Thursday, March 21, 2013

Idolatry Forbidden

“There is no God like you. You forgive those who are guilty of sin; you don’t look at the sins of your people who are left alive. You will not stay angry forever, because you enjoy being kind. You will have mercy on us again; you will conquer our sins. You will throw away all our sins into the deepest part of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19, ncv).

When the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible combine in a believer's mind, there's an explosion of power, and the mixture somehow strengthens our hearts. Ephesians 5:18 tells us to "be filled with the Spirit." Colossians 3:16 says to "let the Word of Christ dwell in [us] richly." Both passages promise the same results -- singing, thanksgiving, and power in our relationships. These parallel Scriptures suggest there are two active agents working to help us achieve a renewed mind -- the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Idolatry Forbidden

Deuteronomy 4:15-31  (NIV)

15 You saw no form of any kind the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, 16 so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, 17 or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, 18 or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below. 19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven. 20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you, and he solemnly swore that I would not cross the Jordan and enter the good land the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance. 22 I will die in this land; I will not cross the Jordan; but you are about to cross over and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

25 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time—if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and arousing his anger, 26 I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.  

God is love, but that is just one of His attributes.   God is also eternal, He exists forever, meaning He has no beginning or end (Psalm 90:2, 1 Timothy 1:17.  God is Holy (Revelation 4:8). To say that God is holy is to say that He is eternally separate and distinct from all impurity (that includes sin). He is unchanging (Malachi 3:6, James 1:17, Hebrews 6:17).  There seems to be a false notion that God somehow changed between the Old Testament and the New Testament, but if I believe Scripture is Truth, this argument is easily tossed out the window.  God is also good, gracious, merciful and just.  God is deeply concerned with making wrongs right.  He also shows us His mercy by not giving those who believe in Him the punishment they deserve.  God is also sovereign, which means that all things are under God’s rule and control, and nothing happens without His direction or Permission.  God works not just some things, but all things according to the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11).  God is infinite (Psalms 147:5), and He is infinite in all of His attributes. 

There are many other attributes that tell us more about God, who He is and I have not found anywhere in Scripture that indicates He is one of these above the other.  Instead, what I have found is that He is in fact the fullest extent that those attributes could be made manifest all at the same time.  He is love to the fullest extent, but He is also Holy to the fullest extent.  Yet it would seem that whenever we talk about hell, suddenly God changes, and He is only a God of love.The argument is quite simple really.  A  loving God doesn’t send people to hell, because that is a contradiction, right?

Our thinking about who we are as Christians should not begin with what we can discover about ourselves by self-analysis. Rather, it begins with what God says about those who trust in Christ. That's exactly how we're called to live, yet we lack the motivation, determination, and power to do so in our own strength. For this reason, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit within us. If we yield our lives to Him and step out in obedience to His promptings, we'll have the strength to say no when fleshly desires feel overpowering (Gal. 5:16).


Raj Kosaraju

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