Summary: An underlying premise of The Revelation is that all humankind has a devotion to one God or another and we become like that which we worship.
WE BECOME LIKE WHAT WE WORSHIP*
Sermon Objective: An underlying premise of The Revelation is that all humankind has a devotion to one God or another and we become like that which we worship.
When my daughter was about four years old, I began to notice how she imitated my wife and me. She cooked, fed and disciplined her play animals and dolls just the way we cooked, fed and disciplined her.
When Craig was a bit older, I would watch her as she used him as her audience. She would “have church” and she would preach, they would sing, etc. I noticed that, like her mom, they would play school and she would be the teacher, too.
This doesn’t stop as a small child either.
Think back to junior high, these herds of adolescents reflect and resemble their friends and peers. Whether it is through polo shirts, jackets, jeans, shoes, back packs, or whatever, there is the tendency and temptation to conform.
What we see in children continues into adulthood. We imitate. We reflect; sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously.
Yes, all of us have the tendency to reflect what we are around. We reflect things in our culture, society, family, friends, and the list goes on.
IN GENESIS 1 WE LEARN WHY. GOD CREATED HUMANS TO BE “IMAGING BEINGS.” PARTICULARLY, we are intended to be imaging beings who reflect His glory; however, if we choose not to do that, we will reflect the glory of something else.
THAT IS A PRESUPPOSITION OF THIS SERMON; GOD HAS MADE HUMANS TO REFLECT HIM, BUT IF THEY DO NOT COMMIT THEMSELVES TO HIM, THEY WILL REFLECT SOMETHING ELSE IN CREATION. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO BE NEUTRAL ON THIS ISSUE: WE EITHER REFLECT THE CREATOR OR SOMETHING IN HIS CREATION.
Martin Luther’s larger catechism discussion of the first commandment (“You shall have no other gods before me” [Ex 20:3]) included “whatever your heart clings to and relies upon, that is your God; trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and idol. The idol is whatever claims the loyalty that belongs to God alone.”
There is a principle in the Old Testament that supports this. People become like the idols that they worship.
I will not take the time to show you a lot of Biblical examples of this but I will show you one or two that illustrate how the worshipper begins to take on the characteristics of the object worshiped. If you wish for more detail I would recommend G.K. Beale’s book, “We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of idolatry.”
In the Old Testament, we discover that idols are described in a certain way, and then those who worship the idols are described in precisely the same manner. The worshiper, rather than experiencing an expected life-giving blessing, receives a curse by becoming as spiritually hollow, empty, rebellious or shameful as the idol is depicted to be.
For example, when idols are portrayed with eyes and ears that cannot see or hear; their worshipers are described as having eyes and ears but not seeing or hearing. Isaiah 42:17-20 reads:
“But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ’You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. "Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the LORD? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.”
Psalm 135:15-18 emphatically teaches this principle:
“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. THOSE WHO MAKE THEM WILL BE LIKE THEM, AND SO WILL ALL WHO TRUST IN THEM.” (Emphasis added)
IT IS TRUE … WE BECOME LIKE WHAT WE WORSHIP.
But, the good news is that the positive inverse is also true. In Isaiah 6, for example, the prophet has an encounter with the living God. In verse 7 YHWH touches Isaiah’s mouth to symbolize that Isaiah has experienced the forgiving and purifying grace of God. Isaiah is declared holy by the God who is holy, and Isaiah’s life is lived “imaging” the glory of God. ISAIAH IS ONE WHO REVERES GOD AND, THEREFORE, RESEMBLES GOD’S HOLINESS (IS 6:5-7).
When we worship (pursue, surrender our loyalty, devotion, and adoration) items that are spiritually numb – we become spiritually numb.
When we give our lives that to material things, we become materialistic.
When we pursue earthly ambitions, we become worldly.
When we chase hyper-sensual and hyper-sexual experiences, we become licentious.