Saturday, 24 January 2015

Acts of serving God becoming graven images

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Many professing Christians claim to worship God in what they do. There are many professing Christian organisations involved in many 'social justice' causes such as feeding the poor, providing shelter for the homeless and clothing the naked. Indeed, the Bible does teach that the Christian should be helping the needy. Jesus said: "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). 

However, there is a very real danger in seeking to do acts for God. The danger is to be deceived into think that one is worshiping God by doing certain acts, whether it is feeding the poor, clothing the needy, or even preaching the Gospel. Doing any acts which God commands does not mean that one is worshiping God, or even that one's heart is right with God. While this may seem obvious, and you may be thinking "of course", it is all to easy to say that one is worshiping God and putting God first, simply by doing certain things, whatever they may be.

God is to be worshiped in one way: in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). This means to worship God by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, through Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to serve God is to obey God's commands. Yet, it is not mere acts that make one a person who worships God first. It is doing these acts in Jesus Christ, Son of God, that makes one worship God in Spirit and in Truth. For Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  This means not only is the only way to be reconciled with God through Jesus, but the only way to worship God is to be IN Jesus. Acts of charity, helping one's family and providing for them or preaching the Gospel is not acts of worship in themselves. Rather, it is only when one does them in Christ, for Christ, through Christ that one is truly worshiping God.

Many Christians think they can worship God with their wealth. Such blasphemy! To say that God can be worshiped by means other than in Spirit and in Truth is to call God a liar and to mock the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to redeem the lost sinners. Jesus clearly that said no one can serve God and mammon, the spirit behind all earthliness, including wealth (Matthew 6:24). 

To claim that one can worship God by one's wealth is to set up a graven image of God and worship it. When the Israelites made a golden calf, they referred to it as " their gods, who brought you up out of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4). They attributed God's actions to the golden calf, venerating the golden calf instead of God. Likewise, professing Christians who claim to be serving God with their wealth and be rewarded by their wealth are attributing the wealth they have to their own effort, rather than by God. It is to transfer the worth of God to something else - namely wealth. God cannot be worshiped in any way, except for in Spirit and in Truth (Jesus). 

Exodus 20:4-6 gives a clear warning:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;  And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Deuteronomy 12:1-4 also specifically makes it clear that God shall not be worshiped with carved images. He is to be worshiped as God the person and in Spirit and in Truth alone:
These are the statutes and judgments which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations which you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord your God with such things.