Reading for today: Exodus 20:3-6, Deuteronomy 18:9-13 and Ephesians 5:3-5.

The Ephesians passage is ” 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

Excerpts and paraphrased from the book.

Idolatry is trust in anything that is not God. Since humans were deceived in the garden, God has been vehemently opposed to idolatry since He recognizes its destructive power. God wants our minds and spirits (we could say our Spirit and Soul) to be in communication with Him. He alone is sufficient to provide the knowledge, wisdom and protection we need. To idolize anything else is divisive and leads to the destruction of personal integrity and social cohesiveness. Any idol or image of God we make diminishes our understanding of God and our identity as His image.

Modern day idolatry: modern man still worships objects (not so much graven images though that does continue and may be growing as a problem) but more so we worship money, possessions, personal attractiveness or power, many types of pleasure, sports, certain forms of technology and psychological stimulants. (and depressants I would add) These do not give us life (in fact lead to death) and pull us away from worshipping the one true God. They cannot give us LIFE, yet we feel we cannot live without them!

Paul, in the Ephesians passage talks about greed as a form of idolatry. These are highly deceptive and are based on the false assumption that these things can satisfy the deep desires of the human heart. God forbids greed vehemently because it is destructive and leads to despair, corruption and violence.

The occult: magic, sorcery, omens and curses (Deut 18) Occult practices are a search for power – power over other people, over nature or in the spiritual realm. They are based on the false assumption that living things (aside from humans) and non-living things in nature possess spiritual power. This is in contradiction to what Genesis reveals which is that only humans are imbued with a spirit. To attempt to manipulate spiritual powers, energy fields, or life force of other people or objects in nature is disobedient to God. Our trust is to be only in Him.

People and nations who engage in occult practices suffer from dissension, conflict, lack of trust and the inability to work together for the common good. The practices are a sign of rebellion against God, who desires to being unity and blessing to all people.

Question to consider:

  1. Why is God so opposed to idolatry?
  2. What are the idols in the culture in which you live?
  3. What does idolatry do to us?
  4. What might be idols in your own life?
  5. How can we protect our children from involvement in occult practices?

if you like the contents of this post and want to go deeper please do purchase the book.

This weeks biblical reference is Exodus 20. The contents? The Words of God to Israel. (We call them the 10 Commandments)

God commands us to be like Him. (like Jesus) Dr Fountain points out that He does not kill, (I would say murder) steal, lie or behave in ways that are unfaithful. The purpose of the moral law are:

  1. to demonstrate God’s character so we can emulate it
  2. to bring clarity, order and fairness into human relationships – love of God and love of neighbor
  3. to regulate individual and collective behavior
  4. to promote unner discipline

God did not give the moral law as the means of salvation. We receive salvation by our faith and trust in God that leads us to obedience to him. Grace does not eliminate the moral law of God. True salvation be grace though faith should lead us to obedience of the moral law. This moral law is universal. It is for every person, ethnic group and nation. The Law shows us that we need Christ to save us because no one can keep the law. Nevertheless the law remains intact.

God also gave Israel two other large blocks of laws as part of their distinct culture. The ceremonial laws and civil laws and instructions. The ceremonial were instructions regarding worship, offering and sacrifices and religious feasts in order to bind His people, Israel, to Him. The civil laws and instructions were to establish their culture. How they were to live as individuals and as a people and provided the values on which this behavior was based. These were about family relationships, sexual behaviors, use of the land and property, agriculture, sanitation, food laws and many others. Neither of these laws were universal. Many do not apply to His Church today but we will benefit much from studying the underlying principles on which these instructions were based and applying those principle to our cultural context. The Kingdom of God includes His rule over our cultural values and behavior and shows us that we are accountable to God for our physical, social and economic relationships.

How can we distinguish between the universal laws of God and the particular cultural instructions He gave to His people then?:

  • God’s moral law is general and applies at all times to all peoples
  • Culture is particular and related to circumstances. The cultural laws and instructions He gave the people of Israel were for them, not for us. However, we need to discern the principles underlying them and discover how to apply those principles to our culture.
  • in the NT we find cultural values and directives appropriate for us.

Questions to ask:

  1. What is the role of the law for us as people of the Kingdom of God?
  2. What role does God play in shaping culture in the 21st century?
  3. How much of our church culture comes from God and how much comes from our surrounding culture?
  4. How can we bring biblical values now into our own culture?