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No Props, Please!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
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July 22, 2022 12:00 am

No Props, Please!

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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July 22, 2022 12:00 am

God takes worship seriously. So if we find ourselves coming before Him frivolously and apathetically, we should take a look back at Exodus 20 and be reminded of how frightening His holiness is. Just because we can now come boldly before Him through the Grace of His Son doesn't mean we should come comfortably.

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God gave them over to a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper. Verse 29, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, deceit, malice, gossip, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, right across it, our country.

There are doctors now propounding that parents ought to be given three days after the child is born to determine whether it will live so that it goes through genetic tests to find out if there are any disabilities. Welcome back to Wisdom for the Heart. Back in 1989, Stephen Davey preached this series called Down from Sinai. We wanted you to hear it now because the truth is so important. It's a series covering the Ten Commandments. We've come to commandment number two, a commandment against making idols. Idolatry is the natural inclination of every human heart. We're all tempted to elevate things as more important than God.

So, this lesson is going to be practical for all of us. Settle in for today's message from God's word. Turn to Exodus chapter 20 and we'll pick up our study as we move through this book and as we are centering our thoughts on the Ten Commandments and how they apply to the 20th and the 21st century. The second commandment begins with verse four and it's really a logical progression of the first commandment that reads in verse three, you shall have no other gods before me. That is, God is to be prominent, he is to be preeminent. Because he is prominent, because he is preeminent, this Elohim, this Yahweh of the Israelite, then verse four, you shall not make for yourselves an idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on 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 the fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love me and to those who keep my commandments. Before we get into exactly what I think is the application of this commandment, I want to note two things.

The first thing is the importance of a role model. Perhaps you saw that. It said in verse five, a phrase that I think is often misinterpreted. He says, I am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me. I have heard this taught that what he is saying here is that if a father sins, the consequences of that sin are passed down from generation to generation, and it'll normally take four generations before that sin or the consequences of that sin is finally abated. However, in the context of this passage, what he is saying is that the way the father worships is translated to the way the son worships and the grandson worships. And normally, if a father is an idolater, if a father refuses to acknowledge God that is picked up by his son and his grandson and his great grandson. And I think what he is teaching here is the tremendous importance of a role model in worship. Those of you who are fathers and mothers, you are rearing your children and they by observing you are determining perhaps how they will worship God. Not only is it important to have a proper role model, but he also stresses the importance of correct worship. Turn over, if you would, to verse 24. I love this part.

In fact, this is often overlooked. Chapter 20, verse 24. He specifies again with verse 23. You shall not make other gods besides me, gods of silver or gods of gold. You shall not make for yourselves.

Here's how you're to do it. You're to make an altar of earth for me and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stone for me, you shall not build it of cut stones. For if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it and you shall not go up by steps to my altar and your that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.

And let me back up and help us realize what he is saying here. It's fascinating to what he says to build an altar. He wants them to build it out of rough stones.

That is the boulders that there to dig from the ground. He doesn't want the stone mason to come along and and cut away at it and to, in a sense, reveal the beauty of it. He doesn't want our focus on the altar. He wants their focus and our focus today on what is done at the altar. We are to come and admire the vehicle of worship. They were not to come and think, boy, didn't the mason do a tremendous job on that altar? Look at the way the stone lays. Look at the beauty.

Look at the sparkle there to come. Not looking at that, looking at the God they are worshipping through that vehicle. And in fact, God is in is saying, I don't want any props in worship.

They were they were guilty of that later. And I think we are guilty of it today. We get so caught up in all of the props. We get so impressed with the stained glass. We get so impressed with all of the vehicles that we focus on them and forget it is God that we have come to worship. We are not to be attracted to the things we make to the exclusion of the character of God. He says, don't go up by steps to the altar.

It was the practice of the Canaanites to build high steps and high altars. And the priests were normally naked. And they then, by that activity, drew attention to themselves. God didn't want the priests drawing attention to themselves or the modern day preacher or dispositor.

That isn't the focus of attention. It is on the God who is worshiped. So he says, do away with the stairs, wear clothing, don't draw attention to yourself and worship me. And the Bible has a lot to say about worship. As we all know, it also has a lot to say about how not to worship. I want to give you what we find in scripture as to three ways to worship incorrectly. The first is this, the worship of false gods.

Now you would say here in America, we have no difficulty with that. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that a person is not born idolatrous. A person is not necessarily born an idolatry that is of some stump or some piece of stone, some object. A person becomes an idolatry.

