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The Truth About Idolatry

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
August 16, 2022 4:00 am

The Truth About Idolatry

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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August 16, 2022 4:00 am

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I enjoyed as a Christian is not to permit me to run up to the judge would expose me needlessly to temptation and soon I will write on the government right to trial by jury. These are helpful and even precious freedoms, not the sort of blessings you would want to give up. But can the same be said of your freedom in Christ. Should you hold onto those blessings with a tight fist or if not, when should you and why should you ever lay them down. John MacArthur gives you practical answers today as he continues his look at the pitfalls of Christian liberty. So turn to the book of first Corinthians at first Corinthians 10 to be exact in here is John MacArthur with the lesson the truth about idolatry the truth about idolatry. Now we know in this section that were in in first Corinthians that the apostle Paul is dealing with a particular subject. This book deals with problems that face the Corinthian assembly and the face really all believers. Some of the problems are the ones which Paul himself recognized. Others are the ones which the Corinthian's themselves recognized and inquired about one of the questions of the Corinthians asked was in reference to meat offered to idols wasn't right for them to eat meat that had been offered to an idol and that introduce the whole area of the Christians liberty and not moral thing.

What does the Christian have the right to do in the area where the Bible doesn't speak what is our liberty allow us to be free to do were talking here then, and in chapter 8 verse one through chapter 11 verse one of the liberty of a believer.

We've been set free in Christ were no longer bound by ceremonies or traditions or ritual or forms or routines are holy days or new moons are feasts or sabbaths or whatever trappings like that religious trappings we are now free. We are freed to be guided internally by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Now there are many things in the Bible that are forbidden. There are many things in the Bible that are encouraged. There are some things not even mention in the decisions that we have to make in life really boil down to what we do about the things that aren't mentioned how we know what is right and what is not what is a guideline. How does our liberty operate in the Corinthians have brought this whole question to our attention by asking one question can we meet often to an idol now and that they pagans would offer me to an idol. Some would go to the priest.

Some they would take and consume themselves take back to their home and some would go out the back door and be sold in a butcher shop by the priest would make some money on so the chances were that if you went to somebody's home you might be eating a portion of meat that had been offered to an idol and they had taken home you might be eating meat that was purchased in a butcher shop that had been offered to an idol or you might even buy such meat when you went shopping now is it all right to eat that meat. The mature Corinthians had decided it was fine to do that because an idol isn't anything anyway. Write an idol is nothing in addition to that God doesn't really care about what we eat. Since an idol is nothing in food isn't the issue. Go ahead, but these Corinthians, but there were some young Christians in the Corinthian assembly some weaker Christians who were saying that we just been saved out of idolatry, that stuff is too fresh in our minds that hated part of it.

We just can't touch that kind of thing.

It seems to me to be a defilement to do that. They were saying. And so there was a conflict in the assembly and and they were saying hey what's right to do and we introduced ourselves a very important point. We may have the liberty to do something technically but it may be restricted by some other consideration, namely how it will affect somebody else. It may be all right in terms of morality. It may be all right in terms of biblical ethics. It may be all right in terms of technicality in Scripture to do a certain thing but how is it will affect somebody else. If I do it. If he doesn't understand that it's right if he hasn't yet matured to comprehend that I was a member. The illustration of a guy was saved as a rock musician who had absolutely nothing but hatred for that whole thing because he saw you at the whole interweaving of drugs and immorality in the whole thing and and consequently his whole had to toward that was such that he said to me one time a Christian, couldn't ever listen to any kind of music that even sounds like that it's all wrong and I said what you think it's wrong. He said because I asked to hate for what were subjected to see where he's coming from.

There's no way that he can accept that kind of thing. Maybe you're raising a very pristine environment, and you've never seen what's behind the picture doesn't hit you like that, but that's just one sample of a gray area issue and there are multiples of that in every culture and every society in every. Manchester now in terms of the Corinthians, this is the question they're asking. Paul's is there to answer to your question number one.

Technically you may have the right to do things, but you ask yourself this how would affect others is going to make my Christian brother stumbled was still weak, is a going to be offensive to unbelievers number two has a going affect me. I was going affect others as it will affect me. I may be free to do it but if I start stringing myself out and start doing these things that I'm free to do, and indulge myself too far and get over to the edge of where it becomes sin living on the thin edge might end in a disaster for me in the Corinthian situation. They were say well it's all right to eat meat offered to idols by the butcher shop to get nobody to be due.

