FLEE FROM IDOLATRY

Genesis 1:27:  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 9:6:  “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
Exodus 20:4:  “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
Isaiah 46:5:  “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?”
Romans 1:22-23:  Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
It may fairly be said that, before the fall, man – that is, Adam – was an ideal finite representation of God, for God pronounced man “very good” in that state (Genesis 1:31it is to be noted, however, that it was the entirety of His creation which received this commendation from God, not just man).
After the fall, we are told of the state of man, both pre-flood, and post-flood (Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21). Despite various men being pronounced good, righteous, perfect in all their ways, etc., throughout the rest of the divine Writ, we are assured that this goodness in no manner derives from or depends upon their own merit, for our Lord stated such in no uncertain terms (Romans 3:9-18 as a synthesis of Romans 1-3, notwithstanding those who receive grace to eternal life by the free gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord).
By notwithstanding, we do not mean that there is any goodness in those saved sinners, called saints, that does not derive from our Lord Jesus Christ, and we trust, such is shown plainly and completely in the apostolic statement in Romans 3:9-18, for when the apostle says in v.9, by the Spirit of God,  What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,” it is to show that vs. 10-18 apply to all mankind, as the division of the first three chapters is considered to be inclusive of first, the Gentiles, secondly, the Jews, and so representative of all of mankind, for that was the common manner in which the apostle, moved by God’s Spirit, recorded the words in His epistles, though he would elaborate on this point in other contexts (regarding the redeemed and the unredeemed). The point is, the Imago Dei, though not to be thought ill of or trifled with, as stated of man after the fall in Genesis 9:6, is no longer a proper representation of God, marred as it was by the fall, and so, in no fashion whatsoever are we to think of it as the perfect finite representation of God which is was pre-fall.
Nevertheless, we have those who, today, in their theology, seek to use various anthropomorphisms of the human heart and mind as analogous to the divine heart, and, we submit, this is none other than comparing God to man; worse, it takes the form of imaginations – thoughts which are not founded in substance – not even the substance of faith (or, rather, especially not in the substance of faith) – but in the ether of comparing God to man, a formless void of idolatry which only exists in the hearts (speaking of the thoughts, affections and will) of men. This is, as the apostle speaks to quite plainly, becoming futile in their thinking, for it is an empty thing to compare God to the marred creature, even if that marred creature happens to have been gifted with the righteousness and goodness of God in Jesus Christ in finite form by the new birth. The flesh is still marred terribly, until such a time as God perfects that which He alone began in us (Philippians 1:6), for we know that such goodness and righteousness derives only from the only One who is good (Mark 10:18; Philippians 3:9).
To go beyond the Second Commandment – that is, to form idols which purport to accurately represent the infinitely holy God – is to go too far, and this has taken the place of expounding upon that which God has revealed to us by the use of not only anthropomorphisms, but also by the use of finite philosophical terminologies posing as theology.
This is not to say that there is not a valid use of either anthropomorphisms or philosophy in discussions of man, God, and reality, for indeed there is; however, we must be careful not to go beyond that knowledge that God has allotted to us when doing so (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 11:33-36).
It is a sad but truthful statement that there are those teachers, among the churches which comprise the universal church of our Lord Jesus Christ, who actually do seek to state more than what is given us in Scripture. They use analogies that go beyond the analogy of the faith, and as a consequence, idols are carved into the vain imaginings of some of God’s people, we dare say.
Our God declares “To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike?” and these men, well-intentioned as they may be reply, “Well, by way of analogy, I will compare You to Your creatures.”
This simply will not do – citing uses of the anthropomorphisms in Scripture is no excuse for erecting such idols of analogy, for our God uses such limited linguistic comparisons to Himself simply because of the weakness of our flesh (Romans 6:19). Such analogies go beyond Scripture, regardless of how they try to use the language of man’s philosophies and logical constructs, for the fact is that they are using an analogy of themselves, or man, as that upon which to base the inmost workings of God; to enter into the secret things that are the Lord’s, those inscrutable things which do not belong to us, and this is the very essence of idolatry. Whether one builds up a false image from clay, wood, metal, or in the mind, idolatry remains the same.
The overarching theme of God’s attributes, as related to us in Scripture, consistently runs with the theme I AM your God; I AM holy; even thrice Holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). While we are said to be partakers of the divine natureand to have the mind of Christ (2 Peter 1:4; 1 Corinthians 2:16), this in no way is stating that we are to infer what God is like from the remaining likeness of the Imago Dei in even those He has redeemed, despite themselves; quite the opposite is true. We gain whatever intrinsic value we now have, which will show extrinsically, from our standing in our Lord, and from that alone (Colossians 3:3-17; Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 2:20). Our behaviors, while still in this house of sinful flesh, are to mirror those behaviors that reflect and emanate the perfection and holiness that God infinitely is, thus, we are directed to look to those things above where our infinitely perfect Savior and Lord sits enthroned; yet in being told to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect and to be holy, for I am holy(Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1:16), it is always realized that we are the created creatures who, at this time, still must deal with the sin that remains in our flesh (1 John 1:8-10), and thus, acknowledge the great bridge that exists between the effectual witness of God’s infinite perfections from and through us (which is only possible by His Spirit indwelling usRomans 8:13-17), and the actuality of He who is that infinite perfection.
Now, the point of mentioning God’s holiness is to state His transcendence; his otherness, His absolute and infinite perfection in all of His attributes. If we are to isolate any of His attributes alone, and say there is God, we are at an utter failure; if, however, we are to comprehend any and all of His attributes rightly, it must be within that infinite, as-far-as-the-east-is-from-the-west, as-far-as-the-heavens-are-above-the-earth, rainbow of His holiness. If we take any one – any one at all – of His other attributes and seek to elevate them beyond the comprehension of them within the context of His holiness, right there, at that very point, we fail to comprehend both that attribute of God, as well as all the other attributes of God – we make Him less than transcendent – we commit an idolatry of the imagination, for we strip His holiness down by just that much.
Though this has gone on through the church throughout the ages of its history, we hope we are not those who continue to promulgate such idols of the imagination, while at the same time, we must ask forgiveness, knowing that we have failed in this sense, for such is the nature of grace: it reminds us of who we are, and presents God in His immeasurable, glorious otherness, that holiness we must seek (and we trust we are seeking it) to know that He will present us spotless before Himself without blame, keeping us from the final stumbling of those who have not found their own resources devoid of anything regarding salvation or holy living, and so throwing our trust entirely upon the only good God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 5:3; Jude 1:24-25).
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. (Romans 16:25-27).
To God ALONE be the glory. – Bill

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About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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