And I want to show you how it happens. Turn to Romans chapter one, Romans chapter one. And I want to give you three steps toward idolatry. He's writing to a New Testament church. He is writing to a contemporary scene that we are finding today in our own community.

And I want you to notice what he is saying. Three steps toward idolatry. The first is found in verse 21. He's talking about the unbeliever. He's saying, for even though they knew about God, or they knew God, they did not honor him as God. That is, they did not glorify him.

The word honor is doc sod so from which we get our word doxology. That is the simple praise God from whom all blessings flow. These people were not acknowledging the glory of God. He was not prominent.

He was not preeminent. And that is in itself the first step downward that will ultimately lead you and I to worshiping some stump, some false God, some out of the body experience and all the contemporary idols of today. Secondly, they did not thank God. If you don't honor him, you won't thank him, nor did they give thanks.

You know, the interesting thing about an atheist is they have a dilemma. Whenever he feels grateful for something and he wants to give thanks, he doesn't have anybody to give it to. And one of the problems of not acknowledging God is you come to the point where you do not thank God for what he has done and that ultimately leads to step number three. That is, they did not acknowledge God in their lives. It says, but they became futile in their speculations. The word futile is the same word the Jews use for idols. They became idolatrous in their speculations. If you don't acknowledge God, if you don't thank God, you have to put something else there.

Something else has to fill up that void in your life. And if it is not God, it must be something else. And because of that, they become idolatrous in their thinking. Those are the three steps toward idolatry.

Now, let me give you in this chapter the four results and I want you to pay careful attention. The first is a loss of discernment, a loss of discernment. And I think this is characteristic of our nation. I think this is characteristic of the individual who does not acknowledge God.

It says that their foolish heart, verse 21, the last part was darkened, darkened is literally without insight, unintelligible. You know, the wisest person, men and women in our society today are people who know Jesus Christ because the foundation for wisdom is a vertical relationship with Jesus Christ. And if that relationship is right, then the horizontal relationships, the horizontal judgments, the horizontal decisions are taken care of. We can make sound judgment. What we want to see is someone on the Supreme Court bench that knows Jesus Christ because that relationship is established and then they can have insight in making decisions. That's the individual we want in political office. That is the kind of individual who will make an impact in this society. It is someone who knows Christ, who acknowledges God and by that is given the basis for insight without him.

We should not be surprised of the decisions that are made. It says here, when you do not acknowledge God or as a, as a nation or as an individual, you become foolish and without insight. The second thing is there an, there is an increase of selfishness. Verse 22 professing to become or to be wise. They became fools. Why a God doesn't have the answer that I must. So they become the center of their lives and they become fools.

The word fool is morano, which we get our word moron from. I think that's a classic way of viewing the people who do not acknowledge God and make decisions and they stand back and they say, isn't that wonderful? Isn't that wise? God says they are morons.

That is the statement here. Professing to be wise. They became moronic. That is, they become so self centered that they will worship whatever they think is acceptable to themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, if you and I do not worship God, according to his revelation, we have not worshiped God. If we worship anyone other than the God of this book, we have not worshiped God.

We have become foolish. And the third step is in verse 23. They create a religion without a creator. They create a religion without a creator. Verse 23 and exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for note an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four footed animals and crawling creatures. If you had ever told this individual months ago that ultimately you will be worshiping some object, you will be worshiping your front lawn, your automobile, your career, your, your, uh, expectations, your spouse, your child, whatever finds first place in your heart. They'd say, no, I don't worship that, but yet they do.

Why? Because they began way up in verse 18 by not acknowledging God. And then finally, fourth, this is more a statement, I think a summary and that is this. They lead unaccountable lives that produce uncontrollable sin. Unaccountable lives produce uncontrollable sin. And there are three times the scriptures say God gave them up. Verse 24 is the first we'll call this the excess of natural function. It says because of this, therefore as a result, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity that their bodies might be dishonored among them.

Why? Because they are immoral. Yes, but what is the root of the problem? Verse 25 for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever. Ultimately the problem in someone's life who was living without the values of this book, it goes back to the problem that they have exchanged. God is prominent with themselves and then the loss of their hearts.

Why not? Where is the accountability? Where is the authority? I do what I please. So they experienced the excess of a natural function.