Well, it's an idol is nothing so we go over to our friends. Ashley serves as meat offered to an idol, doesn't matter will just go ahead needed. In fact, we are probably get involved in our society is it's our whole society is idolatrous in every facet of our society is connected to one God or another we we have no problem with going to temples and having the festivals that are there and indulging in what they were really doing was pushing their liberty radiate out to the limit right up to the edge when Paul introduces this in chapter 8, 9 to 10 he says. On the contrary, rather than running your liberty to the edge to limit your liberty on two considerations. One pallet affect others to relevant affect meet Paul illustrated number one in chapter 9 illustrates number two in chapter 10 chapter 10 and the end of chapter 9 also discusses how the abuse of liberty can affect me if I flirt too long on the edge of sin, I might fall in chapter 10 verse 12. Look at it. Wherefore, let him that thinks he stands take heed what must he fall.

You can figure all right, you can run your liberty out to the end of it. You could be in trouble. So Paul exhorts the Corinthians to make sure that they don't do anything that offends somebody else as he did not do in his own ministry in illustrated in chapter 9 and do not do anything that could have a negative effect on ourselves.

Now look at verse 14. Let's see how introduces this passage.

Wherefore, in that particular particle translated wherefore is a very intense particle and it it simply to intensify the logical connection between what he is just said about temptation and what is going to say now.

Wherefore, my dearly beloved sleeve from idolatry. That's a very clear thing by going right out to the edge of the allowable. You can fall into the sinful is what he say by saying my liberty frees me to run out all the way to the very edge. I may fall into the sinful and the Corinthians who were already convinced that Michael was nothing in the right and that the issue wasn't what you ate. They were right were being induced to go to the sacrificial feast in the temple and apparently they had already begun to do it because if you go back in chapter 5 you find indication in verse 11 that some of the brothers were were not only fornicators, and covetous, but idolaters, some of them were actually doing this. Some of them were attending pagan festivals and say hey I'm free and I will have to worship. I don't have to be a part of the thing. I'm just going to go and eat the meal and all my friends are there and I want to maintain my business contact. I don't have to do what they do and so here comes the ringing point of this is the thesis of everything. I will say this is the point of it all. The point is not how near does my liberty let me go, but how far can I fly away that support all of the say get over the edge of love idolatry, but make sure you don't fall in. He says what flee from go the opposite direction liberty that I enjoy as a Christian is not to permit me to run up to the edge that's only to expose me needlessly to temptation and sin, but the turnaround on the other way.

I've always said that Christian liberty is the freedom to do right for the first time in your life, not to run up against wrong now use the term, my dearly beloved an uncommon phrase in the Greek is used here, and it expresses the deep deep sentiment of his heart.

He is concerned about them. This is not just academic. This is very very emotional. He says, flee, and that's habitual present imperative continually be fleeing from idolatry. You got it all in your society. Turn your back and get out of there run from none is verse 15. I speak as to intelligent front of us.

In the Greek, should be translated intelligent man, you judge what I say. In other words, the thing that I'm saying here is not an obscure argument. This is not something that you're going to have to be a genius to figure out your intelligent enough, you figure this out. Use your own mind and you must come to the conclusion that the force and logic of what I say is true, your men capable of seeing clear argument. You're able to judge so judge I'm telling you to run from idolatry not you think it through and you'll do the same thing will obey what I say I want to look at the term idolatry. The very term to me, is repulsive.

Doesn't take me very long to even turn my stomach a little bit when I begin to think about the term let alone talk about.

It's a repulsive term.

It fit somewhere in the category of my vocabulary with words like blasphemy, damned hell and Judas. It's one of those kind of words were those kind of words that I'm not too particularly excited about it conjures up great anxiety in my heart concerning myself with the holiness and the purity in the character of God only say something that I think is very basic. This I believe. And by this I mean idolatry is the most serious and contaminating sin. There is hope you get that idolatry is the most serious and contaminating sin. There is and the reason is because it strikes directly at the character of God and once you have adulterated the character of God, you have lost the guidelines for any other moral judgment, and so Pandora's box is open and everything is going to be chaos unless there is the right perspective of God.

I think there's no question but that idolatry is the most serious and contaminating of all the sin because it strikes directly at the character of God.

That's why out of the 10 Commandments, the first three of them are directly related to idolatry because that's the beginning of everything. If you don't have the true perspective on God that everything is lost and we need a close look at idolatry. Because if it's that important.

If it's the worst sin of all and if the Bible has so much to say about it and believe me I couldn't even begin to go through all the scriptures that thought about idolatry. If that's true then we really ought to understand what this thing is Nellis my give you several major points and a lot of subpoints. Don't worry about numbers and letters and things just get the point and will be all right. First of all, anonymously give you a broad definition in a particularized look at idolatry. First of all, idolatry is liable on the character of God LI BL it is libel. It is slander on the character of God. Idolatry slanders God's character and that beloved is the most fearful sin, you are striking at the heart of Satan you're striking at the heart of the system you're striking at the heart of sin. When you libel God the idolatrous heart and here's the point assumes that God is other than he is and that is a terrible sin does or says, and well says a God, begotten in the shadows of a fallen heart will quite naturally be no true likeness of the true God." You see, idolatry is not just wearing a loincloth and bowing down to a rock idolatry is not just kneeling before an image. Civilized people in our society. Don't do that very much.

