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Ensnared By Images Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 8, 2020 1:00 am

Ensnared By Images Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 8, 2020 1:00 am

Is a picture ever wrong? We need to understand God’s commands prohibiting images meant to represent Him. People disobey this commandment daily, giving worship to a vast array of idols, carvings, pictures, and icons. What does God think of these images? 

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The reason for us. Jesus phone number for is picture wrong. We need to understand God's commands and images meant to represent him.

People disobey this commandment daily giving worship to a vast array of idols carvings pictures and icons are they sending from the Moody Church in Chicago. This is running to win. Dr. Irwin will serve clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Estimates are the grip of television on society is no evidence that images are very powerful, is unrealistic to hope that anyone can function without them will date when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when it comes to the worship of God.

Absolutely, we should function and live without images.

Jesus told the woman at the well that those who worship God must worship him in spirit and in truth there is a reason why God gave the second commandment. And you know I'd written a book entitled why holiness matters. The 10 Commandments Jesus and you for your gift of any amount. It can be yours.

Here's what you do go to RTW's RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and now let's go to the pulpit of Moody church where we hear God himself speak about the kind of worship that we should offer to him. When Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well.

He said these words. He said God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth, for the father seek of such to worship him. If there's anything that God wants from us. It is worship. I mean, that is the desire of his heart. He seeks worshipers.

Jesus said, and if there's anything that is important to God is that our worship be done in the right way but you know Murphy has a law that says if anything can go wrong it will go wrong, and given the perverseness of the human heart and the desire of Satan to interrupt and to interfere in genuine worship that got except we can therefore expect that there would be some stumbling blocks and some problems that would enter into Christianity with regard to pure unadulterated worship of God and throughout the history of the Christian church. There has been a debate on as to whether or not images can be used in the process of worship and what is known today as the Eastern church.

The Eastern Orthodox Church. There is a great emphasis. For example on icon sand.

Those who are brought up in that tradition find that they put icons. Oftentimes in the room of every house or I should say every room in the house you find. For example, in the Western church that the idea of statues and the idea of various artifacts send physical representations of God or saints have been used in worship and all of this comes about. To that is our discussion of it comes about because I'm giving a series of messages on the 10 Commandments and today we happened to come to the second commandment I want you to turn with me to Exodus chapter 20 where it is stated there explicitly. Exodus chapter 20, where the Lord first of all, in verse three gives the first commandment you shall have no other gods before me commandment number one says you must worship only the true God, and then commandment number two says you must worship the true God in the right way and it begins in verse four you shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above around the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

You shall not worship them or serve them.

For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children. On the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love me and keep my commandments there you have it you shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above earth beneath, that doesn't mean that you can't have picked her art generally.

But what the text says is that you cannot use these kinds of objects in worship. You shall not worship them. That's verse five. The Hebrew word actually is.

You shall not bow down to them. The King James, I think translated it correctly here. You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God. And so, in the history of the Christian church. The question that has been raised is can various objects be used in worship yes or no theologians who have argued that objects can be used in worship have said that there is a difference between worship and veneration. Strictly speaking, the argument goes like this. If someone bows before a statue say a statute to the virgin. They are really not bowing to the statue they are bowing to the virgin, and ultimately to God. And so it is not bowing to something that is made of stone. If someone bows before an icon. He is really not bowing before the wood in the paint. Of course he is bowing to the God or to the St. that this icon may represent and again he is not worshiping the St. he is worshiping God to but this is a channel or a means of grace and blessing.

The argument goes, the problem of course is that all religions even in the paganism say that they do not bow before the idol that is made of wood and stone. They are actually bowing to the God that the idol represents in fact did you know that in Exodus chapter 32 where the children of Israel were making the golden calf while Moses was on the mountain getting these commandments is rather interesting. He's up there, getting the word from God that they're disobeying God because he's taking too long to get the message straight.

You'll notice that the text says that when they made the golden calf they were going to worship that golden calf, Erin said. Tomorrow we're going to have a feast to the Lord a feast to Jehovah.

What these people were saying is we are not worshiping the Golden calf. We are going to worship Jehovah, but we are going to do it by this physical representation because having this physical representation before us helps us in the act of worship.

We are weak we need a crutch. We need some representation of Jehovah. That was back up the golden calf. So the question isn't whether or not you are bowing to the images or to the God behind the images we grant that the question is whether or not images like that should be used at all. And what are the difficulties and the prohibitions and the warnings that are given in the Bible about that not today. Folks I realize of course that I'm walking through a minefield and I suppose it when you walk through a minefield you always take some risk possibility of getting some shrapnel and I think that I'm prepared to take some.

I think that that's the occupational hazard of being a minister and if you're preaching the Bible, you have to come across certain topics in certain themes and to be fair to the Scripture into those themes, we must say what we believe God says about them. Now I want to preface my remarks. However, by saying that here at the Moody church. We are well aware that many of you have come from, say, a Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox tradition.