What I find happening in this country is startling. Let me read you a couple of things. This is a survey that was written up in straight talk to men. There was an interview of college students, Christian and non-Christian. All college students who did not claim the name of Jesus Christ felt that premarital sexual relations outside of marriage, 69% of them thought it was all right. Christians, those who named the name of Jesus Christ, 39% of them believe it was all right. Of those individuals having five or more partners, those who knew Christ, 10%.

Here is a startling statistic men and women. Those who did not know Christ had between two and four partners, 26% of them. Those who knew Jesus Christ and claimed him, 23%.

There's only 3% different. College students who did not know Christ, 23% of them had one partner. Those who knew Jesus Christ, 26% more. One of the problems in the sexual revolution that is sweeping this country is there is no longer the distinction between those who are known and admittedly idolatrous and those who say they know Jesus Christ.

James Dobson wrote up in his magazine recently the fact that 56% of all females and 80% of all males experience sexual relations, 50% of them between the ages of 11 and 13. Why? It goes back to this. Whenever you or I exchange God for ourselves, we open the door to immorality. There was the excess in this country of a natural function and I think there is an excess in the church as well.

There's a second. God gave them over, verse 26, to degrading passions. We'll call this the indulgence of unnatural affections, unnatural affections. God gave them over to degrading passions for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural.

And in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error, the indulgence of unnatural affection. The reason that I would say America is an idolatrous nation is because we are having a surge of homosexuality and lesbianism that has never before hit this country. And what scares me more than anything, ladies and gentlemen, is the fact that this is the second step toward total idolatry. I was reading also a survey that bothers me but I get these magazines to keep current and it talks about the advances of homosexuals. They in New York City have already organized a homosexual public high school at taxpayers' expense. They are controlling many state-run educational efforts and using public dollars to print brochures and other materials that are in the schools here in Cary, North Carolina. Encouraging elementary school students to think of perverted acts as normal. They've convinced mayors and a half dozen of the nation's largest cities to participate in Gay Pride Days to celebrate their deviant behavior.

I also got this in the mail. It was the Newsweek special edition Winter Spring 1990 and it's called the 21st Century Family. What was startling is they have rewritten the family now to be anybody who says they want to live with anybody. And in fact, they highlighted two couples.

One couple, two women. Another couple, two men who have already adopted children and raising them in that kind of lifestyle. And the audacity of it is that the two men who were interviewed said they had the same values of their mom and dad, but they just expressed it in a different way. You look at that and your blood could either boil or be overwhelmed with pity and compassion for individuals who have replaced God with something or someone else. And God says, why is this happening? Because they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer. Look at verse 28.

Third time. God gave them over to a depraved mind. We'll call this the acceptance of sinful attractions and practices to do those things which are not proper. Verse 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slanderers, haters of God, insulin, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, right across our country.

The tragedy of this passage, though, ladies and gentlemen, it is it is speaking not just to a country, obviously, to speaking to individuals. And the context indicates that these are things that are not only being practiced, they are being accepted. They are being applauded murder, whether it's cold blooded or by an abortionist who will take the life of an unborn child that is being accepted. That is, whatever our state says is legal is now legal, whether it be murder or whatever.

But God's word is supposed to rewrite our culture. But here murder is being accepted. It's interesting as you go through this list. Disobedient to parents is another one. Unloving. That's the fourth Greek word that we never hear a lot about when we talk about the words for love.

This is the word storge, which refers to family love. They are unloving. That is, they have no family connections, no family love. A husband loves his career more than his children or a wife.

There is no relationship that is engendered under that roof anymore, and that is acceptable, unmerciful. Verse 32. And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but they also give hearty approval to those who practice them. The acceptance of sinful attractions. Abortion has opened the door to infanticide, the killing of the unborn based upon sex. I know I didn't want a boy. I wanted a girl.

There are doctors now propounding that parents ought to be given three days after the child is born to determine whether it will live so that it goes through genetic tests to find out if there are any disabilities. A second way to worship incorrectly is this. The worship of the true God in a wrong form. Look up Exodus chapter 32. Exodus chapter 32. The worship of the true God in a wrong form. Exodus 32, verse 4. And he took this from their hand, this gold that Aaron had said, give it to me, and they'd wanted a god.

So he fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf, literally a bowl. That was the symbol of power. That was one of the chief gods in Egypt, and they had never gotten it out of their minds. And they said, this is your God, oh Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, now note this, tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord, to Yahweh. It was the worship of God, but they wanted some form. They wanted a prop. They wanted something that they could see and touch. And so they created this bowl and fashioned it. And what it turned into was obviously idolatry.

