SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 2, 2013)
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God” Galatians 5:19-21.
“I WARN YOU, AS I DID BEFORE, THAT THOSE WHO LIVE LIKE THIS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD” Galatians 5:21b (NIV).
In this edition I want us to concentrate on IDOLATRY which is very pervasive and even more dangerous than the sexual sins. I am saying it is more dangerous than sexual sins because it is an indication of man’s rebellion against God. When we commit idolatry, we are openly violating God’s first two commandments which say: “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…” (Exodus 20: 4-5). We should remember that the first two commandments are very important to God and we should not do anything which will violate them. I don’t think anyone will say that they are no longer relevant to us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Let us now take a closer look at what idolatry is in our context.
Idolatry simply means the worship of images or idols other than God. It also includes the Christian’s involvement in idol festivals. It is a sin which the Lord hates so much and punished the Israelites on several occasions for committing it. It includes the making of images and the bowing down to images as a way of worship. God hates it because it is the way mankind tells God, “we don’t need you, we have something better than you are” or “you cannot do it, we have someone who can do it for us!” What an open insult to the Maker of Heaven and Earth and all that is visible and invisible! How can we value the creature more than the Creator? Does it even make sense to worship any other god apart from JEHOVAH? As I think about this I am beginning to understand why it is so foolish for anyone to be involved in idol worship of any sort. According to Isaiah 44:9: “ALL WHO MAKE IDOLS ARE USELESS, AND THE THINGS THEY TREASURE ARE WORTHLESS. THOSE WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THEM ARE BLIND; THEY ARE IGNORANT TO THEIR OWN SHAME.” This is why it is stupid for anyone to worship any other god apart from YHWH!
There are some people who worship other gods by offering prayers to them. Some also sacrifice animal blood, food and drinks to certain images, yet they claim they are not worshipping them, rather showing reverence to them or praying to God through them. Can I call that foolishness? Where in the Bible have we been told to pray to God through any human intermediary, idol or any ghost (ancestor)? Is it not clear from Scriptures that Jesus is the only way to God? Someone said we pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so it is not wrong to pray through other ghosts or creatures. But is it the same as praying through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? I guess common sense will answer that question. The point I want to make is that we have no grounds for praying to God through any medium whether human spirit or nature spirits. ANY ATTEMPT TO PRAY TO GOD THROUGH ANY HUMAN SPIRIT APART FROM THE LIVING SON OF GOD WILL CONSTITUTE IDOLATRY. THERE IS NO DOUBT ABOUT THIS!
We should understand that God is both Transcendent (far from us) and also Immanent (present with us). He is Omnipresent (everywhere present). Therefore, we do not need to go to him through any other medium. The only medium by which we can go to God is through Jesus Christ, who is himself God. Therefore we should connect to God through God, nothing more, nothing less!
What is more frightening about idolatry is that most Christians are involved in it. Many people look at it as the worship of graven images and statues which are very obvious. And because they are not doing that they have the guts to criticize those who do that and call them all sorts of names. But have you really tried to understand what it means to commit idolatry?
WELL, IF I MAY REMIND YOU, OR MAKE IT KNOWN TO YOU, IDOLATRY IS ABOUT MAKING ANYTHING, WHETHER LIVING OR DEAD LOOK MORE VALUABLE TO YOU THAN GOD OR ANYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH GOD. I guess by now you will not be angry if I say most Christians are idol worshipers! Isn’t it sad that those of us who call ourselves saved may be seen by God as idolaters? Yet that is the reality. Most Christians in the world today value money (have become worshipers of mammon) more than God and the things of God. We all choose money ahead of God. That is why we do over-time at work and sometimes fail to make time to read our Bibles, pray or attend fellowships.
We have lots of time to watch movies and television programs but are easily angered when the pastor ends his sermon five minutes after the expected time. How much energy do we spend in making money to take care of our families and friends, yet fail to contribute to the growth of the Church financially? Did you not get angry because the church refused to pay you for singing, preaching, or playing musical instruments, yet you do many things for other people for free? Who gave you the energy, skill, gift or talent? How much money do we spend on food, accommodation, etc. etc. yet care less about the people and work of God?
The list can go up to infinity. Let us think about them. What is striking is that most of us have become worshippers of the self, money and other creatures of God instead of God himself. But we forget that the energy, the gifts and talents, the money and anything we have were given to us by God for his glory. If we fail to use them to worship God and rather pursue our own passions and desires we are thinking of ourselves more than God and are therefore committing idolatry which is another form of adultery. Never prioritize anything in this world above God or things related to Him. If you value money, job, or anything else more than God you are committing the sin of idolatry. It is an insult to God, so let us avoid it!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.