But idolatry and this is important is assuming God to be something he is not is to have either unworthy or erroneous views of God. That's idolatry perversions about who God is, is idolatry. In Romans chapter 1, we have basically the pattern of this when they knew God. Romans 121 says they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain or proud in their imagination and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man. Man is always wanted to make God in his own image man always wants to drag God down to force God to be like use and I see this so many times we want to turn God into what we are any unworthy thought about God is his idolatry in one of the things that we do. I think most frequently is this particular idolatrous act of reducing God to us.

I need a simple illustration of you noticed that the most popular name for the son of God. For the second person of the Trinity is Jesus all you ever hear is Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus and what they have done so very much in the minds and the hearts of the people as they have made Jesus in a sort of a buddy buddy, sort of. How very humanistic the name of the second person of the Trinity is the Lord Jesus Christ and I think it's important that we it's not that using the term Jesus is wrong, but it's important that we don't get our effort to make Jesus into a sort of a PAL duality type of a person drag him down to to humanize it. It may be that we have reduced Jesus to the point where we no longer conceive of him as he ought to be conceived of and that is idolatry.

Another illustration of whatever you in your own life failed to trust God.

That's idolatry. Say what you mean well. John said he that believes not makes God a what a liar. Let's say as a Christian you have a problem and instead of praying about and trusting God for you panic over and start doubting God in your mind you know what you've done. You've just doubted God right you said in your mind got I'm not sure you can do what you claim and that is blasphemy right.

That's idolatry. Because you made God less than a year, as you've thought unworthily about God erroneously about God. Anything that you do that is less than true about the character and person and work of God in the manifestation of the Trinity is idolatry a wrong view of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. A wrong view of the essence of the doctrine of Christ a wrong view of the doctrine of the father is tantamount to idolatry. Ford is making God to do something other than he is very vital and that's why say that even as Christians we can be idolatrous and having either inadequate theology. What we don't know enough about God. We sort of go along ignorantly thinking God is something that is not what we have decided to make God into something that he is not. This is a very dangerous thing and I think it's something we need to be aware of that. It isn't just the people over in bootable land were kneeling down out in the boondocks worshiping a rockets everybody and anybody who has thoughts of God that are less than true and unworthy of his character. That's idolatry.

It constitutes slander, constitutes libel and consequently we have made a God who isn't God and that's idolatry. God doesn't want have to compete with somebody else who isn't here, but has his name by a second thought. Idolatry is also worshiping the true God in the wrong way, idolatry is worshiping the true God in the wrong way to give you an illustration of this, we need only remind you of our study when we were earlier in the 10th chapter of first Corinthians, and discussed Israel.

We discussed the fact of making the Golden calf. Remember in Exodus 32 and we said in the first six verses of Exodus 32 when they made the golden calf. It was a calf that was made.

Believe it or not to be a representation of the true God. They were representing the God who brought them out of Egypt they were worshiping the right God.

But in the wrong way you see was a lot of that believe me, there's a lot of there are people today who were worshiping the true God in the wrong way. One way to do that is to worship the God of truth with emotion, void of truth, nor any that to worship the God of truth you must worship him in spirit and in truth. But there are many people who just let their emotions go bananas and they call it worship and has no orientation toward truth to worship the true God in the wrong way would be to create around the worship of God so much spiritual locus and folderol and hocus-pocus stand up, sit down like this and bend over and do this that you've lost the reality of and instead of worshiping the God you have substituted the form and you have a mindless kind of worship. There are all different ways to worship the true God in the wrong way and they did thereby making a molten image to represent the true God.

It says Aaron said to them, now that the thing is made, let us declare a feast unto Jehovah. He says in Psalm 106 19 yes they made a calf in Horeb and worship the melted image. Now listen to this verse.

Thus, they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eats grass know who is the glory of Israel who is who is their glory.

What's God Jehovah God they change God into an ox. Now God is not an ox. If you want to think thoughts less than true of God, less than worthy of God in any of the manifestations of his Trinity.

You have missed the point and you have constituted. I doubt throughout Israel's history there was the strange intermingling of idolatry with the worship of God and I see it so much today and the kind of worship of God that is mindless that has no truth to it where they're just supposedly worshiping God with it with sensual desire it. Sensual worship. When you do not worship God out of truth because you have no truth, then you tend only to worship God out of your senses and you have a sensual worship and that translates easily into the kind of pagan worship. We know in history the world right. Invariably the false religious systems of ancient days were wed to sexual sin. Workday because it was sensual worship was pure experience without basis or foundation we have that on the other hand you can have that cold dead formal creed kind of thing that really constituted Judaism in the time of Christ was nothing other than idolatry as well because of their worshiping the form rather than the God who was behind for alright so you need to thoughts to begin with. Idolatry is libel and the character of God. Secondly, idolatry is worshiping God in the wrong way. Thirdly, now give you some specifics on idolatry to help you to define idolatry is worshiping any image is worship of any image and am not there are so many scriptures that we wouldn't even attempt to cover the mall to define this but I'll give you one. Isaiah 4417 will just help you to understand what we mean by this and is discussing here.