In Numbers chapter 21, we won't take the time to look. The Israelites, because of disobedience, received God's chastisement and God sends serpents to bite them. You remember that story? And they came and they bit all of the Israelites or many of them, and they began to die. And Moses went and interceded in their behalf to God. And God said, okay, fashion a bronze serpent, put it up on a pole, and if anyone will look at it, they'll live.

Now don't misunderstand. That was not an act of worship. That was an act of obedience. It was also a beautiful type of Jesus Christ who would one day be on a cross. Because of their obedience, then they would live.

And that's usually where we finish the story. But 2 Kings chapter 18, you'll have to see this for yourself. 2 Kings chapter 18 verse 4 tells us what happened to that snake on a stick. 2 Kings 18 verse 1 says that Hezekiah became king.

That gives us a time element. Verse 4, he did something for God. He removed the high places. He broke down the sacred pillars. He cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made. For until those days, the sons of Israel burned incense to it, and it was called Nahushtan.

You know what they're saying? For 800 years, they'd been carting that bronze serpent around. It was never intended to have incense burned to it. They had created an idol. They were worshiping God, but they wanted this prop, and they were using it as a vehicle to worship Him and burning incense in front of it. And finally, this king broke it up and threw it away.

Can you imagine 800 years carting that thing around? We love the tangible, and God has given us so little. In fact, He says our experience is one of faith.

How tragic that these Israelites became idolaters. God, my friends, is not in a snake. He is not in a shroud. He is not in a splinter from the cross. He is not in all of those things. He's not in the relics.

He isn't in the stained glass. We do not worship Him according to this book. In spirit and in truth, we have not worshiped. Thirdly, quickly, the worship of the true God. This is the third and final incorrect way to worship. The worship of the true God with a wrong attitude.

Now let's get real practical. There are two problems that I see in relation to this form of wrong worship, and it is these. Number one, Christians coming to church to be entertained. Thomas Beecher once substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, who pastored the church, Plymouth Church in New York, well known. And when the people saw Thomas Beecher approach the pulpit, many of them got up and began to leave. So Thomas raised his hand and he said, all those who have come to worship Henry Ward Beecher may leave. All those who have come to worship God may remain. Kind of reminds you of the little boy who was praying and he said, Dear God, we had a great time at church today, but I wish you had been there.

A.W. Tozer used to lament. He would he would cry. He would say, Oh, it is so difficult to get people to come to church where God is the main attraction. We get so caught up. We come into church and if the hymns are the ones we like, we have worshiped. If the sermon is entertaining, interesting, we have worshiped.

We could do without all of those things and worship God. Christians come to church today to be entertained and they will choose the church with the greatest show. Christians also coming to church out of fellowship is the second problem.

Christians coming to church out of fellowship. Men and women, you and I bring to this service a heart that we have cultivated all week long. You cannot live throughout the week as if God didn't exist.

Selfish. We cannot live lives focusing on ourselves and come in at ten thirty on Sunday morning and say, Now I shall proceed to worship. We bring into this auditorium a heart of worship that we have cultivated throughout the week, and we collectively unite our hearts and continue what we had done on Saturday. First John, Chapter five, verse twenty one is an interesting passage where the apostle John says, Little Children, guard yourselves from idols. Is he talking about stumps?

Stone? No, he is talking about anything that will replace the prominence of God in your heart. What is the New Testament challenge to the second commandment?

I'll show you. Turn to Colossians, Chapter one, verse eighteen, talking of Jesus Christ, a fantastic passage of scripture that seems to pull worship out of every poor. It says, By him, all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things have been created by him and for him, and he is before all things and in him. All things consist or hold together. He is also head of the body, the church, and he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.

And note this so that he himself might come to have first place in everything. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. You'll learn more about us and be able to interact with us by visiting wisdom online dot org.

While you're there, take advantage of the gift we're offering this month. We have a free resource to help you think biblically about politics and about your relationship with the government. It's an excerpt from Stephen's book, I Pledge Allegiance. You're a citizen of your country, but the Bible also says that you're a citizen of heaven. Sometimes those allegiances come in conflict. This resource will help you navigate that. Download your free gift today, then join us next time as we bring you more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 23:51:25 / 2023-03-21 00:01:55 / 11

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