Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ask the Pastor: How do the Ten Commandments Apply Today?



Part 2: The Second Commandment

            As we continue our series on how the Ten Commandments apply to Christians (and to a degree all mankind) today, we come to the second commandment, which reads:

“You shall not make for yourself a carved 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. 
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, 
for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, 
visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children 
to the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me…”
(Ex. 20:4-5, ESV).

            This is one of those commands that we often ignore or skim over because as Christians and Westerners, we generally don’t bow down to our lawn gnomes! However, the question needs to be asked, “what is this command prohibiting, and how does it apply to me?” Because this command is one of the most repeated commands in Scripture, including in the New Testament (I John 5:21), it is one of the most important commands in Scripture, as well as one that reveals something about the heart of man.

            See, when God includes this command as the second in His list, He knew something: the sin of idolatry runs deep within the human heart and provides a constant movement of the individual to worship things other than God. Look at the original context in Exodus. In Exodus 32, when the people bow down to worship the golden calf, Aaron tries to sync the peoples’ idolatry with the worship of Jehovah (32:4-6). This does not work, and brings up a very important point that marks the difference between the first two commandments.

  The First Commandment concerned the exclusivity of God. Christians cannot by definition be pluralistic in their approach to God. When Israel demanded another god in addition to Jehovah, they were actually demanding a god in place of Jehovah. 
  
  The Second Commandment calls believers to worship spiritually. This is the only command in which those who break it are said to hate God! How important must this be to Him? 

So, what is idolatry? 

Are we allowed to have pictures, posters, and statues in our churches? The word “idolatry” in essence carries the idea of “worship or service to an idol.” It also carries the implication of worshiping the true God through an idol. It is NOT however, a ban on sacred artistry. For instance, the Old Testament is full of examples of sacred artistry that were meant to generate worship towards God, not worship of the object itself!!! Think about the tabernacle, the temple, the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, and other things that were designed by God Himself to aid in worship, but not be worshiped.

            There are three uses for art: decorative, use as a teaching tool, and devotional. Decorative art is just that- jewelry, pictures, flowers, etc, that enhance appearance but to not generate worship. Art that is used as a teaching tool is pictures used in teaching Bible stories and act as aids in learning. Devotional art is the art that is forbidden in scripture. It is anything that causes people to fall down before it and worship.

            Okay, so I need to watch what I worship in front of….is that it? NO!!!  Another aspect of this commandment is the idea of what you worship. Here are a few examples of idolatry that we see today:
  • Pride in a home- taking care of a home is important, but what if the vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, and cleaning became a major point of pride and sucks up more time than Bible study, prayer, and church involvement.
  • Vanity- some folks elevate their bodies to the place of God. They spend hours working out, dieting, and taking supplements. We need to care for our bodies, but when they take the place of God in our lives, we are turning them into an idol.
  • Children- many parents have made their children their god. Everything in their lives revolves around the kids. Everything they do is for their kids, and their allegiance to God is lessened by it.
  •  Peace- some folks want peace or (fill in the blank) at all costs. Because they want peace more than they want to serve God, they are willing to compromise biblical teaching concerning conflict and resolution in order to achieve peace. In that case peace had become an idol to them.
In short, fame, success, financial security, or anything that becomes more important to us than God is an idol!
 
            Let me encourage you to do a self-check up. What do you worship? What consumes your time, money, thoughts, and desires? Is it our Lord and Savior, or are there other things trying to contend for your attention? God demands out exclusive worship, and He demands our best worship…are you giving it to Him?  

 I’d love to interact on this subject or any others through this blog or my email: pastorbrian@hughes.net. God Bless!!!

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