At church, we are going through a teaching series called “The Gospel Project” in our weekly Bible study. It is edited by Ed Stetzer and Trevin Wax. I HIGHLY recommend it. There are several study guides in the series. We are currently going through “God’s Way”, which is a weekly look at each of the Ten Commandments. Tonight we took a closer look at Commandment 2…
“‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep My commandments.”
There is a perspective regarding idolatry which I hadn’t noticed before, along with some of the others who were also at the Bible study. Now, when we break Commandment 2, we create a false God. Such is obvious. However, what was not so obvious is that the more common violation of the second commandment is when we (Christians) overly focus on just one attribute of God, as opposed to always keeping in view all of God’s attributes. As a result, our behavior is then effected by how we view God. Here’s how the study guide put it:
“True spiritual growth comes from seeing and knowing God… all of Him, not part of Him. If you focus on only one dimension of God, you will grow in a deformed way. Your life will not reflect the goodness, holiness, and mercy of God the way He intends. Here are some examples:
– If you view God as holy and just but not compassionate and gracious, then you will tend to be judgmental and impatient.
– If you view God as gracious and loving but not holy and righteous, then you will tend to treat sin casually.
– If you view God as powerful but not totally sovereign, then you will tend to worry and stress when things in your life go wrong.
– If you view God as powerful and sovereign but not compassionate and loving, then you will tend to minimize human freedom and responsibility.
– If you view God as a distant judge but not a steadfast Father who gave His Son for your sins, then you will tend to assume God is mad at you whenever things go wrong.
– If you view God as true and right but not beautiful and all-satisfying, then you will be content in knowing the right doctrines while serving God halfheartedly, failing to desire Him with all your heart as you struggle with attraction to the things of this world.
– If you view God as the One who guarantees your prosperity and good fortune in this life now, then you will be disillusioned when things go wrongly. You will fail to experience the sweetness of His presence and promises in the midst of pain.
Do you see how our view of God leads to different kinds of behavior? The patterns in our life can be traced back to our understanding of who God is.”
Most of us at the Bible study never saw Commandment 2 from such a perspective before. It was an eye opener. At the end, one brother summed it up as though God is saying to us:
“Don’t Box Me In”
May we (Christians) always keep in view the full character of God, and not just “focus on only one dimension of God.” When we do, we become idolaters.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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