Idols and Sin
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth“ (Ezekiel 8:12).
We all have secrets. You may think the secret is known only to you, but it’s not hidden from God. Throughout the Bible we have examples of actions that were thought to be secret but were in fact known by God. For instance, God entrusted Adam with the admonition that he was not to eat the Forbidden Fruit. Adam and Eve sinned and ate the fruit, then tried to hide from God. He knew where they were and what they did.
In the New Testament we read that Jesus knew what people were thinking. On one occasion He knew a man was possessed by demons; and He traveled across the sea for the sole purpose of ridding that man of his many demons.
No matter where you are or what you’ve done, God knows. He also loves you enough to help you in your time of weakness and forgive you. After all, it was Adam’s original sin that created the need for Jesus Christ to shed His blood on the cross to take our sin away. All sin can be forgiven if you confess to Him.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness“ (1 John 1:9).
Sin always comes between us and God. Don’t make excuses for your sin, but ask for forgiveness and He will forgive you. Then, turn away from those idols you’ve allowed into the temple.
God repeatedly warns us against idolatry. When we think of idols we usually envision a statue made by pagan witchdoctors that supposedly has power over certain things. These false gods do have power, but that power comes from Satan.
Whenever the Israelites lived around a pagan culture, they would begin to worship the pagan gods around them. When they left Egypt, for example, they made a golden calf to worship at the very time that God was giving Moses the Law on Mt. Sinai.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 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 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“ (Exodus 20:3-5).
That’s not hard to understand, but idols come in many forms; and we think that God doesn’t notice when we put Him in second place. Make no mistake, He does notice.
It would stand to reason that after the Jewish people were settled in the Promised Land and the Temple was built in Jerusalem that idolatry would have ended. Not so. Over and over we read that when one of the good kings of Israel came to power he would destroy the groves, the high places, and the idols.
You may feel that you can worship God while fishing or watching football as easily as you can when sitting in a pew. Can you? When your team scores are you singing praise to God or idolizing the team on the field?
The priests who served in the Temple were men who had all appearances of holiness. They may have fooled people but they couldn’t fool God. God knew exactly what went on inside the Temple. He took Ezekiel to Jerusalem and placed him before the inner gate of the Temple “…where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy“ (Ezekiel 8:3b).
What was that image? Scripture doesn’t describe it, but is there anything at your house of worship that would provoke God to jealousy? How about a statue of the Virgin Mary or various man-appointed saints? These idols should never be a part of a Christian’s life. Mary and the “saints” were just humans and not to be venerated.
After Ezekiel saw what was happening in the Temple, He was shown women weeping for Tammuz. Tammuz was a demonic perversion in advance of the virgin birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today we might bring Easter eggs into our house of worship. Easter and the eggs began with Tammuz. We should celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord rather than follow pagan idolatry. We need to remove the idols from our places of worship.
Then Ezekiel was shown a hole in the wall of the Temple and was told to dig. He found a door and was told to go in and see the wickedness inside.
“So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up“ (Ezekiel 8: 10-11).
It was the religious leaders who were bringing abominations into the Temple. Did they think they were hiding this perversion? Oddly enough, the name “Jaazaniah” means “Jehovah hears.” God hears all and sees all. Nothing can be hidden from God.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret“ (Ephesians 5:11-12).
If you feel as if you need to hide anything you do, it’s probably something you shouldn’t be doing. You may hide it from your parents, your siblings, your spouse, or your friends, but can’t hide it from God.
Brothers and sisters, pay attention to what’s practiced in the place you choose to worship. Are New Age ideas being embraced? Is there a yoga class or contemplative prayer? How about statues of supposed holy people? These things don’t go unseen by God. His word hasn’t changed, so we can be sure that what was sin for Adam, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the priests in Ezekiel’s time is still sin today. Don’t put any idol in the temple or in your life.
What do events that took place thousands of years ago in the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem have to do with Christians today? Everything. From the earliest beginnings of Christianity there was a question as to whether a Gentile had to become Jewish before becoming a Christian. After much prayer those men who were chosen as leaders concluded that there were only four things that a Gentile who had turned to God had to do.
“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication and from things strangled, and from blood“ (Acts 15:19-20).
First is abstain from the pollutions of idols. Anything and everything we put ahead of Christ is an idol.
Working to earn a living is a good thing, but does your job interfere with Bible study? If so, your job is an idol, especially if you use all the money you earn to buy selfish things instead of using it to honor God. Personally, I struggle with video games. Oh, not the violent ones but cute little cartoon ones, so that’s not bad is it? When that game interferes with my Bible study, then I have to stop and put God first.
Television? Movies? You name it and it can become an idol. What about lifestyles that are abominable to God? If you put your own selfish desires above what God declares is acceptable, then you’ve put an idol ahead of God.
Only Bible study can teach you about God. Study His word and apply it to your life.
The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, so how can we worry about idols in the Temple? The Temple that had been built with hands was destroyed, but the one built by God is still around. It’s in you. If you’re a true believer in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ then you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That indwelling is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. Because He indwells you, the Temple is within you.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are“ (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
That’s a humbling fact. God dwells in you, and when you sin you take Him with you. Do you think it’s wise to take God into a pornography shop or with you to an R-rated movie? He isn’t surprised by the content of the abominable places you go and things you do, but the fact that you choose to take Him there is a sad comment upon your actions. Don’t yoke yourself with unbelievers, because their idols will become yours.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people“ (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).
As long as we live on this side of Heaven we will live among people who see nothing wrong with the things God calls sin. If you choose to yoke yourself with these non-believers, then you will find yourself putting idols in the temple of God that is within you. Be very careful.
If you’ve truly accepted Christ, then all your sins are forgiven. That isn’t a license to live a sinful lifestyle but should create a strong desire to please Him. We please Him by living our life to honor Him. We all fail, but that’s when we ask for forgiveness and for His help to keep us away from the sin in our life…the idols in the temple.
“BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word“ (Psalm 119:9-16).
Delight yourself in the Lord and His ways.
Are there idols in the temple within you? It’s time to cleanse it and remove the idols you allow to defile it. Study God’s word and take delight in living by it.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.
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