows the same things.

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

I Corinthians 8:4

The Corinthian Christians knew that idols – as the representatives of false gods, and as supposedly talismanic objects in and of themselves – had no real power because the list of real Gods stops at one.

For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

I Corinthians 8:5

This is a reference to spiritual beings which are sometimes called gods – and do in fact have supernatural powers.

But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

I Corinthians 8:6

We know that these beings are created, and, even though they may have power, their existence and whatever power they possess is totally dependent upon God the Father and Christ the Son.

Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

I Corinthians 8:7

However, even some of the Knows at Corinth were a little shaky on this understanding. For them to eat food which had been sacrificed to an idol would defile their weak (not properly informed) consciences. “Unto this hour” implied that they were truly Knows, but that some of the superstition of their previous “Know-Notism” (paganism) had not yet been fully sanctified out of them.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

I Corinthians 8:8

It’s not what goes into the body that makes us more or less holy in terms of our standing before God (although mind-altering substances would be a different matter). So, when is it okay and not okay for Knows with stronger consciences to exercise their liberty and eat a t-bone steak left over from an Apollonian feast? The answer to this has to do with Christians understanding and prioritizing the greater good.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I Corinthians 8:9

Remember how love deflates proud knowledge. It also reminds us – in our humility – to serve someone besides ourselves.

For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

I Corinthians 8:10

Be careful about where you exercise your liberty. Someone watching you might misunderstand and think it is okay to do what they thought was wrong – for the wrong reasons. Christian liberty is properly developed from a sharper – not a duller – conscience. Iron sharpens iron: Christians are supposed to sharpen each other, not make each other dull.

And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

I Corinthians 8:11-12

If your love for your fellow brother or sister is not strong enough to keep you from callously exercising your liberty, your love for Christ certainly ought to be.

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

I Corinthians 8:13

The good of fellow Christians is the overriding factor when it comes to nonessential liberties.

The Wastefulness of Idolatry

December 12, 2014 at 11:33 am | Posted in Habakkuk | 6 Comments
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God is steadfast. He keeps His Word. He is also strong. He can stop iniquity at any time. He does not fret or tremble over the mightiest armies, weapons, or mass movements.

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14

God could flood the earth at this moment with His glory – even faster than He flooded it last time with natural water. He let Habakkuk know that Babylon’s powerful reign, although it seemed invincible, would one day be destroyed. This foreshadows the destruction of the new Babylon – the world system of the last days – which will be destroyed at the return of Christ (Revelation 17-18).

Compare the idols worshipped by the people of Judah to the idols that may be worshipped by God’s people today.

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

Habakkuk 2:18

Things that do not profit us spiritually are a waste of our time (and not really “our” time, but God’s time that He has given us to manage).

Therefore, things which use our time for purposes other than the Kingdom of God would seem to be idols. Wasting time is wrong, although many people think it’s harmless. Idols, even though they can’t talk, have a way of “speaking” lies. The “wisdom” of man – found in TV programs, books, magazines, or just regular traditions – if it doesn’t originate from God’s Word, not only sucks up our valuable time, but it lies to us and deceives us.

When we place our trust in things made by man, rather than God’s Truth, we are worshiping the created instead of the Creator – which is the essence of idolatry.

Beware the Freaky Foyer

December 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence on earth among His people. They placed the Ark in their temple before a statue of their false god, Dagon. However:

…when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.

I Samuel 5:3

The next day, not only was the statue of Dagon lying prostrate before the Ark, but nearby were its chopped-off hands and head! You might think that these incidents would have given them pause to consider that Yahweh was real and that Dagon was just an idol. Or at least that Yahweh was way more powerful than this pathetic “merman” statue they had been worshiping.

https://i1.wp.com/www.hcs.harvard.edu/~ichthus/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/dagon2.jpg

But, no, superstition can be a powerful thing.

Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.

I Samuel 5:5

Instead of acknowledging the one true God, it appears that the Philistines attributed special power to the entryway area of Dagon’s temple. Before we laugh at their foolishness, however, are we enlightened Christians that much better? Do you shiver at the sight of a black cat? Do you call in sick on Friday the 13th? Will you be eating black-eyed peas and cabbage this New Year’s Day in the hopes of obtaining some good luck and extra cash? If you are a Roman Catholic, do you have a special statue of the Virgin Mary that you venerate, or perhaps an anointed relic, some rosary beads, or a figure of St. Joseph buried upside down in your yard? From the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem to the American flag that we stand and salute, Christians need to take care and remember that we are not saved by an object or a place. We are saved by Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

Quick Quiz Quietens Questioning Qualms

May 1, 2013 at 11:46 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 5 Comments
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Psalm 135 seems to be somewhat of a collection of other parts of Scripture. It was authored by the Holy Spirit Who inspired a temple singer or musician to collect and arrange the passages within it – probably for a special occasion. It contains four “praise the Lords” and four “bless the Lords.” It is a very balanced Psalm. It praises the Lord both for Who He is and for what He has done.

Q. Who is He?
A. He is OUR God.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the name of the LORD; praise him, O ye servants of the LORD. Ye that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God,

Psalm 135:1-2 (emphasis added)

If you belong to God, then He is “your” God, but not in the sense that you are His owner. He says to you, “I am your God,” in a “distinctive” way: You belong to Him rather than to other people’s false gods. This is a good test for what your testimony says about your relationship with God. Is He your God? When everyone else’s gods are entertainment, leisure, drugs, alcohol, money, possessions – if our God is in fact the God, then we should look, act, and speak very differently.

Q. What does He do?
A. Whatever He wants.

Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries. Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.

Psalm 135:6-8

Do you think the wind and the rain disobey God? What about the birds and the fish? We are creatures. If He rules over creation, we need to realize He rules over us.

Q. What’s to stop Him from hurting us?
A. He is compassionate toward those He has chosen.

Thy name, O LORD, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. For the LORD will judge his people, and he will repent himself concerning his servants.

Psalm 135:13-14

Q. What’s so different about Him?
A. He is real.

Everybody who has a false god pretends to think the above answers are true about their god, too.

The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.

Psalm 135:15-18

You have probably heard the expression, “It takes one to know one.” It applies to idol-worshipers. It takes an intentionally blind and deaf person to make a blind deaf god and to act as though he really thinks it’s a god.

Our God is different. He speaks. He makes covenants, gives promises, gives guidance. He sees. His “eyes” are so sharp and so penetrating that we can not hide from Him in sin. He hears. He hears prayers. He hears cries of injustice. He hears the plans of His enemies. He has the power of smell. Worship to Him is like a sweet-smelling savor. We don’t burn incense in New Testament worship the way they did under the Old Testament system, because our sacrifices are obedience and praise and Godly living. Those things smell sweet to Him. He “touches.” Idols are made by men’s hands. Men are made by God’s hands. He walks. Idol-worshipers have to carry their idols. God carries His followers, and walks with us.

Q. Where is He?
A. Right here in the midst.

Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 135:21

He is in the middle of His people both positionally and figuratively. He’s with us on the mountain tops and in the green pastures. He is with us in the valleys (even the valley of the shadow of death). No true Christian will ever truly die alone.


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