And do you know the history of that tradition, and many of you were reared in that tradition and today we might have visitors who are Roman Catholic and we want you to know that we we love you and were glad that you're here, but at the same time, we think that some things have to be said for the purpose of clarity and consistency and that we might know God's mind regarding certain issues. So with that backdrop. What I'd like to do today is to give you three scriptural reasons why we should not use objects in worship so-called worship helpers. Why is it that people should not bow down before images regardless of whether they are bowing before the image or the God behind the image. Why is it that there is always danger involved whenever you are involved in the process of worship and you have various representations or artifacts before you let me give you three reasons.

The first reason is because of the distortion of the concepts of God. It distorts our concepts of God. Now, in order to see this.

I want you to turn with me to the book of Deuteronomy chapter 4 where God gives a more explicit instructions regarding this commandment. Deuteronomy chapter 4 and the Lord says in verse 15.

He's getting a rationale now as to why there should be no representations of God or no representations of anything in worship. Deuteronomy 415 it says so watch yourselves carefully since you did not see any form on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.

He saying that when you were at Mount Sinai. You did not see any form of God, so you wouldn't know how to represent God if you began to make some kind of an image than someone may say well I'm not going to make an image of God. I'm going to make an image of a saint or an image of some animal and were going to use that in worship. Notice verse 16 lest you act correctly and make a graven image for yourselves in the form of any figure. The likeness of a male or female. The likeness of any animal that is upon the earth. The likeness of any winged bird that flies in the sky the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground. The likeness of any fish that is in the water below. There than Anna does what God is saying is you did not see a form at Sinai. Therefore, since God is Spirit. Don't ever try to represent him in any way I a physical object of any kind, because your representation is going to be off the mark. It is going to distort what God is like and let me give you an example. Let's take for an illustration.

The crucifix, all of us have seen a crucifix is a picture of Jesus Christ. Of course on the cross in great agony writhing in the midst of the pain that he endured on behalf of mankind. Now the crucifix portrays a certain picture of Jesus Christ. But it is certainly an incomplete and a distorted picture because it shows Jesus Christ in his weakness.

It shows and in his agony.

It shows him almost as being helpless on the cross but that's only a little part of Jesus Christ, isn't it. It doesn't show the empty tomb.

It doesn't show the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It doesn't show the exalted Jesus Christ in heaven shows only a Christ in agony and if you looked at that alone you think that he was a victim of circumstances much like we are in the tragedies of life will not let me say a word about the Protestant version of the crucifix, namely the empty cross when I became pastor of Moody church year. I don't think I was pastor for a month someone took me aside and gave me a little bit advice. He says you know what you want to do is past Reese's. The thing that Moody church needs is a good big cross somewhere and he said you want to have crosses in your church, well you know if we had a cross here at the church. I'm sure that it would not be used in worship. I mean II nobody would bow down to it, nobody would want to touch it. Nobody would stand in line to see it we wouldn't have a at the time of prayer just immediately in its vicinity as if to say it were to make the location somewhat holier, we would do that. But let's take the empty cross. It also is an incomplete picture of Jesus Christ. Certainly we all admit that the centrality of what Jesus Christ did for us is the cross but I will if were going to use across why not a manger to celebrate his incarnation if were going to use an empty cross, why not an empty tomb to remind ourselves of the resurrection and his power over death.

If were going to use an empty cross, why not the ascended Jesus Christ in his glorified body. The point is that any representation of dog or even Jesus Christ is a distorted representation. It doesn't say everything and it sometimes conveys a wrong picture of what Jesus Christ did. If you consider the totality of what he did. So what God is saying is, since it cannot convey a complete picture and no representation can don't bother with it. It may become a snare to you. Which leads me to say that there is no representation that can ever capture God no representation that can capture God and no representation of any saint or any artifact should ever be used as in some way making contact with God or being blessed by God. So the first thing is it gives us a distorted picture of God is a second reason and that is it produces a distorted allegiance or a wrong allegiance that you mark my words very carefully and you will know that when I say this I'm speaking truth because you can see this every day of your life if you want to. Whenever you begin to tell people that through some icon or statue that they should in some way use it for worship.

You need to believe that particular object becomes very sacred.

We can understand that. And along with it becoming very sacred. What you have is people began to latch onto that object as if it has special power. It is almost looked upon as a good luck charm and that's why you find it sometimes in every room of the house you have one of these artifact statute icons is looked upon as a means by which God gives his grace, his blessing and is healing and the thing it self detracts from the centrality of our focus on God alone because as human beings we want to quantify God. We want to be able to take God and put him in our pocket or hang them up in our bedroom in some way we want something that is able to enable us that enables us to get in contact with God. Now you just take as an illustration in the book of Numbers. The people were experiencing a disease that was sweeping throughout the people. As a result of the judgment of God. Then the Lord says Moses.

