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echoes of thought in love with God through Christ crucified

Tag: idolatry

They who have true love to God love him so as wholly to devote themselves to God. This we are taught in the sum of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:30). Here is contained in these words a description of a right love to God; and they teach us that they who love him aright do devote all to him, all their hearts, and all their souls, all their mind and all their strength, or all their powers and faculties. Surely, a man who gives all this wholly to God keeps nothing back, but devotes himself wholly and entirely to God. He who gives God all his heart, and all his soul, and all his mind, and all his powers or strength, keeps nothing back; there is no room for any reserve. All who have true love to God have a spirit thus to do. This shows how much a principle of true love to God is above a selfish principle. For if self be devoted wholly to God, then there is something above self which influences the man; there is something superior to self which takes self and makes an offering of it to God. A selfish principle never devotes self to another; the nature of it is to devote all others to self. They who have true love to God, love God as God, and as the supreme good; whereas the nature of selfishness is to set up self for God, to make an idol of self. That being which men respect as God, they devote all to. They who idolize self devote all to self, but they who love God as God devote all to him.

—Jonathan Edwards
Ethical Writings, WJE (Yale University Press, 1989), 264–265.

Sin has made men worship either (1) a false God, which is idolatry; or (2) God falsely, which is superstition. Man has become such a fool that his worship, till enlightened and converted, is either a breach of the First or Second Commandment. He fails as to the object or the manner of worship, and both speak man’s folly, that his religion is either idolatry or superstition.

—Ralph Venning,
The Sinfulness of Sin, 55.

This is the way of the man who goes out into the field at night and says, “I am going to commune with God in nature.” It is the man who says, “I worship God on Sunday afternoon in my golf cart.” Paul says that this is a dead end, because you cannot find God in nature. No man has ever found God in nature. You can find things about God in nature, but these condemn you.

Romans says that nature reveals two things about God. It reveals the “Godhead” of God, that is, his existence, and it reveals his “power,” because obviously something or someone of considerable power stands behind what we observe. That is all that can be known of God in nature. So if you think you are going to find God in nature, you are destined to emptiness in your search. You cannot worship an eternal power; you cannot worship a supreme being; you cannot worship a law of nature.

Moreover, says Paul, “You don’t even try!” Because when you say to yourself, “I’m going to worship God in nature,” what you are really doing is using nature as an excuse to avoid God. Actually you do not want to be with Christian people, nor do you wish to be under the preaching of the Word. You find it disturbing. What you are really trying to do is to escape from God into nature. If you worship anything at all, it is nature you worship; and the worship of nature is idolatry.

—James M. Boice

SIN

With an impoverished view of God comes a tolerant view of sin

No one sees their own sin as God does; it is treated altogether as a light thing with very little consequence. Some mock the unseen consequences of sin in the existentialism of the present. So it follows, some men mock hell. But hell is not a fabrication designed to inflate the importance of sin; hell is the consequence of sin in light of God.

It is true that our view of sin suffers from a gross lack of veritable apprehension, but hell will not do. Though it is a very real consequence for the sinner without a Substitute, it is not the answer to our problem. Contemplating hell will not deliver us from the frivolous views of sin found in the hearts of so many—professing Christians included. Why? It is insufficient. If we are to increasingly reform our view of sin we must look to Christ and Him crucified. Only there will we find the truest view and estimation of sin.

The light in which we ought to see sin is the light of Christ; not man or man’s destiny. Christ and Him crucified is greater than both heaven and hell—God is more ultimate than human destiny. Sin is not seen in the right light because we don’t have enough God in our sight.

Sin is not seen with the right intensity because God is not loved with the right intensity.

Sin is personal; its consequences will ultimately be personal and its forgiveness is emphatically personal. Such is key to our understanding of sin, whether Christian or not. God is fervidly invested against our sin. It is a matter of intense and thoroughly personal concern.

Evil of Evils

As Jeremiah Burroughs has well said, “sin is the evil of evils.” Not Satan. Not natural disasters. Not disease. Not death. Sin—this is the evil of evils.

In an effort to love God more fully and consistently, it is good for us to meditate on the abhorrent nature of sin. These five aspects of sin’s nature are needful to counter our natural tendencies to dilute and diminish the significance of sin’s evil.

  1. Sin is evil—being a willful opposition against God—It is not just the missing of a mark on some moral scale; sin is the exercise of evil. Sin is Godless opposition to God.
  2. Sin has no good in it whatsoever—Some may confuse the nature of sin with God’s dealings over it. The only good that can come as a result of sin is owing to the goodness of God’s rule over it. Even though sin may be used of God to glorify Himself, sin itself has no good in it.
  3. Sin is an offense first against God—As David cried out in his confession: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment” (Ps 51:4).
  4. Sin is a choice—It is not an affliction, disease, or mere mistake; sin is a choice exercised by the will of the creature in direct and immediate rebellion against his Creator.
  5. Sin is a hating of God in the idolatry of self—It is the worship of self in place of God. It is a rebellion against God, a despising of God, and therefore a striking against God Himself.

Concerning this last point, Burroughs insightfully writes:

“Sin is striking at the very life of God. … that they would rather God were not God at all than that they would lose their lusts. … I say as far as sin prevails in your hearts, could you not wish that God were not so holy as to hate those sins you love, and not so just as to be severe against sin as He is? Is not this in your hearts? … [do” you love such a sin, that you could wish God did not hate it as much as He does, that he was not as just, holy, and severe against sin as He is, this is to wish in your heart that God was not God at all, that the life and being of God were gone.”

May we see the nature of sin more clearly for the purpose of loving God more dearly.

Pastor Manny

If the heart be directly and chiefly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly, to have the heart principally set upon that, is to place it in the room of God and his glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then abominable pride: if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.

—David Brainerd
The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2:414.

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