Idolatry and the stupidity of idolatry and you got a whole section on here.

They make a carved image verse nine. In all of this and they form a God verse 10 to goes on and on.

He describes how they do it, how they build it, how they put in the fire and so forth. Verse 15 he makes a carved image.

He falls down to it he burns part of it in the fire with part of it. Each flesh he roasts a roast in a satisfied, he warms himself and so for the first 70 and the residue of it. He makes a God even his carved image. He falls down undo it and worships it and prays to it and says deliver me, for you are my God others a perfect definition of an idol guy makes it a fiery sticks on the ground. He bows down he worship to make sacrifices.

He says you are my God do this do this.

That's idolatry to worship any kind of image we are not to worship an image of any kind. Don't ever substitute an image for the reality.

The Bible is clear that we are not about undo images.

I've heard people tell me many times, but they have a picture of Jesus Christ over little place where they always pray and while there praying they always kneel before the picture of Christ. Now idolatry is necessarily kneeling before the picture of Christ as long as you have the proper perspective and it sure puts you in a position to confuse the issue, but it isn't necessarily idolatry of what's in your mind is the right thing but still we are not to worship images of any kind to assume that there is some power behind some image is wrong. Now let me another idea number four of just listing these thoughts.

Idolatry is worshiping angels don't ever worship angels. Fortunately, we don't know enough of him so that we can get too involved that we only know the names of three, and one of Satan and the other two are Gabriel and Michael and we have a good illustration in the in the book of Revelation where John tried to worship an angel or the angel told him to do to get up and cut it out. He says I'm only a creature like you were you doing downer John worship God we have Revelation clear on that, and also in Colossians 218 it says watch out for this false doctrine about worshiping angel Colossians 218 is no place for the veneration of the worship of angels that's idolatry. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us.

John has been a pastor for over 53 years is also Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary today. He showed you how you can glorify God by avoiding the pitfalls of Christian liberty. That's the title of his current series of John.

I know that when you are preparing to preach a sermon like the one we just heard you spend more time interpreting the passage understanding what it meant when it was written, then you do figuring out how the passage applies to Christians today to talk about that philosophy. Why is the interpretation of the passage a priority over even its application. Well obviously you can apply something until you've interpreted it, it does amaze me.

However, how many preachers read a passage and then apply it without ever interpreting it.

The power is in the interpretation because the interpretation unleashes the divine truth. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture. It is the revelation you can have a Bible, but if you don't really know what God means by what he says. Then you do not have the divine revelation you can't apply it until you know precisely what Scripture is saying is not enough to read a verse make some sentimental comments about it.

Try to find a way to apply it the power and we seen this through the years. The power is digging down into that verse to see the profound depths of its doctrinal, theological meaning that is where the power lies and then you unleash it on people as to its truthfulness alone in the spirit of God takes it and makes those applications. I would love to remind you that I've written commentary on the New Testament, all 27 books.

The MacArthur New Testament commentary. This is how you get to know the meaning of every verse in the New Testament every verse in the New Testament is covered in the commentaries you could pick your favorite book and start that way and then begin to order them on a regular basis may be like to start with.

First Corinthians, learn about speaking in tongues spiritual gifts Christ resurrection importance of love 500 pages of clear exposition of just first Corinthians individual commentaries available or you can get the whole set.

Contact us today.

Start thinking deeply about the word of God. That's right, the MacArthur New Testament commentary is for anyone who wants to understand God's word deeply.

It's ideal for personal study or sermon preparation or even for family devotions to order yours get in touch today. The volume on first Corinthians is available for reasonable price and shipping is free to order it or another commentary that you need to complete your set the entire 34 volume MacArthur New Testament commentary series, call us toll-free at 855 race will visit our website Jide and while you're at I would encourage you to listen to all of the messages from our recent truth matters conference John and other well-known teachers went to the answers in Genesis conference center. That's right next to the ark encounter to speak on the theme of recovering a biblical worldview. You will hear teaching on critical race theory, social justice, gender and sexuality and other timely topics for you and your church to listen to those messages or any of John's sermons from his decades of ministry go to our website Jide now for John MacArthur and the staff. I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to join us tomorrow when John looks at why Christian liberty has less to do with what you can or can't do, and more to do with what you desire. Most John explains when another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time comes your way. On Wednesdays, grace to you

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