He said I want you to take a bronze serpent and I want you to put it on a pole and whoever looks at the serpent is going to live. Now, in this case, Moses was doing that, at the request of God. So even there.

We cannot take that passage and judge from that, the general acceptance that God might have, or the general judgment that God might have with regard to artifacts because that that was a very special case where God says Moses is set this brass serpent apart. For that reason I and it worked. The people looked at it and they were healed. What you think the people ended up doing, they began to honor that brass serpent.

They kept it for centuries and centuries, and because there is a little bit of idolatry in all of our hearts. You know what the people began to do. They began to honor that brass serpent and they began to take care of it and they ended up burning incense to it and when King Hezekiah became king.

This is in second Kings you might like to look at this in your Bible second Kings. Let's just look at the fact that Hezekiah was in iconoclast, that is, he was a smasher of idols second Kings chapter 18 we have this set remark in verse four. Speaking of Hezekiah. It says he removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. That's the difference shrines at which people came to worship. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made for until those days, the sons of Israel burned incense to it. Notice that they were burning incense and so what did Hezekiah do.

He took and he smashed that serpent because it had become a snare and a stumbling block. People began to attach special significance to it, they began to burn incense to it and God hated that.

Now I told you that I was prepared to get some shrapnel today, so we'll just keep moving ahead through the minefield will my friend, this is Pastor Luther and most assuredly you have to listen to running to win next time so that you see what the minefield continues to be, but here it is in Scripture where God gives specific instructions on how to worship him and how not to worship him. I want to thank you in advance for your support of this ministry and you know I've written a book entitled why holiness matters and the reason I've written this book is because we live in a society and in a time where you can go into any church and hear about the love of God the mercy of God. But how long has it been since you have heard a sermon on the holiness of God. I believe that when we study the holiness of God, we tremble in his presence, and we must remember that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. I am the Lord. I changed not now. He deals with us differently in this era, but he feels the same as he speaks against idolatry and false worship.

So I've written a book entitled why holiness matters. The 10 Commandments Jesus and you for a gift of any amount. It can be yours. Here's what you do go to RTW's RTW or call us at 1-888-218-9337 ask for the book why holiness matters.

The 10 Commandments Jesus and you because the Bible says that without holiness. No man shall see the Lord were talking about a serious serious issue 1-888-218-9337 it's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Luther a question about the Bible or the Christian life doing the right thing. It's always admirable, but sometimes it's not clear what the right thing is Melissa that was supposing this dilemma with regard to the homeless. How do you reconcile verses such as Matthew 2535 and second Thessalonians 3 verses six through 14. I feel led to give of my time and money to the poor.

I want to be obedient to that. However, I'm beginning to feel conflicted.

There are those that are homeless or poor simply because they choose to be. They would rather be audible, but have to work they expect to be supported by the government or charitable organizations. In one way it seems that by supporting them. We perpetuate their homeless or poor state. On the other hand, am I the one to judge these things if my charge is to serve the homeless, should I do so without regard Melissa, thanks so much for your question and by the way, the reference that was referred to their second Thessalonians chapter 3 verse six and following emphasizes that Paul says that if a man does not work, neither shall he eat and so what we do with that verse will the clear implication of course Melissa is that he would have opportunity to work remember that there is some people in this world who cannot work because there are no jobs. I'm thinking particularly of other countries, though that certainly is true in America today with our financial downturn where people would love to work, but they can't and so they become poor because of the circumstances of life, not because of laziness that with regard to your specific question. Are you the one to judge these things. My own view is that this we should not resist a generous impulse, sometimes even on the street. I've given people, money, and I suspect that they probably took it to buy a drink and yet because I'm not sure I say to myself, I'm giving this in the name of the Lord and I'm going to trust God and if they misuse it. That's their responsibility. I want to be sure that I have been faithful in helping the poor, Melissa. I think the best thing though to do is to work in soup kitchens, places like this that minister to the poor where they are actually given the food in there. Given the close and maybe a place to sleep. At least then you know that your resources and your time are valuable and they are being wisely used. That's very different than giving money to people whom you've never met who sometimes accost us on a street corner.

So when we are faced with the decision, let us always be generous. God has much to say about the poor and we should be committed to them and to their needs. I commend you Melissa keep doing what God is called you to do.

Thank you Melissa and thank you Dr. lutes are if you'd like to hear one of your questions answered. Go to our and click on ask Pastor Luther or call us at 1-888-218-9337 that's 1-888-218-9337 you can write to us running to win 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 I am the Lord. That is my name my glory. I will not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

No ambiguity there. It's clear that God will not tolerate worship of images, but what about crosses, crucifixes or icon. Some people find these objects very meaningful is using them violate God's commandment next time I'm running to win. Don't miss part two of ensnared by images running to win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church

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