Summary: A sermon that explores three things that make idolatry unacceptable to the believer!

The idols that make us idle.

Today many Christians are idle - not doing much.

The reason that they have subconsciously been overtaken by the idols in their lives.

Let’s look at the second commandment together:

"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" (Deu 5:8-10 NIV).

. The Hebrew words "idol" and "form" in v. 8 describe any sort of manufacturing, whether chiseled from stone, carved from wood, or cast in a mold (NIDOTTE 3:645).

The bible is very clear about what we shouldn’t do. We need to note that not all see this as a separate commandment.

We are told not to make an idol of anything even in heaven and in the Reformation years the protestants were deeply concerned about the images of Mary and intercessory prayer made through her.

John Knox the founder of this denomination found himself in a castle. French troops captured the castle and its defenders, and Knox began 19 months as a French galley slave, under flogging and cursing learning to be an apostle of liberty to his people.

One incident during those months reveals something of the latent fire in the Scottish preacher, even while in chains. A picture of the Virgin Mary was brought on board, while the galley was in port, to be kissed by the slaves. When Knox refused, the picture was thrust into his face. Outraged, he flung the "accursed idol" into the river, saying "Let our Lady learn to swim."

It needs to be added that in his theology Knox was carefully to note the importance of Mary and the respect she deserved.

In the church there are two sorts of people in terms of the images that we have around us.

• Iconodules = those who made and venerated icons

• Iconoclasts = those who believed icons should be destroyed because they had become idols. Some iconoclasts acted on their belief.

Idols are always substitutes.

It seems to me that there are three areas to be concerned about in this command about idolatry. I think all three are represented in our passage this morning and I believe that there is something much better that God has given us to depend on instead of these substitutes.

The early Protestants wouldn’t even have a cross in the church because of the concern that people would worship the cross instead of the Christ who hung on it.

The first form of idolatry really is making religious images and symbols that narrow what the scriptures would reveal about God and Jesus.

What would Jesus be like today – Would he be green as and try to save the ecology of the planet?

Would he be a counter revolutionary or a freedom fighter or would we find him in the gutters of the slums of the world would we find him reasoning with the powerful and the rich?

Would we find Jesus at the Mormon temple trying to reveal that they got it all wrong or at the Catholic church telling them to get rid of the Statues.

Would Jesus be a Presbyterian?

Whatever way you try to present Jesus would be wrong. Not necessarily because of what we are saying but because of what is missed out.

"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above – Why? Because if you do it will be limited and inadequate!!!!

Whilst great artists have tried to picture Jesus all fail because you can’t contain Jesus in one shot.

As someone has said:- "I don’t, like to think of God as Judge. I prefer to think of Him only as a loving Father.” This pick-and-choose method creates an image or idol in the mind - an idea of God that does not fully represent Him. A. W. Tozer said; “Do not try to imagine God or you will have an imaginary God.” ... you can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. [Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 8.]

When Christians start to construct their own personal Jesus, watered-down versions of the truth will no doubt dilute our saltiness in this world.

If you want to represent Christ to the broken world around you don’t try and find the “right” picture of him. Let his word transform you and you will become like Christ yourself. Then avoid the temptation to idolise yourself.

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